Re: [Usability] Grouping Windows: Sticky Windows

At 08:19 PM 4/6/2004, Ryan McDougall wrote:

"Accidental stickings" are definitely a bad thing, and any design should
avoid them; I'm just saying they don't directly impede usability (ie: it
doesn't stop you from using your email).

If you look at the usability of a single application, I agree that it doesn't impede usability. But if you look at a system-wide level, I think that it does. Currently, my main task is writing this email. But I have a handful of peripheral tasks, such as keeping an eye on my IM client to see if one of my co-workers logs in. If these two windows were to be accidentally stuck together, and I didn't take the time to unstick them, then I might miss him when he logs in. Or, if my media player were to get stuck to my email window, and a song came up that I didn't want to hear, I would lose some amount of time having to locate the window so that I could skip it.

I'm not trying to beat a dead horse, since you say below that this could be modal. My intent here is to point out that although we tend to focus on usability at a single application level, we can't leave off a discussion of usability at the system level. This is especially true in this instance, since the original idea is geared towards improving the usability of the whole system.

>If "Stickiness" is a modal feature, you could never inadvertently stick
things without having just asked the WM to do so. Example: I want to
stick my terminal and editor, so I click on the terminal window, choose
"stickify this window". The window changes visual (border becomes
greenish?) and when we drag it, it attaches itself to the nearest window
but doesn't actually stick until we "drop" it where we want it (on the
editor). Once dropped the terminal is "stuck" to the editor, but loses
its "stickiness" and will no longer attach to another window.

I think that it does have to be modal. I think that an inexperienced user would be rather put off if they were moving windows around their screen and they suddenly stuck to each other, so they were moving two (or more!) windows around at the same time.


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