Launcher - make switching bettween several applications with multiple windows and multi-tasking more accessible.

Bug #908811 reported by manny on 2011-12-26
This bug affects 14 people
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
Ayatana Design

Bug Description

When you have 2 or more apps open with 1 window each, switching between them is very easy. But as you open more windows for these same apps and try to switch between all these windows, the difficulty can increase vastly.

So switching between multiple applications with multiple windows (multitasking) in the unity launcher is very unaccessible and can greatly increase the risk of suffering RSI (Repetitive strain injury).

And the problem also increases as you add more monitors. So multiple applications with multiple windows and multi-monitors can really be tricky.

Exposé is the only method used for switching and activating it constantly can have an impact when you have all these applications running in parallel, so multitasking/working becomes more difficult. Is a hard task within itself trying to switch between these windows.

Exposé is mainly used to "identify" windows visually from a cluttered group, but is not needed if you already have identified and know Exactly which window you want to switch to.

== Possible Solutions ==

*Window-lists on hover.

Many docks and taskbars offer a window-list option:

A similar approach could be used for unity launcher (mockups):

Note: this window-list only shows on hover, is not part of the right click quicklist.

Original problem discussion and mockup source:

>"Recently I've done task in which I needed to refer to several spreadsheets
and other documents. In Unity, changing between the open documents was
quite difficult, I had to think to much to find a window and my focus was
constantly shifting from the main task.
The Launcher is quite agnostic to multiple window applications, so Unity
relies to much on the window manager for this. I found it quite inferior to
the more traditional task bar for this type of workflow. I've ended up
running another task bar(tint2) to get my work done.

When I hover an icon in the Launcher it just shows a tooltip with the
application name. I think it would be better if on hover it also listed the
window's titles, clicking on an item would bring up only the referred
window. This wouldn't affect most of the current behavior.
I know Unity is aiming for simplicity, and is being inspired by newer OSes
like android and iOS. But the work that people need to accomplish on the
desktop is far more complex than what one does on a mobile.

*Preview-on-hover (optional):

Windows7 has mini-previews on hover to make identification easier with less amount clicks (or no clicks at all).

The unity launcher could raise and preview these windows on hover when the mouse is on top of one of the entries.

The good news is that exposé for identifying (on-click) and window-lists/previews (on-hover) for quick window switching can coexist and complement each other perfectly fine.

Multitasking is a very important key issue that must be resolved to increase productivity, acceptance in a work environment and set it one step ahead from the competition.

manny (estelar57) on 2011-12-26
description: updated
manny (estelar57) on 2011-12-26
description: updated
description: updated
manny (estelar57) on 2011-12-26
description: updated
Bilal Akhtar (bilalakhtar) wrote :

Please bring this up to the Ayatana mailing list; nothing much can be done about this. It requires major changes in design, none of which are planned right now.

Changed in unity:
status: New → Opinion
sachit (staticd-growthecommons) wrote :

Bilal, the given bug was discussed rather extensively on the design discussion mailing list. see the link in the original report.

The bug could be fixed easily by
1)reusing the quicklists code for display.
2)accessing the list of open windows used for exposé
3)being triggered by a hover.

It will not break any existing functionality, as hover does nothing useful now.

Please get back quickly if this can be marked fix-committed/confirmed, as I volunteer to implement it for precise in such a case.

Gerry Boland (gerboland) on 2012-01-03
Changed in unity-2d:
status: New → Opinion
manny (estelar57) wrote :

2 people have set this as "opinion" and not even mention why... i wonder if they have even read the bug.

manny (estelar57) on 2012-01-06
description: updated
summary: Launcher - make switching bettween several applications with multiple
- windows and multi-tasking more accesible.
+ windows and multi-tasking more accessible.
Launchpad Janitor (janitor) wrote :

Status changed to 'Confirmed' because the bug affects multiple users.

Changed in ubuntu:
status: New → Confirmed

The only thing that I would change about your proposal is raising the window on hover as I found this to be confusing on Windows 7, with users hovering over the icon, then the window preview, thinking they had selected it and moving the pointer to click something on the new window, only to have it disappear as they had not actually selected it. Maybe if we raised it, we could make it clear that it had not been selected?

Renegade (arthur-morschakin) wrote :

There is also problem when you open google chrome and hangouts window. Both applications are under one google chrome icon on task bar.
If you minimize hangouts window and click chrome icon on task bar - both windows are minimized. Then click chrome icon again and you will see big header of hangouts window and very small chrome window.

P.S. I enabled ‘Minimise on Click’ feature through unity tweek tool.

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