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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Under MS Windows, opening multiple 'documents' in one application window is known as the Multi-Document Interface or MDI. A big problem with MDI is that users can't just Alt-Tab to cycle through all their open documents. They have to Alt-Tab to each application and then switch to Ctrl-Tab (or Ctrl-F6 or whatever) to get to each document within that app. As far as MS Office is concerned, MDI seems to have been a failed experiment - recent versions of Office don't support it.

    In theory, a windowing environment allows users to ignore distinctions between document types. They can switch between Word, Acrobat, Excel, Photoshop etc cutting and pasting without having to think "Which app did I open is this document with"?

    The alternative to multiple browser tabs is multiple browser windows. This leads to a more consistent user experience for switching between open documents, but it also leads to screen clutter. Of course the typical Windows user always runs all apps maximised all the time so they don't have screen clutter so much as taskbar clutter. I haven't seen a good solution to taskbar clutter - collapsing all windows for a given app into one taskbar button is just MDI in disguise.

    I now use Linux as my primary desktop at home and at work. The virtual desktop facility available under X allows me to organise windows the way I want, rather than the way some application designer wants me to. In this environment, I haven't found tabbed browsing to be a win.