Switching between workspaces

66.365 - Fascinating FingersMetacity allows you to keep your windows on workspaces.  You can have between one and 36 of them.  (The number 36 is rather arbitrary; it’s described as “a fixed maximum to prevent making the desktop unusable by accidentally asking for too many workspaces.“)

You can switch between these workspaces either by using the switcher applet, or using directional keys (“move to the workspace below the current one”, and so on).  You may also use specialised keys to jump to a specific workspace. For example, you might keep your email app open on workspace 7 all the time, and bind F7 to jump to that workspace.  Each such specialised key is treated as a special case, and there are twelve of them.

GNOME bug 115584 makes the point that it’s inconsistent to allow three dozen workspaces and only allow keyboard switching for a dozen of them.  There is even a patch to add twenty more special cases (your chronicler is not sure what happened to the remaining four).

It’s not clear that this problem needs to be solved at all, but if it does, adding a score of new keybindings is certainly not the way forward.  A better solution would be to use GConf’s ability to store lists of strings.  A single new GConf key could store a list of keybindings for the corresponding workspaces, and it could extend to whatever length made the user happy.  The existing special-case keybindings would need to be retained for backward compatibility, but they could then be deprecated.

Photo © Josh Libatique, cc-by.