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More...

GNOME understands me

I was just reading the GNOME Human Interface Guidelines, and during the discussion of MDI ("Multiple Document Interface") I fiiinally realized that tabbed browsing is just a variant of MDI.

I've been whining about how Tabbed browsing is a workaround for a problem that should be solved outside the browser instead at least since Chimera (now Camino) brought us backwoods Mac users tabbed browsing. Now I can put the weight of a whole organization of well-regarded developers behind me. The following is a quote from the aforementioned HIG:

MDI has several inherent usability problems, so its use is discouraged in applications. It is better to open each document in a new primary window, with its own menubar, toolbars and statusbar, or allow multiple instances of your application to be run simultaneously. In either case, this leaves it for the window manager (acting on the user's preferences) rather than your application to decide how to group and present document windows from the same application.

This basically sums up perfectly what the problem and the solution should be. Fix window management. If you keep opening tabs because opening a new browser window takes so long, you need a faster window manager. If you keep opening tabs because you want to use your screen space more effectively, you need a window manager that allows aggregating or "docking" several windows together.

A window manager would probably use tabs to switch between docked windows, too, but the advantage would be that you could do this both in your browser, your text editor, or your photo retouche app. Not to mention that if the window manager does it, it would be the user's choice which windows to dock and which not to, or whether to use this feature at all. *And* it'd be consistent across apps.

C'mon, side with me, already! ;-)

 
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