The Dock: yay or nay?

I’ve had Docky installed for a couple of months now. Sure, a dock à-la mac at the bottom of the screen looks pretty. I mean really pretty:

pretty!

Yes, it gets noticed all right. Especially with those weather updates. However, there were just too many inconveniences I had to put up with just for a pretty dock. Eventually, it just wasn’t worth it. A dock (like Docky) in its current state just does not fit in my workflow.

I’m not sure how different the dock in OS X is vis-à-vis Docky. I have also tried AWN, but I found it inferior to Docky. So anyway, for the purposes of this post, I’ll just use Docky as an example.

More clicks to do the same thing

The dock works great as a launcher. However, when it comes to window management, the limitations start to show. If I have 2 or more windows of the same app open, I need an extra click to get to what I want.

One click to see the list, and the other to select what I need.

Lack of information

It gets worse when a particular window needs your attention, and that happens frequently in IM apps. The app icon in the dock bounces but it’s not immediately evident which window needs your attention.

Nice, but what just happened?

Turns out you again need an additional click to find out.

I don’t like scrubbing

So you autohide the dock. I don’t want it floating over my apps. That’s well and good. But when the dock comes back up, I have to go through the length of the dock (possibly to get the labels to appear) and find what I need. With the panel, you know where to go and you just do.

Similar icons

This may not be Docky’s fault, but if I have to documents open in OpenOffice Writer, both icons are the same in the dock. There is no way to distinguish one from the other. I need to hover the mouse to get an idea of what that icon represents and again, that is additional work I don’t really want to do.

so what am I looking at here?

I’ve been thinking how to present more information to the user to find things faster in the dock, while maintaining its ease of use and simplicity. And it still needs to look cool I suppose. I’ll try to post some ideas once I get more time to think through them.

What’s your take on docks? How different is the Mac OS X dock from the variants on linux and windows? I’d love to hear any feedback on this.

Ramkumar Shankardocky, linux, thoughts, UI