Re: [wmii] summary of some #wmii talk on 2006-03-02

From: Karl Guertin <>
Date: Fri, 3 Mar 2006 18:11:43 -0500

On 3/3/06, John Nowak <> wrote:
> The downside to this is that it can take a bit
> longer to get to a layout that I like.

Window managers exist provide two functions: window layout and window
switching. I spend about 30 seconds arranging windows at the start of
my day, regardless of window manager. It's more difficult with
standard overlapping wms, but it's not really that big of a deal.
Switching windows, on the other hand, is my primary use of a window
manager. More importantly, switching windows occurs during workflow
and the faster I can switch, the less chance I have of breaking the
thought process. I therefore consider switching windows to be far more
important than laying out windows.

wmii took the wrong direction in its focus on dynamically laying out
an arbitrary number of windows and as a result it became impossible to
build up a muscle memory for switching to an arbitrary window. This
means that once you decide to switch windows, you have to find the
window you want to switch to, then work through the stack of windows
to the one you want, and then switch. With expose you have to do the
same thing , but at least you can see everything at once. With my
tacit setup on wmi-10 (yes, I still use wmi) I can switch between a
dozen apps using no more than three keystrokes and I always place the
same apps in the same locations so I don't have to think about where
they are.

I actually want the exact opposite of a dynamic window manager. I want
a tacit* window manager, one that has the ability to put the same
window in the same place every time it appears. The challenge is
mainly in determining what makes a window the 'same'. I wouldn't, for
example, want every xterm in the same place, but only because it's
difficult there to figure out what type of app an xterm will become
(irc client?, news reader?, shell?, music player? etc). The other
feature would be to allow me to jump to a given window as predictably
as possible. wmi allows for this as long as you maintain a rigid
window layout, but maintaining that layout is more tedious than I'd

* In HCI parlance a tacit action is an action that can be achieved
without thought, or at least without interrupting another thought
process. An example: You're talking on your cell phone when you walk
into a dark room in your house. The tacit action is turning on the
lights. Do you have to stop your conversation, think about how to get
the lights on, find the switch, and flip it on or do you just hit it
while continuing your conversation because you know where it is and
how to operate it?

Back on topic, I'm pleased to see this happening. I think this is one
step toward making wmii as usable as wmi. I'll probably take another
look at wmii when wmii-3 comes out.
Received on Sat Mar 04 2006 - 00:11:47 UTC

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