Linked by ddc_ on Tue 22nd Nov 2011 21:29 UTC
Window Managers Calm window manager (mainly known for its shorthand name cwm) is a member of a once-powerful and now-declining family of minimalist X11 window managers. It is relatively unknown outside the OpenBSD community, but it deserves more notice.
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RE[3]: Mouse-less interface
by Doc Pain on Wed 23rd Nov 2011 11:14 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Mouse-less interface"
Doc Pain
Member since:
2006-10-08

First, a mouse-based interface has been proven to be faster than a keyboard-based interface.


That heavily depends on what the interface... interfaces to, what kind of program or functionality. But I'll assume that you don't make a generic claim here (which would obviously be nonsense), but consider the operations of a window manager, which is managing windows (and maybe applications).

The keyboard removes the requirement of nearly pixel precise movement of the mouse. For example, a common way to move a window on the screen is pressing the Alt key and clicking somewhere into the window, then dragging it. In case a window manager uses title bars or tabs to move a window, you need to place the mouse pointer into it, which requires more precision. Resizing a window by "picking" its narrow border also requires precision. Alternative? Press Alt, hold down the right mouse button anywhere inside the window and resize the window as you like.

The concept of "pointing anywhere into a window and then pressing a key for a certain action" (where "key" may refer to a key on the keyboard, or the combination of a modifier key of the keyboard and a mouse key click, e. g. Alt + right mouse button) is very comfortable, especially if you consider the enormous amount of X window managers, compared to what "Windows" can do. Foreground, background, focus (yes, independent of each other!), maximize, restore, minimize, roll up, hide, move to different virtual workspace, close, capture, window overview, send to printer... lots of things that would take more time to achieve using a mouse. Just imagine every window would require 20 buttons for just the "average" amount of functionality in the title bars, or those functions had be listed in some lengthly menue... oh, and add buttons for virtual workspace management and so on.

I may add an individual note: I like window managers that provide a good combination (!) of mouse interactions and keyboard shortcuts. Currently I'm using WindowMaker with a "programmable keyboard" (Sun USB Type 7), using the 2x5 matrix on the left for window managing functions primarily. So I'm not advocating a mouse-less interface, just as I don't recommend a keyboard-less interface, but in my opinion and experience, the key to productivity is a good and reasonable combination of both. This combines both the power of a window manager with easily employing that power in everyday use, which traditionally benefits productivity in general.

Especially on small-sized displays, e. g. "service laptops" (often netbooks) where you have to deal with 800x600 or 1040x600 (or something in that relation), you will be happy to be able to manage your windows using the keyboard. Why? Because - 1st argument - the available pointer, typically a glide pad, is very unprecise to "pick" things like window corners or tiny buttons, and - 2nd argument - you don't have screen real estate to waste for control elements, because the screen appears to be too small anyway. (I'm still using a 500 MHz AMD laptop with a 800x600 screen for diagnostics and setup, and it works excellently with a manually configured version of fvwm2 with good keyboard and mouse controls setup.)

As you mentioned that you're not going to challenge the massive impact of learning, I won't provide arguments for that; I'll leave it to the educated reader as an exercise. :-)

Second, a mouse-based interface is ubiquitous. A click on a window is the same in a window-manager, a browser, a media player etc. Keyboard-based interfaces each have their own choice of shortcuts; so you have a situation where the same action might have different shortcuts in different applications, and the same shortcuts can perform different actions in different application. It gets worse when, as mentioned before, some frequently-used shortcuts become wired to your muscle memory and you start performing them everywhere, to hilarious results.


This is something I won't argue with you. :-)

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