in macOS edited January 2014
I original posted my ramblings on my blog but was really curious to get some feedback from the appleinsider community as I regularly visit the site and troll the forums. So read on and please share your thoughts....

Sitting in my Latin-American Literature class, fueled by an Americano, and drowning in the clutter of 5 word processor* windows; an epiphany entangled by a rant is brewing. Disorientated and frustrated I climb out of the clutter of my documents into my web-browser. Refreshing. Sweet freedom. I peacefully roam the wondrous beauty of the Internet, flipping from tab to tab.

A tabbed word processor seems obvious**, no?

This raises other user-interface thoughts that are even more foundational. With so many fully functional and convenient web-based alternatives (which are naturally tabbed), at what point does it make more sense to simply run your word processor (and beyond) out of a web-browser?

But maybe these thoughts are being sparked by the beta release of Safari 4. With the application of features like cover flow and full history search to the web-browser it feels amazingly similar to Apples media-browser iTunes 8, and even more importantly, Leopard's system-browser, Finder.

You see where I am going with this?

THE-browser*** will be the unifying hub for daily multipurpose use. A single process (web, media, system etc) tabbed browser with sub tabs.

Maybe OS XI?

*It should be noted, I am using Word 2004 on OS X. Not exactly the standard in user experience. Consequently, Expose, remedies this frustration beautifully. But for the sake of the post, we will ignore that work of Apple genius.

**I am well aware that such alternatives exist. As you will see, I am merely using this as a catchy intro to set up my thesis for an efficient unified user interface.

***Which is more a OS UI heavily influenced by modern browser designs.


  • Reply 1 of 8
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member
    I see it! But wait... No I don't.

    Let me back up. I saw tabs just below the menu bar. These tabs let you tab between apps. Hmmm, that's the Dock. So never mind.

    However, I do see the "tabs" concept being integrated into other apps such as word-processors. I do recall a heated discussion some years ago, here on AI, between those who were pro tabs and those against it.

    The argument was that tabs do not allow you to see documents side by side.

    Fast forward to today and we see the ability to peal off tabs into a new window if one needs to.

    So yes, I was and am pro-tabs. With tabs, the hidden window(s) can be reached straight away.

    However, tabs ala MS are evil!!!!!! Tabs with sub tabs, tabs below tabs that change locations by clicking on a lower tab....... HAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!
  • Reply 2 of 8
    Thank you so much for the feedback. I was really hoping for some critical feedback to help me develop my thoughts.

    You contributed a crucial points. The need for windows to be open side by side is, without a doubt, necessary. I don't believe this directly refutes my thesis. I actively use tabs in my web browser and still occasionally "peal off" a tab to view windows side by side (likewise, if I had the capability to do this in my word processor, I would).

    My purpose is to reduce clutter by unifying functions that utilize the same user interface. Maybe my idea is dead in the water, but I don't give up easy.

    I just see beauty in the fact that finder, itunes, and safari all share a common user interface that efficiently serves it's purpose in retrieving your data and manipulating it. I know I should just be content with the fact that it makes for a common user experience (so it feels like everything is where it should be no matter what program I am using), but I have a streak in me that is always searching to do things better.

    My gripe still driving me forward is if I am in finder and want to do a web search, why do I need to open Safari when all the essential user interface elements to serve that function are already in place. At the end of the day, the "browser" design serves a common purpose (whether it is media, web, or other files).

    So hit me, give me so more feedback to chew on. I love this kind of stuff. I should have joined AI a long time ago.
  • Reply 3 of 8
    ipeonipeon Posts: 1,122member
    Hmmmmm... I'm beginning to see you vision.

    Tabs on the Finder... At the top of the finder window, as in Safari 4, you would have tabs for any app you wish to have (you could add or delete as you wish). In such a way, you could simply click the tab to switch to that app.

    I like the idea! Now I see what you mean by sub tabs. In this case, I see it working beautifully. You would have the finder window as the "dominant" object with tabs on top. As you click a Safari tab, then that tab would become Safari. Safari itself having tabs inside it's area.

    I see it. I like it!
  • Reply 4 of 8
    Yes! Yes! (climactic) YES!

    I loved your example of Safari and Finder (It seems it would make most sense to use Finder as the foundation for the design)...and do you see how iTunes could fit in just as beautifully...? Open all three and look at them side by side.

    The search field in the top right hand corner, the location bar top center with basic navigation tools, and the location/source/library window on the left. All roughly utilizing the same basic options to view your data (list, icons, Cover Flow, columns).

    Holy smokes, I just looked at my iCal and realized how beautifully it fits (just move navigation tools to the left). Same with iPhoto (just move the search field to the top right).

    I feel like the word processor is a bit more of a stretch, but I believe this is only because we don't have a clear example of a word processor with the same UI in mind. But I believe it's conceivable.

    It all operates on the same basic principles of the browser. I wish I had more time and photo shopping skills. Maybe there is someone out there who can catch the vision and throw together a mockup?
  • Reply 5 of 8
    One last thought before I crash...

    Essentially I am proposing application integration to Finder utilizing a shared/unified UI. App's would be organized/accessed through "dominant object tabs", with these apps having corresponding "sub tabs" of their own.

    Yes yes...I'm just reprocessing what you already said iPeon... it is time for bed. :P
  • Reply 6 of 8
    Maybe I'm missing something but this sounds very much like the taskbar in windows which act in many ways as the 'tab bar' of windows explorer...

    While i like the option to use tabs within apps, I'm failing to see in what way the joining of multiple apps into one tabbed interface would help my workflow? Actually I believe that between the Dock, the command-tab list, spaces, (un-)hiding windows, expose, smart corners, and command-~ osX has more than enough methods of working with multiple apps and their windows.

    At this point in time, adding more options will only make the UI more difficult to learn, so please explain how your new UI paradigm would actually enhance workflow and in what way it is better than the existing options?
  • Reply 7 of 8
    This is what I'm talking about:

    No one listened to me and now Firefox is beating us to it... :P
  • Reply 8 of 8
    kim kap solkim kap sol Posts: 2,987member
    Originally Posted by perpetualanticipation View Post

    This is what I'm talking about:

    No one listened to me and now Firefox is beating us to it... :P

    The idea and mockups were done ages ago and no one listened. Don't feel like you're the only one nobody is listening to. I've done mockups in the past of a better "tab" system that looks almost identical to what you've linked to.

    Horizontal tabs is such a bad UI design that just about any other window management design will trump it. Vertical tabs are already a better idea because it provides more information to the user and it scales way better. And a mosaic tab system is even better since it provides the most information and scales even better than a vertical tab system would.

    But no...THE Browser idea is terrible. We already have an amazing window management system with Spaces and Exposé. If you don't use it, don't foist your single-tasking THE Browser UI paradigm on us. If you like single-tasking, you can go back to the System 1-6 days sans Multifinder.
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