This week in Usability & Productivity, part 31

This week we’re all at Akademy–KDE’s yearly gathering of developers, designers, system administrators, and users. I’m giving a presentation later today about how we can make KDE Software irresistible!

As such, it as a bit of a lighter week for the Usability & Productivity initiative, what with all the preparation and conference-going, but we still managed to get quite a bit done. And all the in-person interactions are setting the stage for many more good things to come.


UI Polish & Improvement

Next week, your name could be in this list! Just check out, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters.

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.

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

  1. This week for a change I have an agenda ;).
    There is a bug that came with Plasma 5.13 and broke compatibility of 99% of desktop themes. The bug couldn’t be correctly handled on bug tracker I’m afraid. This is a huge issue for non-breeze users and so far Plasma devs seems to not understand the issue or not care? I refused to believe in the latter but I just have no idea how to bring this across.
    Please, check out again those bugs and see that that issue is still there, themes are broken and Plasma devs never made any real attempt to step in plus bugs were poorly handled. We – the users can only do so much and this is more important then any of the issues you posted here during last few weeks – at least in my opinion ;). The visibility of that bug is high (it is specially painful on dark panels where media icons becomes invisible), while others are often corner cases.

    So here it is:

    1. I posted a bug a few days later after Plasma 5.13 came out:

    2. My bug was mark as duplicate of this bug:

    This was fine since it was posted 3 days earlier then mine, so I just joined the original discussion.

    3. Weirdly, a bug that was reported 1,5 month later was marked as ORIGINAL and the oldest bug was marked this week as its duplicate. Frustratingly, the latest bug was derailed on Adapta theme instead whole plasma desktop system wide issue.

    I am sure that you do so many stuff that lot of things can pass you, hence I’m writing here. This whole bugtracker thing was badly handled and we are left with the issue while bugtracker shows as if it was all fine. This is very disappointing and I hope that as a community we still can do something about it and fix it since bugtracker system failed spectacularly.

    Since you are heading to Academy and you probably have no time to focus on it now, we’ll wait patiently.

    Till then, happy Academy meetings and discussions! :). Also if you haven’t been to Vienna before, I’ll advice to use the opportunity and visit its historical center and the around street with many spectacular buildings. I used to live there so I know first hand that this is worth looking. Enjoy your stay! 🙂


    1. Thanks, I’ll take a look. I’ve actually got some of the interested parties in the same room right now, so I’ll see if I can make something happen.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks. I see you marked the newest bug report as a duplicate of mine. Probably it would be better to mark it to the few days earlier thread 395485 but I guess it doesn’t matter as long as the issue will be fixed.

      If Filip is right and this was a conscious choice and won’t be fixed, the solution to this would be an official statement about what was done and why and instruct how themes should be updated to regain compatibility with newer Plasma.
      This is still troubling as most themes available is not actively developed or maintained so they will stay broken, so this isn’t a perfect situation. However if this change brings important perks for the future, I guess such breakage is inevitable. Still, we need official statement and instruction how to fix it. Without it, things stay broken even if we are aware of the problem and want to fix it ourselves (meaning, fix themes we maintain).

      It’s been ca.1,5 a month after Plasma 5.13 release and even Arch don’t have fixed themes in repos (not counting git versions in AUR) and that says a lot. Manjaro’s default theme – Breath is still broken, although we had Breath updates every few days and I hoped every time it will fix it but it didn’t.

      I expected this to be a priority as it’s a big, visible and major compatibility breakage and yet I didn’t see much of a handling it aside marking everything a duplicated of everything and then closing thread without fixing it. I was waiting patiently but when I saw latest actions, I couldn’t be silent anymore, hence my comments here.

      I’ll sleep calmer knowing that this issue is in right hands and more in the spotlight ;). I’ll wait patiently for a fix or an official statement so we could put it behind.

      Sorry to bother you about it. I realize that this blog often takes lot of your times and our requests and issues in comments are time consuming. Still, this is an awesome thing for us, because we can have a contact with a real person. Bugtrackers are too unpersonal and create a barrier between us – users and the developers. Yes, those barriers are important to protect you from constant demands and whims of every user who may think that you are for his/her disposal. But on other side it creates division between us and them.

      I guess there is no easy solution to this relationship. Thanks for this awesome blog and for being a real person. I hope it won’t burn you out or at least not too soon. We really enjoy these weekly updates. This is unparalleled on all DE’s development blog!


    3. You’re welcome. 🙂 I’m working on sorting it out. I think our mistake here was in immediately using an icon that had been newly-introduced to the Breeze icon theme. It’s not so much a mistake, but it was somewhat rude to the icon themes and didn’t give them time to adjust. Semantically, there’s also the argument to be made that Plasma should be self-contained and include all of the icons that it needs, so perhaps what we should do is move the icons out of the Breeze icon theme and into the Plasma icon theme. I’m looking into it.

      FWIW, I made a similar icon change in Plasma recently (to make the “clear all” button use a newly-introduced broom-style icon that we put in Breeze icons) but I made sure to test with other themes to make sure that it fell back correctly to something sensible. To my knowledge it worked fine, but if we get more bug reports about it after Plasma 5.14 is released, I’ll be more convinced that the right solution here is to put Plasma’s icons in the Plasma icon theme, not the more general Breeze icon theme.

      As for ways to say thank you, your comments are always appreciated, and of course there’s the Patreon as well… 🙂

      [shameless plug]

      Liked by 1 person

    4. Thanks. I was able to fix my themes by copying over media.svgz file from breeze. The confusing part is, that the icon looks the same as before and yet the old one was not accepted and the system felt back to the square media icon.

      If you will move those icons to Plasma icons, I assume this will not change the other themes ability to have their own icons if needed? The reason for themes is to add different elements so using Plasma icons may not be always the goal for each theme.
      I think that although the idea for Plasma to be self-contained is good, it needs to be considered carefully.

      Actually, I might understand it incorrectly, the reason for this breakage is that Plasma instead of reading the media.svg or media.svgz file from theme was reaching for some own fallback icon – why?

      This somehow eludes me. We have Breeze theme that comes with media icon. There is another theme that also comes with media icon. If other theme needs to have the same icon as the breeze one, why does it actually need this media icon? The logic suggests that the media icon or any icon on the theme may be different from breeze, but when it is, it isn’t displayed by the system? Hmm… Also, I checked some other theme that fixed media icon but introduced a bit different one. So that suggests that icons can be different but must somehow adhere to certain standards to be read correctly and the change in those standards made the breakage. But if that is the matter of certain standards, how does it links to the change of icon in breeze that you are talking about?

      Hmm… It’s all so confusing. It looks as if it was not a matter of making theme icons Plasma icons but some standard that Plasma uses to read those icons and that this standard somehow is linked to Breeze instead of being independent. So in the end, it’s not the icons that should be changed, it is how Plasma reads those? Does that make any sense?

      For me, themes should be independent. Isn’t moving icons to Plasma icons not a way to make desktop themes dependent on it too much?

      Uh, I guess I’m over my head. I’m not a programmer for a reason ;). I should let these things to you and other developers to figure out the best approach for the future. You probably see different issues that you must pay attention to when making those choices.

      If Plasma was strongly tied to corporate standards, this would make things way worse, because of this forces for keeping backward compatibility and promotes a very conservative approach which stands in the way of changes. This is why Windows UI is so chaotic (modern one with the legacy one) or why Yast is so ugly and old looking ;).

      I guess as a user I can only ask not to introduce breakages unless it is completely necessary. Gnome devs disregard that rule and that is why keep away from Gnome and Gtk project. I wish that everyone approached it like Linus Torvalds does:

      He is really our hero 😀


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