[xmonad] Project to make tiling window managers more accessible to newcomers

Don Stewart dons at galois.com
Wed Apr 8 12:36:23 EDT 2009

> Hello,
> my name is Jan Vornberger and I'm a student at the University of
> Oldenburg (Germany). I would like to introduce myself and the project
> that I will be working on for the next semester.
> As part of my studies I have to work on a semester-long project. I
> decided to work on the question, how tiling window managers can be made
> more 'beginner-friendly' and how the barrier to entry can be lowered.
> I have decided to use XMonad as a basis for implementing my ideas.
> Therefore I wanted to introduce myself, as I will probably be asking a
> question here and there in the future. :-)

Wonderful! This is great news.
> For those who are interested, here is a rough sketch on what I have in
> mind for my project: My goal is to create a modern tiling window manager
> that can be productively used with virtually no training, meaning most
> core functionality needs to be accessible in an intuitive way or drawing
> from well-known conventions in more conventional window managers.
> My target user is someone who wants to give tiling window managers a
> try, but doesn't want to learn keyboard commands (at least not in the
> beginning), read a detailed manual or write any sort of configuration
> file.
> I'm planning to decide on a somewhat fixed configuration of XMonad,
> probably in combination with Gnome as a DE, and then trying to make this
> functionality available via mouse commands that - hopefully - will be
> easy to pick up.

> I also want to completely rework the whole floating layer thing, as it
> seems to me to be a fairly foreing concept for a newcomer and it's
> awkward to use. My current idea is to instead use a floating layout
> algorithm, that could work similiar to a conventional window manager. It
> could even be set as the default layout algorithm. That way, the WM
> could almost be a 'drop-in' replacement for - let's say Metacity -
> greeting the user with the familiar concept of manipulating windows and
> then leading him to the tiling paradigm once he switches the layout.
> I do believe that eventually the keyboard is a more effective way to
> control the WM, so I will also investigate the possibility of some kind
> of help system, that can point out how - for example - the last action,
> the user did, can be done with keyboard commands instead. Alternatively
> tooltips could also be used to display key bindings.
> I have a little bit of experience with Haskell - that's one of the
> reasons I picked XMonad as the basis, as I enjoy programming in Haskell
> and want to get more experienced with it. However I'm completely new to
> X11 and window manager programming, which I will need to pick up.
> That's it, the project in a nutshell. Any thoughts, pointers, related
> ideas, doubts or comments are most welcome. :-)

Will you be contributing back changes/modifications/... to the main
xmonad source? What else can we do to help your effort?

-- Don

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