This is the work blog for the KDE Visual Design Group a group of dedicated designers striving to improve community participation in design for KDE as well as design work in general for KDE applications and Plasma.

onsdag 2 april 2014

A Monday Report #9 of sorts...

In which we dedicate this entire post to describe an idea that is moving forward... Also mention Italy AND then why "Monday" is just a mirage :)

"Spaceship Controls" Creative Common SA

Yesterday Thomas Pfeiffer made an April Fools post based as a way to introduce a new idea for Plasma Next.

"That’s why I came up with the idea of a “Choose Your Plasma Experience” dialog at the end of the installation process of distributions shipping Plasma:"

Yes the post was a joke, we will not pretend that you can just switch into KDE 2 for funsies and I was quoted as if I talked like a Manowar lyric and no one noticed (which makes me think I should start doing that full time)... Anyway the post may have been a joke but the idea wasn't.


See one of the majestic things with Plasma is it's flexibility - one of the downsides is the current way to use this flexibility. I like to call it the rocketship-controls.

Say that you rent a moped on a trip to Rome. You wanna swish through the streets screaming "Ciao!" at passers-by in the way of a 1950's Fellini film-revival. Once up on the moped you notice that the controls for it are in fact identical to those for the International Space Station. Passing by the Fontana-di-trevi you run down a group of Belgian tourists since to be able to turn you had to flip five switches and program the orbital angle into the mopeds steering system.
This isn't empowering - this is choice made to cripple the user. While we don't have any plans on removing choices - we plan to make them accessible. The alternative: inaccessible choice is just as bad in practice as "no choice at all".


Thomas post touched on this and we thought we should do a work-in-progress reveal. We want to make it possible to edit your theme in one go. Not edit everything individually - but create a situation where you easily just click in a "Experience" (as these are called, encompassing not only visuals but layouts), hit apply and presto. Your desktop layout, the plasma theme, the widget theme, the icons and colors all change in one deft strike.

When you first install your computer you will have a simplified version of this setting - which Thomas explains on the Blog post he just posted. But when up and running you will be able to change the appearance, layout, theme and concept easily. You like OSX? We can hook you up...
But thats not all that we plan on doing - one of the things is a way to edit the theme. The point is as I stated not at all about REMOVING options but rather, making them accessible.
So you go into the experience switcher - click an experience and then "Edit Theme". From there you can edit all the things you're used to edit individually. When you're done you save the theme to a new file and can decide on whether to export it or not.


Here are some doodles and sketches on how we thought the System Settings "Experience" should look like and work - yes it's early and yes these are rough drafts (obviously since their on paper) but things are moving forward and soon mockups and then screenshots...

Yes this is actually I how I think out application and design things.
You crazy kids and your computers! I still use a pen and paper!

Anyway these are for the System Settings module "Experience" - Thomas has more on the work on the Post-installation one on his blog as well as more details :)

Aside from all that things are moving forward - right now everyone is off doing their own thing though which is odd so it's eerily silent. Next "Monday Report" (which will actually come on a monday will have more news.

See you then

4 kommentarer:

  1. We have already such an program in Chakra Linux but maybe it is not so powerful and not designed for this idea in this post.
    Maybe the Chakra Team and the KDE community could work on this tool together and make it better and more Powerful.

  2. Well the idea came from the post-installation wizard in Chakra (since plenty of us use Chakra) but on my end of it it is mostly about editing the System Settings and creating an interest from distro's to create their own Plasma experience instead of the current deal where many just slap the vanilla desktop on there and call it a day.
    It seems such a waste of flexibility, you know? :)

  3. For the love of Pong, please find a way to axe the Three Dreadful Шindoшs Buttons (OK, Apply, Cancel) in settings dialogues. Or make an option for hiding them.
    I really tried to like KDE, but inability to see my changes instantly was one of main showstoppers for me.

  4. YES YES YES!!!

    I've felt for years that Plasma's awesome flexibility gets overlooked by users because they just look at the default layout/theme and say "Windows clone". I always wished that the "user experience" wizard from KDE3 would come back in some form and offer users a choice of layouts.

    Enlightenment (at least on BodhiLinux) offers something like this, and while it's more limited than Plasma by far, it gives one an immediate sense that the DE is capable of more than just the default layout. Plasma needs this especially as the "classic desktop style" is going to seem increasingly dated to average users.