What is this stuff

GNOME 3.0 (Topaz) thoughts on window management.

Problems with existing window management implementations

  • ignore drag&drop mostly

  • desktop (where the user's stuff is) is hidden beneath windows, not accessible

Almost all window management systems in existence don't support drag&drop. Yes, it's possible to use drag&drop and some window manager even open the corresponding window if something is dragged over the buttons the taskbar. But drag&drop is still somewhat awkward when working with several windows; windows have to be placed manualy, when you are working with a fullscreen window, it has to be "unmaximized" first, the other window must be placed so it isn't hidden.. and so on. I think this kind of stuff could be made better.

Another thing is the desktop. The desktop itself is nothing but a fullscreen window that cannot be minimized. People use it to store their data, to place launcher. But that is somewhat silly; the desktop is mostly hidden beneath layers of windows. That, also, could be different.

Window management


  • there is no desktop
  • or said the other way round: everything is desktop
  • the active objects sits on the workbench
  • the rest waits on the shelf

MZWM (someone has to come up with a good name) divides the screen into two areas. The workbench in the center of the screen and the shelf on the sides, bottom and top. The active object sits on the workbench, all other things and stuff are placed on the shelf. They may be dragged around and will try to retain their positions.


  • these funny colored boxes represent applications
  • they may also reprent folders or files
  • or your favourite gdesklets
  • the big box in the middle is the focused/maximised objects
  • the little boxes on the side are minimized objects. Thumbnailed.

It is important to stress that everything is treated in the same way. Folders, files, applications, gDesklets, contacts.

Applications will display a down-scaled version of the application window. Applications with multiple windows will get multiple objects. An exception to that rule are applications like GIMP with a MDW interface.

Files will display a preview of their content and launch into the default application for their filetype. Folders will lauch into the file management.

Other stuff, like gDesklets, may display a more detailed version as soon as they are focused.

Change window focus


A mouseclick on one of the objects of the shelf gives focus to this object it will warp to the workbench.

  • If it is a file it is simply displayed maximized. Files will be opened in the default application. gDesklets may present a more detailed version of themselves. Folders are opened in the file-navigator.

The previous active object will warp back to the shelf.

Hoovering over the shelf may temporary zoom the object, just as the OS X bar does.

Drag & Drop


If a object on the shelf gets a drag, it will go into a preview mode and temporary zoom. After a second, it will go into a semi focused state. The active window gets reduced and slides to the side. After drag is completed (or the shelf object loses drag focus) the both objects will go back into their old positions.

Thoughts (or not jetzt thought about)

  • application launching

Possible Problems

  • May not profit from Fitt's Law
  • Needs a lot of screen estate
  • Needs fast hardware for image composing


Please comment.

DanBallard: As mentioned in AppletsRevisited we still need some way to have applets in a more 3D like interface. They are like an omnipresent HUD, Some provide real time views of hardware (System Monitor, wireless applets, etc), some provide real time views of software events like the notification area and clock, and some are tools for manipulating the environment (launchers being the simplest example). For them to be useful they pretty much have to be omni present, a HUD, always available, and ideally unobtrusive. You're system here gets rid of the need for the window list applet and maybe makes storing files on the "desktop" a little more functional, but doesn't yet address the rest of the vast functionality the panel gives us via applets, which is starting to expand at a rapid pace. It's not particularly practical to ever have the panel out of focus.

Attic/ModerateZoomingWindowManagement (last edited 2013-11-22 22:06:47 by WilliamJonMcCann)