Work In Progress, all the way

It has been pretty quiet over the past month but I’ve been pretty busy in my day job – the Easter weekend gave me a bit of time to relax, and by relax I mean think about things and experiment.

Better KDE Connect integration

I must say KDE Connect is one of my personal killer features in our KDE eco system and if you haven’t tried it, you should. Really. It always makes me smile when someone tells me “sure I’m using KDE Connect” – my sister’s been over for lunch a few days ago and I spotted her phone on the “Available Devices” list. That was quite surprising, to say the least. However, it makes me sad to see how we suck at marketing. This made me think on how we could make KDE Connect an integral part of our user experience rather than a 3rd party kind of thing.

My phone's battery status showing up in the battery monitor
My phone’s battery status showing up in the battery monitor
My phone being listed as if it were a USB thumb drive
My phone being listed as if it were a USB thumb drive

I worked on a KDE Connect backend for Solid (KDE’s hardware abstraction library) to provide battery information right in the battery monitor, picking up Albert’s initial work on that from 2013, and also, now that we can browse our phones remotely, have it show up like a USB thumb drive would. There you can clearly tell that Solid’s been designed in the pre-smartphone era, as it has a “Portable Media Player” device type but no “Smartphone” ;) We’re also evaluating how notifications from your phone could fit into the regular notification applet, grouped by device, or so.

This is still in pretty early stages, so don’t expect it to land in the upcoming 5.3 release; however, I already pushed many of its prerequisities into Plasma, and since Solid is a Framework, we could add the backend in one of its monthly releases, decoupled from Plasma.

Display Data Control support in PowerDevil

As you may or may not have noticed in the above screenshots, I do have a brightness slider. This might not be unusual, if it weren’t for that fact that this is my desktop machine. Last week I purchased a 24″ 4K IPS desktop monitor for a pretty affordable price. It is just gorgeous, and most importantly it does not require MST but announces itself as a single panel. Just set your font DPI to 192 and you’re mostly set.

I haven’t used a desktop computer at home ever since I bought a high-resolution Ultrabook back in 2012. Now sitting at a desk for one week there’s been one thing I really missed: Being able to just mouse wheel the battery icon to adjust brightness.

Today I discovered that my monitor supports DDC allowing to manipulate screen brightness through software. After a bit of research I found a tool called ddccontrol that is capable of communicating with your monitor. After one hour of hacking I managed to add support for that into PowerDevil. You cannot see that on the picture of course, so trust me. ;) I’m quite confident to get that into 5.3.

14 thoughts on “Work In Progress, all the way”

  1. I think notifications should be grouped by type; SMS, email, etc – if that is possible. Mainly because I think the source (application/device) is secondary information – the type of notification is most important, then the notification (text, e.g. “SMS ‘Are you at work to…’ from +4798765432” or even showing the sender name if the number is in my addressbook or can be queried from the phone) and third the possible actions – which could include the source (e.g. “Reply to SMS using ‘Jolla – Kjetil’”).
    Perhaps that would also make it possible to avoid double notifications for emails synchronized to the phone.

  2. One of the shortcomings of KDE-Connect is that it is one way flow of information. If I get pinged on Hangouts, the notification is show on all my devices and once that notification is read on one of the devices it is removed from all other devices. KDE can only read but not interact with Android notifications. This means I have to process and cancel each notification twice. That makes me use KDE-Connect from time to time but I can’t stick to it yet.

    1. Sure can you dismiss notifications from your computer, and when it gets removed on the phone it will disappear on the computer.

      1. I didn’t get that. Are you saying notifications states are synced between systems and phone connected via kde-connect? So removing notification on phone will also remove it on my system or removing notification on system will remove it from the phone. I have never seen KDE 4 remove any notification ever. Once an entry has been made it stays there until user reboots or manually clears them.

        Also I don’t think you can act on an notification without touching your phone. Like you recieved a message on some obscure messaging app like WhatsApp. You will have to pickup phone to act on it.

        1. Yes, they are synced, and there have been numerous improvements in the notification applet for Plasma 5; it is no longer flooded with useless notifications staying there indefinitely.

          I also miss being able to react on notifications but I don’t think there’s an easy way to interact with, say WhatsApp but I haven’t looked into that yet; perhaps they provide some sort of Intent but still I don’t think there’s a proper API for that. If you know otherwise, please tell me :)

  3. It seems a bit out of place to me to put the battery status of your phone in the same place as your laptop’s energy savings settings. It seems equally out of place to group a wirelessly connected device in USB attached devices.

    1. Where would you put it then? It shows your laptop battery, your mouse battery; then why is your phone out of place? Same for the storage: it lists SD cards, USB thumb drives, external hard drives; why should your phone, that you can browse equally, not show up there?

      1. I didn’t know the battery widget displayed information for mice, but even still, that’s an input device, not a smartphone. Maybe I should ask: What exactly is the purpose of the battery widget? What info is it intended to display? I thought it only displayed laptop battery info (including external charging devices).

        SD cards, external hdds, thumb drives, etc. are connected by USB (I assume), even if on an internal motherboard header. But your smartphone via wifi? It already shows up in Dolphin where it belongs. If the Device Notifier widget is for USB AND non-USB devices, then wifi-connected smartphones belong there, but otherwise not.

        1. The battery applet is there to display information about all available batteries, control power management and brightness.

          It shows up in Dolphin because KDE Connect manually places it there whereas when it’s known to Solid globally that happens automatically and furthermore anyone who’s interested in “external storage” sees all of them. Device Notifier is supposed to display (external) storage of any kind.

  4. Hi, i have blackberry z10 device, and also i am the fun on KDE, so i am thinking to create a native KDE Connect app. Can you point me, from what to start ?

    Maybe, it already exist, but my googling was empty.

  5. Hello! Any news about the DDC integration? I have a Dell P2715Q, and it would be very nice to be able to control it’s brightness directly from KDE.

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