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Hide iDVD? I think not!

Last week, for the first time since installing iLife ’06, I had an excuse to use the newest version of iDVD. In general, I love it. But someone at Apple made one seemingly insanely poor decision involving the “burn progress” screen:

DVD burn image

That’s the screen that appears when you start the encode (if not yet done) and burn of a final DVD. In prior versions of iDVD, this area was a separate tab within the main iDVD interface. Now it’s been attached to a drop-down sheet, as seen above. Within that sheet is a progress bar and a ticker that counts off how many items have been processed.

So far so good, though a progress dialog in a sheet is a somewhat unique concept. But the other change that came with this new sheet is incredibly unwelcomed–you can no longer hide iDVD in any traditional manner. If you try Comamnd-H with iDVD in the foreground, it just beeps at you. If you switch it to the background and then do “Hide Others” from some other app, everything except iDVD hides, and you’ll hear the beep again. I even tried AppleScripting it, with no success.

OK, fine, I thought, I’ll just minimize it to the Dock. Nope. That doesn’t work either. Argh!

Since the sheet is dynamic, my screensaver won’t kick in if it’s visible. So it seems you’re just plain stuck with the iDVD box onscreen, which is an amazingly poor decision on Apple’s part. I finally managed to at least make it non-visible by using Backdrop, a utility that lets you drop a desktop picture (or solid color) down as a layer. So I ran Backdrop, set it to display a nice picture, then switched Backdrop in front of iDVD. iDVD was now hiding behind Backdrop, and since Backdrop takes up the whole screen, I couldn’t accidentally activate iDVD by clicking its window. I could still switch to it with Command-Tab, or by clicking its icon in the Dock, of course. But at least it was out of sight, allowing me to more easily work on other things while it rendered away in the background.

Why oh why can’t we just have Command-H work again, as it did before?!

12 Comments

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  1. You can’t do application-wide actions (like hide, or for that matter, close etc.) whilst there’s an open sheet in this kind of dialog, because they’re usually used to deal with user interaction. That said, they’re not supposed to be used for long-running process like this one; it’s probably just a poor coding decision because some junior UI programmer thought it would be a good place to put ‘cancel’ like on SoftwareUpdate.

    Frankly, the UI at apple has been slowly going down for a number of years now (as can be seen from the number of different metal styles that exist; and the ‘pro’ dialogs that surfaced in the likes of Logic and Final Cut seem to be making their way down to their cheaper counterparts (like iPhoto). Doesn’t look like it will be addressed any time soon …

  2. well, in previous version there was a trouble, when hiding iDVD or changing to another App. The burn would crash. Maybe this is still the case?

  3. Ideally, this is some sort of very basic bug. I don’t think a sheet is necessarily a bad UI decision, as iDVD shouldn’t necessarily be functional while it’s burning a disc, but it should be able to switch and hide properly. The reason why I think this is because iPhoto just recommended (on startup) to rebuild the thumbnail cache. Progress is shown in a sheet, but iPhoto switches and hides like an application would normally. Apparently they just made a rookie error in coding iDVD’s behavior while the burn sheet is active.

  4. Interesting (and frustrating) inconsistency. Funny, I was just lamenting to a friend my apathy towards modal windows and the like. This absolutely fits the bill.

    I hope you submitted a bug report or provided other feedback to the folks who can make a difference in addition to mentioning it here.

  5. I was frustrated by this, too. As another “workaround,” I did notice you can still drag the whole window around, so I just drag it so the title bar is at the bottom of my screen and the rest of the window is hanging off into oblivion…not the best solution but at least it’s out of my way and out of site.

  6. I don’t think this has anything to do with the “burn progress” dialog sheet. When I was using iDVD 6 yesterday I was unable to Hide it using Command-H or the main iDVD menu. And no, it was not the only program visible; I also had the Finder running and unhidden.

  7. I use sheets with progress bars all the time – it’s perfect for lengthy import or export operations where you don’t want the user to interact “out of band” with the ongoing operation.

    This has nothing to do with iDVD’s inability to hide – I just tried it with my app (a standard document based Cocoa app), where I imported a lot of stuff, and that brought up a sheet with a progress bar, and then did cmd-h, and it worked fine.

  8. #8: Interesting — so that means the iDVD programmers went out of their way to make iDVD not hideable? Strange.

    -rob.

  9. Funny that I stumble upon this post today: only yesterday I got annoyed by an un-hideable sheet in iWeb which I used for the 2nd time (or is it a dialog? I’m not geeky enough to tell the difference). When publishing a page, it said it was “preparing” the page for publication, which took about 5 minutes without allowing me to hide (cmd-H or opt-cmd-H from another page, neither minimize). Ugly! Even more ugly: after “preparing”, when iWeb started “publishing” there was a dialog to tell me it would publish in the background so I should not quit iWeb until the publication was complete – WITHOUT displaying a progress bar.

  10. This is amazing.

    UNIX and X have been doing it right for 20 years now: window management is separate from the applications, so an application can *NEVER* do this kind of idiotic thing.

    I always hated this about Windows, and I’m disappointed to find out about it on a Mac.

    Window management should be possible no matter how busy an application is.

    Sigh…

  11. This issue is still present in iDVD with iLife ’09. One other items that has not been mentioned is that the WindowServe process consumes about 30% of the CPU just to update this window. So I want to hide iDVD so that this processor utilization can go toward encoding the DVD, not refreshing a screen I don’t want to see. I am still on a single core PPC processor so every CPU cycle is important.

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