A more solid approach to the dock

Registered by Kevin Kleinman

The past few weeks I've been spending a lot of time working with Windows 7. Not for fun, but to get loads of work done. And I can tell you that it burns like hell. The taskbar is a mess. In fact, today it freaked me out so badly that I decided to evaluate what's going horribly wrong and how we can use that knowledge to elementary's advantage.

--- Window's problems: ---
- Hover over app icon = thumbnails (with fade effect, even, with a 50/50 chance you actually meant to trigger the thumb, massively gets in your way)
- Click app icon with multiple underlying windows = thumbnails (but this time around the thumbnail view is sticky and you need to click somewhere, which forces you to find a safe spot to click)
- Click thumbnail = another annoying fade effect on the window, on top of all the other annoying effects
- Which window contains that tab again?

--- elementary's problems: ---
- Intellihide is cumbersome when manually switching between windows a lot
- unhide is only triggered at the center of the screen and when you accidentally move slightly to the side, the dock hides again
- The clickable area of app icons is a long vertical rectangle
- Which window contains that tab again?
- Scanning through different windows is very cumbersome (W7 is annoying but elementary is lacking)
- *Sigh*

Okay, so lets take a look at my very basic concept: http://i.imgur.com/WvxlD.jpg

App icon clicking area
At the moment the icon’s clickable area is a vertical rectangle, which is making the icons cumbersome to click, since the center of the icon is so close to the border of the next icon. Horizontal rectangle squares make for faster and more accurate clicks. This does not require the icons to be rectangles; some sort of padding can work as well. Also add a small dead area between app launchers, since when you hit that border spot you’re not going to be sure which app you just launched. Better not to launch anything at all in that case.

Hover area
Within the current system you need to hover towards the center of the screen to make the apps dock appear. It would be desirable if any bottom-hover action would launch the app dock, as you can then shift your focus from finding the dock to finding the right icon. Or at least when the dock is on display, don't hide it as long as your mouse pointer is in the area below the top of the dock(!).

Lock dock
Throw your mouse to the bottom-right corner and click to toggle the intellihide/fixed modus of your dock. This allows you to easily lock the dock when you need to switch a lot between windows (common for business usage!), or hide it when you’re using your computer for entertainment purposes (e.g. content-viewing actions). Default = lock off.

The unlocked dock will remain the same as it is right now. The locked dock will be shown as a panel (with the apps still centered, see concept link).

Clear desk
Throw your mouse into the bottom-left corner to instantly clear your desk. This is a huge relief whenever you get stuck in your windows. Clear desk, clear mind. Not sure how this will blend in with the "minimise = close" approach though.

Window selection
This would be a big deal since especially Windows7 got this all wrong. When you hover over an app in the dock, NOTHING SHOULD HAPPEN. You don’t want to accidentally trigger all sorts of previews.

However, when you scroll over an icon, it should display the underlaying windows, one by one, as the only window on the screen, greyed out (e.g. inactive) with some sort of indicator showing the amount of windows. You can scroll through these windows with no consequences. If you can’t find the window you are looking for, simply move the mouse off the launcher and all will be back to normal instantly. No stickiness. If you do find the correct window, left-click the launcher icon and the window will appear on top of the stack of windows on your desktop. This can also be done when already using the app which icon you are hovering over.

Please, save the world from this hell called taskbars.

- Kevin

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-- Critism by Eduard Gotwig--
App icon clicking area
I don't think that this is true.
I really much like the behavior like it is now. The space between apps is absolutely fine for me.

Hover area
-- I don't get that. I don't really know what you mean with that. The intelligent hide mode is ok for me as well...

Lock dock
o.0 ??? I would never ever use such a panel, if I would be an employee that has to work with such a thing. Its completely versus the concept of the dock, and just adds a panel under it, that is black, and makes it more cluttered. For dock there is a separate add-on on that you may click or right click to select to "lock the complete session". If that's not what you mean, but only locking the dock: I don't see a sense for that. You can autohide the dock if you wish.

Clear desk
That's a thing of behavior , some would like it, some wouldn't. I like the normal CTRL+ALT+D shortcut. You can change it if you like... Trough the "edges" dialog think in CCSM, you can change that behavior as well.

I wouldn't take that as a standard.

Window selection
I would just do that with compiz shortcuts. You can already do that for different workspaces... You should somehow also be able to do that with windows. But why ?

Applications that ship with elementary are not designed to need such a "window selection"

If you want to see the current progress for the compiz profile in elementary luna please see :


Please not that its not packaged yet ().

I am sorry that/if I misunderstood you.

elementary is not Windows 7.

BTW: Horizontal triangles look ugly :X

-- gotwig

-- Reply by Kevin Kleinman --

* Window selection. Scenario: you have opened a couple of apps, each with multiple windows. You're looking for a specific window. To get to the right window you should only have to do three single actions, each with a different purpose:

1. Hover (over the app launcher, to get ready for interaction, but without initiating anything)
2. Scroll (to look for your desired window, initiates a preview on your desktop but does not activate the windows)
3a. Click (to confirm your decision, activation of the window)
3b. Break hover connection (by moving away your pointer from the icon; nothing permanent happens!)

What Windows7 does wrong: hover = initiate (a thumbnail).
What elementary does wrong: scroll = confirm (it activates the windows even if you were just exploring).

* Clicking area is not some sort of urgent problem but it could be a bit more balanced (a little bit more room on the sides). But maybe I'm exagerating here.

* Hover area: currently you can make the dock appear by pointing the center bottom of the screen. I think it should either work for the whole bottom of the screen (not just where the dock is supposed to be), or at least it shouldn't hide when you move your mouse right **next** to the dock (sometimes you shoot past the icons sitting on the side of the dock / it allows a quick sweep over the bottom to make the dock appear without making it disappear within that same sweep).

* Lock dock; in a nutshell, the right-corner-button toggles between intellihide and always on display, to make window switching fast and easy when needed (e.g. productive use vs entertainment). It takes away a frequent hover requirement.

* Clear desk would at least be a nice option. It's sort of an alarm bell when you get lost in a forest of windows. One click and you're saved from the windows collapsing on top of you. It really helps me stay organised when working with a lot of programs at the same time.

So yes, Gotwig, you misunderstood quite a lot but I really don't blame you. I can visualise all of the above in my mind and I think it would work great. Putting that imagined UX into words is quite a challenge.


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