As you may or may not know, Plasma’s mantra basically is “help you get stuff done”. This means it helps you to achieve your goals as easily for you as possible. Plasma 5.6 will be one of those releases where we’ve focussed a lot on getting in your way less and removing obstacles in the way between you and your tasks.
Unity Launcher Support
We at KDE believe in collaboration which means if there’s an API or library that works and is widely adopted, we’re happy to pick it up and add support for it in our software stack.
Starting in Plasma 5.6, Chromium (and its proprietary counterpart) for instance, will indicate download progress in your Task Manager if you have libunity installed. There are many other applications that support these launchers, like Thunderbird and Telegram. It doesn’t stop there, however, KDE applications will also indicate progress in their Task Manager entry, like copying files in Dolphin.
Task Manager Media Controls
My personal Task Manager feature frenzy also involved media controls for Task Manager. While we have had the Media Controller applet since the initial Plasma 5.0 release, I have never managed to implement support for multiple players in there. Thanks to Plasma’s modular design, the MPRIS data engine infrastructure used by Media Controller was trivially reusable for the Task Manager.
Controlling your favorite music or video player, such as VLC player, Amarok, Audacious, Spotify (if it implemented the specifications correctly), and every other player supporting MPRIS is now as easy as hovering its Task Manager entry. You’ll get to see pretty album art there, too, which is much more descriptive than a tiny thumbnail of your playlist window. Of course, you still get a live thumbnail while watching a video. The player application doesn’t even need to have a window open, as long as it’s running and you have a launcher pinned, you can control it. While at it, I also ensured that the “on Desktop X” text is only shown if you actually have more than one virtual desktop.
Device Notifier Feedback
A thing which always made me cringe was the way Device Notifier provided feedback to the user. When unmounting a device failed, it would pop up and show a status bar containing a long text, mentioning the device the error occurred with but displaying this in no way connected to the actual device. The same happened when safely removing a USB drive.
In Plasma 5.6 the wording is much more concise and will be shown next to the device in question. I also rewrote large portions of the code that dates back to Plasma 4.7 to use QtQuick Layouts reducing code size and ensuring uniform spacing.
Note that I enabled displaying all storage devices just for demonstration, by default you would only have your USB thumb drive in there.