Thursday, July 01, 2004

Virtual Desktops instead of Dashboard

Apple announced a new feature called Dashboard when they previewed Tiger this week at WWDC2004. There is controversy about this feature being a rip-off of Konfabulator, but that is not the topic of my post.

This post is about my wish for a more generic and flexible Dashboard implementation.

The Dashboard allows you to view and interact with a set of gadgets/widgets arranged in a fashion that you see fit. It uses Expose to bring the gadgets/widgets into view and take them out of view without affecting the other applications and windows that are already open on the desktop. It also has its own custom menu to add/remove the gadgets/widgets to the Dashboard.

What I don't like about Dashboard is the restriction that only gadgets/widgets can be shown in the Dashboard. Regular applications cannot be added to the Dashboard, and gadgets/widgets cannot be run on the desktop. I think this distinction between gadgets/widgets and regular applications is unnecessary from a user standpoint and it leads to unnecessary duplication like the separate menu in the Dashboard.

I would like to see this artificial distinction disappear. I would like the ability to run gadgets/widgets on the desktop like any other application, and I would like to be able to run regular applications in the Dashboard. Finally, I would like to have more than one "Dashboard", each having its own combination of applications and gadgets/widgets.

In other words, I would like to see Virtual Desktops instead of Dashboard. I know there are third-party implementations of Virtual Desktops for Mac 0S X, but I would like to see an implementation from Apple that is tightly and cleanly integrated with Expose.

Hopefully Apple transforms Dashboard into Virtual Desktops before Tiger is released. And hopefully it does not lead to controversies about Apple ripping off existing third-party Virtual Desktop implementations :-).

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