Re: [wmii] wmii-3 mean real improvements?

From: Anselm R. Garbe <>
Date: Tue, 23 May 2006 18:27:49 +0200

On Tue, May 23, 2006 at 04:56:24PM +0200, Denis Grelich wrote:
> On Mon, 22 May 2006 09:36:22 +0200
> "Anselm R. Garbe" <> wrote:
> > There are no real arguments of having the bar at top or bottom,
> > beside personal taste and habit.
> Well, there surely are arguments. Having the bar at the bottom or top
> is quite a design decision, and not just a matter of personal taste.
> I recently read about comfortable viewing angles in various papers.
> From an ergonomics POV, there are viewing angles that are very
> comfortable to view, and the nearer you get to the borders of that
> area, the more strain is put it on the eye. As [1] explains quite well,
> looking »down« is easier than »up.« (Though I also read on some other
> paper, which I can't find atm :(, about head mounted displays that a too
> low angle is uncomfortable as well). So, the decision whether bar at
> the bottom or at the top end of the screen is better depends on several
> factors:
> • The position of the monitor in the user's work environment:
> ‒ The top end of the monitor is at eye-level (old recommendation)
> Here, it is pretty uncomfortable to work with the topmost lines, I
> suppose. (That's probably what most people have)
> ‒ The monitor is lower that eye-level. On notebook computers, this
> is probably always the case. Here I suppose, both ends of the
> screen are equally »hard« to look at. I've also seen setups where
> the monitor is under the desk, and there's a glass window in the
> desk. There, eyes get tired faster when looking at the
> bottommost lines.
> ‒ Environments where the monitor is higher than eye-level suck and
> should not be used in any case; if there /are/ situation where
> this is the case, wmii has not much to do with them.
> • The importance of the data in the bar:
> ‒ If the data is not important (to the user), the bar in the
> »better« position wastes very precious screen real estate in the
> best-viewed area of the screen.
> ‒ If the data is somewhat important, the bar in the »worse« position
> is annyoing to look at often.
> • Personal taste (surely the weakest point here)
> It surely /is/ a design decision to say that the bar is at some
> position. If you select the »worse« position, the bar is of lesser use
> for monitoring more important data, meaning you promote a standalone
> app for monitoring stuff, or some other means. If you select the
> »better« position, the bar is somewhat more emphasized and thus is
> predestined for monitoring important stuff.
> But on the other hand, you can't know which is the »better« and which
> is the »worse« position for the user's work environment. I would opt
> for making it configurable.
> [1]

Interesting points. Anyway, Apple and Microsoft did research in
this area (I would expect they spent millions of dollars to
answer such questions) as well. And both do it differently.
First of all, the titlebar of windows is at the top in nearly
every case. I guess this has todo with western civilization's
reading habits, we scan a paper or a book top-down all the time,
we always read top-down (regardless if we're Hebrew/Arabic
people reading from right to left or Europeans reading left to
right). But, the page number always appears at the bottom. At
the top often you see title stuff, stuff about what's covered by
the current chapter, but at the bottom you see always
control/status stuff. That might be the reason why Microsoft and
Apple choosed the bottom to arrange window shortcuts.

However, Apple presents status info at the top, whereas
Microsoft don't does it this way. Thus for computer work it
might really be depend on the view angle you view at the screen.
Maybe this justifies an option, but I'm still not convinced. The
arguments presented, are much too weak.

I think, a status bar at the top gets always in the way, because
you scan the screen from top to bottom all the time. Thus a bar
in the top would be always scanned, this might be very annoying
as default. I'm not sure why Apple fans like the clock at the


 Anselm R. Garbe  ><><  ><><  GPG key: 0D73F361
Received on Tue May 23 2006 - 18:27:49 UTC

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