[linux-audio-dev] Windowmanager (Re: Alternative Sequencer User Interface)

Thorsten Wilms t_w_ at freenet.de
Wed Apr 14 02:54:52 UTC 2004

On Wed, Apr 14, 2004 at 10:52:49AM +0200, Tim Orford wrote:
> if you are happy with your wm then there is no need to switch.

I was more thinking along people using distro defaults or 
especialy Gnome with Metacity. We can't expect people to change  
WM to step into audio stuff.
And if I could convince some linux audio developers that would 
already be an achievement. But convincing Gnome and KDE folks 
to implement new ways of presenting application interfaces 
... don't feel like even trying right now.

> some wm's do. But i agree they should do more.

Inside the current Linux scope I would rather avoid the 
dependency on a special WM.

> ie it is less versatile. It requires specific app support, which
> will almost certainly not be implemented in many that you use.

Having a sequencer, effects, mixer, modular system and softsynth 
support such a framework would be a very nice start.
There's less (or maybe even no) need of such features for general 
filemanagement and office stuff.

> i would like to implement internal docking eventually but as there dont
> seem to be any systems without at least some unresolved issues, and its
> a problem that i personally have already solved, its not going to
> be a high priority unfortunately. I would be happy to use the
> Blender system but i dont think its designed to be reused. They appear
> to do the interface in low level Xlib calls which scares me somewhat.

There was something going on about seperating the interface system, 
but I don't know the current status. And it's all OpenGL.
But in case you havn't already done so, you should give Blender 
a test ride (using the tutorial I linked to). It's a very small 
download and runs on several plattforms.

> and if i fixed my app, how would that help you with the gimp and
> sodipodi for example?

The new Gimp is quite nice, as long as I can put it on it's own screen 
(what I always do, of course).
I switched from Sodipodi to Inkscape. It's dialogs stay above document 
windows, what makes it a joy to use with my sloppy-focus and auto raise.

And better fixing one app than no app because tackling the issue on 
the highest level takes to much effort.

Like I said, I see a special need for such viewport functionality 
inside very complex apps (just like Blender) and for using many 
related apps like happens through Jack.
For most other things standard windows and maybe tabbing is fine.
That's my pragmatic view, the stuff I'm working is meant to 
provide a 'vision' so it will be quite radical.

> The arguments for and against X are complex and i am personally
> not convinced that its detractors are as well informed, or are looking
> at as bigger a picture as maybe they should. If i remember
> correctly, having the server handle widgets is v controversial :-)

I've read the research paper and was on the mailing list of the 
Y-Window project. They seem to be quite informed, and it's not about 
X bashing, rather learning from it and trying to build 'the next step'.

I don't know enough about the technical side to comment on the widget 
handling, but I think there should be only one set of widgets for 
everything, and this is the only chance for this to happen (as I see 
it currently).

> (...) Acutally I would be interested 
> to know which wm you use. Does it do tabbing (or other grouping functions),
> or is tabbling limited to apps with explicit support
> for it such as firefox? Does it remember window positions if asked
> to? Can it be scripted to add other functions such as screensets?

I use kahakai because it comes without any panel I will not use 
anyway, has alt-click functionality for moving and resizing and 
snapping. It's very light-weight.
No tabbing. Tried that with Fluxbox, but found out that I want that 
feature only for browsing and terminals, so I prefer to use a 
multi-terminal and any browser with tabbing. 
Everything else is handled by using virtual desktops.

> (btw, the use of easy full-screen switching and multiple desktop
> does reduce the need for screensets somewhat)

You wouldn't say so as a Blender user.
... or you would need even more virtual desktops, all being persistent, 
including what they show.

> > > Or perhaps a window manager?
> > > There is also a need for good gtk and kde themes and icon sets.
> > 
> > There are already so many WMs and themes ...
> > I found good enough themes/settings for my desktop. Since I will not be 
> > satisfied with anything less then an unfied desktop, I do not intend to 
> > put work into such things.
> fair enough. But it seems to me unlikely that linux will have a unified
> anything, let alone a 'desktop':-) I think it will be quicker to
> implement both a gtk and kde theme than wait for Y Windows...!
> (the design being more complicated than the implementation in this
> case)

Year, kinda hard to imagine, but being concerned with usability and 
aesthetics everything else than an unified desktp is not realy acceptable.

Oh, and themes are not enough for unification, since there are  
differences in behaviuor of some widgets (besides shortcut conventions 
and dialog standard button placement).

> you did mention that you had switched from MS recently. My own
> experience of that switch (same applies to MacOS), is that it can
> take many years to truely undo what you have learnt about interfaces.
> I made that switch four years ago am still slowly realising just
> how the mainstream paradigm is really designed for Grannie, and has
> no pretensions whatsoever towards providing power to those who want it.
> To a large extent the same applies to Gnome and KDE.

No, I said I can't stand it anymore. Been using Linux for some years 
now. Also have some Mac experience. Windows feels so restricted to me, 
but i have to use it for Solidworks (and I own a Cubase license).

I somewhat agree about Windows, KDE, Gnome and Grannies, but I think 
it's possible to build an environmet well suited for both naive 
and powerusers. (And I happen to like Gnomes new simplicity).

Thorsten Wilms

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