Time to add some functionality to Minimize, Maximize and Close buttons.

24 Jul 2009 - 10:11pm
4 years ago
10 replies
812 reads
Jim Harrison
2009

Over the past few months I have been thinking how nice it would be to
have a couple extra windowing buttons. Here is my short list.
Maximize Verticle
Maximize Horizontal
2-3 Custom sizes and locations with the ability to rename

I work with multiple windows open. Comparing, sharing and
transferring data between windows on a regular basis. Drag and drop
is my best friend.

How would you feel about 3-4 more squares in the upper corner of your
window?

Comments

24 Jul 2009 - 10:48pm
Joshua Muskovitz
2008

This exists for Windows XP (and to some extent, Vista):

http://www.actualtools.com/titlebuttons/

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25 Jul 2009 - 9:18am
AlokJain
2006

Jim,

Each of the scenarios you described would have a possible benefit, but
for some more than the others. You need to identify most common
scenarios and have that as a default behavior for those three buttons.
Then support an alternate behavior through a shortcuts such as alt
+click on maximize could maximize vertically. Displaying 3-4
additional options puts more cognitive load.

A deeper question though would be what is the problem that you are
trying to solve by maximizing vertically or horizontally - why would
people want to do it, plot out the scenarios and you might find a
completely different solution to support their goal as opposed to the
task. So why would someone not want to make a window full screen? To
help people keep two windows side by side? - Windows 7 is trying to
solve this by allowing people to drag windows to the left and right
edges of the screens (fitts laws in play) and making then 50% of the
screen width. In OSX the maximize button doesn't take full screen, but
resizes window based on the content of the window.

- AJ

On Jul 24, 2009, at 8:11 PM, Jim Harrison wrote:

> Over the past few months I have been thinking how nice it would be to
> have a couple extra windowing buttons. Here is my short list.
> Maximize Verticle
> Maximize Horizontal
> 2-3 Custom sizes and locations with the ability to rename
>
> I work with multiple windows open. Comparing, sharing and
> transferring data between windows on a regular basis. Drag and drop
> is my best friend.
>
> How would you feel about 3-4 more squares in the upper corner of your
> window?
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25 Jul 2009 - 10:38am
Josephine M. Giaimo
2009

It all depends on who your audience is.

I personally don't need these extra buttons.

I'm thinking about all those people who are struggling with learning
basics (those boomers who are struggling with what can be delicately
called computer "literacy" issues). Every day, I'm on the phone
with at least one of these poor souls, intelligent but clueless about
basics, and who have poor mental models of how their systems work (and
I'm talking about software that's five years old). To make matters
worse, they either resist formal training, or have had "horrific"
experiences, making them unwilling to try again. They don't learn
from books, online tutorials; experiential learners all.

I'm perfectly happy with this part of the interface "as is"--and
my cadre of struggling boomers whom I advise probably would second
that vote.

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25 Jul 2009 - 2:03pm
Jim Harrison
2009

To Joshua:
That is exactly what I mean!! Very helpful information.

To Alok:
Scenario:
Closing and opening the same window repeatedly. The window is set to
open at a specific location and size (default) by the application
that opens the window. The process of locating and then resizing the
window each time can be made more efficient if a single button click
sets the window in a precise location and size.

Scenario:
Opening a PDF is an example where I would like to maximize verticle
and not horizontal. When I open a PDF it tends to sit in the middle
of the screen. I have other applications I am monitoring but I want
to read the PDF. I grab the window and move it to the upper right
corner of my screen then click the max vert button. I now have
maximized my PDF reading space while not covering the other
applications.

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25 Jul 2009 - 3:17pm
Jim Harrison
2009

To Josephine:
Your comment brings to mind NERO. The app has two buttons, one for
everyday users and one for advanced users. Selecting the button
changes the interface.

Then I spun off onto icons and imagining one of a middle aged balding
man in a wifebeater, day old stubble, saggy eyes, mouth slightly ajar
with a bit of drool. Call it Technologically Challenged Mode.

But really, you are right, the interface should be kept simple with
avenues for advancement as each users' experience develops
requirements. Then others can develop neat little apps to
augment/refine/customize.

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27 Jul 2009 - 12:15am
Daniel Zollman
2009

I was just reading the manual for a program (TortoiseSVN, a client for
a particular version control system): middle-clicking on the maximize
button vertically maximizes the window; right-click does the
horizontal maximize.

http://tortoisesvn.net/docs/release/TortoiseSVN_en/tsvn-dug.html#tsvn-dug-general-window-max

I'm never going to remember this, though. Also, the button's
behavior is unpredictable. Normally, clicking the button a second
time restores the window's previous state, but this doesn't work as
expected for a string of multiple maximize actions. So on.

Here's an idea to add this functionality without much confusion. The
user follows these steps:
1) Clicks and a holds the maximize button
2) Drag the mouse in one of eight directions (i.e. in the general
direction of a multiple of 45 degrees)
3) Release the mouse
4) The window changes its size/position based on the direction and
the window's initial state. The four possible states would be: fully
maximized, vertically maximized, horizontally maximized, or floating
on the screen as usual.

Perhaps a subtle arrow over the button indicates the direction of the
transition while the mouse button is still depressed. If the user
clicks without dragging, or clicks and drags a negligible distance,
the arrow and transition are not triggered, and some default action
is taken.

I'm not an IxD professional, but I'm curious to know whether this
sounds like a usable feature.

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27 Jul 2009 - 12:58pm
Adrian Howard
2005

On 24 Jul 2009, at 20:11, Jim Harrison wrote:

> Over the past few months I have been thinking how nice it would be to
> have a couple extra windowing buttons. Here is my short list.
> Maximize Verticle
> Maximize Horizontal
> 2-3 Custom sizes and locations with the ability to rename
>
> I work with multiple windows open. Comparing, sharing and
> transferring data between windows on a regular basis. Drag and drop
> is my best friend.
>
> How would you feel about 3-4 more squares in the upper corner of your
> window?

There's also the Macintosh behaviour that switches between the
"standard state" (what the app thinks a sensible default size for the
window to be) and the "user state" (what I resize it to be).

Back in the OS9 days most apps seemed to do _really_ sensible picks
for the standard state - so hitting zoom would usually take me to the
size that I wanted the app to be. Seems to be less true in more recent
OS X apps.

I miss it when using Windows machines (then again - most Windows users
seem to the lack of a full-screen-zoom annoying on the Mac :)

Adrian

--
http://quietstars.com - twitter.com/adrianh - delicious.com/adrianh

27 Jul 2009 - 3:45pm
Alan James Salmoni
2008

I seem to remember some Linux window managers doing this. I cannot
recall the commands exactly, but something like CTRL-click on the
expand button would make the window maximise horizontally only, and
ALT-click would maximise it vertically. This might have been KDE. It
was quite a handy function but required recall of the exact commands
and, I would guess, more effort to complete the task than plain
maximisation. Having said that, it was a lot easier than maximising
in only one plane by dragging the window to the required shape.

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27 Jul 2009 - 5:50pm
AlokJain
2006

Jim,

for both scenarios you posted I think there should be a "smart
default" that matches 80% usage scenario. for instance I would
argue that pdf should open with vertical maximized view and then
remember user state per file.

Then there is an alternative state that can be accessed through a
shortcut - alt click. OSX has done this really well. These are what I
refer to as "hidden gems" and they make the experience better

On top of this we get into a preference layer where users can set
their preference. A lot of preference should be implicit by the
software remembering or understanding the state. For instance with
Omnigraffle if I duplicate an element and place the duplicate in a
manner that it is aligned in a certain way and has a certain
distance, then the next time I duplicate it uses the delta I set with
previous duplicate and duplicates the object and also duplicates the
delta (my pseudo preference).

An explicit preference becomes th last step for the users who want
complete control and have uncommon needs. For instance I use a
JavaScript shortcuts as a bookmark to re size my browser to 1024
size. I needs this to be able to test the apps that I work on in
required resolutions.

I think the core idea you are referring to is very relevant, I don't
think the solution is in display more options to everyone. Most users
would only find it confusing IMHO.

Cheers
Alok Jain (AJ)

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12 Mar 2010 - 4:37pm
Jim Harrison
2009

Windows 7 allows you to maximize verticle!!!

When the window opens go to either the top or bottom window frame area. This is the area where the mouse cursor switches to a double arrow signifying a resize. Double click and BAM! it's maximized. To boot it turns into a panel that slides across the monitor horizontally by dragging. If you drag on the vertical axis it breaks the max vert setting and the window goes back to its original size.

I have been playing with it for a few weeks and it feels really good. If you don't know it's there, it doesn't get in the way or confuse. The act of discovery is exciting.

On the down side the break out of max vert mode is a little too sensitive. You have to be really precise when sliding the window panel or you have to re-max the window again, which is slightly annoying.

 

In an aside:

The window pops to full screen if you drag it to the top of the screen(monitor). I have no use for this as double clicking the top bar has the same effect and is more efficient.

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