A Space Of One’s Own

November 1st, 2007

Leopard brings so many little features that I am having a hard time devoting time to playing with many of them. One of the best-designed of these features is called Spaces, and supplies a familiar feature to anybody who has used virtual desktops on any platform. The basic gist is that you can switch between “virtual monitors”, each of which holds a different set of running applications.

In many ways Leopard is all about the animation, and it’s used very effectively in Spaces, where switching between virtual desktops comes with an instantaneous (even on my PowerMac G5) slide animation, as if your monitor was connected to a camera that is suddenly picked up and swept over to land on some other area of desktop real estate. Pretty nifty.

But I haven’t really gotten into the habit of using this feature, and therefore didn’t notice one way in which it sort of behaves awkwardly with MarsEdit. Fortunately, one of my customers noticed the problem and dropped me a line. I did some research and discovered what I believe to be the following truth:

Dismissing a modal sheet in an application causes Spaces to awkwardly zoom that application’s space back into vision.

This is particularly awkward with MarsEdit because while a post is being sent to the server, the post window puts up a sheet conveying that information to the user. If you send a post and immediately switch spaces, then when MarsEdit finishes publishing, it Spaces will zoom you right back to MarsEdit’s space!

I filed a bug, and Erik filed one as well. Hopefully Apple will agree it’s egregious and fix it in an update.

8 Responses to “A Space Of One’s Own”

  1. Jonathan Wight Says:

    Been noticing (and bitching about) this and other modal/floating window issues with Spaces for a while.

    The situation is REALLY bad and _almost_ makes Spaces unusable. I’m hoping for a quickfix in 10.5.1 before too many developers have to put in their own workarounds.

  2. John Muir Says:

    I only just encountered it myself with iChat about an hour ago. Weeeird. Definitely one to be fixed.

  3. TheBoyKen Says:

    Further to Jonathan’s comment about floating windows, here’s the reverse problem for you Daniel: stick iTunes’ MiniPlayer (that tiny play / previous / next / volume-slider window) in a space. Go to another space. Now cmd-tab to iTunes. You get the iTunes menubar, but not the iTunes space (or window). Weird huh? Key presses control it though (as you have its menubar listening for them). Filed on Radar.

    So close… as you say, hopefully a 10.5.1 fix will change the criteria used for a Space to be entered / exited…


  4. charles Says:

    There are a number of similar issues with Spaces, IMO. Too bad because indeed the UI is fantastic. The transitions are not new ideas, but the accompanying bezel is, and the Exposé-style overview is fantastic. I have actually posted a little rant about Spaces on MacResearch (http://www.macresearch.org/holes_in_leopard_spaces), and I wonder if I am the only one annoyed by the way Spaces surprises the user way too much by switching Spaces in a seemingly random way.

    Ken: did you set iTunes to be “attached” to a specific Space?

    NB: sorry for the potential double post

  5. Tim Wood Says:

    OmniOutliner has a similar problem; we add a child window with a progress indicator when autosaving. Adding the child window causes Spaces to switch back to OO so you can watch it spin. Yay.

    OmniDazzle had other issues, but these were solvable by HIWindowChangeAvailability.

  6. Mike Cohen Says:

    I find the same thing with both VMware & Parallels If I run Windows either full screen or Unity in one space and I switch to a different space, when Windows puts up an alert it will switch me back to that space. One time it kept switching back & forth quickly between two spaces.

  7. TheBoyKen Says:

    Charles: it does it whether I assign iTunes to a specific space or not. On PPC & Intel macs :(

  8. Leo Says:

    Did you really write ‘the best-designed‘ ???

    See http://thelameleopard.wordpress.com/2007/10/30/all-my-spaces-issues-solved for my experiences.


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