Full-screen behaviour and game documentation

Guangcong Luo zarel at wz2100.net
Sat Jul 2 14:06:30 PDT 2011

On Sat, Jul 2, 2011 at 2:52 PM, Per Inge Mathisen
<per.mathisen at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 1.2. What should the preferred hotkey be to switch between windowed and full-screen?
>> There are various hotkeys used to switch between the two modes, some more
>> common ones are F11, F, Ctrl-Enter. F11 seems to be used in many
>> window-managers and non-gaming applications.
> Alt-Enter is also frequently used.

For reference, from what I know, F11 and Alt+Enter are popular on
Windows, and Cmd+F and Cmd+Shift+F are popular on Mac OS X. If it's
not too much trouble, it might be best simply to support all of these.

As for standardizing on a single hotkey, I wouldn't like F11 as the
only way, since the F1-F12 keys are being hidden behind Fn modifiers
[1], F-lock [2], or outright left out [3] by keyboard manufacturers
more and more often these days.

[1] cf. Apple's keyboards: http://www.apple.com/keyboard/
[2] cf. Microsoft's keyboards:
[3] cf. Logitech's diNovo Mini:

Alt+Enter never strongly suggested "full-screen" to me. Ctrl+Enter
means "send message" to me (in situations where Enter would insert a

Apple's Cmd+Shift+F might work (what would be its equivalent on Linux?
Ctrl+Shift+F? Super+Shift+F?)

> X11 offers no decent API for handling these issues. Windows has a very
> nice API here, where you request screen resolution and fullscreen at
> the same time, and where the OS will clean up after you if the process
> dies, for any reason, and handles resolution changes if you alt+tab
> between applications. I believe MacOSX also has a similar API. X11
> lives in the dark ages here, where each application has to do
> everything on its own and in addition handle a number of window
> managers, each slightly different.

Actually, Mac OS X's full-screen API is rather poor, and doesn't allow
switching out of a full-screen application at all - the only way to
switch out is to quit or kill the full-screen application. It does
handle resolution changes, though, and properly restores the desktop
resolution no matter how the full-screen application dies.

Mac OS X Lion comes with a new full-screen API that allows switching
between full-screen applications (Steve Jobs has been talking about it
a lot), but that one doesn't handle resolution changes at all and
seems to be intended more for full-screen web browsers and similar
applications than for 'hardcore' gaming.

> IMHO a game should never block alt+tab, and on alt+tab, resolution
> should be restored and any cursor trapping should be released.
> However, I am a bit unsure how to implement this in a sane manner.

Commercial Windows games sometimes allow Alt+Tab and Super to be
blocked in the options, since those keys can often be accidentally
pressed over the course of gameplay. This may be the most
user-friendly approach, though it might also be a lot of work for what
might not be very much gain.

>> Some games bypass the window manager completely when entering full screen mode
>> (using DGA or other ways).
> This should be strongly discouraged.

I don't understand much about how DGA works. Could you give an
overview of why this should be discouraged?

>> However, most window managers understand the concept of a full-screen window
> Which window managers do not? (I have had some issues with fwvm, but I
> am not sure where the problem resides.)

When I say "most", I sometimes mean "all that I know of, but there may
be some weird one I haven't heard of".

I'd venture a guess that Chrome OS's WM doesn't support full-screen, though. ;)


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