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Author Topic: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric  (Read 3454 times)

nudone

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cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« on: February 01, 2006, 02:23:19 PM »
this little work in progress utility appears to be popping up in various blogs so it's about time DC mentioned it...

microsoft scalable frabric http://research.micr.../research/downloads/ (about half way down the page).

it isn't perfect but for those of you into playing around with customising your GUI then it's worth looking at - i may even leave it running as it tends to fit exactly how i work.

disable the naff audio feature and play about with it - i think it has potential if they work on it further - maybe someone could pinch the idea and beat them to it.

anyway, it works like this...

windows aren't minimised anymore, instead they shrink to thumbnails at the side of the screen. you define your 'work' area and then have a border around it where the thumbnails will rest. you can then drag or click on active windows/thumbnails around the screen to bring them back into focus or shrink out of the way. this is all animated but in a rather jerky fashion.

i can well imagine that this idea has been around for quite a few years but not on a windows operating system. it's also not going to be much fun on a small monitor.

i just like the idea of having the small thumbnail previews of all the apps i'm running - it's unlikely to be part of windows vista maybe windows 2020 will use it - we'll all have 40 inch (at least) widescreen monitors by then so it'll make more sense to use this kind of GUI.

here's a screengrab - original resolution is 1920 x 1200, so i've shrunk it down by 50%.

(it doesn't work well with child windows like photoshop uses.)
« Last Edit: February 01, 2006, 02:25:15 PM by nudone »

allen

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2006, 04:41:17 PM »
So far, Opera is the only application I can get to resize.  The Bat! won't minimize at all with it active and other applications seem to bahave as they normally would.  Something must be making it unhappy.  Maybe it only likes programs launched after it?

nudone

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2006, 04:51:19 PM »
oh dear, sounds more bug ridden that i thought it would be. i've tried running 'scalable fabric' after i have a few windows already open and they appear to behave as expected - shrinking and animating correctly. maybe i'm just one of the lucky ones to get it to work?

i've also discovered that windows like 'winamp' don't work with it. but, you can 'group' windows together for the ones that do work.

mouser

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2006, 04:59:16 PM »
it does sound to me like a neat idea in theory.  to my ears much more practical than the 3d desktop ideas.

nudone

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2006, 05:07:04 PM »
here's another screengrab - notice the 'groups' and the blue border that defines the 'work' area. if it was robust i think it would be a definite way forward from minimising windows - possibly.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2006, 05:10:34 PM by nudone »

Edvard

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2006, 12:33:42 PM »
This idea has been floating around the Interface Design (capital I, capital D) crowd for awhile now under the moniker ZUI (Zooming User Interfaces). The basic idea is that your desktop is infinite and you stick stuff into groups and to find stuff you simply zoom out to see where your stuff is and zoom back in to get it. Here's a good place to start with the guys who really started to develop the idea: http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil/pad++/ and check out their ZUI Site Map (decidedly lo-res, but it works nicely, I'd like to see a DC version :) ). Nice to see MS really building creatively on an innovative concept, even while holding fast to the fixed desktop model. (all your desktop are belong to us...)
The ZUI Wiki page has links to others doing work on various projects using these ideas. Photo Mesa might be a candidate for Image Viewer review, and Zoomdesk zooming desktop... hmm.... sounds familiar...

mouser

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Re: cool or fool - microsoft's scalable fabric
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2006, 12:36:46 PM »
this might actually work well with multiple monitors -
i can definitely see using a dedicated TOUCH SCREEEN monitor for moving windows instead of minimizing (or using a virtual desk overview).