Make a touchable taskbar

March 22, 2018

Exception this month : this is not a personnal project. With Loic (@loicdesroc), we designed this POC and all apps together.
No code published now, we are thinking about the best licence for publication.


Apple (from Xerox inspiration... ) invented with the Lisa a new way to use computer : a mouse and a graphical user interface, composed with windows and menu bars. It was in 1983, 35 years ago !

And nothing was really changed. Colors, multitasking, higher resolutions, touchpad with multi-gestures... but windows, taskbar and menus are still there, sticked to windows.

In 1995, Microsoft introduces the taskbar. Today, it is almost the same.

Now take a look at your hands. Your keyboard is the same since personnal computers have been created.

Interactive keyboard

Last year, we made an improvement to my keyboard with my smartphone. Read the article. In many applications, I removed all toolbars. It means that all screen space is available for content. All tools are in front of me, on top of my keyboard.

A bigger screen, dedicated for this use.

Go futher

On my right, I have my mouse. I need at least 30cm around it for correct moves. On the left, I have nothing. My left hand is available for other tasks. I there an element on my screen that could be moved next to my left hand ? Yes, my task bar.

In 2009, Microsoft releases Windows 7. The taskbar and shortcut bar became one bar. For me, this bar is not a part of the work I am doing. I can hide it automatically, but in severals cases, I need it to switch between applications. ALT+TAB has its own limits ...

So, I added some code to my previous application. The goal is to remove the taskbar from my main screen and move it next to my hands, near my keyboard. This is how it looks like right now :

Windows 10 has a perfect search tool, I realized that I open application only from the search bar.
Now on the left of my keyboard, I have openned applications. I can not call them "Windows" because I use them as fullscreen applications. User experience have been dramatically improved.

I switched from that :

To something more epurated, and focused on my work :

How it works

There is no dramatic evolution from my previous code. I get all openned windows (name, id and title) (see Stackoverflow). and send the list to an HTML application, using websockets.
Just add some logos and that's it !

Another small piece of code to change the active window : Stackoverflow.

Now it needs graphical improvements, @loicdesroc is working on it !