Friday, September 28, 2007

WIMP no more?

As I was about to fall asleep last night, the acronym WIMP came up in my steam-of-consciousness mental meanderings. For those of you who haven't been around sufficiently long to remember WIMP, it stood for (I believe, and assuming my senility isn't too far advanced) Windows, Icons, Menus, Pointer. While everyone takes this type of user interface for granted today, it was all the rage when personal computers first got sufficiently powerful to sport GUIs.

Anyway, back to last night. It occurred to me that my use of windows and menus has fallen precipitously over the past few years and is in danger of disappearing altogether. As I do more and more of my daily computing on the web, some curious things have happened.

Things that I used to accomplish by switching windows I now do by switching tabs in my browser. My personal email, to-do lists, news, reading material, etc. are all accessed via the web now. In fact, on a typical day I only spend non-trivial amounts of time in 4 different windows: my web browser, Lotus Notes (which I wish fervently I didn't have to use), a command line window and emacs.

Similarly, I almost NEVER use menus anymore. I long ago learned the mouse-click or keyboard shortcut for everything that I typically do and I find myself annoyed whenever I have to actually LOOK for something in an application's menus. Since web pages don't have the luxury of adding items to the browser's menus, web designers have found other ways to expose their functionality (rollover text, GUI's that morph in real-time, etc.).

So for me, at least, WIMP is dead. Long live...uh...TIP (tabs, icons, pointers)!...or WILT (web apps, icons, links, tabs)!...or something else!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ex Post Forko

This may be unique to me, but I often find myself wanting to retroactively control-click a link on a web page. The following scenario seems to happen to me all too frequently:

1. I Google something & get the results back.
2. One of the search results looks promising, so I click it.
3. The page turns out to be interesting, but not really what I'm looking for at the moment.

At this point what I really want to do is rewind the clock a few seconds and control-click on the link in the search results to farm the interesting-but-not-immediately-relevant page to another tab for future consideration. Accomplishing this requires a click on the back button, scanning the page to find the link, then a control-click on the link. Am I the only one that would find it useful to do this with a single click/keystroke?

If there's anyone out there looking to write a Firefox plugin, could you please write an "ex post forko" extension that does this is with a single gesture? Control-forward comes to mind as a good candidate, but I'll take whatever I can get.