Re: [Usability] Switching between tabs with Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab and "recency list"

My biggest complaint with Ctrl-Pg Up/ Ctrl-Alt-Pg Up is it is really hard to use. Ctrl-Tab can be used with only one hand and you hardly even have to move your fingers anywhere to use it, its just right there. Ctrl-Alt-Pg Up requires you to use both hands and move them rather far from home row. This is one of the many little things that cause me to use Firefox over Epiphany.

On 2/28/06, Calum Benson <Calum Benson sun com> wrote:

On 26 Feb 2006, at 20:27, Adam Purkrt wrote:

> Hello there,
> I'd like to discuss/suggest a well known and handy feature I miss
> in GNOME.
> So, is there any reason why Ctrl+Tab and Ctrl+Shift+Tab aren't/
> shouldn't be used to switch forward/backward between tabs in e.g.
> gnome-terminal, gedit, other tabbed applications?

A couple:

- Ctrl+PgUp/PgDn is more widely-implemented across more toolkits/
platforms (or at least, it was when we originally researched it)

- Ctrl+Tab is already used as our universal "get focus out of here"
combo, for situations where Tab alone doesn't work (because the
control needs to use Tab for its own purposes, e.g. a rich text field)

> Anyway, tabbed applications should (in my opinion) use an internal
> "recency list" when switching between tabs.

Hmm, interesting idea, but I wonder how generally applicable it is.
By definition, there isn't necessarily any relationship between the
content of different tabs in the same window, so it's not necessarily
any more likely that you'll want to visit a recently-visited tab than
any other.  (This may or may not be more true of dialogs than
documents, I guess.)

> I know there are already shortcuts for switching tabs, but:
> 1) They aren't standardized (Ctrl-Alt-PageUp in gedit, Ctrl-Pageup
> in gnome-terminal for example)

Ctrl-Alt-PgUp/PgDn should work everywhere.  If it doesn't, please
file bugs.  (Ctrl-PgUp/PgDn is admittedly still the documented
shortcut, but there are situations where it can't work, so the Alt
alternative was added so there was always a working alternative.)

> 2) Ctrl-Alt-PageUp/Down isn't much convenient (three keys instead
> of two, can't be accomplished easily by one hand)

Right, that's why it's not our documented shortcut  :)  Still ought
to be documented somewhere though, really.

> 3) Switching in gedit/gnome-terminal doesn't loop

This is actually an accessibility feature; controls that have a
natural endpoint (such as lists and rows of tabs) should ideally beep
(visibly or audibly, according to user preference) and (perhaps
optionally) stop when you try to wrap around, otherwise blind users
etc. have a hard time knowing when they've reached the end.

Of course, all this is another argument for not having application-
controlled tabbed document windows at all, as was the HIG's original
intention... if each document was in its own window (or tabbed by the
window manager rather than the application), you could use the
existing window manager shortcuts to do everything you're suggesting :)


CALUM BENSON, Usability Engineer       Sun Microsystems Ireland
mailto:calum benson sun com            Java Desktop System Team             +353 1 819 9771

Any opinions are personal and not necessarily those of Sun Microsystems
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