OPEN FEEDBACK: Expose Spaces: poor comparison with the KDE window manager and other windowing issues

This page contains, describes, or reports suspected ERROR(S) in content, a specification, or a tool !

Ever become really frustrated with a computer application or tool you feel could have much better designed features ? Well Mac OS X 'Spaces' (the virtual desktop regions aspect of Expose Spaces) is surely a candidate as far as I'm concerned..

Ever been tired and grumpy working still late at night, and sent a frustrated email prematurely to technical support to complain about a computer application you don't like, instead of waiting until the next morning to read of all the instructions calmly and trying things out again first before complaining so much ? Well this email from me (Dr Darren) below is surely one of those.

However, to make amends, here is a demonstration of how breaking complicated technical texts down into sentences and hyperlinking them to analysis (in the spirit of Dr Darren's UML™ Parsing Analysis recipe) can help make a bad thing good. Or at least better.

Besides. Spaces could indeed be much, much easier to use (and it's morning, and I have been reading the instructions).

I'll be demonstrating this live as I work on other things, because I'm starting to use Spaces (again) as I work, but it keeps distracting me, and I end up reading the help pages again and again, which makes it really hard to do real work. I've included some [moderating remarks] in [brackets] and I've indicated thus. Crucial sentences are hyperlinked to detailed analysis and images from: Gallery: snapshots of aspects of KDE3.5 window manager widgets

Please note following also the list of other ISSUES I've identified with Spaces !

Technical support feedback letter roughly as sent to Apple on 13 May 2009

Hi Apple,

After many years using mostly Linux with KDE I switched last year to Mac OS X on a MacBook Pro.

The one thing I've found hardest to adapt to is the way windows are organised on Mac OS X, and Expose Spaces does not help much [yes it does, although it could be much better]. I find KDE Window Manager approach is far superior [and it is] because of at least the following:

1. It should be possible to allocate a specific _window_ from an application to a given space, not the entire application's window set at once ! It should be possible to allocate a specific _window_ from an application to a given space, not the entire application's window set at once ! This is because one main use of such windows spaces is to organise them by project: 1=development, 2=finance, 3=client, 4=personal. Now each of these projects could use 0 or more windows from any number of applications. Especially when organising browser windows - which might provide materials relevant to these different projects - it is particularly annoying to have the window change space !

In KDE it is much easier: one can easily assign (by selecting a _named_ space from a button on the window bar) a given window to any space .. (or to all as "sticky", which you do have in Spaces), and many windows from 1 application can be allocated to different spaces.

If this is possible in Spaces please forgive my critique and let me know how.

2. In KDE when one pulls up the window list one gets a nice VERTICAL 2-level tree with the 1st level a selectable Space _name_, and the 2nd level it the specific window selection list .. with the names of those windows that are allocated to them (with the application of each window clear from an icon, or optionally in appended text, one could use "WindowTitle [Application]"

3. In KDE one can name each space, typically by project, as shown [explained] above.

The cognitive reason this [refers to 1. above] is so important is that while I am working on one project I don't want to be constantly reminded of other topics (alarms excepted), it distracts too much, I find it quite stressy. Especially if one has to look through a list of WindowTitles that are hetereogeneous (to find a window related to the current project, let's say Java coding), it is annoying to have to read about banking, personal stuff, or arbitrary web pages from some search.

4. The horizontal icon-based AppleKey+Tab equivalent is also better in KDE, because it only lists those window within a given space (and those that are sticky), so you stay within the zone.

5. When one clicks once an icon for a Space [shoud say ALT_TAB] in KDE, it gives a selectable list of all windows in that space, with an indicator of whether it is open or not [in (brackets) and greyed out a bit. One does get a passive list of windows per desktop on when hovering over a button for a desktop in the KDE panel mini-pager].

I am really surprised at the lack of these very basic features in Spaces, after only a few seconds working on real projects with Spaces you can see that the current system can't be really useful (unless one is always working with one type of application per project), especially given the number of really good window managers already out there; a little bit more R&D first might have helped.

I would like to say that Spaces is better than nothing, but in fact it is more annoying than just plowing through the full window list in most cases for my work,, except for 'accounts' which I do with MYOB, but even then it jumps spaces whenever I want to switch to an online banking page, which I then have to find in a window list of sometimes 100 !

So please as soon as possible:

1. ERROR: Ability to allocate a Window (not a whole Application) to a Space (or better instructions on how to if already present)..

2. WISH: A vertical Window list with some sub-structure by (named) Space.

3. WISH: Named Spaces, at least as an option or on hover over a Space icon. We have enough to remember already thanks

4. The horizontal icon-based AppleKey+Tab equivalent is also better in KDE, because it only lists those window within a given space (and those that are sticky), so you stay within the zone.

5. WISH: Nested selectable list of Windows (with Application indicator icon) currently allocated to a given space when clicking on the Spaces toolbar icon. . [Or if already possible, please explain how.]

This would save me and your many users lots of stress and save use a huge amount of time. [Which is why I invested a whole day preparing this OPEN LETTER with detailed feedback and examples of features.]

I was told Apple works with customer's feedback and really responds; well I'm a recent Mac convert, please turn me into a Mac evangelist by delivering on this one in an Expose & Spaces upgrade in way that offers an upgrade path for at least Mac OS X Leopard still (so that I can benefit from this feedback).


Darren Kelly (Bondi, Sydney, Australia)

PS: Can somebody please tell me how to really maximise (not just enlarge) a window to fit the entire screen in one click on any window ? Put me out of my misery after one year of pain.

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