Pursuing Awesomeness

Plasma 5.5 hasn’t even been released yet but work on the next version is already commencing.

Introducing U-Bahn

I’ve seen Plasma setups resembling Unity, or Gnome Shell, or OS/2, but I haven’t seen Windows 8 yet.

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/embed/8qFrich4LFM

This is an experimental Metro-inspired (Metro, U-Bahn, get it?) sidebar. Its name kinda shows how serious I was about this :) Anyhow, it’s a nice showcase of Plasma’s flexibility. The whole thing took me just over an hour to get up and running. It incorporates KRunner/Milou for search results, the Purpose Framework for sharing, parts of Print-Manager and Device Notifier, as well as the icons from Plasma-PA (audio) and Plasma-NM (network) on the Settings page. The centre button was supposed to launch the Application Dashboard, without tiles, though.

While I’m not planning to finish this very project – it’s just too big of a hack the way it is –, I managed to get a discussion going. I’m looking forward to ideas our usability and design experts will come up with. It makes for an interesting concept on touch-enabled devices nonetheless. Also, I would love to see the Purpose framework embraced throughout the workspace rather than it living in the shadows within Kamoso and the Quick Share applet.

Jump Lists

Another feature I have wanted for years has finally landed: “Desktop Actions” aka Jump Lists. Basically, they are additional actions an application can offer to perform common actions or jump directly to a certain task from Task Manager. Common examples are “Open New Incognito Window” to open your browser directly in private mode, or “Compose Email” without launching the full-fledged Email client first.

If you’re an application developer, start assessing which actions to provide – only few applications on my system actually do: Chromium (Google Chrome only ships Ayatana Desktop Shortcuts), LibreOffice (its launcher enables you to jump into a specific app, like Calc or Impress) and Konsole.

LibreOffice launcher providing access to apps within the suite
LibreOffice launcher with access to apps within the suite
Chromium providing handy shortcuts
Chromium providing handy shortcuts

The specification is pretty “dumb”, you can basically specify a name, an icon and a command to run – your application must then do the right thing™ eg. depending on whether an instance is already running or not.

Update: Chime in to the discussion on Jump List Actions on the KDE Forums.

More Convenient Plasmoid Install

While applets can be installed through “Get Hot New Stuff” and distribution repositories, there’s also the classic .plasmoid file. A feature suggested by one of my colleagues – fresh KDE Plasma user – was to drag .plasmoid files onto the desktop or panel and have them installed. After Marco Martin implemented the neccessary KPackage plumbing this is now possible.

(Sorry for the quality, I wanted to make a GIF out of this but it turned out to be 24 MiB, then I downsampled it using ffmpeg and it mashed the picture)

If the applet is already installed, it will update if neccessary but still add it to where you dropped. To uninstall use the Widget Explorer which gained a new “Uninstallable” applets filter. Also, its uninstall feature now follows the undo pattern where you have a grace period before it actually uninstalls. Uninstalling also removes all instances of the applet rather than leaving broken applets behind.

Miscellaneous Improvements

First of all, FFMpegThumbnailer will finally be released as KF5-based plugin in KDE Applications 15.12 meaning you get thumbnails for videos in Dolphin again.

Secondly, in the Power Management department, switching sessions should no longer unexpectedly send your computer to sleep. Moreover, inhibitions will only be enforced after 5 seconds – this should prevent Chrome waking up your screen just because it played a short “You got message” sound. Also, I’m planning to overhaul the Battery Monitor UI which was essentially just ported from Plasma 4, where it worked well, to Plasma 5, where its layout is out of place. I won’t promise that, though. :)

Finally, I ported the face / avatar gallery from the old user accounts KCM to the now used user manager. The Visual Design Group made some marvellous user pictures, like the Leonardo Da Vinci I’m using, it would be a shame if there was no UI to pick them.

7 thoughts on “Pursuing Awesomeness”

  1. Metro-U-Bahn is really interesting, but I have to tell the truth I hate Windows 8 Charm Bar and its auto-hide, it would be more interesting as does Windows 10, with a button on the panel, and of course redesigned and implemented with Visual Design and usability group so that makes sense within the entire Plasma Concept

  2. Wow, coded for abit more than an hour by 1 man.
    You know if you could actually do full Windows like experience as well as replicate Gnome-shell and give such choice to the users you would totally solidify KDE as the most versatile DE out there. Could be used to troll MS as well =)

  3. While I’m more partial now to the Windows 10 UI, I did find the charms UI interesting. What’s even more interesting and impressive is how you managed to make Plasma do it. Kudos!

    P.S. I might have missed it, but is the source code for this available somewhere? Thanks!

    1. Haven’t published it yet but I’ll probably push it to a scratch repo. Don’t expect too much from it, though. :) Also, the edge activation is just hacked into KWin.

      1. Any code is better than no code. :)

        It would be nice if we could someday have the same edge swiping gestures to bring out the side panels. Not sure if Martin has that in his sights in the near future, but I imagine it would be a necessity for Plasma Mobile.

  4. Oh how glad I am that it is just a test mockup of test that sidebar. As even Microsof was forced to abandon whole idea for Windows 10 as people disliked the charms bar so much in Windows 8.x. :D

    I was ready to go to pick my torch if it would have been “new great feature to KF5!” :D

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