An Idea for SizeUp, a Tiling Window Manager

I still use SizeUp daily.

541 words

I’ve recently been using a Mac OS X tiling window manager named SizeUp. I had an idea about which I emailed the developer, and I thought it was worth sharing here too:


I’ve dreamed about having a tiling window manager for years, and I was fortunate enough to see Alex Payne’s tweet making a similar lament; I found SizeUp as a result. I’ve been using it for a week or two now, and I love it. Both on my 15″ MacBook Pro, and when the MBP plugged into my 30″ external display. Nicely done.

I have a suggestion though — I wish I had slightly more control over how windows were sized. I understand how it could be a user interface and/or Mac OS X nightmare to let users specify custom sizes or behavior for how windows snap to other windows. But at the same time, I’d love to be able to assign windows to a grid location occupying less than a quarter of my screen. For example, Adium chats don’t need that much screen real estate, even if iCal and Firefox do.

Rather than use the arrow keys to indicate location, what if you used the physical QWERTY keyboard locations of the letter keys? In it’s most simple form, W S A D could correspond to Up Down Left Right. But you can do more interesting things too, and split a screen into a six- or nine-rectangle grid using Q W E A S D or Q W E A S D Z X C. Any one of those keys would place a window in the respective corner of the grid, so [shortcut combination]+Q on a six rectangle grid would make the window use one sixth of the total size, with a width equal to a third of the screen’s width and a height equal to half of the screen’s height. If you wanted a larger window, you could press multiple adjacent letter keys simultaneously — [shortcut]+Q+A would make the window take the leftmost third of the screen, and [shortcut]+Q+W+E would have the same effect as the current [shortcut]+Up. It might make sense to use shortcut keys on the right side of the keyboard with these letters (shift+option seem to be sufficiently unused in this context), or you could use a different set of letters and keep the shortcut keys where they were. In the SizeUp Preferences, users could even specify the number of rows and columns in the grid they wanted to use and the keys they wanted to assign to each screen location.

(This idea is somewhat reminiscent of a still-incomplete project I was doing a few months ago: a Javascript portfolio website that used the keyboard for navigation, had a representation of the keyboard on the screen, had all content exist on that visual representation of a keyboard but at different zoom levels, and used the physical keyboard keys and spacebar to zoom in and out on the on-screen keyboard to view content at different levels in the hierarchy. There are a few blog posts about it here.)

Sorry that was so long-winded, and please email me if you want to discuss further or need me to clarify.

Keep up the good work!

Steven Lehrburger