The Treehouse + The Cave

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

Sidelining Dashboard

It always seems to come together like this--little experiences with my computer--coalescing slowly over months (mostly when I'm unaware), into an idea that can be built. Sad to say however, I can't yet command the skill set to do it myself (try as I might).

In this case the elements colliding are newfound love for Menufela, fading use of Dashboard, continued respect for the Dock, and occasional glimpses of Vista's impending Sidebar. It happened post-work, while slumped in my favorite chair shaking off the smell of suits--a minute later the whole of it had been spit to page (well TextEdit).

So, what's wrong with Dashboard?
1. It consumes the entirety of your display area.
2. When activated, the standard OSX environment is unavailable to the user.
3. Information sharing and exchange between the standard OSX environment and the Dashboard cannot be done without switching back and forth, wasting time and system resources.
4. Information that should be "at a glance" is actually "at the push of a button".
So, how do you craft something better from the bits above?


Please view the full image as well.

I finally made time to render the thought, as it should really appear pre-WWDC. Rumblings from the rarely accurate Jason O'Grady indicate Apple may have already implemented this nascent UI and more, much more.

Dashdock/drawer isn't that radical improvement to Dashboard, and isn't meant to be. It's just a kissing cousin--a different way of looking at the app. A different way of thinking, that I'd argue A LOT of people would prefer--people with mad screen real estate--folks who actually want to work with their widgets--pros.

Just like the Dock or Menufela, my proposed modification would slide out from the screen edge, presenting the user with a slice of the Dashboard in a drawer. You can trigger this behavior simply by mousing to the screen edge, hitting a keyboard shortcut or using a programmable mouse.

Screen edge, drawer size, drawer position and duration would be user-definable. It's basically any size of Dashboard you want--where you want it--for as long as you want it. These variables (and others) would be adjustable via a preferences/widget management dialog similar to the rendering below, as well as through intuitive mouse actions.

Grab any of the three drawer edges to resize. Command-grab any of the three edges to drag the entire drawer to another available screen edge. Click the X icon in the lower-left-hand corner to close a non-auto-hiding drawer. Command-click the X, it rotates into the familiar + and launches the aforementioned prefs. The + is available in place of the X when auto-hide is activated.

Dashdock/drawer Preferences

See, it's just a less domineering Dashboard--his sensitive younger brother. And probably--his smarter younger brother. This is the mod that could actually make those RSS reader widgets usable--I'd finally use the Address Book widget instead of Address Book and the iTunes widget instead of a minimized iTunes.

I want it, and I'm willing to share. My hand's out, I'm in 50/50 with anyone who can build it. From there, who knows.

Anonymous Anonymous thought:

you've always been an inventor and an innovator! mamajama

August 15, 2006 at 9:12 PM - Comment Permalink  
Blogger hackand thought:

I just wish I could write a single line of code to start materializing this wonderful idea.

August 16, 2006 at 12:27 AM - Comment Permalink  

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