Docks Don’t Have Much Appeal To Me

The reason why docks usually don’t have much appeal to me is simple. It takes longer to get from one window to another on situations where multiple windows of the same application are open.

Let us say for example I have several windows of LibreOffice Writer open. It would take me how many steps to get to the desired LibreOffice document window on the current Unity launcher?

(1) Hover mouse on the Ubuntu logo at the top left corner of the desktop. This action will cause the launcher to re-appear.

(2) Double click on the Writer icon to preview all Writer windows. That is two clicks without getting to my objective yet.

(3) Finally, I’m getting somewhere! Select and click on desired window.

After one deliberate mouse movement to get to that Ubuntu logo at the top left and 3 clicks, I am able to switch windows. Too many unnecessary mouse actions for a simple windows switch, yes? Imagine 5 Writer windows all at once! (Yes that happens from time to time to all of us.) Oh, did I stress that always moving the mouse pointer all the way to the top left corner of the desktop is such a pain because the pointer is usually resting on the right-bottom half of the desktop where it normally would be while working?

The traditional desktops are more oriented with right-handed people, I think, and majority of the world’s population are. How about Right-to-left (RTL) languages? I don’t know about them but I myself normally rest my mouse at the bottom-right portion of the desktop as indicated in the image below. Why? My right-handed orientation always brings the mouse back to the natural resting position at the bottom right. Any other way and it feels awkward. Perhaps I should change my orientation pretty soon?

When the mouse pointer is normally resting at the bottom portion of the desktop, it is quicker and a shorter distance to arrive to the window list and click the desired window. Compare that to the distance from that position to the Ubuntu logo at the upper-left corner, and then I’ll have to slide down the length of the Unity launcher.

2 suggestions to improve usability:

1) One of the reasons why I don’t like the default Windows 7 setup. I have to hover and select to switch windows. But right now that looks better than Unity launcher. The Launcher does not give you a balloon option when you hover on the icon. You have to double-click it to get the list of windows.

2) Maybe they can incorporate the traditional window list into the launcher as an option? This time they make it more intuitive. I’d love to see that. I got an interesting idea, one that I’ll blog soon.

Note: Those images above is only a Unity 2D version. I couldn’t run Unity from a Virtualbox. The version of Ubuntu 11.04 was downloaded March 27, Sunday. I couldn’t get the appearance quite right for odd reasons – not very responsive to the changes I wanted – hence the fugly theme on LibreOffice.

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