Many years ago I learned how to work with many workspaces on desktop. And I fell in love with that concept. Let me inficate you too.
Ironically enough I started on Windows XP with some utility 😉 I didn’t liked switching between may applications on start panel, or cycling through CTRL+TAB interface. And multiple monitors (I usually have 3) only make it worse - more apps to choose between. So I was looking for solution and found workspaces concept.
When I switched to Linux I was fighting some time with Ubuntu’s Unity but later found it really usable. And for 6 years I was happy. Now I am fighting with Gnome3 because Ubuntu is again changing UI. Oh, well…you can’t stop progress.
At first attempt I used long row of virtual workspaces. So I only needed to move left and right. I made some rights for workspaces like:
mail client on first (Thunderbird on one screen, currently edited message on second and browser with common informations on third),
eclipse on second (two windows and browser with debugged program),
terminals on third,
music player on last
Using this rules it was (after certain training) possible to avoid CTRL+TAB for switching apps. Also - browsers divided by multiple purposes tends to have less tabs. Only problem was, that navigation among long row of workspaces was slow. And there was more and more apps as I becomed full stack developer.
So I organized my workspaces in grid 3 x 4. From Eclipse I am one step to Thunderbird, VS Code and terminal. Great. More frequented apps are located on upper workspaces, less frequent on bottom workspaces.
This is how my typicall desktop is organized:
As you probably mentioned, I have workspace per activity or task. One for mailing, second Eclipse, third terminals etc. I have even specific position for task list, JIRA or Skype.
When I am asked to work on anything else, I use one of unused workspaces for that reason. For example when I should compose new Confluence article I use one of empty workspaces and work on it. I open one browser window for Confluence, second browser window for topic related pages I have to use.
For controlling such grid it is necessary to learn keyboard shortcuts for:
navigation using arrows,
moving window among workspaces using arrows,
(optionaly) navigation using number of workspace,
(optionaly) moving window among displays,
(optionaly) maximize/restore/tile-left/tile-right window
Yes, this list looks scarrier than it actually is. See fighting with Gnome3 for example of shortcuts.
I like it sooo much! Also it looks like magic for anyone else. You are just pressing keys and displayed content changes a lot wihout obvious system 😉
Do you have other way of work with workspaces? Please let me know!
PS: I am aware that I am not far away of this :
(Sorry, untranslatable czech language only. Part of great comedy - postdoc explaining evolution of physical desktop layout)