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System-wide tabbed windows
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besson3c
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:06 AM
 
What do you think of this concept? This will be in the new version of KDE:

You can tab any windows you want.
The windows can be from different applications.
The tabbing capability is supported by the windows mamnager, KWin in KDE SC.
Can you see yourself tabbing between windows across different programs? This seems very Windowsey/document centric, but even if you choose to just keep your tabs self-contained within certain applications, what do you think of a system-wide tabbing thing?

It seems that tabs behave slightly different in different apps. The Safari tab close X is on the left while in Firefox it is on the right, for instance. There is also the question of whether you can drag and drop to reorder tabs, etc. Consolidating on a way to create and manage tabs so that it is consistent system-wide seems like it would be a good idea. It also allows developers to not have to worry about adding tabbing functionality to their apps.

On the other hand, it doesn't make sense to allow all different types of windows to be tabbable. Sheets and dialog boxes, for instance, should not be tabbable. There is also the question of how this might mesh with apps that already have their own tabbing implementation.

An interesting idea worthy of discussion, hopefully!
     
Doofy
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:49 AM
 
Seems like a crappy clutching-at-straws idea implemented by a company failing because Gnome is beating the poop out of them. Can't see myself using it at all (since I usually want to see any open windows side-by-side simultaneously). Useless geek candy, IMO.

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Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 05:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It seems that tabs behave slightly different in different apps. The Safari tab close X is on the left while in Firefox it is on the right, for instance. There is also the question of whether you can drag and drop to reorder tabs, etc. Consolidating on a way to create and manage tabs so that it is consistent system-wide seems like it would be a good idea. It also allows developers to not have to worry about adding tabbing functionality to their apps.
The reason Firefox is broken is because of cross-platform compatibility. The Firefox interface is custom-*everything* to ensure it works the same on all platforms, and integrates with none. (This includes one of my personal pet peeves, the fact that the "File" menu is called "Datei" rather than the standard "Ablage" in the German localization.)

Adding custom handling of tabs to an operating system isn't going to help when developers are already unwilling/boneheaded about proper OS support.
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:00 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Can you see yourself tabbing between windows across different programs? This seems very Windowsey/document centric, but even if you choose to just keep your tabs self-contained within certain applications, what do you think of a system-wide tabbing thing?
No, IMO a stupid idea: you never know where to find tabs of application xyz: they could be scattered across different windows.
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It seems that tabs behave slightly different in different apps. The Safari tab close X is on the left while in Firefox it is on the right, for instance.
The reason for that is Windows: close and maximize are on the right so muscle memory of Windows users tells them to go to the right corner instead of the left.
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Dec 7, 2009, 07:34 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
The reason for that is Windows: close and maximize are on the right so muscle memory of Windows users tells them to go to the right corner instead of the left.
And on Windows everything is all right. The tab close widget is on the right in both Safari and Firefox. Only on Mac is there an inconsistency.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 01:57 PM
 
Well, the tabs are different in other Mac apps too, such as iTerm, Photoshop, etc.
( Last edited by besson3c; Dec 7, 2009 at 02:22 PM. )
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by TETENAL View Post
And on Windows everything is all right. The tab close widget is on the right in both Safari and Firefox. Only on Mac is there an inconsistency.
I obviously prefer it if things are properly adapted. That's one of the reasons I cannot, for aesthetic reasons alone, use Firefox. I was merely trying to give an explanation.
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besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
I obviously prefer it if things are properly adapted. That's one of the reasons I cannot, for aesthetic reasons alone, use Firefox. I was merely trying to give an explanation.
This is one aspect to being a Mac user I'll probably never fully understand...
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:20 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Seems like a crappy clutching-at-straws idea implemented by a company failing because Gnome is beating the smoke out of them. Can't see myself using it at all (since I usually want to see any open windows side-by-side simultaneously). Useless geek candy, IMO.


First of all, KDE is not a company. Second of all, this would simply be an option. If you want your open windows side by side simultaneously you'd still be able to, but you'd also have the option to tab stuff.

Weren't some people in here advocating for a tabbed Finder?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:22 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
No, IMO a stupid idea: you never know where to find tabs of application xyz: they could be scattered across different windows.
I agree, I can't see that meshing well with my workflow, although maybe Windows users would like it because they have no concept of windows being associated with particular applications. To them a window is a window.

The reason for that is Windows: close and maximize are on the right so muscle memory of Windows users tells them to go to the right corner instead of the left.
Even if the Xs were in the right place on all Mac apps that support tabbing, there would still likely be aesthetic and usability differences if every app did their own implementation, for instance with drag and drop reordering.
     
nonhuman
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:28 PM
 
How is putting everything in tabs any different from the pre-7 Windows taskbar?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:33 PM
 
Perhaps a shorter trip to switch between them, and the ability to have certain subsets of windows in tabs rather than absolutely everything, as you get with the taskbar?
     
Chuckit
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
This is one aspect to being a Mac user I'll probably never fully understand...
A strong sense of aesthetics is not a Mac thing, per se; it's a vital life skill, just like money management and knowing not to watch a movie with Cuba Gooding Jr. in it.
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Dec 7, 2009, 02:57 PM
 
^
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besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 03:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
A strong sense of aesthetics is not a Mac thing, per se; it's a vital life skill, just like money management and knowing not to watch a movie with Cuba Gooding Jr. in it.

It's a Mac thing when we care this much about how pretty our applications look and how pretty our desktop cases that just sit there look.

It's possible for something to look pretty but still be very low quality, ya know...
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 03:37 PM
 
It's a Mac thing to recognize broken interface and to flat-out refuse to use products made by people who obviously don't give a **** about my time.
     
nonhuman
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Dec 7, 2009, 03:43 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Perhaps a shorter trip to switch between them, and the ability to have certain subsets of windows in tabs rather than absolutely everything, as you get with the taskbar?
So... take the taskbar, position it at the top of your screen, and add something like Spaces (with reasonable taskbar integration of course).
     
Chuckit
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Dec 7, 2009, 03:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It's a Mac thing when we care this much about how pretty our applications look and how pretty our desktop cases that just sit there look.

It's possible for something to look pretty but still be very low quality, ya know...
It's possible for something to be pretty and useless, but it's much harder for something with poor design to be useful.

A List Apart: Articles: In Defense of Eye Candy
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besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:36 PM
 
Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
It's possible for something to be pretty and useless, but it's much harder for something with poor design to be useful.

A List Apart: Articles: In Defense of Eye Candy
This is a very interesting article that makes good points. I fully agree that aesthetics *can* play a role in communicating concepts and can be a part of actual usability, although most Mac users don't seem to argue the aesthetics that appeal to them in terms of actual usability arguments. We mostly hear stuff like "brushed metal is just ugly" without getting into how it affects usability.

Moreover, as far as how pretty a desktop case looks, it would probably be a little harder to make arguments along these lines unless it is really that hard to find the optical drive, power, ports, etc. due to the aesthetic decisions made.
     
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:41 PM
 
Before Leopard came out, weren't there rumours of a tabbed Finder?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by nonhuman View Post
So... take the taskbar, position it at the top of your screen, and add something like Spaces (with reasonable taskbar integration of course).

Does Windows do virtual desktops?

There are many ways to skin a cat, I realize that. For some reason I haven't really gotten into virtual desktops. I have *no* idea whether I would gravitate towards tabs either.

This is just an open ended discussion, I'm not trying to assert that we would *all* benefit from having a system-wide tab implementation. However, *some* might be avid tabbers. Isn't a successful interface one that is productive for as wide a variety of user as possible so long as simplicity and other poor tradeoffs aren't made? OS X already makes some concessions to Windows users, does it not? Should it provide options for people that love having a gazillion tabs just as it offers an option for people who love virtual desktops? Surely there is a way to do this without making these sorts of negative tradeoffs. Having multiple ways to get something done without negative tradeoffs is generally a hallmark of good usability, isn't it?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:42 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
It's a Mac thing to recognize broken interface and to flat-out refuse to use products made by people who obviously don't give a **** about my time.
Is it also a Mac thing to be this defensive and close minded over a mere discussion about a possible interface *option*? Tabs have become a pervasive part of computing, they in no way can or should be attributed to Linux/OSS, which you clearly have a thing against...
     
nonhuman
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:46 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Does Windows do virtual desktops?

There are many ways to skin a cat, I realize that. For some reason I haven't really gotten into virtual desktops. I have *no* idea whether I would gravitate towards tabs either.

This is just an open ended discussion, I'm not trying to assert that we would *all* benefit from having a system-wide tab implementation. However, *some* might be avid tabbers. Isn't a successful interface one that is productive for as wide a variety of user as possible so long as simplicity and other poor tradeoffs aren't made? OS X already makes some concessions to Windows users, does it not? Should it provide options for people that love having a gazillion tabs just as it offers an option for people who love virtual desktops? Surely there is a way to do this without making these sorts of negative tradeoffs. Having multiple ways to get something done without negative tradeoffs is generally a hallmark of good usability, isn't it?
Not sure if Windows does virtual desktops. I'd be surprised if there wasn't a third party app for it, but who knows.

I just don't really see this as conceptually interesting, except inasmuch as it's basically taking the desktop experience in the same direction as Google's Chrome OS' UI.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 04:51 PM
 
Well, what attracts me the most is the premise of consolidating on a way for developers to implement tabs if they wish to, and consolidating on a way to manage them. I think *this* would be nice no matter whether there is a way to allow this option by default globally, overriding the desires of the individual application developers.

To me, tabs seem to be quickly become a part of what we might consider the core UI of many operating systems.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 05:06 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Is it also a Mac thing to be this defensive and close minded over a mere discussion about a possible interface *option*? Tabs have become a pervasive part of computing, they in no way can or should be attributed to Linux/OSS, which you clearly have a thing against...
Stop misrepresenting me.

I have a thing against interface which doesn't conform to the expectations of Macintosh and insists on wasting my time by forcing me to re-learn stuff I already know how to do in properly designed applications.

Being as I actually sell, explain, and support this stuff to human beings, I might be unusually sensitive to these issues, but apart from that, I've found that my tolerance for that sort of crap has sharply dropped since I hit my thirties, and all but disappeared since my daughter was born.

I routinely recommend OpenOffice over the Microsoft Suite, because, while it's butt-ugly, clunky, and doesn't adhere to Mac conventions, Microsoft Office has the same faults and actually requires you to PAY for the privilege of investing your time into learning what they pass off as functionality.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 05:18 PM
 
Spheric: fair enough, but I have no clue where you thought that I was suggesting that we should replace some aspect of OS X and in doing so force you to relearn stuff.

If any, a system wide way for developers to implement a consistent tab implementation would keep you from relearning how to manage tabs in the apps that you use tabs in. The question of whether there should be some global way to "force" tabbed support everywhere is a secondary issue, especially since even if this were implemented it would not be a given that there would be no way to disable this, or that the OS would default to having this feature on.

The reason why we've had so many different little interface shims over the years: WindowShade, alternate docks/launchers, various other hacks, alternate Finders, use of contextual menus, old school OS 9 carryovers, etc. is because we are all different and use our computers differently. A good UI is about recognizing this and supporting as much of this as it makes sense to. I'd argue that by now tabs are pretty ingrained in the way we compute since so many applications make use of them. It doesn't seem irrational at all to think about the best way to incorporate them in the core UI somehow.
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 05:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Spheric: fair enough, but I have no clue where you thought that I was suggesting that we should replace some aspect of OS X and in doing so force you to relearn stuff.

If any, a system wide way for developers to implement a consistent tab implementation would keep you from relearning how to manage tabs in the apps that you use tabs in. The question of whether there should be some global way to "force" tabbed support everywhere is a secondary issue, especially since even if this were implemented it would not be a given that there would be no way to disable this, or that the OS would default to having this feature on.
If developers are unable/unwilling to conform to simple interface guidelines/conventions, do you think that a universal tabbed interface will force them?

Also, I completely fail to see the benefit: Tabbed windows are useful for grouping related content, not as a general clutter-all dump drawer.

Unless you're suggesting Opt-in tabbed windows, allowing me to group, say, a couple of pages of web research with a PDF application form with a couple of graphics and a spreadsheet for analysis, along with a text writeup, into a single tabbed window.

But that would be adding yet ANOTHER layer of complexity that would become completely confused by the inability/refusal of cross-platform tools like Office or Firefox (which, you may recall, didn't even support basic drag-and-drop image saving for a while - that was its death knell as far as I was concerned), while adding nothing not currently served more effectively by a combination of Spaces and Exposé.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
If developers are unable/unwilling to conform to simple interface guidelines/conventions, do you think that a universal tabbed interface will force them?

Also, I completely fail to see the benefit: Tabbed windows are useful for grouping related content, not as a general clutter-all dump drawer.

Unless you're suggesting Opt-in tabbed windows, allowing me to group, say, a couple of pages of web research with a PDF application form with a couple of graphics and a spreadsheet for analysis, along with a text writeup, into a single tabbed window.

But that would be adding yet ANOTHER layer of complexity that would become completely confused by the inability/refusal of cross-platform tools like Office or Firefox (which, you may recall, didn't even support basic drag-and-drop image saving for a while - that was its death knell as far as I was concerned), while adding nothing not currently served more effectively by a combination of Spaces and Exposé.

It might not be enough to encourage developers of existing apps to rewrite their stuff, but what about all of the new apps and all of the others that might be willing to adjust their apps?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:05 PM
 
…while adding nothing not currently served more effectively by a combination of Spaces and Exposé.
uh.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:36 PM
 
Again, we return to providing users options. What about users that don't use either Spaces nor Exposé?
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:53 PM
 
They'll have no need for an option that does similar things, worse.

Again: Apple has never let the desire for options stand in the way of choosing the Less Stupid.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 06:56 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
They'll have no need for an option that does similar things, worse.

Again: Apple has never let the desire for options stand in the way of choosing the Less Stupid.

Were you one of those people that opposed the two button mouse, the use of contextual menus, and anything else that attempts to accommodate the habits of users on other platforms?
( Last edited by besson3c; Dec 7, 2009 at 07:14 PM. )
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 07:12 PM
 
One of those things does not belong.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 07:14 PM
 
Sorry, I meant to say "opposed the two button mouse", not defined...
     
Spheric Harlot
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Dec 7, 2009, 08:12 PM
 
I still am opposed to making a multi-button mouse the default config.

Contextual menus are great time-savers, but when they are necessary, you're either working in very specialized circumstances, or the interface is broken.

Originally Posted by Chuckit View Post
It's possible for something to be pretty and useless, but it's much harder for something with poor design to be useful.

A List Apart: Articles: In Defense of Eye Candy
That's an extremely interesting article. I suggest besson read it.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Dec 7, 2009, 11:14 PM
 
I did read it and I commented on it above.
     
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Dec 8, 2009, 01:40 PM
 
1. Apple should start a rumor they are going to implement some sort of system wide tab scheme.

2. Then, allow Microsoft to actually do it, LINUX geeks follow Microsoft's lead yet claim they did it "open-source".

3. ???

4. Profit: Finally, Apple should never actually do it and as a result sell more computers from people switching from Microsoft.
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 05:29 PM
 
Didn't BeOS have a UI like this already?
     
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Dec 9, 2009, 11:02 PM
 
I think that if several applications are related to the same project, you should be able to look at them simultaneously.
Multiple desktops allows you to do just that.

Also, if they are looking for ideas, they could try to re-implement OpenDoc (or their MS equivalent OLE): several applications collaborating on a single document.
     
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Dec 11, 2009, 01:40 PM
 
Originally Posted by Spheric Harlot View Post
The reason Firefox is broken is because of cross-platform compatibility. The Firefox interface is custom-*everything* to ensure it works the same on all platforms, and integrates with none. (This includes one of my personal pet peeves, the fact that the "File" menu is called "Datei" rather than the standard "Ablage" in the German localization.)
Ablage is only standard in the German localization on the Mac. On Windows, it's Datei.
What I find far more egregious is the Quit Word command in the German version of Office for Mac: it says Beenden Word, which is ungrammatical. (It should read Word beenden.)

Disclaimer: I'm working at a software company doing the translation of the UI text, manuals, etc. from German to English.
     
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Dec 11, 2009, 01:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
Ablage is only standard in the German localization on the Mac. On Windows, it's Datei.
Wasn't that Spheric's point?
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Dec 11, 2009, 02:00 PM
 
How come everybody here can speak German but me?
     
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Dec 14, 2009, 02:28 AM
 
It's hard to not see the Safari 4 beta version as an early experiment of implementing this system wide in Mac OS X.

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Dec 14, 2009, 06:42 AM
 
I think this is a great idea, I would use them.
     
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Dec 14, 2009, 06:46 AM
 
Originally Posted by lpkmckenna View Post
Didn't BeOS have a UI like this already?
Yes, it had a tab like titlebar which you could shift click to move along the window, when you stacked windows it behaved like an early implementation of tabs.

     
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Dec 15, 2009, 08:20 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
How come everybody here can speak German but me?
und ich (that's probably not correct).

What did OS9 call the feature where you can make a folder appear as a tab at the bottom of the screen? Drawer?

Tabbing within certain apps would be a decent way to navigate open files from within the app. However, once you go to another app, getting back would be a two-stage process, unless the tabs could unstack like windows do in Expose (which I use a lot).

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Dec 15, 2009, 11:35 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
und ich (that's probably not correct).

What did OS9 call the feature where you can make a folder appear as a tab at the bottom of the screen? Drawer?

Tabbing within certain apps would be a decent way to navigate open files from within the app. However, once you go to another app, getting back would be a two-stage process, unless the tabs could unstack like windows do in Expose (which I use a lot).
Pop-up windows. I found that very useful back in the day.
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Chuckit
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Dec 15, 2009, 11:40 AM
 
Originally Posted by Eriamjh View Post
What did OS9 call the feature where you can make a folder appear as a tab at the bottom of the screen? Drawer?
"Tabbed folder," I'm pretty sure. The term didn't yet have its modern meaning.
Chuck
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Spheric Harlot
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Dec 15, 2009, 11:49 AM
 
Originally Posted by 64stang06 View Post
Pop-up windows.
This.
     
OreoCookie
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Dec 15, 2009, 01:18 PM
 
Originally Posted by tooki View Post
[I]What I find far more egregious is the Quit Word command in the German version of Office for Mac: it says Beenden Word, which is ungrammatical. (It should read Word beenden.)

Disclaimer: I'm working at a software company doing the translation of the UI text, manuals, etc. from German to English.

They must have monkeys in loc testing (probably Chinese monkeys). To be honest, I haven't noticed (although I should have), but then, I don't work with Word.
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