Daniel Von Fange

Life, Code, and Cool Stuff

How Does It Please Both Sides?

Time for me to clarify a little bit on my last post about tabs. Shawn Medero asks, “I suppose this idea as a plug-in is fine, if that is your thing… but not at the OS level, how does that please both sides?”.

Watching the frequent Tab Wars on the BBEdit mailing list, one of the often repeated reasons for no tabs was that it was not an application’s right to break the operations system’s overriding metaphors. On Mac OS the metaphor in question is that of “One window = one document”. The concern, and quite justly, is to keep all applications acting the same under the same circumstances, which is one of the Mac’s greatest strengths. If good way of handling tabs is provided at an OS level, then all apps behave the same - and power users can enable tabs.

Having tabs does not necessarily imply an MDI, or some such evil… Hehe, and by “Tabs”, I don’t even really mean tabs, just a one click way of swiching between documents that is in some way attached to the document’s window.

Of course, I may be the only ultra-tab fanatic in the world. While doing my website work I often have about five php files open in BBEdit, and I constantly am switching between them, as I add a feature to the back-end php files, then the page file, then the page’s template. My web browser often has a test page open, one or two pages in the web site I am building, one or two phpMyAdmin pages open, and often several different documentation pages for PHP, MySQL, and third party libraries I’m using. I often have a conversion going with a customer, over AIM, and perhaps a few conversations with a few friends (I’m a freelancer, so I’m not cheating “the boss”). I often have three to four terminal windows open, SSHed to the various web hosts I work on. On average during a productive morning’s work, I switch documents about once every twenty seconds or so. To cut off one second from each document switch ends up being worth $12 of my time - every morning.