humane computing

08 March 2008

Window Maximization

At FOSDEM and just recently at CeBit I had the chance to play with the omnipresent Asus Eee-PC. Its limited screen estate reminded me of an idea I had a while ago:
Why not remove the window title when the window is maximized. This would not only save vertical screen estate but since the menu bar would then be at the top edge (at least if there's no upper panel) menu access could be made easier according to Fitts's law.
I have made a few mock-ups showing how this could be done. In principal, there are two ways to do it:
  1. Patch GTK and Qt to add buttons for closing, minimizing, etc. on the right edge of the menu bar. Additionally, there must be some code that removes the title bar when maximized.
  2. Change the window manager to maximize the window a bit more and only show a shortened title bar over the top-right corner of the window. Since hardly any program shows anything on the right end of the menu bar if maximized, this shouldn't be a problem. Only Firefox shows its busy animation there and has an icon for closing the current window on the right edge.
    Only the buttons or buttons plus icon and title (ellipsized) can be shown.

I think this would be nice for normal PCs aswell. It reminds me of the all-fullscreen applications on the Amiga. Tell me what you think!

Update: I added a version of the small titlebar with just the buttons hanging from the top edge of the screen. This way, the buttons do not hide the right edge of the menu bar completely. Allthough they are quite slim, according to Fitts's law, they should be reachable as easy as big buttons, because they are positioned at the top edge of the screen. The button design is inspired by the Windows Vista titlebar buttons.

Update2: I forgot to mention that this Idea has been implemented in the Fitz KWin Decoration, but Fitz looks quite bad, still draws a border around the maximized Window and I don't know if it still works with recent versions of KDE.


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At 24 March 2008 15:52 , Anonymous Hirvi said...

As a bad hack, the minimised version of the titlebar could be made detacheble/moveable, so that you could drag it away in case it obstructs any important items underneath. Of course, moving a "title" bar without moving the window is a bit weird. :-)

At 24 March 2008 17:09 , Blogger peterpan said...

The user has to feel that the window and its titlebar belong together. The minimized titlebar makes that difficult. Making it movable would make things indeed really challenging :).

At 24 March 2008 20:51 , Blogger peterpan said...

I added another version with smaller buttons. It obstructs less, but as you can see in the mockup, you can only guess that there is a "close document" button at the right edge of the menu bar.


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