This idea is a followup to a blog post by Bob Balfe
asking whether folks used the Notes feature to "Group documents from each application on a tab" option available in the Windows and Themes preferences. The feedback was that the behavior of the tabs with respect to selecting and closing when in this mode needed improvement. I gave it a little thought and I believe the following will make this feature really shine:
- Activate grouped tab expansion via a mouseover, with a configurable (notes.ini) delay, defaulted to ~400ms. This is long enough that, if all the user wants to do is click the tab grouping to bring in focus, they won’t be bothered by an expanded tab list, but short enough they won’t start cursing.
- If the user clicks on the dropdown in a group tab (always visible as it is now) the list is activated immediately.
- Once activated, the group list would then show an X next to whichever specific sub-tab the mouse was hovering over (just like the Windows 7 taskbar). This avoids the visually awkward display of multiple red X icons in close proximity, and prevents users with poor aim from closing the wrong tab by accident. Key benefit is that user can easily close a specific sub-tab without it first being brought into focus, to say nothing of having to then move the mouse across the screen to find the X in its current location.
- At the bottom of the tab list would be a choice, in italics or otherwise visually different from other “real” choices, to “Close Group”. There should be an “are you sure” confirmation prompt with a “don’t ask me again” checkbox option displayed.
Another idea was to show thumbnails of the individual subtabs instead of simple text. I like the idea in theory, BUT I think it might be too gimmicky, since for example all email messages look the same as thumbnails and it’s the title that really matters. Also it would probably be expensive from a performance standpoint. OK at the OS switching level but probably overkill inside Notes. The existing thumbnail viewer is good enough.