Improve workspace functionality under Unity
I would like to get back with the idea about handling workspaces in Unity. I know, there were couple bugs filed on this topic and most of them end up in status “Won't fix”. Probably this is due to authors position not clearly expressed / backed up with real world usage, more incompatible ideas thrown in in the same bug, which renders the bug unreadable and unclear.
With this I would like to express the “power” user's opinion which I am. I really hope that Unity is not designed just for casual users and designers listen to power user needs as well.
I'm hoping for constructive discussion and criticism if needed.
Workspaces by design are meant to extend a space, organize the apps/work on desktop which should reduce clutter. In unity, I can't understand how they are meant to be used to achieve the goal.
If average user uses handful of applications there is no need for workspaces at all. If he wants to use workspaces for some strange reason, application switching just adds distracting workspace switching animation to the workflow. If he wants to group applications in workspaces, there doesn't seem to be good way either as launcher shows all apps as alt-tab does, changing couple of apps in this case is shifting the screen in some direction. There is a scale plugin which handles workspaces, for most users it's not needed and they don't know the existence of such thing.
One thing which comes to my mind is if user want's to see more than one pair of applications side by side then workspaces would come handy, but this fits in the power user group as then he perfectly knows what's on every workspace he use. Casual users usually come from windows world and will use minimize instead. But this is not the point and maybe I'm wrong :)
Power users know exactly how they want to work, they have tons of applications opened at the same time as well.
Me for instance, I have laptop with 8G of RAM, I work on many different projects, so I would like to group applications based on projects, currently I have 5 workspaces, one for common things like email, some other company stuff, one for my personal needs and 3 for projects. Each of the workspace have at least one firefox instance opened (via the -P –no-remote), most of them have libreoffice writer and terminals opened, specific workspaces have specific programs opened, on average about 6-10 apps per WS, seprately in each WS that is manageable amount of apps, taken together it's a nightmare. I have work in-progress situation on every workspace, I don't want to store my progress of each project in my head or notes, so I never close anything in workspaces until it's done (just save docs/work), so when returning to it I can continue where I left off.
In this kind of workflow launcher is unreadable, it's hard to distinguish what application is where, it has all the stuff shown with squeezed icons at the bottom, not nice at all. Similar to this: http://
In addition, when I'm working on project X I don't really care for project Y apps or my personal apps. I don't want to see some random game I opened on private workspace all day long when I clearly won't use it until the evening, the same applies for half-way watched movies etc., the idea is clear.
There are couple of things to be shared across the workspaces, like skype, keepassx, music player to mention some.
What I propose/suggest and many others already did - one setting in ccsm which says “Show applications for current desktop only”.
This setting would be for power users, not the default, launcher behavior would remain the same as in current form:
* if user want to see application across the workspaces, he can pin it to the launcher to see it's icon, current behavior w/o changes
* to have app in every workspace, use “Always on visible Workspace” from window menus, no changes
* interactions with visible icons - no changes
So to me this seems basically about showing / hiding certain icons, not much more, unity already knows which application is on which workspace as it switches to it when clicked, it handles workspace switching as backlight and pips (>) are changing, etc. It should be very easy to implement and will help power users a great deal.
For me this is a thing which prevents me using Unity which in other aspects are fine. I tried, it doesn't work :(
Launcher is a place where user can see all opened apps, in most cases application in particular WS is the only one user wants, for instance, firefox, if that is opened in particular WS, then clicking on it always gets where user want, there is no choice to be made, just a single click. All apps in that WS are related to particular context and workflow, it's really easy to work like that.
Please comment or raise an issues on this proposal. If this doesn't fit in, please explain why and suggest how to get rid of the mess in launcher / improve multitasking with loads of apps.