Sunday, November 13, 2011

Grid or Flow Layouts for Windows and Browser

I have this belief that computer users are not getting nearly the full benefit they could from the ever-increasing monitor space. What has bugged me for years is the difficulty of arranging windows. It is SO tedious to do it by hand.

I know recent versions of MS-Office have arrange-compare features. I haven't used them a lot. They seem ok. But a lot of the arranging I want to do it ad-hoc. I haven't thought deeply about it, so don't claim to have the answers, but I definitely feel an itch.

One idea I have is guidelines, like in PageMaker. So maybe I draw a vertical guidelne 2/3 of the way across my screen. Any app I drop to the left of it fills the left 2/3. Any app I drop to the right fills the right 1/3.  Further refinements, such as tagging one of the panes to be "always on top". Maybe others, like drilling through the panes, or each pane having tabs. Complexity, I know.

I have come across a few utilities that try to do some of this, but none that accomplished much for me. I know there are virtual desktops that might do some of this, too. I tried one years ago.

The other thing I would like to see implemented in certain apps is a form of a flow layout. For instance, we make heavy use of Office Communicator. I have my auxiliary laptop monitor devoted to OC sessions. I would like these to auto-arrange themselves, tiling sideways across the screen. (Actually, there is a lot more organizing OC should be doing for the user, with or without OS-level enhanced window arrangement--but that's another story).

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