Taskbars and application integration.

On Mon, Jan 4, 2010 at 7:21 PM, William Jon McCann <
william jon mccann gmail com> wrote:

>  But speaking of modern desktop systems, I don't know of a single OS
> environment
> designed in the last, say, 5 years that has a window based taskbar.
> Do you?  (Docks and live window previews are different.)  Vista was
> probably the last one ever.

Well, Chrome OS <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJ57xzo287U> seems likely to
have something very similar to a window based taskbar. The tabs are
essentially full screen windows, supplemented with either overlaying panels
or sidebars, and what were windows are made to be more like desktops,
selected from a zoomed out overview. To me, this seems like a pretty
enticing evolution of the taskbar, and of window management generally
(though "management" is what this tiling largely dispenses with, at least
for a small, single-tab screen). And Firefox, which for lots of people is
almost an operating environment in itself, has outlined (tentative)
plans<http://limi.net/articles/reinventing-tabs-for-the-browser/> to
keep its tabbar even as it adds a sidebar-based tab switcher.

If anything, Gnome Shell seems distinctive among all available desktop
operating environments in doing away with persistent visual representation
of unfocused windows and apps, at least by default (litl is like this too, I
guess). In Windows and OS X these things are (as far as I can see) always
visible, unless auto-hiding is enabled (setting aside any fancy situations
with workspaces). From that perspective, the activities view is something
like an auto-hiding menu/dock, an approach more familiar from cell phones
than desktops.

This seems to me a bold move, making unfocused things into fully invisible
ones. And it seems very deliberately and thoughtfully intended:

> Owen Taylor:

Well, the bluntest answer here is that if a window isn't important to

what you are doing right now, it's good that you forgot it!

As Owen Taylor makes clear, this puts a burden on applications to make use
of the available notifications systems to maintain the distinction between
active and inactive activities:

The larger extension of that is that we want window switching to be

about switching what you are doing, and not about polling for changes.

There's obviously plenty of work to be done to get all applications on

board with that story.

My question is how this relates to the web and all the applications there.
Given the diversity of apps in the world, especially in the wild west of the
web, I'm worried that this sort of integration is an unreasonable
expectation. If Gnome's goal is to be as self-contained and integrated as a
mobile os, or as litl, then I suppose that would include wrapping or
communicating with web services rather than just relaying and arranging web
apps. But what about a less ambitious sort of integration, one that allows
Gmail and Obscurewebmail to function as units equivalent to Evolution
without expecting all three to be equally communicative about their states?

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