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Merlin’s weekly podcast with Dan Benjamin. We talk about creativity, independence, and making things you love.

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43Folders.com is Merlin Mann’s website about finding the time and attention to do your best creative work.

Open Thread: Developing for Full Screen Mode?

Full Screen Mode is a topic that comes up a lot here and abroad -- it's a way to set a given application to operate with as few menus, panels, and other navigational widgets as possible, claiming the entire screen, and enabling the user to focus exclusively on one task without distraction.

Essentially, it temporarily hobbles your maddeningly versatile Mac into a machine for doing exactly one thing, being whatever is appearing in your single Full Screen window. And you might be amazed what a nice thing that can be sometimes. It's great for writers in particular, so it's perhaps not surprising that writing applications seem to be leading the Full Screen charge. Although you can also get FSM in Firefox using extensions and in Safari with the help of Saft.

So my question, for you Mac developers in the house: I'm curious to learn more about Full Screen mode and how hard it is to make it a part of Cocoa applications. I've gotten the impression that Cocoa has "hooks" in place to hide the Menu Bar and claim all the screen space with a given document's front window, so I'm curious whether it's something that's difficult to implement. I'd love to request it in some favorite applications of mine (Hi, again, Allan!). What do you guys say? Piece of cake or pony?

Eric Jacobsen's picture

I used to think it...

I used to think it was just non-computer savvy people -- the sort of clients that I had to explain why I designed their sites to fit in an 800px wide browser -- who ran everything full screen, and didn't really use windows for their intended purpose.

But then I opened my eyes and looked a little more carefully at the desktops of my friends and colleagues. They run everything, even Finder and iTunes, full-screen, even on widescreen 20" displays.

The window GUI metaphor has failed.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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