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Improve "Group documents from each application on a tab" usability 
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: 26
: 26
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: Notes Client / Other
: tabs, mouseover, window manager
: Kevin Pettitt832 18 Nov 2010
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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.



1) Michelle O'Rorke879 (18 Nov 2010)
My biggest issue with the grouped tabs is, and always has been, moving the X to close the current tab to the far right. On a wide screen monitor this is really annoying. I don't use tabs purely for that reason.

I think your suggestion of the X showing on hover is the most important improvement that could be made.

Close Group is available as a right-click on the tab which is what Windows 7 uses, so I don't think that needs to change.
2) Michelle O'Rorke879 (18 Nov 2010)
Comment above, first <p> should read " .. I don't use grouped tabs purely for that reason "
3) Bill Malchisky9254 (23 Nov 2010)
Love group tabs...saves a lot of time. But as with successive features and releases...anything can be improved.
4) John Cawrey886 (24 Nov 2010)
I like group tabs, but I would prefer that when I am on a document in a stack/group, and close it, I want to switch to the next document in that stack. Currently, it appears to be the last opened document. I could have been in an app, then switched to mail and opened something and then gone back to the app. That was my choice, fair enough. But if i then close the doc i was on, i get switched back to mail. I didnt want that. I want to stay in the app I was in.

It annoys me that I get switched to a different app, and then have to click the group tab of the app I was in. Even more annying if I have opened several docs in an app, and in between times flicked to other apps. Each time i close the doc in an app i get switched to some other app.

The 'x's most definitely should be on each doc tab, and not on the tab bar itself - I should be able to close a doc without having to activate it first. I think MBR alluded to this in their CogTool studies, so fingers crossed.











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