Labeled Workspaces Revisited – Tags

With multiple workspaces in use, labeled workspaces have the advantage of quickly reminding the user what activity they’re working on in each workspace. My previous proposal was to have workspaces manually entered by the user. It brought along with it an additional text-entry interface element into the overview. In this proposal however, we revisit the topic of labeled workspaces with another option that offers the benefit of automation but sacrifices some specificity. This proposal is not to implement labeled workspaces through direct label entry, but rather, through indirect, automatic tagging. Compared to the previous proposal, these are the main benefits:

  • No addition to the overview’s interface for label entry
  • The user is relieved the burden of having to manage their workspaces (controlling the UX is one of our design principles)

So how would tagged workspaces work? Well take a look at the windows tab in GNOME Shell’s looking glass. Notice that we have data – data on the titles of each open window (and theoretically data on previously opened windows or tabs if we stored this). Using this data, we can use any tag-cloud generation algorithm to find words that relate to what the user is doing in each workspace. These tags can be displayed whatever way is deemed best for the user experience. It could be a tag-cloud overlay on each mini-workspace, or it could be a comma-separated one-liner of relevant words.

wordle test (open data session, first 8 pages transcribed)

Because tagging is automatic, the user no longer has to control the lifetime of each workspace. That feature’s purpose was to prevent the user from retyping the label each session. Thus, there no longer needs to be a distinction between static (user-controlled) and dynamic workspaces. Nonetheless, allowing a user to rearrange his or her workspaces would be a good feature to have.

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