Submit News Alternative Tip Form

The little things that matter: Unity’s new grid animations

Notice: This post is more than a year old. It may be outdated.

I’m a sucker for detail.

In yesterdays update to Ubuntu 11.04’s Unity interface the Grid plugin (read ‘aero snap’) for Compiz added some animated ‘effects’ when being invoked.

(Apologies for the awful panel shadow. It’s the result of the screencasting tool and not how it looks in use.)

What you see demoed above might, on the surface, look like nothing more than superfluous eye-candy but it’s actually important for a reason.

Using animated effects in actions such as this provide the user with visual feedback. In this case that feedback is on how close they are to the ‘snapping’ area.

If you just move a window to the left or right and don’t want it to ‘snap’ to the side this graded effect will warn you about how close you’re getting. The previous non-effect would have just ‘snapped’ your window before you noticed.

Animated effects are import – even more so in these days of touch. Transitions and the like help give visual feedback on an action that is being – or about to be – performed. The bog-standard ‘just do it’ approach of old just doesn’t cut it anymore. It not only looks bad but can be confusing: “Did my window crash or minimise?”

And there’s no denying that visually it looks a lot nicer.