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Workspace is a term used in various branches of engineering and economic development.

Business development[edit]

Workspace refers to small premises provided, often by local authorities or economic development agencies, to help new businesses to establish themselves. These typically provide not only physical space and utilities, but also administrative services and links to support and finance organisations, as well as peer support among the tenants. A continuum of sophistication ranges through categories such as 'managed workspaces', 'business incubators' and 'business and employment co-operatives'. In cities, they are often set up in buildings that are disused but which the local authority wishes to retain as a landmark. At the larger end of the spectrum are business parks, virtual offices, technology parks and science parks.

Technology and software[edit]

In technology and software, "workspace" is a term used for several different purposes.

Software development[edit]

A workspace is (often) a file or directory that allows a user to gather various source code files and resources and work with them as a cohesive unit. Often these files and resources represent the complete state of an integrated development environment (IDE) at a given time, a snapshot. Workspaces are very helpful in cases of complex projects when maintenance can be challenging. Good examples of environments that allow users to create and use workspaces are Microsoft Visual Studio and Eclipse.

In configuration management, "workspace" takes on a different but related meaning; it is a part of the file system where the files of interest (for a given task like debugging, development, etc.) are located. It stores the user's view of the files stored in the configuration management's repository.

In either case, workspace acts as an environment where a programmer can work, isolated from the outside world, for the task duration.

Graphical interfaces[edit]

GNOME's workspace switcher.

Additionally, workspaces refer to the grouping of windows in some window managers. Grouping applications in this way is meant to reduce clutter and make the desktop easier to navigate.

Multiple workspaces are prevalent on Unix-like operating systems and certain operating system shells. Mac OS X 10.5 and later macOS releases include an equivalent feature called "Spaces". Windows 10 now offers a similar feature called 'Task View'. Windows XP PowerToy is available to bring this functionality to Windows XP.

Most systems with support for workspaces provide keyboard shortcuts to switch between them. Many also include some form of workspace switcher to change between them and sometimes to move windows between them as well.

Workspaces are visualized in different ways. For example, on Linux computers using Compiz or Beryl with the Cube and Rotate Cube plugins enabled, each workspace is rendered as a face of an on-screen cube, and switching between workspaces is visualized by zooming out from the current face, rotating the cube to the new face, and zooming back in. On macOS, the old set of windows slides off the screen and the new set slides on. Window managers without "eye candy" often simply remove the old windows and display the new ones without any sort of intermediate effect.

Online applications[edit]

In the context of software as a service, "workspace" is a term used by software vendors for applications that allow users to exchange and organize files over the Internet.

Such applications have several advantages over traditional FTP clients or virtual folder offerings, including:

  • Ability to capture task performance data and version data
  • Organization of information in a more user-friendly interface than a traditional file-based structure
  • Secure storage and upload/download of data (many FTP clients are unsecured, susceptible to eavesdropping, or open to other abuse)
  • Compatible with virtually all web browsers and computer operating systems.
  • Updated on the server-side, meaning that a user will never have to update the software.

Beyond organizing and sharing files, these applications can often also be used as a business communication tool for assigning tasks, scheduling meetings, and maintaining contact information.


In Robotics, the workspace of a robot manipulator is often defined as the set of points that can be reached by its end-effector[1] or, in other words, it is the space in which the robot works and can be either a 3D space or a 2D surface.

Mobile or Unified Workspace[edit]

A mobile or unified workspace allows enterprise IT to have a trusted space on any device where IT can deliver business applications and data.

Ever since the iPad was released by Apple in 2009, BYOD has become an increasingly more important problem for IT.[2] Until now, IT has purchased, provisioned, and managed all enterprise desktops which run the Microsoft Windows software.[3] There are nearly 500 million enterprise desktops in the world. However, with the introduction of smart phones and tablets, there are far more devices that are owned by the end user - 750 million PCs and Macs, 1.5 billion smart phones, and 500 million tablets. These also run different operating systems, like iOS, Android, Windows, and macOS. How does deliver business applications and data to end users on these heterogenous operating systems and form factors?

Federica Troni[4] and Mark Margevicius[5] introduced the concept of Workspace Aggregator[6] to solve the problem of BYOD. According to Gartner, a workspace aggregator unifies five capabilities: (1) Application Delivery: The ability to orchestrate provisioning and deprovisioning of mobile, PC and Web applications (2) Data: The secure delivery of corporate data (3) Management: Management of application life cycle, metering and monitoring features (4) Security: Provision of context-aware security (5) User Experience: A superior user experience through the delivery of a unified workspace


  1. ^ Accurate Numerical Methods for Computing 2D and 3D Robot Workspace, Cao et al. (2011)
  2. ^ Kingsley-Hughes, Adrian. "Making BYOD work: The art of compromise - ZDNet". Retrieved 30 April 2018.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "An Overview of Workspace Aggregators". Retrieved 30 April 2018.