This week in Usability & Productivity, part 28

Here’s another big week for KDE’s Usability and Productivity initiative. We’re getting ready for the release of KDE Applications 18.08–the second of our three yearly Applications releases. As the numbers in the version suggest, it will be released in August of 2018, about a month from now. As such, there’s been a lot of focus on new features and polish for core KDE apps such as Dolphin, Gwenview, Konsole, and Spectacle. We’re also ramping up our work for KDE Plasma 5.14, which is scheduled for release in October.

To learn more about KDE’s software release schedule, check out To learn more about what we did last week, keep reading!

New Features


UI Polish & Improvement

Wanna be a part of this? Of course you do, because you want to make a difference, and you want to help make the world’s best free operating system even better. It’s more important than ever. So hop on over to! There’s room for everyone, and you don’t even need to be a programmer! I’d never written a line of C++ or QML before getting started in the KDE community. You can do it!

If my efforts to perform, guide, and document this work seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, then consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal. Also consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

31 thoughts on “This week in Usability & Productivity, part 28

  1. Good job as always
    Keep get better
    I was wondering could we make icons on panels just rearranged by press ctrl+ mouse click then move them like macos !!


    1. We can drag and drop them anyway. Why having additional step to enable it instead intuitive drag and drop behaviour?
      Unless you are talking about systray area? Plasma panel or latte panel have own logic as to how to rearrange it (systray, clock). Systray icons alone can be only hidden and not moved. I guess I wouldn’t mind having an option to rearrange them (media, keyboard, wifi, vault, clipboard, sound, notifications). Never thought about that. I tweak so many things but that one was always ok for me and never felt need to change it, but still, wouldn’t mind to be able to. It’s not essential thou.

      I like macs design but some of their behavior solutions are counter intuitive and shouldn’t be copied. I like that I can make Plasma look like a mac but some things behave still like on windows (minimizing, closing programs, etc.).


    2. Y can DND them on edit mode only and u lock your widget then it’s 3 steps action but what mean there the original panel with widget locks got it now
      I hope I explained well


    3. In macOS, this is needed because there’s no visible interface to re-order Menu Extras (the macOS equivalent). We have a visible method, so while a shortcut to re-order without entering panel edit mode might be a nice accelerator, it’s far less necessary than it is on macOS.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Have donated in the past and will donate again. You are all amazing! It’s exceptional leadership and teamwork that make KDE & Plasma what it is, and this is a change that’s really become apparent in the last year in terms of the attitude towards “users” – changing from “I do this work for my own benefit as a developer” to “how can I make other (regular) peoples lives better”. I’m glad to say you _are_ making other peoples lives better, and for that I’m thankful. Keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words as well as the donation! I’m glad it’s obvious. I very much want to encourage the attitude to be that we’re doing this for our users rather than just ourselves. If all goes well, both parties should benefit. 🙂


  3. Hi Nate,

    Awesome work as always!
    I have one issue I would like to ask for, maybe you could influence it a bit:
    That’s been a big drawback for a long time compared to Gnome/GDM: First of all the display manager is missing proper Wayland and secondly it starts Xorg as root which is a imho a big security concern.
    Looking at the bugs on github work in this direction has gone stale for a long time, could there be done something to revive this?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work from everyone as always. I think the panel widget editing menu is a great change!

    However panel editing in general really needs an overhaul. I’ve found it to be hugely confusing to newcomers. It’s one of the best features of Plasma but it requires way too many clicks to do anything and the discoverability is very poor (Unlocking Widgets, going to panel Settings, figurign out how to add and then move widgets).

    I much prefer the XFCE4 method:
    Random video showing the panel editing feature:

    Do you have any thougths on it?


    1. Yes, we’re working to make panel editing a bit more intuitive. One thing about Plasma’s panel editing interface as opposed to XFCE’s is that you directly manipulate the widgets, rather than re-ordering representations of the in some list view somewhere.


    2. Xfce panel and applets may seem more intuitive at first but on the long run it’s bothersome to move them around. I think that neither one or the second way of doing things is perfect and both have cons and pros. I like plasma’s doing of things better (it gives more freedom) but I remember times where I struggled to comprehend how it works. Now it seems silly. Customizing panel is logical and obvious and yet… this was hard at the beginning so I do admit that some things lack of intuitiveness. However, I don’t want Plasma to become less functional for the quest of simplifying things. That seems to be a pattern in some DEs… Finding the right solution where UI is intuitive and yet packed with features is hard and compromise is never perfect. We already have examples of simplified UIs to a fault (when things are even less intuitive…) so let’s not drag Plasma into that place.

      What I’m saying, this has to be considered carefully.


  5. Thanks Nate for those awesome reports!!!

    I would like to bring the following issue to your attention [1]. When plugging in an HDMI cable to output a video to a TV, it’s always a pain to click through the settings dialog in order to change the device profile.

    I think, especially for the average user, it would be much simpler if volume control applet (plasma-pa) would show all plugged in devices + internal speakers by default.

    Another user mentioned earlier to keep the sound muted, even when a new device is plugged in; That could be elegantly solved by introducing a “Silence Mode”, similar to the “Airplane Mode” of the network manager.

    I guess everyone who uses a laptop in a lecture or in a library would greatly benefit from that.

    What do you think?



    1. Am I understanding that your keyboard doesn’t have a mute key on it? Mine does, so that’s what I use to gain this functionality


    2. My Thinkpad has a mute key and I use it, but consider the following situation:

      The internal speakers are not muted and no music/video/sound is playing.
      You decide to listen music or watch a video and to not disturb anyone around you, you plugin your headphones.

      You may mute the sound now, but once you unplug your head phone, your internal speakers will play loud as they were not muted before, since their mute state was cached.

      You cannot easily access the setting to mute all outputs as long as your headphones are plugged in.
      Of course you could have muted the internal speakers before the head phones are plugged in, but there’s always the chance that you forget about doing it.

      To workaround that and make it foolproof, I would find a “library mode” pretty handy. I hope that sounds convincing.



    3. Sounds sensible to me. Please feel free to propose that as a feature on! File it against the “plasma-pa” product.


  6. So many useful fixes & improvements !

    Other KDE users : did you notice KAlgebra suddenly stopped working ? (results are not displayed anymore) Or is it just me ? I use it as it’s handier than the regular calculator 🙂

    @Nate : as you are kinda in charge of Kubuntu too… There was a HUGE bug occuring with Kwin & nvidia users that was apparently fixed a couple days ago in the 390.x and 397.x series of drivers. It would make the panel freeze when starting apps that suspend compositing. (happened every day on my setup). –> do you think Kubuntu could include this upgrade — I guess it doesn’t correspond to the usual ubuntu policy, but this is a massive bug for KDE users (and doesn’t affect Gnome).


  7. Hi Nate!
    I love how you guys continuously improve the KDE experience! As someone who frequently has to play tech support for relatives and with win 10 forcing updates and pegging 100% disk usage, I installed the KDE flavor of manjaro since they’d be more familiar with the interface and 90% of their tasks are just browsing the internet anyway. I found a usability issue that can be improved. It is not entirely intuitive to add other keyboard layouts. I know you guys mentioned improving the system settings categories and wonder if this is on your radar. As it is now, there are:
    -language packages
    -and input devices >keyboard layouts > add layout.
    It would make sense to either bundle them together, or at least put in a descriptor as to what each category does or why one would change one setting and not the other, for example it seems like adding another keyboard layout would be under “language packages” and not on the lower half of the keyboard layout panel.


    1. Yes, we’re aware that this is not very intuitive. We’re in the middle of fixing the keyboard layout issue right now, in fact. Others will be forthcoming.


    1. Yeah, I can reproduce it on Manjaro KDE (on different icons and theme) so it’s a proper bug to report. Send a link here and I will join to the bug report.


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