Coffeehouse Thread

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is the desktop - your homebase?

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  • User profile image
    jamie

    For a longtime - Windows pushed the idea that the desktop was homebase.

    I liked that metaphor - and use the desktop daily for Projects on the go / in progress stuff.

    After it is done - or after a few months - it gets filed away.

    To me - it makes sence to use the desktop as homebase.
    It is the first thing you see. - but yes - clutter can soon take over..

    do you go through many folder trees - everytime to save a file in the "correct" place?
    or do you save where you can see what is in front of you - and organise it all later?


  • User profile image
    Sven Groot

    No. I have never used the desktop for anything much. 99% of the stuff on it are icons created by installers that I can't be bothered to remove. I use the start menu exclusively to start stuff. The only "useful" thing on my desktop is a file named "New Text Document.txt" which I use as a scratchpad for Flight Simulator flight plans, with entries such as "767: EDDF SOBRA Y180 BITBU Y181 MAKIK UY181 DEMUL UM624 BUB UL608 LOGAN EGLL, 407nm, FL340, fuel 7081/900/7081kg" Smiley

  • User profile image
    jamie

    Sven Groot said:
    No. I have never used the desktop for anything much. 99% of the stuff on it are icons created by installers that I can't be bothered to remove. I use the start menu exclusively to start stuff. The only "useful" thing on my desktop is a file named "New Text Document.txt" which I use as a scratchpad for Flight Simulator flight plans, with entries such as "767: EDDF SOBRA Y180 BITBU Y181 MAKIK UY181 DEMUL UM624 BUB UL608 LOGAN EGLL, 407nm, FL340, fuel 7081/900/7081kg" Smiley
    a friend of mine - "lil'chris" used to have a WIP folder  (work in progress) back in the pagemaker 2.0 days

    i always thought that was cool

    but ya - i put everything on desktop so i can always save to - top level = no thinking about organising till later.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    jamie,

    I remember how on old Macs, people used to carefully arrange folders on their desktop for quick access, since they would always stick there and not go away. Norton Desktop accomplished sort of the same thing on Windows 3.1, replacing Program Manager/ When Microsoft designed Windows 95, they also made it so that folders left open when the system was shut down would re-open when the system starts.

    Thats sort of useless with Windows, since we aren't viewing only one application at a time, like you did on the classic Mac. Instead though, maybe we could be able to arrange icons on our desktop into groups, and have things like tile view.

  • User profile image
    jamie

    brian.shapiro said:
    jamie,

    I remember how on old Macs, people used to carefully arrange folders on their desktop for quick access, since they would always stick there and not go away. Norton Desktop accomplished sort of the same thing on Windows 3.1, replacing Program Manager/ When Microsoft designed Windows 95, they also made it so that folders left open when the system was shut down would re-open when the system starts.

    Thats sort of useless with Windows, since we aren't viewing only one application at a time, like you did on the classic Mac. Instead though, maybe we could be able to arrange icons on our desktop into groups, and have things like tile view.
    sounds good.  and lock view etc

    norton desktop haha

    i used to LOVE that.

    it was win95 - before win95

    but then win95 cameout - and it was dust Smiley

  • User profile image
    tfraser

    Most of the time the only icon on my desktop is the one for the Recycle Bin as I delete any that are created by additional applications.

    I will occasionally store files on the desktop temporarily before they are put away into their correct place. This is useful because I can access them immediately without having to drill down through some enormous archival tree, however in the long run file management (as tedious as it can be) always pays off.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    tfraser said:

    Most of the time the only icon on my desktop is the one for the Recycle Bin as I delete any that are created by additional applications.

    I will occasionally store files on the desktop temporarily before they are put away into their correct place. This is useful because I can access them immediately without having to drill down through some enormous archival tree, however in the long run file management (as tedious as it can be) always pays off.

    I like a clean desktop also, but I've discovered a lot of novice users actually like programs putting shortcuts on their desktop. The problem is that the desktop is currently not designed to handle organization well.

  • User profile image
    tfraser

    brian.shapiro said:
    tfraser said:
    *snip*
    I like a clean desktop also, but I've discovered a lot of novice users actually like programs putting shortcuts on their desktop. The problem is that the desktop is currently not designed to handle organization well.
    It would be nice to see a revised desktop in a future version of Windows. For example, I think that once touch-based interfaces have become more refined a desktop with functionality similar to that of OneNote should be built. It wouldn't need to replicate OneNote's entire feature set but just offer some of the more basic capabilities.

    I know that attempts with a similar intention have been made before but most of them seem to focus on dominating the interface when all I want is something that sits in the background until I need it. Desktastic is a Mac application that does something similar to what I'm thinking but it fails because it's short on features and cannot be used with native touch interaction.

  • User profile image
    TommyCarlier

    I usually only see my desktop when I've just logged on. As soon as I start working, it's covered by whatever application I'm running maximized (usually Visual Studio or Opera). At work I have 2 monitors, the first usually covered by a maximized app (usually Visual Studio or SQL Server Management Studio) and the second is usually filled with extra panels from Visual Studio (Solution Manager, Toolbox, Properties, Document Outline, ...).

    Conclusion: the desktop is of little use to me.

  • User profile image
    kettch

    tfraser said:
    brian.shapiro said:
    *snip*
    It would be nice to see a revised desktop in a future version of Windows. For example, I think that once touch-based interfaces have become more refined a desktop with functionality similar to that of OneNote should be built. It wouldn't need to replicate OneNote's entire feature set but just offer some of the more basic capabilities.

    I know that attempts with a similar intention have been made before but most of them seem to focus on dominating the interface when all I want is something that sits in the background until I need it. Desktastic is a Mac application that does something similar to what I'm thinking but it fails because it's short on features and cannot be used with native touch interaction.
    I'd like to see the possiblity for desktop "groups". These would be like folders, only when clicked, they wouldn't open in Explorer, but would just expand into a lightweight frame that would show all of the subitems inside the groups. They would be able to show the different views like Explorer does, and have the same basic functions, but without all of the chrome and toolbars. You could be able to drag them around on the desktop and arrange them by various criteria, dock them together into tabgroups, etc.

    Right now, I don't use the desktop for anything. In fact, I have desktop icons turned off. If there were more tools like I described to organize the contents of the desktop, I might use it for more things.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    kettch said:
    tfraser said:
    *snip*
    I'd like to see the possiblity for desktop "groups". These would be like folders, only when clicked, they wouldn't open in Explorer, but would just expand into a lightweight frame that would show all of the subitems inside the groups. They would be able to show the different views like Explorer does, and have the same basic functions, but without all of the chrome and toolbars. You could be able to drag them around on the desktop and arrange them by various criteria, dock them together into tabgroups, etc.

    Right now, I don't use the desktop for anything. In fact, I have desktop icons turned off. If there were more tools like I described to organize the contents of the desktop, I might use it for more things.
    kettch,

    Right except I think you could have the benefits of that by just allowing the Group By option for the desktop, and by default, have it Group By Type. So you have everything automatically arranged in categories like Shortcut, JPEG file, etc.

    Also I think Tile view would work better on the desktop, because it would prevent the look of there being a mess of icons. They would have to make it work a little bit better visually, for instance, by making the background of either the groups or of the tiles translucent

    Something that might be better is the ability to have groups on the desktop that are really shortcuts to other folders. We're able to do this on the taskbar by making a folder toolbar, and as far as I know, you can still drag those off and either dock them or make them floating, but it would be better if you could have them on the desktop, maybe as a gadget.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    At home I mostly use the desktop for web page shortcuts that I am (or think I should be) referencing repeatedly but not permanently, though I currently have 3 program shortcuts. Two I use a couple of times a week and one is there to remind me to use it (which I never do). Ocasionally I'll go through them all and either delete them or put them in to Favorites.

    At work I do a bit of that but its mostly "works in progress" and temporary folders/files. It's an utter mess.

    Frankly, I wouldn't mind if the desktop just went away as a folder and only served as a surface on which to display wallpaper.  I used to try to run with a clean desktop, and maybe I would if I were forced to. Or maybe we just need to figure out all the uses people have for the desktop and find/create better alternatives for each so we won't feel the need for the desktop as a folder/dumping ground.

  • User profile image
    tfraser

    kettch said:
    tfraser said:
    *snip*
    I'd like to see the possiblity for desktop "groups". These would be like folders, only when clicked, they wouldn't open in Explorer, but would just expand into a lightweight frame that would show all of the subitems inside the groups. They would be able to show the different views like Explorer does, and have the same basic functions, but without all of the chrome and toolbars. You could be able to drag them around on the desktop and arrange them by various criteria, dock them together into tabgroups, etc.

    Right now, I don't use the desktop for anything. In fact, I have desktop icons turned off. If there were more tools like I described to organize the contents of the desktop, I might use it for more things.
    You mean something like the Stacks feature in Mac OS X? I think this would be a very useful organisational tool.

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    DCMonkey said:
    At home I mostly use the desktop for web page shortcuts that I am (or think I should be) referencing repeatedly but not permanently, though I currently have 3 program shortcuts. Two I use a couple of times a week and one is there to remind me to use it (which I never do). Ocasionally I'll go through them all and either delete them or put them in to Favorites.

    At work I do a bit of that but its mostly "works in progress" and temporary folders/files. It's an utter mess.

    Frankly, I wouldn't mind if the desktop just went away as a folder and only served as a surface on which to display wallpaper.  I used to try to run with a clean desktop, and maybe I would if I were forced to. Or maybe we just need to figure out all the uses people have for the desktop and find/create better alternatives for each so we won't feel the need for the desktop as a folder/dumping ground.
    DC,

    As I understand, Microsoft will be promoting it in Windows 7 as a place to put gadgets. I think a lot of novice users rely on the desktop for shortcuts though. Personally I still use it as a dumping grounds to create or download new files before I decide what to do with them.

  • User profile image
    Ion Todirel

    brian.shapiro said:
    DCMonkey said:
    *snip*
    DC,

    As I understand, Microsoft will be promoting it in Windows 7 as a place to put gadgets. I think a lot of novice users rely on the desktop for shortcuts though. Personally I still use it as a dumping grounds to create or download new files before I decide what to do with them.
    why would I minimize all my active windows and go to desktop to start x app, when I can just use start menu or quick lunch bar?

  • User profile image
    brian.​shapiro

    Ion Todirel said:
    brian.shapiro said:
    *snip*
    why would I minimize all my active windows and go to desktop to start x app, when I can just use start menu or quick lunch bar?
    I didn't say you would. I just said I've seen a lot of novice users rely on desktop shortcuts, they use the icons that are dumped there.  You also see them used in public environments, like libraries, where the manager wants to place links to different web pages or catalog applications on the desktop.

    There may be a redundancy in having three different sources for shortcuts, but sometimes there are reasons for it and different preferences. So in any case Microsoft should examine how they can make these things work for all preferences, or , if its too much of a mess, rethink some of the basic Windows interface, or how the parts work together.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    kettch said:
    tfraser said:
    *snip*
    I'd like to see the possiblity for desktop "groups". These would be like folders, only when clicked, they wouldn't open in Explorer, but would just expand into a lightweight frame that would show all of the subitems inside the groups. They would be able to show the different views like Explorer does, and have the same basic functions, but without all of the chrome and toolbars. You could be able to drag them around on the desktop and arrange them by various criteria, dock them together into tabgroups, etc.

    Right now, I don't use the desktop for anything. In fact, I have desktop icons turned off. If there were more tools like I described to organize the contents of the desktop, I might use it for more things.
    That sounds alot like "containments" from KDE4's Plasma gadget system. I think when the desktop gadgets start to get that complcated it's best to just to stick with real windows.

  • User profile image
    DCMonkey

    brian.shapiro said:
    DCMonkey said:
    *snip*
    DC,

    As I understand, Microsoft will be promoting it in Windows 7 as a place to put gadgets. I think a lot of novice users rely on the desktop for shortcuts though. Personally I still use it as a dumping grounds to create or download new files before I decide what to do with them.
    That will be nice if they treat gadgets as a real part of the desktop and not as just another app that dissapears when you hit the Show Desktop shortcut.

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