Re: Thoughts on Alt-Tab switching

Hello everybody,

First of all I'd like to say hello, since this is my first time mailing on this list.
I am not a coder or developer - just a happy Gnome user - but when I read this discussion about task switching I thought I'd bring in an idea I have had for a long time.

This idea is about task switching by mouse. The fastest way to switch tasks using the mouse would be, from my point of view, if the task switch window would pop up right above the mouse cursor, since this minimizes the distance the cursor needs to travel in order to click the icon of the window to switch to.
Bringing up the task switcher could be done by clicking the right mouse button (RMB). In current DE's, clicking RMB will bring up a contextual menu. This usually happens at the right side of the mouse cursor. In most cases this will leave room above the cursor. A small box displaying the icon of an arrow (pointing up) could pop up there (simultaneously with the context menu). When hovering this icon, the task switcher will appear right above. The icon of the window/application you'd like to switch to can be clicked from this task switcher window.

Now, this will give some problems when the mouse cursor is close to one of the edges of the screen, since there won't be enough space for the taskswitcher window or arrow icon. This will need some repositioning (like the way contextual menus will replace themselves either to the left side of the cursor or above, or both). In such cases it also requires the task switcher to overlap the context menu once activated. But I certainly think it's doable without being confusing.

I hope any of this makes sense.
A slightly different approach: instead of clicking the right mouse button, then hovering over the arrow-icon, then clicking on the desired window icon from the task switcher, it could also be done while holding the right mouse button. In that case you'll click and hold RMB, hover over the arrow-icon, hover over the desired window icon in the task switcher, release RMB, and the switch will be made.

Additionally, a second icon displaying an arrow pointing left could be placed next (left) to the up-arrow. Clicking this arrow would activate the overlay.

To clear things up I've attached a quick illustration to this e-mail showing the idea more clearly (I hope attachments are okay on this ML?). I think this could make task switching a whole lot easier and faster, but I'm curious what you all think about it.

Kind regards,

Wouter Verwijlen

From: david jordan <dmj726 sbcglobal net>
To: gnome-shell-list gnome org
Sent: Tuesday, June 9, 2009 8:28:20 PM
Subject: Re: Thoughts on Alt-Tab switching

--- On Mon, 6/8/09, Stanisław Pitucha <viraptor gmail com> wrote:

From: Stanisław Pitucha <viraptor gmail com>
Subject: Re: Thoughts on Alt-Tab switching
To: gnome-shell-list gnome org
Date: Monday, June 8, 2009, 9:11 PM

2009/6/8 Jeremy Perry <jeremy perry redhat com>:

I see a big hole in that page -> there's no mention about keyboard
interaction. I wonder if this idea would be more useful if one added
key operations like:

hold-alt -> press+release tab -> left/right to select task (with
bringing windows to front, etc. as described) -> release-alt to
confirm a switch
(up/down for tabs, etc.)

hold-alt -> press+release tab -> incremental search on typed letters
(tasks that don't match the typed characters disappear, if only one is
left, change to tab-switcher instead of app-switcher)

or... bonus points for supporting 'hjkl' as directions :)
gnome-shell-list mailing list
gnome-shell-list gnome org
I like this.  Mouse interaction would be a nice option to use too, but it <alt>+<tab> should only ever require the keyboard.  I was actually thinking about something similar to this last week. 
<alt>+<tab> should continue to have its normal behavior (each press of <tab> goes to the next window).
<left arrow> and <right arrow> would navigate to the next item in the current level.  Eg. switching between windows in a given workspace, tabs in a given window, or different workspaces.
<up arrow> and <down arrow> will change levels to drill down into a windows tabs or move up to show windows in a different workspace.
Thus far we have not used any of the keys needed for regular text entry.  I propose that any alphanumeric text entered automatically be used for search, narrowing down the window/tab list. 
To make this nice for the user we need to find a way to make <alt>+<tab> sticky.  It shouldn't default to being sticky because that will mess with the default behavior in rather unpleasant ways.  There should be some simple one-handed way to make <alt>+<tab> stay up without the user holding <alt>.  What do you guys think would be a good way of toggling between sticky and non-sticky mode?

Attachment: rmb-task-switching.png
Description: PNG image

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