Happy Holidays, everyone!
I’m sure we’ve all had this unpleasant experience where you’ve been immersed into a task up until, boom, you were greeted by this dialog:
I’m just using Dolphin for demonstration purposes, I’m not saying that Dolphin is crashy – Dolphin is awesome!
Most of the time, I’m more bugged by the fact I now have to click away an error message, than the actual crash. For instance, on Windows you get a “Searching for a solution” progress dialog that usually leads to a “We couldn’t find a solution” dialog. By the time it finished searching I could have restarted the application already and continued working. Interestingly enough, Windows “Modern Apps” guidlines say you should just drop the user to the home screen to avoid slowing him down in the process of recovery.
Instead of stealing focus bringing up DrKonqi, we’ll now bring up an unobstrusive desktop notification that allows you to quickly restart the app or report a bug. In addition to that, a sad face shows up in System Tray, allowing you to file a bug later, if you just want to get going again quickly. The Tray icon disappears after one minute; if you hadn’t bothered to look at it by then you most likely forgot what you did to make it crash in the first place. What we now must do is invest time into making our apps resume properly: our crash framework “KCrash” allows an application to run an emergency shutdown function which the application should use to save its state and restore it when it’s restarted.
A different category are desktop services like Plasmashell and KRunner. They restart automatically and you often wouldn’t notice they crashed if DrKonqi hadn’t told you so.
Of course you will now say we should fix our shit instead of covering up mistakes and people won’t bother filing bug reports now. That is not true. First of all, we fix bugs. David Edmundson, for instance, does an amazing job of keeping up with them. Triaging bugs is not fun. Finally, Plasma unfortunately suffers from issues often in toolkits, drivers and other lower levels we can’t control. It’s a pity that even in 2015 you can’t rely on 3D acceleration on Linux. Regarding people not filing bugs: if you only clicked away DrKonqi anyway, we just did you a favor.
In other news, KDE Applications 15.12 ships with a new powerful screenshot utility, courtesy of Boudhayan Gupta, called Spectacle. It makes capturing screenshots a breeze with new global shortcuts, such as
Meta+Print for capturing the active window and saving it to a file in one go. Why I mention this in my blog? Spectacle is the first KDE Application to support Jump List Actions I announced last time.
I mostly use the “Rectangular Region” capture mode, so there’ll be a
Meta+Shift+Print shortcut in the next release that invokes this mode – I always underestimate what a pile of work taking screenshots for blog posts is; this will make my life easier.
One hardly known feature are additional actions in KRunner. They provide secondary actions for a given search result. This feature will most likely return in Plasma 5.6, I only found a handful of runners that actually implement them, however: the “Kill Application” Runner, a Telepathy Runner, and a couple of third party ones, like a media controller. This is most likely also the reason they weren’t ported to Plasma 5 yet.
In retrospect, I implemented substantially more than I had anticipated that I would come up with for Plasma 5.6. Exciting times! See all of you in 2016. :-)