Joe Maller.com

New You Control: Desktops beta

Last year I wrote about Mac Virtual Desktops, focusing mostly on You Control: Desktops. I ended up buying a license and last week they released version 1.3 beta 2

Some of the good stuff I noticed right away:

  • You Control: Desktops Menu barCustomizable color for the highlighted desktop in the menu bar. The previous beta used a hard-coded red outline which was ghastly.

  • Behavior of the cursor on edge-screen flipping. It can now be set to mimic Compiz/Beryl, where the cursor starts at the opposite edge of the next screen. So if you drag a window off the left side, it appears on the next desktop on the right side. With a transition like Cube or Pan, I find this to be spatially very intuitive. The cursor can also be set to remain in place, for transitions like Slide, it feels like you’re holding a window while the current desktop just gets out of the way beneath it. Not sure which one I prefer, but the options are a huge improvement.
  • Overall, the speed of transitions and switching feels much faster, especially on the more graphics intensive effects.

Feedback I’m sending to the developers:

  • Fade, Swirl, Twist and Zoom still use an additive composite, which means they pretty much always blow out to white during the transition and then pop to the next screen. It’s uncharacteristically ugly.
  • Cursor repositioning seems to wait for some mouse movement before redrawing dragged windows. If the mouse is kept perfectly still, the dragged window will remain at the position it was pre-transition, then pop into place when the mouse is moved again.

    It would be fantastic if the dragged windows could be composited before the transition or in the transition buffer, I think it would be perceptible and intuitively support the various repositioning options. If you’re doing that, might as well update the menu-bar icon’s status pre-transtion too. It’s disorienting to see it show up wrong and then update — the menu bar should reflect the new state before the transition finishes.

  • Hardware support for extra mouse buttons would be fantastic.
  • Hot key assignment is way too clumsy.

While I go through phases of using and not using virtual desktops, if you want multiple desktops on your Mac right now and can’t wait for Spaces in Leopard (which doesn’t do as much), YC:Desktops is the way to go.