Canonical Unveils “The Spread” UI in Ubuntu

Solving task-switching in Ubuntu

Canonical have been busy at work, it seems. Not only did they develop, prototype and implement the new Search-based menu UI system HUD, soon for release in the upcoming Ubuntu Precise Pangolin, but they’ve just unveiled another interesting UI development: “The Spread”.

Solving task-switching in Ubuntu

Solving task-switching in Ubuntu

It’s a very interesting solution to task-switching in Ubuntu. It starts with the already-in-use Scale functionality at the base, but as you can see with the above designs, this has been more intuitive. Windows previews are much bigger and labelled well for easier identification, the familiar Unity searching paradigm—a common theme throughout Ubuntu’s Unity UX—makes its way into the Spread and creating additional windows for an app just got easier.

It’s interesting, indeed.

A concern that comes to mind, though, is whether a new “average” user will be able to distinguish between the Spread, used to switch between windows, and Expo, used to switch between workspaces. Because, as it currently stands, they’re very similar looking.

I’ll be following this development closely.


4 Comments so far. Comments are closed.
  1. I’m wondering if more than 1 workspace is really needed by default. It’s a piece of functionality that I think a lot of people love, but other people don’t see a use for (I’m one of them). If it turns out that the similarity between spread (which I think is an excellent idea) and expo causes some confusion for users, perhaps the solution isn’t to have the spread be changed somehow, but to simply disable expo and multiple workspaces by default. They would, of course, still be there for those who want them – just not enabled by default.

    • Izo,

      I think is an entirely excellent suggestion. =] You should voice this in the Spread discussion.

    • Hans,

      That’s a valid opinion but workspaces are amongst the most powerfull features of desktop linux. The idea of removing or hiding such functionality is something that only makes sense if the opening of the workspaces switcher causes irreparable or grevious confusion. In stead of hiding the functionality, perhaps all that is needed is that more attention be put into it’s design. Daniel foré is a big fan of using discriptive text everywhere(for instance showing “No files are open” instead of creating a new document). In this case I think that all that’s nessicary is labeling of workspaces (workspace 1,2,3,4) and the ability to rename them. Not only does this likley prevent confusion of window spread with workspaces, but also fixes the lack of a quicklist on the workspaces switcher which is still considerd a bug.
      For a detailed example of the confusion sometimes caused by workspaces you should see youtube user lockergnome’s video of his dad using ubuntu. You can tell what’s an issue and what’s a non-issue (at least for the elderly) and it seems that most of the issues that confuse him arised from unity 2d’s implemetation.
      It’s long but a worthwhile

    • Raymond,

      Here is some thoughts about these~

      The workspace idea is still kind of attracting for me./
      Because there maybe different kinds of jobs going on in the same time, and you just don’t want too many windows ruin your whole workflow.

      But I prefer the way that zeitgesit and hamster can provide.
      Use event instead of windows to seperate them or like plasma active, use activity to categorize them.

      Because what is in my mind when using personal computer, is the job I’m achieving, and there may contain complex works like searching, editing, reviewing and other things that I might as well do when just surfing the net or whatever reason I’m donig.

      I hope that computer can be well integrated into what I’m actually doing but not just distracting attention from me.

      But I do agree that expo and the new “spread” thing sould be well organized and hopefully will be a “plus” rather than a new compiz-something-fancy. (Quote: I do love compiz XD)