August 7, 2007
As displays increase in size and prices drop, more and more users will end up with relatively large displays by default. Nobody buys 15 or 17 inch displays any more; soon, it won't make financial sense to buy a display smaller than 20 inches. Eventually, if this trend continues, everyone will have 30-inch displays on their desktops. This is clearly a good thing. You can never have enough display space. But there is one unintended consequence of large displays.
One of the advantages of small monitors, ironically, is that because they're small, they nudge users into a simpler, windowless method of working. Instead of wasting time sizing, moving, and z-ordering windows, users only need to deal with one maximized window at a time. They can flip between maximized applications in much the same way they change channels on the television. But once your display gets to 1600 x 1200 or beyond, this easy one-app-per-display model isn't feasible any more. Dan recently ran into this problem when he upgraded to a 30" LCD:
Users of 30-inch monitors face the terrible, terrible problem of how to effectively use all of that space. You don't often want to maximise a folder or document window on a screen this big; either you'll end up with a lot of white space and important program buttons separated by a vast expanse of nothing, or you'll get lines of text 300 or more characters long, which are difficult to read.
That's the large display paradox. Having all that space can make you less productive due to all the window manipulation excise you have to deal with to make effective use of it.
Personally, I'm a card-carrying member of the prestigious three monitor club, which means I'm one step ahead of Dan. At least until he doubles or triples down:
Although my displays are only 20 inches in size, I have three of them. Maximizing a window to a 20 inch, 1600 x 1200 display area is a reasonable thing to do most of the time. I also use UltraMon, which gives me the indispensible ability to drag maximized windows between monitors. I'm constantly grabbing maximized windows and "throwing" them from monitor to monitor, ala Minority Report.
With my triple monitor setup, I have a very large display surface with a primary area of focus and secondary areas that I can "snap" items to when I want them available for reference, but out of the way. I have a natural snapping grid because I use three physical monitors. It's a side-effect of the hardware, but a crucial one that I've absolutely come to rely on.
Dan only has a single large 30 inch monitor, so he has no natural grid to snap windows to. He needs a software solution:
I've been using WinSplit Revolution to manage this problem. It's a neat little Windows utility that makes it easy to bounce (most) windows around the screen and quickly resize them to take up the amounts of screen you probably want them to occupy. Two panes, each 1280 by 1600, give you a couple of twenty inch portrait-aspect-ratio "screens" that work great for many tasks.
I run into this problem a little bit on my three 20 inch displays, but it's only a minor nuisance. I'm in serious trouble if I ever get a multiple monitor setup with displays larger than 20 inches. (I'd also need a much, much larger desk.) There's no question that maximized windows aren't effective on large displays. For larger displays, I'd need to extend the "snap grid" effect of my three monitors to each individual monitor.
That's exactly what the WinSplit Revolution app does. It's quite intuitive; you use CTRL+ALT+(numpad) to push the currently selected window towards the quadrant of the screen represented by the number. Pressing the key sequence multiple times iterates through the two or three possible sizes at that particular position. This diagram explains it better than I can in text:
As you can see, you end up with a few dozen possible grid arrangements just using the simple numpad direction metaphor. But it's still quite a bit of work; I have to select each window and then use the numeric keypad (or the popup window equivalent) to push it over where I want it to go. As of version 1.8, WinSplit Revolution is perfectly multiple monitor aware, and even offers a convenient key combo to move windows from monitor to monitor, too.
Fortunately, there's GridMove, which supports multiple monitors. Just use the middle mouse button to drag a window, and you invoke the current grid template, which provides automatic snappable drop targets for that window.
In the not-too-distant future, every user will have a monitor so large that maximizing a window no longer makes sense for most applications. It's too bad some kind of automatic snap grid support can't be embedded into the operating system to help users deal with large display areas. Like Dan, we're all going to need it sooner or later. Until then, these applications-- or ones like them-- can fill the gap.
Posted by Jeff Atwood
haha. you windows users. Suddenly the Mac way of maximizing a window only to us as much space as needed make a lot of sense. :-P
There are a few operating systems out there where hitting the maximise button doesn't enlarge a window to cover the entire screen. Instead, it maximises to what the application actually needs. If it only needs 1024x768, that is exactly what it will get.
I use 2 monitors at work with an OS which doesn't follow the above mentioned rule (yes, its Windows), and what I really hate is windows, message boxes and popups which jump into the middle of the desktop, which is usually inbetween the 2 monitors. It drives me nuts to no end. Microsoft applications are every bit as guilty as almost all other apps.
Until recently I worked primarily with two monitors. I had a third one for a little while, but it was taken for other uses. I would develop applications on one screen and debug them on another screen. It was truly a productive environment.
However, the computer though was old and pretty slow. So work was kind enough to get me a new system. It's much, much faster, and the monitor is much larger. However, there is only one monitor port on the video card!!! So now I work on a single monitor. While the computer is faster, my productivity is hurting. At times I wish that I could get my old, slow system back. I've even considered purchasing a new video card myself. However, the vultures have already gotten to the "spare" monitors...
I would rather have two smaller monitors than one big monitor. It really is a world of difference. I'm envious of you.
I feel like such an idiot. Five years ago, I bought an awesome computer desk. Which, sadly, only has room for one 23" monitor. Seemed like gobs of space at the time.
I experienced this as well about two years ago when i started using two 21" monitors. But not long after that I traded in my desktop and have been using a laptop with a 13.3" widescreen display almost exclusively (home and work). So now I'm back to the one maximized app at a time paradigm. And unless I'm mistaken, more and more people are buying laptops than desktops these days. And even further down the line, people will start using their TVs as primary displays, which obviously requires a completely difference kind of interface.
I've experienced a bit of what you say when I went to a wide-aspect monitor and wondered what to do with that extra horizontal space. I agree with most of what you say about window/application management. However, I really don't think it's the place of the operating system to have window management embedded. I come from the Linux community where the window manager is an individual choice. Call it chaotic if you will, but there's definitely more configurability that way. I would say _more_ should be handled by individual applications, and _less_ should be done by the operating system proper.
When you wrote about the Mac maximize button, I was wondering why someone hadn't come up with an application exactly like this one! In fact, the only multi-window application that I use effectively is the Visual Studio and the only reason it works for me is because of the snappable tool windows. This is great!
I had a wide screen monitor rotated 90 degrees so I could see more lines of code at one time - awsome!
As was mentioned above, this is exactly why OSX 'maximise' works the way it does, and it truly makes sense. Yet the Windows crowd constantly bitch and moan how it sucks because it doesn't work the way it does in Windows.
Day to day I use a 3 monitor, high rez setup under Windows, and the 'maximize' is pretty much useless.
Apologies for the rant *hides*
Suddenly the Mac way of maximizing a window only to us as much space as needed make a lot of sense
Actually I think both the Mac and Windows need some work in this area.
What I'm proposing here is different-- maximizing to a space that the *user* determines, not the *application*. Big difference. One of the big complaints about the Mac way of "maximizing" is that you never actually know what will happen when you click that button. Could get larger.. could maximize.. who knows what will happen? It's a form of mystery meat navigation.
Compare that with dragging an app to a grid slot on a target monitor, which produces exactly the size you want and expect.
I frequently have apps that need to be maximized across both displays. I agree that many apps do not benefit from that much space, but some apps will always need as much room as you can throw at them.
Actually, you failed to note the REAL problem about large displays. You can't hang them off a good swivel mount arm, they weigh to dang much. Personally, I won't live life without my arms, and until they make better arms or lighter displays, that alone will limit me around the 20" market.
If you haven't tried them yet, I highly recommend it. YOu want convenience? It isn't dragging a window around your displays - IT IS DRAGGING YOUR DISPLAYS AROUND YOUR DESK! Trust me - try it and you'll NEVER EVER go back.
Just make sure you get the GOOD arms, not the ones that are just lamp mounts with stronger springs. Try something like this : http://www.memoryexpress.com/index.php?PageTag=page=filememx_menu=EmbedProductDetail.phpDisplayProductID=7948SID=
Might be just me, but I find having just one single 19" monitor keeps me more focused. It might be a psychological thing. When I had two monitors, I ended up having many things open at the same time and was distracted by the other screen. With just one screen, I could totally focus on the task, and I could quickly do alt-tab switching when checking programming reference API docs while coding.
Note also the trend toward for some people toward using 'smaller' screens, such as the growing number of designers and artists using their laptop as their main work machine. Nowadays, having a smaller laptop screen - say 13" or 14" might be preferable to a larger widescreen 15" model as it is more compact.
Screen size may very well be capped at the 22" limit for desktops and 14" for laptops. Bigger isn't necessarily better.
No, Mark and Mark, that's not how my Mac works. This lets you define the area you want to expand to regardless of the contents of the window. I'm sure it can work on Mac too, but it's not that way by default, you have to drag the corners and line everything up.
This way, on my 1680x1050 display, I can keep a roughly 1024 wide area on the left for browsing and text editing, and a roughly 640 wide area on the right for chat, FTP, stuff like that.
Anyway, I use GridMove, I like it, my Mac does work differently in its stock state, and I bet there are similar things. Then again, the wonderful journaling filesystem has failed beyond the help or DiskWarrior or anything else I can find so I won't soon be able to test anything out-- I do like the eternal blue screen with a little spinner in the middle.
I do 3d animation and software development. I have 4 monitors at the moment in my desk. One is a calibrated monitor for true light colors, the other are LCD. Personally I never had such problems about maximizing or loosing time handling with windows (even on 30" panels). Many applications remember the last position and size. The concept of Ctrl-Tab switching (like zapping on TV) is still valid even if you don't maximiza the windows.
Unless your work style is very messy, I don't see all this paradox... But probably it's just me, so I'm looking froward for 36" panels ;)
Duuude, are you using AutoHotKey?
That's THE power tool for Windows. I use it for automating and hotkeying everything, including window management.
"What I'm proposing here is different-- maximizing to a space that the *user* determines, not the *application*."
That's exactly what I had in mind with this design (which I pimped here in your previous post on maximizing):
(Scroll up a tiny bit to see the directions in red.)
You want your content creation window (graphics, audio, film, 3d) to be as big as possible. You want your tool window to be as dedicated and predictable as possible. Not that I like the program, but the Gimp's window structure makes sense in that regard - and the toolbar's dimensions can be adjusted.
3D Studio Max's toolkit can't be torn off the main screen to reside on a monitor somewhere else. Takes up too much screen real estate. Photoshop's windows may move around but it doesn't always get it right (or if the window is maximized on another monitor, things suddenly disappear. It's not always clear if they're "in" the window or "beyond" it.
The absolutely ridiculous version of "tearing" is of course found in Office 2000 or so where even 2-item menus can be made into miniature windowlets without organization. What you need is some kind of grouping/flock-like behavior; dragging each windowlet for a total of 20 times to the same part of the screen is, well, stupid.
For doing lots of stuff in parallel (coding + word processing + reading newsfeeds) having a monitor for each is overkill, and the grid system makes more sense.
The laptop example explained above has made for some great user interfaces - Ableton Live and Mackie Tracktion for audio production, for instance. It even plays nicely with more screens as each part of the interface can stretch.
bleh, accidentally posted before I finished.
The main reasons I can see for the screens getting smaller are:
1) the price of LCD monitors. A nice 22" display is still a bit expensive for the average user, and many are happy with a much cheaper 15" or 17" display, especially if they had a CRT of similar size.
2) the resolution of the displays. Since many people still run with lower resolutions and LCDs look best at their native resolution, many people may be reluctant to buy a large LCD that either won't look good at their chosen resolution or may display text at resolutions they feel they will have trouble reading. This, of course, goes back to the whole dpi debate...
I just have to have the real estate. You can't find any laptops with larger than 1280 pixels across in stores. You have to order the better resolution machines. Once I started working with multiple monitors I have never gone back. I have even connected to the TV in hotel rooms when I travel to get as much real estate as I can.
This is a made up problem if I've ever seen one. I have multiple setups with several different OS's and don't have this problem with any of them. I mean, really, how much time does it take you to drag the windows to the size you want? Does saving a half second over the course of a day add that much to your productivity?
I also have a macbook pro, and yes, I am in love with her, but that doesn't stop me from being sensible. I just don't understand your dislike or confusion with the mac maximize button. There is no mystery, it's going to grow the maximum size needed for that app. That's it, it's not like it randomly changes size every time you hit it.
I've been a lurker for a long time on your site (well, your feed anyway) and I really appreciate you sharing knowledge and tips, but it's time to let this one go dude. I just fail to see the issue.
i do -all- my programming on a laptop with the standard 14 inch display, which is completely adequate. the reason larger laptop displays are gaining in popularity is that people are buying them for desktop replacements, or for luggable computers, not for actual use as a laptop.
i fail to see why you'd really want to see more than one window at a time, especially since your eyes can only look in one place, and then you have ambiguity for which window has focus. i run with 20 virtual desktops (kde's limit. gnome only gives you 12 though), and switch between them with alt-Fx and mswin-Fx. generally one application runs per desktop. i get to any application i want in one keystroke, and it has focus as well. muscle memory makes switching to certain tasks almost automatic.
What I'm proposing here is different-- maximizing to a space that the *user* determines, not the *application*.
Maybe something like Devil's Pie? ( http://burtonini.com/blog/computers/devilspie )
"This tool will find windows as they are created and perform actions on them, such as resizing, moving to another workspace, or pinning them to all workspaces."
WinSplit Revolution looks very neat, I'll sure try that out. However, I find that tiny Sizer tool convenient as well: www.brianapps.net/sizer.html
very informative article!im also tempted for a multi display workstation!
I use a little program called zMover. It can automatically resize any window to a predefined size. Incidently I have it maximize all my windows.
For me, it is not the size. Its the pixels. It is fairly easy to get a large monitor these days. It is harder to get 1200 or 1920 pixels across. The only way to get that many pixels without also losing huge amounts of valuable desk surface ( as in where I can put my coffee cup and magazines and other non-electronic stuff ) is to get a laptop.
When will people realize that their reading text may be because it there are not enough pixels to fully render it. Not because it is too small. Making that same paucity of pixels bigger doesn't really help.
For me the appeal of a large monitor is the vertical pixel count. I was using a large CRT, but I was able to work at 2048x1536. This gave me 87 lines of code vertically at all times, so I could generally see the entire class I was working on, or minimum the entire method. My issue with multiple monitors is that 1200 vertical pixels is a step back.
My ideal setup would be multiple monitors at 1200x1920 each.
I like sizer, gridview, and ultramon - but they are all windows tools. What options exist for Linux users?
I currently use 2 1600x1200 CRT displays, with Xinerama (I believe) to allow me to drag windows between. I plan to move to two 1920x1200 or 1680x1050 LCD's, but would like the functionality of Gridview (but require the ability to drag windows between monitors).
Jeff I've never been able to see eye-to-eye with you on this maximize thing. How do you switch tasks? Do you take your mouse and move it from the top of the screen (where the most clickable things are) all the way over the main monitor, then to the bottom, then carefully click on the correct one?
Or do you use alt-tab to step through what can sometimes be dozens of tasks?
With my non-maximized setup, when I want to switch from this browser to my visual studio, I'll just hurl my mouse to the left edge and click. I find it faster and more convenient to have the handful of key windows making use of the infinitely large clickable areas at the edges of my monitors, but when anything is maximized that space is wasted.
It's true that I occasionally spend a few moments resizing to get things the way I like them, and maybe I underestimate that work... but I do that a lot less often than I switch tasks.
I have a 22" wide LCD and when my wife uses my computer she usually maximizes her web browser which makes lots of pages look like crap.
I would much rather prefer your method of setting my maximize size .(maxisize? - ew no.. that sounds like something completely different)
As long as you can still drag the window to as large as you want, but have it SNAP to a predefined region would be great.
Unfortunately, GridMove doesn't work with PuTTY SSH windows which is the main thing I wanted to use it for. Apparently, this must be a problem with the way that PuTTY creates its windows, and makes AutoHotKey (the scripting language in which GridMove is coded) unable to resize them.
If only everyone were Mac-proficient. This wouldn't even be a topic. Could it be that Apple displayed almost Nostradomic foresight in making the maximize button work the way it does? Windows needs to follow suit in the following years, if not by changing maximize behavior then by adding another button next to the minimize/maximize that "fits to content."
I have 2 20" displays and I still feel cramped, especially while working with Visual Studio. I hate navigating toolbar tabs and such-like when trying to do my work, so I naturally try to give every tool pallet it's own space. As you can imagine, real estate gets scarce quickly. I think if I had 3 20" or maybe just 2 30" displays I would cry from joy.
Jeremiah, there are quite a few 20" LCDs that support a "pivot" function - i.e. you can rotate the screen 90 degrees and make it 1200x1600 instead of 1600x1200.
Line up three displays in that way, and you have 3600x1600 pixels of desk space. And quite a few lines of code.
You have three monitors, I get it. Stop bragging. :-)
But have you seen the movie swordfish, where he is cracking that bank code? Now that is a monitor set up! He had like 9 of them or something.
hey... I've got a great idea!
why don't we start using those enormous resolutions to increased image quality... like maybe we could have larger, easier to read icons and text (in pixel sizes at least)
I don't see any good reason to keep using the same old 50x50 and 100x100 icons when we have so much more real estate... lets kick it up a notch!
Saw a great set up while on the net a few months ago. 30 monitors great configuration abilities. one problem $360,000. Maybe my cable company will get me one to make up for their other faults lol
Bind an extra mouse button to the key for UltraMon's "move to next monitor", Jeff. You'll never look back. :) And ditto on AutoHotKey being *the* power tool for Windows. A script for "does this application exist? If so, focus it, otherwise launch it" is indispensable. Also, RocketDock (small mem footprint) configured to be nothing more than a preview dock of my minimized windows that pops up when I want and keeps my main taskbar focused and uncluttered with just my restored windows is wonderful. Combined with say, Taskbar Shuffle (again small footprint) to provide the basic feature of middle click close and "we're in business", no robots. Oh and maybe Switcher for Expos, just as soon as he releases that version with the close window feature. I should throw this layout on my blog just so I can have someplace to link people to... that's about all it's for anyways. ;)
PS. I bought the Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 on your advice, I love it! Thanks!
Oh, and StrokeIt for extraordinarily fast window minimizing, maximizing, closing, and all sorts of other things for the mouse. ;) No reason to move my mouse up to those buttons...
I'm visually impaired and that drives my need for a larger display more than any other factor. I'd have no problem running the resolution on a 22" widescreen as high as its native resolution, but most Microsoft solutions let you scale your fonts bigger but leave everything else (icons, control surfaces, etc.) at their tiny native size. IE 7, though, finally seems to get it right.
It's also not generally appreciated that until very recently, there were almost no apps or desktops optimized for widescreen. We have a cheap and nasty 19" widescreen LCD in our server room; the server it's on has no video support whatever for that aspect ratio. Result: Not pretty at all, but it's sure convenient for me and my eyesight! I intend to get a little better-quality monitor when the time comes. :)
I'm packing a 24" LCD widescreen an a 19" standard LCD.
I typically have my code editor full screen on the 24" and then a SQL Enterprise manager, browser window or documentation open full screen on the 19" monitor.
That's typically how I spend most my working day.
You should see the back to school specials at our local Best Buy. There is an Acer desktop with a 17-inch CRT monitor, for those who can't afford the extra 70 bucks for a 17 inch LCD.
Of course that system is the exception. Most of the computers are laptops with 15-inch displays and I think the trend is that more and more people are buying one of these and not bothering with a desktop anymore. The larger trend might actually be toward smaller displays not bigger ones.
I made a concious decision to ditch my desktop at work, and work only with a laptop. Now I can work anywhere and the experience is identical, modulo some network performance.
I thus work with a single smallish screen. I develop software, and I don't need to see a lot of code all at once. Instead, one becomes able to switch to new contexts fast, jump to different code points quickly. Ideally, one's invidual methods are small enough to fit on a single page.
The mental picture and context becomes the large "display" that is maintained. Using tools like Emacs that encourage fast context switches helps as well.
I see some colleagues at work with their multiple monitors, and they take a hit when they need to work remotely, since they are conditioned to need them to work properly.
My setup is a Linux system with two 19" displays. This is how I manage my space. I have 8 Virutal desktops. Each one is dedicated to a project. The left hand display is what I call my sticky desktop. Anything that I need to follow me around are put on that screen, and then set to follow me to each desktop. The right and screen is my work area.
I typically have 4 projects going at once, have my IM client on the sticky side, and a xterm open with vim running for notes.
This setup has worked perfectly for me for two years now. Never could justify a third display, not even sure what I would use it for, but I have to admit the idea of the center display being the focal point, and the other two displays being off to the side is appealing.
SlimKeys (http://www.slimcode.com/slimKEYS/) provides excellent control using keyboard combinations. I've been using it with a 24" main lcd and 2 x 20" lcd's in portrait mode on the sides, and have been very happy. Unfortunately, I haven't had much need for the other plugins that come with the app.
One of the advantages of small monitors, ironically, is that because they're small, they nudge users into a simpler, windowless method of working. "
Sorry, but I've got to disagree. Single window is really only good for people who can't understand windows. Once you do, it's almost always more efficient to have multiple screens open.
Case in point: I started at my current company doing data entry, and did it a lot faster than everyone else because I would open the windows and arrange them once at the beginning of the day so that I could see all the important parts of every window at all times. It's the equivalent of one of those little clipboard dealies you sit next to your monitor.
Once I explained the concept to a couple co-workers, along with how to cut and paste, they got also got a lot faster even without using high enough resolution to prevent overlap. The important part was understanding how to move between multiple windows. An understanding which will never arise with a "simpler, windowless method of working."
Babying users with single windows is easier, but not more efficient in most cases.
funny how Matchbox window manager starts to make much more sense now.
It was made for small screen portable devices, but with some clever hacking, it could be worked to work like you're saying...
I know someone who might like to read this...
This completely overlooks mobile users. Mobile screens will always be small by necessity. I'm on a 13" screen right now, but my computer -- a desktop replacement -- is 4 pounds and goes anywhere. Ultra-mobile PCs have even smaller screens.
What we really need are scalable UIs. I should be able to grow or shrink my UI just by dragging a slider, and ALL the visual elements should scale.
Unfortunately, many apps still hard-code display metrics, or use controls or fonts that don't scale. You can see this when you try to set a screen to a high rez and also crank up the DPI. Lots of visual elements break.
DUDE YOU WORK WITH AL GORE?
He's not Dan I tell you.
I recently upgraded from 17" CRT to a 22" widescreen LCD at home. In many ways it's awesome, but in terms of work productivity (window layout and sizing), I still beleive that my two 17" LCD (non-wide) setup at work works better.
1680x1050 just seems to be an odd res. for opening multiple windows next to each other (compared to @work: Eclipse with detached windows split across 2 LCDs || Outlook on one LCD PL/SQL (or whatever) on another).
Thanks for the links to Winsplit GridMove, I'll go try them at home tonight!
" I have a natural snapping grid because I use three physical monitors. It's a side-effect of the hardware, but a crucial one that I've absolutely come to rely on."
That's exactly what I do. And it's also why I don't like widescreen monitors: I'd rather have to square ones side by side. That way I get the snapping ability and a widescreen effect.
I just tried using GridMove and it is a wonderful tool!
I even created my own custom grid that splits a screen into 4 basic parts, but the closer to the corners you go, the larger your window will be... allowing me to have corner windows at 50%, 75%, and 95% of the screen (yeah they overlap above 50% but that is what I wanted).
I found a bug where real-estate driven 'follows mouse' focus from TweakUI was confusing the tool and I posted a message in the forum.
An hour or two later the developer updated the code and it's all fixed! Now THAT is service! Folks, please consider donating in support of this tool, it's clearly worth it to me.
Now to put my money where my mouth is... make a donation myself!
There are many minimal, tiling window managers which solve this problem. I think they are all mainly for linux - I imagine it's probably pretty hacky to do a window manager for windows.
My favorite is xmonad, which is multi-screen aware, and weighs in at about 500 lines of haskell for the quite functional core. (there's also test code and ~2000 lines of extensions). I've been using it for about a month and loving it. The minimalism only really matters for you if you know haskell - it's very easy to comprehend the entire thing, and as such very easy to extend and customize.
Mac nerds are funny, so now the reason for the faulty non inutitive way of the mac maximize button, that has been there since 14" monitors where the big thing, is because of large monitor support. Come on ! LOL. Your support for whaetver stupid thing Apple invents is amazing. Try thinking for yourself at some point.
I love the way you think you're in Minority Report!
watch your eyes buddy...
Even on laptops the displays are getting larger. The lowest priced laptops are the 15" and 17" models, because they have been the best selling models for the last couple years (of course, that may be partially because the smaller screens are more expensive, too). Desktops regularly come with 17" widescreen LCDs now, with a moderately priced upgrade to a 19" LCD.
Very timely article for me. I office at home where i have 3 19" LCDs, perfect for code and screwing around. I just moved into a part time office at a client and got 2 22" wide LCDs for there. No comparison for working, the wides just waste space
I own two 20 inch monitor with ultramon installed. Great app. I've been using it for quite awhile now. I love the feature that allows you to drag a maximize window to a different monitor. It's fantastic.
However, the best solution for me would be an super wide (not tall) and bendable monitor with software-based grid snapping functionality. That would be my dream.
[Quote][B]I've been a lurker for a long time on your site (well, your feed anyway) and I really appreciate you sharing knowledge and tips, but it's time to let this one go dude. I just fail to see the issue.[/b][/quote] I think this statement says it all....
[Quote][B]This is a made up problem if I've ever seen one. I have multiple setups with several different OS's and don't have this problem with any of them. I mean, really, how much time does it take you to drag the windows to the size you want? Does saving a half second over the course of a day add that much to your productivity?[/b][/quote]So its a made up problem because you don't have the problem I see. Most of my windows are appropriately sized already so when I switched to a 20inch display my most used applications scaled nicely without me having to do much of anything doesn't really mean someone else will have the same fortune.
The reason the Mac way of maximizing is confusing has quite a bit to do with the use of the word maximize, the Mac way of doing things is far closer to scaling than maximization which implies taking up all the screen space available not "fitting to width" (scaling.) If I want a window maximized I want the window maximized not scaled, if I want a window scaled I want it scaled and not maximized.
Johnny I don't know how your work area was setup but if you get a chance to try a multi-monitor setup again try putting at least one of the monitors at a slight angle and use your eyes to look at the screen instead of turning your head.
I personally can't waot to get another display and combine it with virtual desktops. Six per screen sounds good to me.
I am just staring out in the design business, so funds are limited. I cannot yet afford to buy anything more than what I have, which is pitifully small and slow. On app that helps is Multiplicity from Stardock. I cannot stress how valuable it is for me to be able to move seamlessly not between monitors, but between computers. My setup allows me to mesh two separate computers/and monitors together, to drag files, copy and paste, and control computer 2 with the mouse and keyboard of computer 1. It's a good alternative if you have two computers and you wish to control both, and move between both with one controller.
When I get the money, I will look into getting a faster setup with more monitors - looks very cool!
I'm probably the exception here...
I hate multiple monitors, and I hate widescreen monitors. I hate them from the bottom of my heart.
I've tried working with two or even three monitors (both CRT and LCD) and found it extremely troublesome. Sure, if you want to kick your Winamp or disk defragmenter or a rarely used tool palette to another screen, it's a perfect solution. But that's just about the only use I find for multiple monitors - to hold stuff you might glance at rarely. I tried holding some documentation on one of the side monitors and when I found myself needing to actually read it, tilting my head quickly wore me down. So what did I do? I kicked the documentation to the primary display. So much for that.
Virtual desktops are where it's at for me. Just a keypress, and I have an instant context switch to an entirely different working area with a different set of windows.
I prefer 1280x960 on a 19" CRT and 1280x1024 on a 19" LCD. I could probably use something like a widescreen 1600x1050, if I were to place the left part of the LCD in front of me, and keep the right part farther away, holding... Well, I don't know what. Winamp?
What I do like is the idea of having 2560x2048 on an 19" LCD and an operating system which would respect the increased DPI and keep everything at the same physical size as the current 1280x1024. I don't think that will happen for another five years. But even then, I'd use zoom in my browser to enlarge the webpage content, as I'm doing right now with this website being zoomed to 140%.
The thing that drives me crazy about the Mac with large monitors is the single-menu design. The more screen realestate you have, the more likely you are to have your pointer far away from the menu bar. Sometimes I have to make multiple mouse movements to get to the menu bar to make a selection. This is extremely irritating to me, so much so that I often will unplug one monitor, or just not use it.
I did not know about WinSplit, cool tool!
Additionally I use the following tools
a href="www.basta.com/ProdZMover.htm"ZMovera allows you to resize windows when they opens, especially useful for some Java apps that doesnt remember where they where last.
TaskSwitchXP/a A better ALT-TAB switcher that shows up on the active monitor.
I'm desperatly looking for a solution to run a second monitor and TV-out at the same time on a laptop (in fact we'd need two independent S-VIDEO outs). Now, if anyone knows how to do that... :)
no mention of allsnap? It basically makes windows behave like photoshop or winamp windows... but not only to other windows, but potentially a gridlike setup as well. it can be set so that it only works while holding alt (or always works except when holding alt). I put it on my families computer, and they think that this new "windows thing" is so useful.
Todays development tools are complex and requires a lot of space. Not sure if your article applies also to developers.
I frankly don't get Windows users' obsession with maximizing windows and avoiding overlapping windows.
I was just on the winsplit website and they now support multi-monitor, I haven't tried it though.
I think GridMove is a rad program (and I thank you for calling my attention to it).
And nowadays, I like having my applications maximized. However, I miss my beautiful wallpaper! So I made a .grid template file for GridMove, that leaves 30 pixels of wallpaper visible on all sides of your otherwise-maximized windows.
Download the file here:
Worked on the same issue for a while. Main challenge – multi-monitor support in remote session. Just finished Virtual Display Manager: http://www.ishadow.com/?tabid=115 Should help with large screens too. Comments are welcome.
I currently use one 1680*1050 LCD, and a 1920*1080 TV in a completely different location, but virtually to the left. Has anyone here thought of stacking monitors vertically (Using a frame to hold them, of course) yet? Maybe a 4 monitor desktop, 3 on the bottom, and one above the top, might work. Or 6 monitors. Or 9, in a truly frightening array. Or even a polyhedron surrounding a single rotating chair, mouse, and keyboard. Or maybe we'll have non-flat screens, with preconfigured spheres and hemispheres available. I'm getting scared now. But my dream monitor set would be a spherical configuration, plus a reasonably sized touchscreen main monitor that is always visible (Attached to the chair, along with the keyboard and mouse), where alerts and the taskbar/panel show.
Basic geometry question for anyone who might know, please.
I have used a 19" 4:3 LCD at the native 1280x1024 the past few years for my business apps. I'm not a programmer or designer, I'm just building a business but use a lot of apps from Office to video editing and web design. I'm considering going to a widescreen LCD (with WinSplit or GridMove and maybe a virtual desktop to manage the real estate). I use XP Pro and am not planning to customize its text sizing. I'll always stay at native resolution with my LCD.
I'm trying to decide between going to a 19" at 1440 x 900, or a 24" at 1920 x 1200.
What I'm trying to find out is two things.
A. Which is going to give me the largest characters and how does that character size compare with what I have now?
B. If I go for the 24" will it end up giving me side-by-side Word docs that have text as big as what I get now?
I use WinSplit and Sizer to split my 24" 1920x1200 into either 2 or 3 areas. Works ok for me.
I miss a source code text editor that could "widen" its editable area into 2 or 3 columns, newspaper columns style. Anyone ?
Here are the stats on comparing various LCD monitor sizes and their native resolutions in terms of how it affects the size of characters (etc).
The operative spec to compare is "pixel pitch," which is a direct measurement to enable you to compare character/etc sizes (assuming identical data being sent to the monitor, of course). The larger the pixel pitch the larger the character size. (Naturally, the higher the resolution the more the real estate, which is a separate matter.)
Here are the ones I looked at, listed both by monitor size and by pixel pitch. I compared the older 19" 4:3 to the common wide-screens.
Listed by monitor size and resolution (and with the % size compared to 19" 4:3, which is the largest of those I compared):
19" 4:3 = 1280 x 1024 = .294 pixel pitch (100%)
19" wide = 1440 x 900 = .285 pixel pitch (96.9%)
20" wide = 1680 x 1050 = .258 pixel pitch (87.7%)
22" wide = 1680 x 1050 = .282 pixel pitch (95.9%)
24" wide = 1920 x 1200 = .270 pixel pitch (91.8%)
That same list in order of pixel pitch is:
20" wide = 1680 x 1050 = .258 pixel pitch (87.7%)
24" wide = 1920 x 1200 = .270 pixel pitch (91.8%)
22" wide = 1680 x 1050 = .282 pixel pitch (95.9%)
19" wide = 1440 x 900 = .285 pixel pitch (96.9%)
19" 4:3 = 1280 x 1024 = .294 pixel pitch (100%)
Note that the 24" wide is exactly half-way between the 20" wide and the 22" wide (and that the 20" wide and 22" wide have the same resolutions as each other -- same real estate).
wow, thanks God I found this thread! I too think that 30'' monitors cross the line between "great" and "so great that bothers me"... Initially I was astonished with so much space, but after a while you start to get tired of adjusting manually the windows, not being able to maximize, etc.
of all the links and solutions mentioned here I decided temporarily to stick with iShadow's Virtual Display Manager. Still undecided if I'm going to continue using and pay the (expensive) 50 bucks they ask, but so far the experience was good. Also liked GridMove, and it's a cheaper alternative to iVDM (even though I miss the functionality to 'maximize' a window to a virtual space). WinSplit is a no-go to me; felt it interesting, but not very useful at all.
thanks all for the suggestions and links!
Seems like *nix users are always ahead:
window manager improved 2
wmii is a dynamic window manager for X11. It supports classic and dynamic window management with extended keyboard, mouse, and filesystem based remote control. It replaces the workspace paradigm with a new tagging approach.
I confess I still have to try it, though, as it seems like *nix users always have more work to do when setting-up any soft :)
For Winxp; Look at scalable Fabric from microsoft labs - as you drag windows to the the edge of a user-defined 'desktop' they are minaturised (a la Vista), the further from the 'desktop' the smaller they are.
Can anyone say if Winsplit Revolution is compatible with 64 bit Windows XP (or Vista)?
I'm building a new computer and would prefer to go with 64 bit if possible due to the ability to use RAM over 3.5 GB but a program like Winsplit is a gotta-have for the type of work I do.
Thanks in advance.
Winsplit works fine on x64. As a general rule, *everything* works on x64. The exceptions are extremely rare in my experience, and tend to be obscure.
I was as surprised as anyone else to find this out. x64 "just works".
Thanks for the confirmation, Jeff! Now just to decide whether to go with WinXP or Vista...
I have a Vista laptop (32-bit) and I am grossly underwhelmed. A 2.2 Ghz Core2Duo with 2GB of DDR2 RAM should not be slower than the WinXP laptop I replaced. :-/
The term for this is [tiling window manager].
: a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiling_window_manager/a
dude, you need freesnap
it has saved me from your pain for years and is free and pretty darn simple to use.
its one drawback was that since its so old it was written with a one-monitor paradigm, so some features don't work so good on a multi-monitor system. while this may get corrected in a future release, i wouldn't hold your breath.
check it out here: http://blueonionsoftware.com/freesnap.aspx
also with regards to comment #1 about macs - i recently switched to mac and find myself with EXACTLY this same problem on my mac. made somewhat worse by the stupid horizontality of the mac laptop screen.
most text content is formatted vertically because that is how people read. text content makes up the vast majority of content, period. (email, web browsing, news, document writing, etc.)
only video, spreadsheets, music, and presentations are typically horizontal. and as a percentage of time spent using computers these are minimal.
i hate the short fat screen that my mac has and much preferred the overall smaller but much taller screen my old thinkpad
my current resolution is 1280 h x 800 v; my old thinkpad was 1024x768. so my current screen is 60% wider than it is tall, versus my old screen which is only 33% wider than it is tall.
i have so much more wasted space on this widescreen than i used to have, and i'd definitely prefer this macbook to be taller and narrower instead of short fat.
i wonder what apple were thinking when they went this particular design direction?
and i hope i find an application like the ones discussed here that i can use on my mac, the grid concept is a good one, as is the freesnap approach (size snap).
I have this exact problem on the Mac as well! On my MacBook Pro, I use an external wide-screen monitor as well, which only makes the problem worse. Every day I plug and unplug it when I take it home, and I have to reset my window positions when in different modes.
It's certainly a suck on my productivity. Any apps for OSX yet?
Funny that noone mentions "cognitive awareness" of the available screen space. When I went to 30" monitor(s), I noticed that there was so much information on the screen(s) that I actually had to partition them mentally into different spaces - the monitor(s) were back at arm's length, yet the field of view was so wide that I would "switch" between the spaces on screen as if they were different monitors.
Ultimately, I went to just one 30" monitor because the second one was mostly a waste for me (and better used by someone else who "only" had a 22" screen).
"users only need to deal with one maximized window at a time"
Seriously, man. The concept of "maximizing a window" is relevant in ONE of the, say, five, software environments I use semi-regularly. If you mean "Windows users", just go ahead and write "Windows users", and let the rest of us go on living in the 2000s.
When in MS windows (at work) I use winsplit to survive, but that is an insult compared to:
1.- awesome window manager
*nix users are years ahead. When so many people rant about how crappy windows is, they usually are thinking about things like this. In MS windows you get one windows manager. Everywhere else, you get freedom of choice. If you need a window manager to, um, *manage* your windows instead of throwing them at you for you to decide what to do every single time, then try to look outside of that hole.
Helping apps to manage windows? what?
Thats why I use Compiz..Its already revolutionized desktop organization before all of this Vista business.
I've used tiling window managers for years. Get yourself a sensible OS and the rest is easy.
I'm really glad I read this before I purchased a new set of monitors. I had forgotten about this fact before when considering whether to get 1 large or 2 smaller monitors.
I totally agree with this article! When it come to computers and productivity, smaller multiple monitors surpass single large monitors. I have a Quad monitor SUPER PC from http://Multi-Monitors.com and the 24 LCDs have plenty of desktop space. It's funny that you mention Minority Report, because that's how I got into multiple monitors. Here is a video of the closest thing we have to a commercial Minority Report type system. I'd say it's a pretty close relative.
I use two 20 monitors at work on an OSX box running VMW Fusion for Windows and Linux use.
To make things better while coding, I have the screens rotated 90 degrees which makes my code speed readable since it is narrower, and presents more than twice as many lines of code since I now use a slightly smaller font.
Try it, it's great,
I lobbied management in my office for months to provide multiple monitors to everyone, and they eventually relented. They recorded a small raw increase in productivity, i.e. tasks are now completed a few seconds quicker, especially data entry and business support/admin tasks.
The real benefits, however, have been less measurable but noticeable increases in productivity and user happiness. People are less frustrated when switching between windows, and especially when performing 'side by side' tasks, such as comparing spreadsheets, or technical drawings with specifications, c.
Interrupting a task to resize a window takes two seconds, maybe three, but the interruption costs you a minute in refocussing and remapping the screen estate in your mind. (i.e. working out where everything is in relation to everything else RIGHT NOW)
However, management here has managed to get it really wrong in pretty much every other aspect of the staff/user experience.
I still prefer not to use multiple monitors. I generally have ~50 windows open at any one time, 20 of which are excel, and my preference is to have large, high resolution monitor, with everything accessible from my 6 row taskbar and quicklaunch.
I'm not allowed a large monitor, which is fine, so I make do with what I have, but I recently discovered a multiple monitor configuration which felt good to me and actually saved me a lot of time.
| | _________
--------- | |
(hope this parses alright)
The second monitor is angled slightly backward and is basically a metaphor for paper - as a result I had pretty much NO paper on my desk at all - it looks like a hot desk.
If I have notes or data that I need to quickly write or refer to it's much quicker (or I perceive it as such) to move there with my mouse (or ALT+TAB to notepad, though with 50 windows this is difficult.. can't understand why the ALT+TAB dialog is so small but that's another story) and type in that data or COPY/PASTE it.
I leave about a quarter of the right edge of my monitor as the access point to the second monitor, which is actually a good few inches from the main screen. As long as the entry/exit points remain relatively constant, it isn't overly important for the screens to be touching.
This also allows me to maintain a rudimentary hierarchy of open files. The secondary monitor is mainly for unprocessed data, notes, file explorer windows, and background tasks like an mp3 player or install process. Browsing, writing code/documents/c. happens on the main screen which is directly in front of me. In this way I can refer to secondary information by glancing down and to the right, where I would usually have pen and paper.
It also avoids what I find the most annoying thing about multiple monitors, with windows at least: the scrollbar and X buttons. A decade of throwing my mouse at the right or top right of my single monitor to scroll or close a window makes the secondary monitor annoying.
Having the monitors seaprate enough, and the join between them small enough toact as two separate metaphorical desktops/notepads/filing cabines/whiteboards/whatever also means that you don't get that hideous distortion when a window crosses two monitors.
Unfortunately, for some reason management have informed me that I am not allowed to rest the monitor on the desk in such a fashion and that it must remain on it's extend-arm from the main pole on my desk. Those extend-arms have only lateral movement, so the dream is over.
I use a laptop for software development (dell xps 1710) with a 17" 1920x1200 screen + a 19" 1280x1024 external LCD. The biggest problem is the difference in DPI. If I increase the text size to make text easy to read on the 17" screen, the text becomes too big on the 19" screen. So I'm concidering getting more displays
For about the same price I can get
1) one 30" 2560x1600
2) two 24" 1920x1200
3) or three 19" 1280x1024 + one Matrox TripleHead2Go
What would your choice be?