Title: Ideas for hacks
11/14/2001 Thought

  • Looking too long at a window that is off-centre on a large monitor strains my neck and shoulders.

  • Therefore, "centre-space" is a valuable commodity that should be given to applications that I spend most time with.

  • Those applications should ideally be able to multiplex contents, like emacs, screen and tabbed applications like multi-gnome-terminal, galeon or xchat do. I hear there are generic K widgets for this too.

  • Consequently, "off-centre" applications fall into two categories:

    1. applications that one only looks at briefly:

      • xmms: Which song is this?

      • gkrellm: What's the system load?
        Is there new mail?

    2. applications I want on-screen (rather than one a different page I'd have to poll) so I can see ("out of the corner of mine eye") when their windows' contents change (terminal scrolling, tab changing colour etc.) so that I can react to this interrupt by checking what exactly is new.

    Applications of the first type just go to the corners (or borders) of my screen, no problem there.

    Applications of the second type, however, need to be brought to the foreground (unless there is a lot of screen-space, in which case the window would likely be located in a neck-straining location).

    The thought therefore is:

    • If a window is raised, why does it only receive the input focus, rather than also being located in the visual focus in the middle of the screen?

    • This could be achieved by relocating the window to the centre of the screen, placing that which previously occupied that valuable space in the auxiliary position formerly held by the newly focused window.
      Thus, windows would have a radial order rather than a Z-order.

    • A paradigm with a central focused window and auxiliary window positioned around it in some circular fashion comes to mind.

    • As the purpose for keeping windows not currently being worked in on screen is to catch changes in them rather than details, the idea of zooming them out to a degree where noticing change is still possible seems attractive.

    • While this seems promote the idea of round computer screens following this layout, keeping the current rectangular screens has an intuitively obvious bonus: their corners (which are not used in the strictly circular paradigm) will become a haven for the Type I applications -- those that should always be present, but do not require more than a passing glance, like biff.

  • Notes:

    • Enlightenment supports paging with small screen shots for each page. While this is helpful to see what is where, it does not seem sufficient to see changes in text windows in their small likenesses.

    • Berlin should gracefully handle zooming as-is.

    • Maybe write a window-manager that does that.