Scott Hanselman

DeskSpace - Beryl-like 3D Cube Virtual Desktop Manager for Vista

September 18, 2007 Comment on this post [23] Posted in Reviews | Tools
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Oh HELL ya. My buddy James at OtakuSoftware has done it again with DeskSpace. You remember him from TopDesk fame. He's back and it's insane.

UPDATE: I talked to the author, James, and he points out (and in the comments also) that he bought Yod'm a while back. It's posted in his forums also, so it's common knowledge I missed. However, DeskSpace is NOT a repackaging of Yod'm (I can attest to that, since I've been beta testing it for weeks) but rather the Next Version. The 3D Desktop code is an enhanced version of TopDesk, only the options dialog remains of Yod'm. The shared heritage was posted on DeskSpace for a while (Google Cache). It's all clear to me now. Sorry if I misrepresented things, it was only due to my own ignorance. It is a sweet app, though.

It's a Beryl-like 3D Cube Virtual Desktop App. I can talk about it all day, but a video (captured from my own computer) is worth a thousand words. What a great tool with a pile of configurable options. I've been running it across three monitors for about two weeks and it is surprisingly useful.

Go. Get. It.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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September 18, 2007 23:29
Give the video a's processing on the server.
September 18, 2007 23:45
Pfff... this is such a friggen joke. I had this idea in 1999 when I was 14 years old and everyone called me an idiot. Then I seen the first functional implementation on Kororaa Linux about 18 months ago and now this.

September 18, 2007 23:59
This is a clone of Yod'm 3d, which is free...
September 19, 2007 0:14
There's also Dexpot, which does the same thing without the fancy 3D transitions and is free for personal use.

I'd highly recommend it.
September 19, 2007 0:35
>>This is a clone of Yod'm 3d, which is free...<<

Actually it isn't a clone, OtakuSoftware bought the rights to Yod'm 3d off of it's creator and it's now marketed as Deskspace. However, as such, I hardly think Scott's buddy "James" deserves credit for it's creation.
September 19, 2007 0:37
linkage: Yod'm 3d
September 19, 2007 0:56
My bad. James (not sure why he's in quotes?) didn't tell me that he started from some existing code. I've been IM'ing him back and forth with multimonitor, cursor, focus and hotkey bugs over the last few weeks. He may have purchased the starting point, but it's come a long way in a short while. I'll update the post, and I assume James will show up here.

Considering that the YoD'M code was "entrusted" to James (for some $), it sounds like there isn't anything dodgy going on here, except maybe for me not recognizing the previous tool. I'd played with Yod'm (seems a LONG time ago) but didn't have either the video card or directx, or some polish at the time to get a good experience so I'd dismissed it as cool, but not day-to-day stable.

Probably a beter title for this post is "YODM reborn as DeskSpace"
September 19, 2007 1:00
How does multimonitor work? Is the cube bigger? A cube per window?
Haven't made the jump to vista quite yet, but roll with no less than 2 monitors.
September 19, 2007 1:41
Yay, virtual desktop with a cool 3D rotation.

Don't get me wrong, it looks great and it would be really nice for doing development work on my laptop. However, it's really just a pretty twist on old technology and I'm more than happy working with my four monitors on my desk at home.
September 19, 2007 2:19
This is pretty freaking sweet. The only part of Beryl I was jealous of was the cube desktop switching.
September 19, 2007 4:16
Great concept but unfortunately when you have something like Remote Desktop full screened it stops the cube from switching to another desktop until you unfull screen the remote desktop. It does take the screen into the cube, just wont switch to another cube.
September 19, 2007 5:50
Hi, I'm "James" Stewart, the developer of DeskSpace.

First off, apologies to Scott: I didn't make it clear to him that DeskSpace was based on Yod'm 3D.

tacodave: It's not a clone of Yod'm 3D, it's the next version.

mark: A notice that I bought Yod'm 3D and would be continuing development has been up on my website for months, so I'm hardly trying to claim credit - check out the Google Cache version of the DeskSpace page for proof. It's also not the case that I've just slapped the DeskSpace name on Yod'm 3D and started selling it. A lot of work has been put into DeskSpace, to the point where Yod'm 3D has been almost completely re-written.

Rob: It displays a cube per monitor.

Joe Cheng: Thanks :)

Justin: I'm working on remote desktop compatibility.
September 19, 2007 8:35
I tried it and it's awesome!
September 19, 2007 17:15
Hey Now Scott,
This sure is slick, I wonder what your buddy Atwood thinks of this tool?
HanselMinutes Fan,
September 19, 2007 21:37
See, the big deal about Beryl isn't the cube, or the minimize/maximize effects, or that the video keeps playing while you spin the cube around.

It's that all of those effects are plugins. Not separate applications.

THAT'S what makes it better than Vista/Avalon/Quartz.
September 20, 2007 3:59
Scott: Plugin support is planned for the future - I'm definitely aiming to eventually offer full Compiz/Beryl functionality.
September 21, 2007 7:48
This looked awesome, so i played with it for a few days, in my nice 4 screen vista layout .. i love virtual desktops.. and this one has the wow feasture.. but for productivity it doesn't work so well.. the 2 to 3 seconds of the complete visual transition, selecting of new window , though it makes you go WOW in the beginning gest in the way in the long run. And additionally moving windows between first desktops isn't so great, you either have to start dragging the window, press the hotkey, use hte mouse to move (and in multi monitors thats a lot of moving) to the desktop you want and then let it go..

its great that you can have hotkeys that go directly to the virtual screen. but i'd also like to have a hotkey that will go to the other virtual desktop and take the focused window with it as well, and also an option when you press hotkeys as whether it shows the visual transition, or just goes directly there.

September 21, 2007 11:12
Karl: I'm working on beefing up the virtual desktop functionality and increase desktop switching speed at the moment, so you'll see lots of improvement in this area in later versions.
September 21, 2007 21:08
sweet james,
and one more thing
on Vista, make it be a LIVE preview .. that would rock..
September 21, 2007 23:50
> the 2 to 3 seconds of the complete visual transition, selecting of new window , though it makes you go WOW in the beginning gest in the way in the long run.

The transitions need to be nearly instantaneous to be worthwhile (ala Windows Media Center), otherwise they get in the way and should be turned off.

Once you turn off the 3D cube effects, isn't this the same as every other virtual desktop software out there?
September 22, 2007 8:54
Used it at work all week and uninstalled this afternoon. I don't really need virtual desktops with multiple large widescreen displays.
However, I gave it a try on a laptop tonight and it is fantastic. I haven't jumped on the virtual desktop bandwagon before but now I'm wondering how I lived without it on notebooks. It also looks really crisp on a 1920x1200 notebook display.

RE: the transition times... my vote is for two buttons. Ctrl+Shift+Win would be instant, but Ctrl+Shift+Alt would be 3 seconds. Then, whenever someone is watching me work, I can use the cool transition and seem highly impressive and hip, and when they go away I can dispense with the tomfoolery and get down to business with a near-instant transition.
September 22, 2007 11:49
Karl: Live preview will be added soon, probably in v1.6.

Jeff: The transition speed is configurable (it defaults to 400ms), so you can dial it down to 10ms if you want. However, the time taken for the actual desktop switch, which occurs after the transition, will, like other virtual desktop applications, depend on the number of windows you have open and your system speed. I'm working on improving the desktop switching speed.

Yes, if you turned off the 3D cube effects it would be the same as every other virtual desktop software out there. You could also run Vista with the Windows Classic theme and pretend you're rockin' Windows 2k :)

Seriously though, I've developed a number of products, and the sad fact is that people prefer functional eye candy over purely functional.

PWills: You're right, if you already have a huge expanse of desktop space there's not much point using virtual desktops, but if you're desktop is a bit cramped then they come in very handy.

I'll be revamping the hot key system in a later version to allow you to set up any number of hot keys, each with their own settings for speed, etc...

October 19, 2007 14:41
I'd recommend to take a lot at CubeDesktop (
It has support for 6 desktops, 360º usable cube with realtime preview. It also integrates Exposè functionality.

Take a look at the video at

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.