That Splitting Thing

I just twittered a few minutes ago, saying “Seems like VS 2010 can still not show the same file twice in panels next to one another. Am I missing something?”. I’m still interested in the answer, if there is one, but meanwhile I thought I’d blog about something I’ve found interesting for a long time: the way our heads seem to work differently when it comes to applications of the words “horizontally” and “vertically”. You see, in Visual Studio (and that has been the same thing with MDI windows before that), they have a thing called a “Tab Group”, which comes in horizontal and vertical varieties. These days the difference is illustrated in little icons at least, defining it like this: Horizontal group (exhibit A):

+--------------------+
|                    |
+--------------------+
|                    |
+--------------------+

Vertical group (exhibit B ):

+-------+-------+
|       |       |
|       |       |
|       |       |
|       |       |
|       |       |
|       |       |
+-------+-------+

Now here’s my gripe with that: it’s the wrong way round! In my eyes, exhibit A might be described as “a tab group with a horizontal splitter”, but it is not a horizontal tab group. These things are not the same. A horizontal tab group is one where the tabs, the defining feature of a tab group, surely, are shown “horizontally”, i.e. next to each other in horizontal direction. Just like exhibit B, in fact. And vice versa, of course. I don’t know what somebody was thinking when they came up with those names, or maybe it’s just my head that works differently. It doesn’t make sense to me, in any case. And that’s the important point of this post: if you never realized that these terms might be confusing to somebody, here you are now!

One important factor in successful communication is about understanding misunderstanding – which is why, in my tweet, I was avoiding the terms “horizontal” and “vertical” as being confusing in the context. Of course the first and so far only reply I got to my tweet (and I’m not naming any names here!) went “hey, do you mean vertically?” Hmpf. Oh, and yes, according to the MS definition I mean vertically, yes. A tab group with a vertical splitter, that has been split in vertical direction, or whatever. A tab group with the tabs showing horizontally next to one another. And the same file on both sides of the splitter. Not possible, is it?

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