Named, persistent workspaces

I am one of those users that plan most of their workspace layout
beforehand. I have one for the editors, one for "research" browsing
and note-taking, one for personal communication, one for official
"shop talk", a number of them for personal coding projects and so on.
This is a temporally stable choice of mine, something that changes on
the same time scales as changes in the projects I'm working on,
meaning weeks or months.
I might need to add an extra dynamic workspace or two now and then on
scales of minutes to a whole work day, but mostly the structure is
fixed for much longer time spans.

Each time I log into G-S I have to arrange things so that those spaces
are created and placed in the correct order (because I want to use my
spacial memory to navigate them, and because if I don't it screws up
my memorized numeric shortcuts). That includes launching applications
I don't need right now just to keep spaces open in the correct order.
Even worse, if I mistakenly close the wrong window causing a workspace
to be scrapped, I have to start shuffling windows around to restore
the correct disposition of spaces.

I think that the "naming" mechanics would reflect very naturally a
habit many users will form anyway: those users that have a somewhat
stable usage pattern would find useful if the environment could be
"tagged" to facilitate their orientation; workspaces become a task
taxonomy rather than simple window containers. Something that a
totally dynamic list of anonymous spaces is just not as good at.

That's how real places with a function work, and thus how users are
accustomed to think of: your bedroom is planned beforehand as the
place where you retire at night. You can change the bed and drawers
and all other furniture, but the function of the room is defined and
furniture follows. The left corner of your desk might be where pile
the articles you still have to read. That can be the
"articles-to-read-spot" even when empty.

Sure, I can virtually redefine the bedroom as the room where I put the
bed every morning, or reorder my desk at 8 every day before I start
studying. But why should I? Places with a known function are supposed
to be persistent, at least until I redefine the function.

Now I understand that someone could reply that this is a niche rather
than common need (is it?), thus the way I tried to suggest an avenue
for growth that was as transparent as possible to the "casual" user of
workspaces and that could be mixed and matched with the current
implementation. I can adapt and live with an extension that inhibits
workspace collection, but - again - I think we're missing mapping a
very natural behaviour and mental model here.

On Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 6:10 PM, David Prieto <frandavid100 gmail com> wrote:
> Hi Elia,
>> The behaviour currently presented in the shell (dynamically managed,
>> ad-hoc  workspaces) is a great way to introduce even a casual user to
>> the concept of separate workspaces and solving the simple problems of
>> "I need more space for my windows" or "I don't want to see this window
>> right now".
> Agreed.
>> As users become familiar with the concept, though, it's possible that
>> many of them will start thinking along different lines, where the
>> spaces are planned beforehand and consistently to organize their work
>> (a space for the editor, a space for a "research" browser window, one
>> for email and so on), in line with what power users of unixy OSs have
>> been doing since the dawn of time.
> I think that the beauty of the new system is that it removes the need to
> plan workspace management beforehand. Advanced users already can use a
> dedicated workspace for a given app (they only have to middle-click its
> launcher for it to open in the empty workspace) and drag existing windows in
> order to group them in a single workspace, if they are related.
> My personal opinion is that what you are proposing would detract from the
> simplicity of the new workspace system. So, what actual benefits would it
> bring to the table? That is, why would an advanced user want to plan his
> workspaces beforehand? How would it be better than doing it on the fly?


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