Squib of the day: Exposé

ExposeIn GNOME bug 502491 someone is asking for an effect like Exposé on OS X.  Iain, who wrote the compositor and ought to know, believes it would be better done as a separate program.  There was an attempt to do this a while back, called Expocity, but nothing much came of it.  Does this mean the bug is INVALID?  Should the external program exist?  Anyone fancy doing it?

Includes the memorable exchange:
“Every time I propose an enhancement, you say ‘go for it’.  What are you doing?”
“I’m cooking my dinner.  What are you doing?”

If it was a separate program, it could be activated by a mouse button or a keybinding in the same way that, say, Print Screen is currently activated.  The program could move windows about using the EWMH, but I don’t see how an external utility could tell the compositor to scale the contents of windows down and back again.  Iain, can you throw me a clue? Update: Thanks.

Someone said yesterday in the discussion on animated previews in the alt-tab switcher that an Exposé-like effect would be good for everything that animated previews would, and more.

Photo © Underpuppy, cc-by-nd-sa.

9 Comments

  1. Posted January 26, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Scaling the window contents is one thing, another thing is scaling the actual window decorations. I think this is the hard part as you have the choices:

    * create a full-screen canvas and draw a miniature of each window using cairo or clutter or whatever – but the price is losing decorations; or

    * create a whole effing lot of small windows trying to preserve the decorations but now all of a sudden decorations are not to-scale with the contents; or

    * rewrite half of Metacity to get the working and to-scale decorations – with proper colors etc.

  2. Simone Malacarne
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    i vote for rewrite half of metacity to have this and the other effects a modern OS (or windows manager) should give.

  3. Posted January 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    @Simone Malacarne:

    This isn’t an election. If you want to rewrite half of metacity, the code’s available to you.

  4. Simone Malacarne
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    @Thomas
    i know, comment is meant to be ironic. Like i say in the other post i think a modern windows manager should give a level of effects even if these are not functional related. It’s like cars, if you want to sell car costumer want to have some kind of confort.

    I didn’t want to be irrespective to your work.

  5. Posted January 26, 2009 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Just to be clear. When I wrote “rewrite half of Metacity” I actually meant having to reimplement half of it in the stand-alone expose app in order to correctly draw a working window border (or redirect Metacity itself to an offscreen pixmap thus creating a second compositor).

  6. Calum
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    Exposé is a neat gimmick, but I have to say the *only* time I ever use it on OS X is when an application (or the window manager) misbehaves, and I end up with one small window behind another that I can’t find any other way.

    Other than that, it’s no more useful to me than Alt-Tab, and usually feels less efficient to use (perhaps because there’s no useful ordering of the windows, like there is with Alt-Tab).

  7. Posted January 26, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    Speaking purely for myself, Compiz’s scale plugin does this and I use it all the time. Naturally, this is a single-person anecdote rather than a usability study. :)

  8. Posted January 26, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Not sure what is best, but the Compiz like gesture is something I really do like and find much more useful and quicker than alt+tab.

  9. gilir
    Posted January 26, 2009 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    Well, when you use most of the time only the mouse, when you have many windows open and not ordered, a Expose-like to display all windows enabled by the right-corner of the screen is very usefull :) At least, for me it’s very usefull :)

    I don’t think the live preview part is usefull as well. I think it’s a just a “nice to have features”, make your desktop nicer to use.

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  1. By Exposé, part two - …for the adult in you on January 26, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    […] …for the adult in you “Many window managers are like Marshmallow Froot Loops; Metacity is like Cheerios.” Skip to content « Squib of the day: Exposé […]