This week in KDE: Features you’ve been waiting for

This week we have some big stuff for you, including a rewritten global shortcuts settings page, an option to remember Dolphin’s window state across launches, a fix for longstanding kerning issues with centered text in QML-based software, and much more!

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

How You Can Help

Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to help be part of a project that really matters. Each contributor makes a huge difference in KDE; you are not a number or a cog in a machine! You don’t have to already be a programmer, either. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

Finally, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

27 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Features you’ve been waiting for

  1. Yeeeees, Global Shorcuts revamped, finally!!!

    Another great week on KDE’s Sofware, brought to us by Nate and everyone else working for the KDE Community, fantastic news.

    As always, thank you very much for the huge, amazing work and efforts that you put everyday, improving the software that we love so much.

    You really rock a lot KDE Community!!

    A huge virtual hug to everyone.

    Stay safe and stay home, as much as you can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. About the global shortcuts, I remember that after moving from Cinnamon and installing again phpStorm I was very annoyed to see that CTRL+F12 was not working anymore and it was doing something else.
    I had to go to the control panel and was very disappointed to see that it’s very hard to find out who is using it already to disable it.
    I had to click on each category and type over and over again in the search field until I found it.
    Really annoying to have categories when you want to search for some shortcut and not have at least one that says “All categoires”.
    Also I expected that after you clicked in the search field it will listen for the next key so you don’t have to type it, but of course without doing the assigned action in this case.
    So if you have a global shortcut to hide all windows you can still search for it in the panel without hiding all windows when you press the exact keys.
    I did not understand if these changes solves any of the problems that I had.

    As for Kate I would wish that it stops the very annoying default behavior of opening new files in a right to left manner.
    In every tabbed interface that I used new tabs are opened at the right of existing ones, like in Firefox for example.
    Doable-clicking at the empty space at the right of already existing space is also confusing since instead of opening the new tab there, it opens it at the beginning.
    Sometimes I have to copy some configuration from an older version to an newer version file with the same name so I normally open the old file first since is the source of my copying and the new file second since is the destination, but here is where the crazy confusion starts since I expect the first opened file to be in the first tab and the second one in the second tab from left to right and since they have the same name it’s hard.
    I found two workaround for a problem that should not be there in the first place
    Either reorder the tabs manually by dragging them or hover over them to see the full path, but this wastes precious time.
    There was a TED talk once that because of the language or writing standard we are used to do some things accordingly like in this case where a lot of writing direction are from left to right and we expect other things to be the same order
    Maybe for people who use the right to left writing system new tabs should be at the left side, but for me is not and it’s confusing and annoying.
    I’m not sure which exactly was that TED talks video, but I think it was this one:

    Hopefully somebody comes with a good explanation why new tabs should be on the left side or change back this behavior or at lease put a checkbox somewhere to disable it so it work like in Firefox and other tabbed interfaces.
    Or make a survey for the people to ask if the right to left writing languages people prefer it the other way and then make the default depending on the language of the interface. Dolphin tabs might have the same problem, but I don’t know since I don’t like to use them.

    Like

    1. If you have enough horizontal space, you might benefit from the Document Tree view (View > Tool Views > Show Documents). It works better than tabs for me.

      Like

  3. Wow, finally Dolphin will remember the last used locations! I’ve asked for it years ago and was met with confusion and doubts that it can’t be done. I responded: ‘Krusader works that way, so why not Dolphin? Check it out.’ – and got no response. And years later, it’s finally there! Awesome!

    As to shortcuts, this was and is super confusing, so I hope the new UI will be only better.

    Like

      1. I can see why some may like Dolphin to open in the last location, bur really making it default. That’s taking it a little long. To me it sounds really annoying, and it will force me to change it when i open Dolphin for the second time in every new Plasma install i use.

        The much more important question is, how is the stat of real session management in Plasma now?
        The sample of applications i regularly use is a little small to decide. But one of the mayor strengths of KDE applications used to be the excellent session management. Log out or reboot, when you logged back in again all application started at the same location, with the same stat with the same content open.

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  4. The rewritten Global Shortcuts page definitely marks the end of an era for me, because it was the last big, obvious part of SystemSettings and Plasma that felt very «forgotten part of KDE 4» to me: powerful, but not very usable, and sometimes broken.

    I’m so happy when I see how much Plasma has improved with regards to performance and usability, and I’m very glad to have been a small part of it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Are you sure Skanlite is at version 2.0.2? I checked `~/kde/usr/bin/skanlite -v`, it says 2.2.0.0, and my system installation is 2.1.0.1.

    Anyway, thank you for this blog that motivated me to contribute in the first place.

    Like

  6. Does also KDE Kontact gets some love?
    Last time I used it, it was a mess. Maybe Akonadi is the problem beside the UI needs maybe some polish.
    Akregator does not support cloud syncing (e.g. the old reader).
    generally all rss readers under linux are not good. Under macos there is a selection of really good rss-readers like reeder, NetNewsWire, etc.
    Strangely enough, the situation is also bad under Windows (or I don’t know the good readers).

    It’s lucky that KDE doesn’t do that nonsense with the hamburger menu. Gnome’s doing it wrong. A hamburger menu is a usability disaster and should only be used in certain cases. In the past, there used to be Apple guidelines for iOS which pointed this out. Then came the flood of apps (especially from the Android camp) with people with no idea of usability. Hamburg menus everywhere. Even under iOS. Good apps have been done badly. There are screenshot comparisons where you can see that clearly.

    And now Gnome builds a Hamburger Menu (= Global Menu). You need too many clicks etc. Works at most for simple apps. It also breaks with all the other approaches. Linux already has the problem that the Linux desktop is not uniform. Take a look at the FileDialog of a QT app and a GTK app.
    Elementary comes along, too. Again an own HIG. I noticed that yesterday at Planner2. The close button is on the left. Also works strange under Gnome.

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  7. So much could be said, but I’ll just go with a huge Thanks for all the time & effort you’ve put into improving KDE & Plasma, making it so absolutely wonderful now!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. @Nate: As I was generally happy with your previous changes, I think personally that you lost control with overimproving things. Nautilus/Okular remembering last documents/directories and separate “startup settings” is IMHO bad and stupid decision, because it should go into “Session” settings (if anything haven’t changes[like with Gnome], it should be possible to save session at logout[or any other time] and restore it on login[or any other time]. If so, it means functionality get duplicated and things got complicated, instead of KISS principle (central “sessions” management, made it also well-organized, then some half-ass based per-app “startup settings”, where some apps got upgraded and some not, so behar is more differentiated across apps and overall KDE gets less consistent)
    Another change(a bit dated, but still post “ngraham era”) I don’t like i lack of possibility to disable antialsing of fonts while enabling full-font hinting (it works very nice for properly hinted fonts, like ms-corefonts[unlike all free/libre that got[or don’t have at all] shitty hinting, that without antialiasing looks so ugly and unreadable]). If you want to know why, it’s because it’s the only(except using bitmap fonts, that got deprecated in pango) to get perfectly sharp, nice looking fonts. With antialiasing fonts always got blurred a bit, and my eyes hurts then, trying to focus (what is impossible on blurred fonts).

    Like

    1. Those apps already have session management features that work just fine and can be controlled via the KCM. The new feature in fact uses the existing session management system so the amount of new code is small. Also, by hooking into the existing system, I found (and fixed) a few bugs in session management.

      Like

    1. The backend work is being done. We discovered that many or even most system settings pages didn’t actually have working “Reset everything” functionality, so we need to first fix all of them before we can make a UI to invoke all their reset actions at once.

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      1. so, that means we don’t get any kind of clue (like “in about 1 year”) to guide us?

        Is there any other bug we can follow beside the one referenced?

        thank you once again

        Like

  9. Thanks @Nate for your regular updates, especially regarding the bug fixes in KDE. While I (obviously) like KDE a lot, and have been using it as my sole production environment form over 10 years now, its is always annoying and surprising to see how many bugs there are with every new KDE version.

    For instance, just a few months ago, I upgraded from Fedora 29 to 31 which uses KDE Frameworks version 5.68.0 (at least that’s what the package manager suggests). This leads me already to my very first point:

    1) Software versions in KDE: It is almost impossible to figure out which version I am using since there are way too many components/names/frameworks/application frameworks/you-name-it … I first tried to look up the version from the “Help->About KDE” menu of an application like Konsole. However, this doesn’t tell you the KDE version, but rather some general infos about KDE – though it really should have the version there. Going to the “Help->About Konsole” menu, I get the version of Konsole (19.12.1), and only when going through all the tabs available, I found by chance that I am using:
    – KDE Frameworks 5.68.0
    – Qt 5.13.2 (built against 5.13.2)
    – The xcb windowing system
    Now, I get it, KDE is not a monolithic piece of software which can have just one version, but then again, why not? Shouldn’t there be an elementary set of applications that makes up the base of KDE (such as a terminal application, file browser or editor), which comes with a clear label/version so everyone knows what we are talking about here?

    2) The “Virtual Desktop” or “Pager” applets took a serious hit in this version. I like to have 8 virtual desktops, which used to be super easy to setup (until Fedora 29 at least), but got so much more complicated in the version I am currently using. There are also some very annoying bugs. Most prominently: I have the “Pager” applet configured such that it “Shows the desktop” and empty Desktops display a number (both things are easily configured in the applet configuration). This works nicely until I plug-in or remove my external display after which the Pager applet doesn’t show the desktop anymore. Unplugging or plugging-in the display doesn’t change anything anymore ones it’s messed up. I mean, I get that bugs happen, but then again, these are really basic things that I would guess should be caught in CI tests or by the developers that hopefully use their own software – at least in my own codes I would always make sure I don’t screw up things that badly.

    I haven’t reported these bugs to KDE since my experience with KDE bugs is horrendous – some of them have been there for half a decade without any change.

    Any good advice on how to address these issues?

    Like

    1. First, upgrade to Fedora 32. 🙂 It’s always good to be using the latest versions of everything. A couple of pager bugs got fixed recently; yours might be among them.

      In general I would recommend filing bugs. We do actually look at all of them, even if we don’t have the resources to fix all of them, so bug reporting remains the best way to let the developers know that you’re having a problem.

      Like

      1. Well, the curious (and in my opinion nice) thing about Fedora KDE is that they have a somewhat unusual update policy which means that they also provide KDE feature updates, not only bug fixes, throughout the the lifecycle of a Fedora release. So, as said, I am currently on Fedora 31 with KDE Frameworks 5.68.0 which was released on 15 March 2020. Fedora 32 would ship the same KDE version. (The real reason why I hold of with upgrading Fedora though is due to missing ZFS support for the 5.6er kernel.)

        I searched for those pager bugs and indeed found that this has been reported (https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=414849) and fixed in git back in December 2019, but didn’t make it to the next released version which is currently available in Fedora 31 (Plasma 5.17.5, released 7 January 2020) – for whatever reason.

        Btw, looking at the bug fix, this nicely demonstrates the screw-ups that unfortunately happen in KDE more often than not! The developers even discussed this when the original change was made (https://phabricator.kde.org/D24238). I believe I have encountered issues like this with every upgrade of KDE, some more annoying than others. 😦

        Like

    2. About 1), check out System Information in System Settings, or from konsole/krunner type this to invoke it directly:

      kcmshell5 about-distro

      That will tell you your Plasma, Frameworks and Qt versions, among other useful info to include in bug/wishes reports.

      BTW: there is no KDE version because KDE is not software, it’s a community 🙂

      Like

      1. Thanks Ricardo. I actually didn’t know this utility – his seems helpful. In the meantime I found screenfetch [1] which yields those numbers as well.

        Oh, and yes, I know there is no KDE version anymore (there was though when I started out using KDE in 2002). However, that is just one more of those annoying things with KDE: No average user is able to understands or follow those naming and versioning schemes. KDE would really benefit from branding adviser/consultant – the current naming/branding/versioning schemes are just way too messy even for a tech-savvy person like me – how would you ever get an average MS Windows user to find their way around and switch to KDE?

        [1] https://github.com/KittyKatt/screenFetch

        Like

  10. I upgraded to Plasma 5.19.80 (on KDE Neon) and cannot find either Fonts or Fonts Management pages in System Settings.

    Any idea what has changed and how I can get them back? The current fonts on the screen are way too tiny.

    Cheers.

    Like

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