More on Leopard, Windows, and Tabs

May 31st, 2007
New iPad puzzle game:
Art Scrambles

A long time ago, before the Internet, you could only run one application at a time, usually with one window.

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Eventually you could run several applications at the same time. You still only needed one window per application most of the time, because you were creating things like pictures and documents, and you were focusing on your creations.

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Then the Internet arrived. As you surfed and talked to others, you opened more browser windows, more e-mail windows, more IM windows.

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After a while windows started getting out of hand, so tabs were introduced in browsers and IM apps to help organize things.

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This worked great! Soon tabs started appearing in more applications.

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Now tabs are getting out of hand. But who will help organize the tabs? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

(Oh, you don’t have a problem with tabs? Try getting to the fourth tab in your third open browser window. Now try it from the keyboard.)

In addition to the growing problem of navigation, there’s the issue of increased complexity, of information overload. You’re managing more and more applications and windows and tabs to see ever more information. Usually, complexity like this rises until overload threatens, at which time something changes to accommodate even more complexity gracefully.

It’s reasonably safe to assume that Apple is aware that tabs have a problem: they break the window paradigm. Tabs don’t appear in Exposé. You can’t minimize them. And so on.

We already know Leopard will be adding more tabs to iChat and Terminal, so we know Apple is aware of the growing complexity and is working to combat it.

Chances seem good that Leopard will try to fix the broken window paradigm too, perhaps by something as simple as enhancing Exposé to support tabs, but perhaps something more sweeping.