Consistent Placement: The items on the bar remain static, so you always know exactly where the application you're looking for is when you want to switch to it.
Large Icons: Having large, color-coded icons improves visual memory and also helps you identify what you're looking for significantly faster than plaintext with a small icon.
That's just to address the one concern you gave. I'll list a few others. On Unity in particular, you've got global search at your disposal, so one keypress or click and you can immediately find and launch anything by name with just the enter key. That's infinitely better than digging through Gnome 2's app menu, let alone browsing for a particular file. Gnome Shell offers a similar feature. In Gnome Shell (and Unity as I have it configured) there is a hot corner (and keyboard shortcut) that immediately exposes all windows in a fashion where you can continue on and click the one you want immediately. No reading titles and trying to identify which one is which. This is a tremendous booster. I love Unity's HUD feature personally. That's one thing I've always missed from Mac. As far as I'm concerned the only real regression is the loss of the Compiz Cube, but I'll take Unity and Gnome Shell's extremely up to date visual styles over that any day. Gnome Shell is beautiful, hands down. Unity looks about as good as Windows 7, which means that it is pleasing to the eye, just not overly amazing. By default Gnome 2 was a downright eyesore. I would spend days configuring it in order to make it acceptable with things like Emerald.
Last edited by coder543; 10-23-2012 at 03:13 PM.
this? Not quite what I had in mind; I'd rather my processes didn't start killing each other...
The giant icons are actually not that easy to hit with a cursor (probably easier than small icons but, b/c of their size, they give the mistaken impression of being easy to hit while not having the advantage of an infinite edge to rest against). That aside, searching for icons in that way is not very fast (when they add paging that will help a bit, but still doesn't fix the essential problem). Spatial memory is only good for a relatively small number of frequently used items. It simply doesn't work well when you have many, many things installed. So, ignoring typing, you need a way to quickly filter the items down to a smaller number. Traditionally we've used categories to do this but the GS designers are planning on getting rid of those in 3.8 (last I heard). Considering the way categories have been exposed (way off to the right with a list that is fairly difficult to interact with and parse) I can understand why they want a change but getting rid of them all together is going to make the problem worse.
The hot corner needs to go away. I really like using it. I LOVE using it. It's one of the best things GS has done (aside from incorporating some web tech), but it simply doesn't work with multimonitor setups, especially when you consider eyefinity type setups. Also, xcapture isn't a solution. It's a bandaid on a gangrenous apendage.
The virtual desktops need to go away. I never use them. My GF (a UX person) started out using them and gradually stopped doing so. She tells me they didn't offer task isolation b/c she uses maximized windows (she mostly uses her 12.5" laptop). When she uses multimonitors she would put multiple items on one screen but on her main screen she works with a maximized window. When she changes windows she uses alt-tab which will ignore workspaces and show you all your applications. So, in short, if you use maximized windows, which seems to be the suggested usage for GS, the virtual desktops aren't very useful. As I've said in the past, a better model to use is ad hoc window groupings (Panorama) that you can name. It is a really natural way to interact with windows and has a low cognitive barrier AND allows you to see what is where easily in overview (alt-tab would be as efficient as ever). Additionally, these tasks need to be persistent. That is, if you shut down the computer with them running you can expect them to open up again in their task groups when you log back in. That is something that you can do, with some effort, in various other DEs, and it is a good idea. Things that you do often need to be as easy to do as possible, and applying no effort towards a task IS as easy as it gets.
Frankly, there is so much more, but this is enough for now.
I understand your points, but most desktop environments have offered that already. Take KDE as an example.
Alt-F2 (KRunner) does that in KDE by default. Alt-F2 is the shortcut from the 90s which stuck around, but you can easily reassign it.That's just to address the one concern you gave. I'll list a few others. On Unity in particular, you've got global search at your disposal, so one keypress or click and you can immediately find and launch anything by name with just the enter key.
KWin does that. I think it's not bound to a corner by default, but Ctrl-F10 does it. Ctrl-F8 does the same, but additionally shows all desktops in a grid. You can also start typing the app name, and it will automatically filter the window previews for you.That's infinitely better than digging through Gnome 2's app menu, let alone browsing for a particular file. Gnome Shell offers a similar feature. In Gnome Shell (and Unity as I have it configured) there is a hot corner (and keyboard shortcut) that immediately exposes all windows in a fashion where you can continue on and click the one you want immediately.
KDE has that too.As far as I'm concerned the only real regression is the loss of the Compiz Cube
KDE has that too.but I'll take Unity and Gnome Shell's extremely up to date visual styles over that any day.
What bothers me about Unity is that it's hard to figure out how to do things. The first thing I do when running a recent Ubuntu is open a few terminals, so I don't have to touch Unity It's not the new functionality that bothers people about Unity and Gnome Shell (KDE has had all that functionality for years), but the fact that features have gone missing in an effort to reeducate you about how you shall use your computer and punish you for disobedience. That's annoying.
But then again, different strokes for different folks. As long as KDE continues to offer me a full-featured desktop, I don't mind it if other desktops try different things. For the record, my KDE desktop resembles NeXT. One panel on the left with a Wharf-style taskbar and some common shortcuts, 4 desktops, Alt-tab for switching and Krunner+command name for starting stuff. No icons on desktops, very few effects which I use sparingly. Pretty bare-bones, and takes about 5 minutes to set up. I can't set up Unity to do that, so it's no good for me.
If you don't like them, don't use them. They are brilliant and keep your fingers away from them.
The cool thing about virtual desktops is that they leverage your spatial memory in a way ad-hoc groupings don't. This I find useful, I have a clear map of where things are on which desktop and it makes finding things easier. There is nothing worse than 20 overlapping windows and then trying to sift through them to find what you're looking for.