Taskbar shoud display applciations list instead of windows list
Submitted by Bertrand Rousseau
First of all, I joined a mockup presenting my idea to this bug. Take a look!
Now the explanation:
I realized some days ago that in order to improve usability of the desktop, we should present windows list (as shown by default in the taskbar) as an applications list instead.
What do I mean? That's simple: at present, in the taskbar, every existing int he desktop window is listed, whatever the application. It is actually possible to group them by application, showing one button for every windows belonging to an application. That means that everything is based on the concept of windows. So, when you work on something on a computer, you actually play with windows.
I think this is actually broken: in reality, when I work on somethin on my computer, I use applications. I mean I use a mail reader, a web browser, a text editor, and so on... But I do not think like: "I'm using the windows called xxxx". What I think is thus that it would actually be more logical to present every running application as such, and not as windows, which the lower level representation of the explication.
To remediate this, I believe it would be interesting to change a little bit the behaviour of the taskbar. Instead of showing a liste of windows, it should display a list of running application. In the rest of this text, I'll present an example, and then some use case to explain of I see it work.
Imagine this situation. You are browsing the web, using two or three windows of epiphany. You also have a mail reader running, and Gimp running to do some mockups (of course, like always ;-)).
With the actual behaviour of the tasklist you'll see something like: "Web browser - www.slashdot.org", "Web brower - digg.com", "Web brower - planet.gnome.org", "Mail reader", "The Gimp", "Layers", "ubercool_mockup.xcf" in your taskbar.
I would rather see this: "Web Browser", "Mail Reader", "The Gimp". This way, you only see running applications, not the enormous amount of windows present on your screen. If I want to return back to web browsing while I was gimping something, I'll just have to click on "Web Browser". This kind of behaviour would be rather less confusing for some beginning user not really acquainted with the concept of windows. They use programs to do stuffs, not windows! For them, reflexions like "Let's o back to that web browser windows" is nonsense: they think "I wanna go back to the program I was in to browse the internet". Seeing "Web Browser" in the taskbar would be self-explanatory.
Of course, this change quite a lot from the actual conception of the desktop taskbar, and that means it requires some different behaviour than when dealing only with windows. Actually a popular desktop already use this approach: it's MacOSX and its docker.
How it should work: when launching an application, the task appears as launching on the taskbar (imagine some fading - in and out - on the taskbar, which would be consistent with the glowing animation when application request attention of user at present).
Then the taskbar only displays the name of the applicaiton on the taskbar, whatever the number of windows this application possess.
When you click on it, every windows of this application come over every others. So imagine you were in Gimp on you click on "Web Browser": every windows of epiphany would come over the gimp windows.
Clicking right on the button show a list of windows of the application, and maybe also some other application-specific actions.
In handling multiple desktops, we could by default only show applications runnning on the desktop we're in. If we display every running applications, whatever the desktop, we should be warped to the desktop the application is running or warp every windows in the present desktop (to discuss...).
The buttons could be larger than now, offering a better reading, and allowing certain application to show some useful information. Ex: Mail reader could display how many unread mails there is.
I suppose this should not we be really hard to do since most of the needed function (grouping by applications) already exist.