The ProjectBar, GroupBar and LayoutBars are running prototypes designed to explore the integration of "project management" facilities into the current Windows taskbar. Windows currently doesn't help users group their open windows in any way - as more and more windows get opened, the screen and the taskbar get very cluttered, and productivity can be enhanced by offering the ability to selectively show and hide groups of windows organized into higher-level tasks. Each prototype explores a different interpretation of the higher-level task and a different visualization. In GroupBar, our latest prototype, each task is represented by a "Group" button or tab on the TaskBar, and Groups can be operated on much like individual window tiles. "Snapshots" of previous groups and desktop layouts can be captured and used to later restore those files and applications.
Visualization and Interaction for Business and Entertainment
Enhanced window management capabilities in the Windows taskbar
GroupBar is lightweight desktop tool created by the VIBE group that offers enhanced window management capabilities in a Windows taskbar-like setting. The basic concept is that through simple drag-and-drop operations on window tiles within the bar, users can create lightweight, transient grouping relationships that allow them to perform certain higher-level window layout functions on multiple windows at once. In addition, windows and groups in the GroupBar can be persisted in a "Snapshot" which attempts to remember the position and contents of each window in a way that allows the Snapshot to be recreated at a later time, even if the windows have been rearranged or closed.
Download It Now!
GroupBar requires no installation - just download the executable (GroupBar.exe) and run it. (Put in in your start-up group to run it automatically on start-up.) Note: creating Snapshots with the GroupBar produces .gss files in the same folder as GroupBar.exe, so save it in its own folder if you would like to avoid cluttering up other folders. GroupBar requires no uninstallation either - simply delete GroupBar.exe and any Snapshot (.gss) files it has created, and it is gone.
GroupBar can be downloaded from the Research downloads page.
Below are known issues and a quick run-through of the basic group operations.
A more detailed reference page for GroupBar's features is found here.
- No overflow: If you have too many tiles to fit, they run off the edge. We are working on overflow stategies.
- PERSISTENCE ONLY WORKS CORRECTLY FOR A SELECT SUBSET OF APPS. See Snapshot section of detailed instructions for more details.
- When you click the camera ("Create Snapshot") button, there is some flickering as windows are snapshotted for previews. Do not be alarmed. This is normal.
- The foreground/active window is not always correctly reflected in the GroupBar. This is due to bugs/omitted events in the OS event hooks.
- Handy usage tip: Resize (by unlocking and dragging the edge) the "real" TaskBar to be as small as possible while still visible (about 35 pixels wide). This allows you access to the systray and and any of your existing TaskBar deskbands (e.g. QuickLaunch). You can place GroupBar along the same edge as the existing TaskBar if you want.
Last Updated 03/08/2007