Canonical Knows Unity is a Drag on Multitasking But Did It Anyway

Multitasking  – Multitasking on Unity is disconnected and difficult at times

Task flow is interrupted: While working on a task, participants wanted to have all the documents and websites they were using easily available to them.  For them, the task was the unit of organisation of all resources and tools.  Thus, while working on a task, participants expected that Unity would provide them with a representation or visibility of what was available to them and how to easily access what they needed at any given point.  Unity does not, however, make evident the resources and tools users have at their disposal — whether it be multiple documents, programmes or websites. In a word, while Unity relies on users to keep track of the resources they are currently using, users are habituated to relying on the software to “keep track for them,” by making the resources highly visible, for example, by means of tabs. With Unity, resources are hidden from view.

see Usability Testing of Unity | Ubuntu Design Blog.

Argghhh! What do you call activities where a person does something they know is wrong? Criminal? Insane? What were they thinking? It’s a fundamental truth of IT that one uses the best tool for the job and the best tool to keep track of twenty things going on at once is a true multi-tasking OS. Why throw that away? Why make users who do a lot feel handicapped?

There’s a reason most users of PCs like a few gadgets hanging around on the desktop… so they can find what they need when they need them.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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8 Responses to Canonical Knows Unity is a Drag on Multitasking But Did It Anyway

  1. d. says:

    I think unity is an ok interface. It’s different, for sure, and I seriously hated it when I first tried it in 11.04. But now, in 12.04, most of the issues it had back then are fixed, and it works pretty smoothly. I personally find it much more usable than Gnome 2, for what it’s worth. YMMV.

    It’s a work in progress for sure, but I think it has potential if canonical just realizes that one size doesn’t always fit all and adds more customizability options to it.

    Then again, when I see “features” like the amazon integration in 12.10, it makes me consider moving to Mint… seriously, I hope canonical gets its shit together before the next LTS and stops playing around with “features” like that.

  2. Arup says:

    I find Unity quite productive once I was able to get the hang of it. Even multi-tasking is no issue even though I keep one of my machines on the latest KDE version as well for perspective. More and more times I am finding the benefits and usefulness of Unity over other DEs.

  3. ace says:

    Here Here for Cairo-Dock! Get rid of that Unity panel dougman. Just purge unity.:)

  4. George Hostler says:

    I have seen both initial and current Unity efforts. I personally do not like them. The only place they seem to suit is my ASUS EeePC 701, 7″ screen netbook, with its limited resources. (I like that netbook, because it is truly portable but has a keyboard to work from, easy to pack in an overnight bag or in my motorcycle trunk.)

    I concur with Kevin Lynch, I like Gnome 2 better.

  5. MK says:

    Mr.Pogson, while you are right that Unity is not perfect (I’d also say unfinished), your “Insane” and “Crimimnal” comments are, IMHO, a major overreaction. It’s the “lass half empty” kind of view. Read that post again, and try to see the bigger picture. Even if the Unity approach fails completely and miserably, don’t you think testing a Linux Desktop on ordinary users is a step in the right direction? Perhaps Debian/GNU/Linux/6/Stable/Sqeeze could try that.

    Lastly, here’s a comment by the post author, about 5 months later:

    “…Many problems we found in the previous testing were resolved:
    Performance issues have been resolved. The test went smoothly.
    Multitasking: Participants could multitask, they were able to open several windows and navigate between them.
    Awareness of running apps: Participants could tell which applications they had running during the test by looking at the white arrows.
    Moving windows: Participants were able to easily move windows on their desktop.
    Displaying documents side-by-side: Participants were able to do that.
    Delete a document; Participants could delete unwanted documents.
    Copy and paste: Participants copied and pasted text from one document to another while they had them opened side-by- side.
    Adding icon to the Launcher: Participants dragged and dropped icons from Applications Lense into the Launcher easily.
    Reordering icons in the Launcher: Participants were able to change the position of an icon in the Launcher.
    Changing the wallpaper: Participants changed their wallpaper easily.”

  6. dougman says:

    I never liked Unity, Canonical should have gone with a dock. They also should have created a survey asking it’s user-base what it wanted.

    I prefer GLX/Cairo-Dock which is much more flexible then Unity. Unity is very limited. Now if they modified Unity to perhaps mimic the dock functionality then perhaps that would be better, but I am not holding my breath.

    Its dumb to have two docks on a desktop.

  7. Kevin Lynch says:

    I thought this was already well known and Canonical pushed ahead with Unity to get the “single GUI fits all platforms” prize.

    Unity is in some ways better than it was. Performance is better for example. But I still preferred the Gnome 2.x desktop with Compiz. If Compiz was a problem I could kill it and default back to Metacity.

    All of this nonsense in a dumbass effort to beat Apple and Microsoft.

  8. Nelson says:

    That’s the same problem with Metro/Modern/wherever in desktops and notebooks ,sometimes in my work i have 15 windows open of various applications.

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