This week in KDE: Usability bonanza

This week we focused a lot on the little usability details that make software a joy to use! A lot of really exciting longer-term work is underway too, some of which you can read about on Vlad Zahorodnii’s blog. But that stuff is still in progress, so until it’s merged, check out this stuff:

New Features

Elisa now lets you repeat the current track over and over and over again if you want (Carson Black, Elisa 21.04):

Plasma’s Timers widget now has a page listing all the predefined timers, which allows you to modify them and add your own (Łukasz Korbel, Plasma 5.21):

You can now set a fixed icon size for the items in the Open/Save dialogs’ Places panel sidebar (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.78):

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

When using Elisa’s Files view, pressing the Play or Enqueue buttons on grid items now works (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.12.1)

Elisa no longer spikes Plasma’s CPU usage at all while playing music (Matthieu Gallien, Elisa 20.12.1)

Spectacle is no longer sometimes slow and laggy when taking more than one screenshot in quick succession (David Redondo, Spectacle 20.12.1)

Meetings/screencasts using WebRTC now work in the Plasma Wayland session! (Jan Grulich, Plasma 5.20.5)

The lock and login screen virtual keyboard no longer covers up the password field when it appears (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.20.5)

When viewing the details of an app in Discover, a funny little tooltip for the app’s license no longer always appears; now it’s only visible when you hover over the link to the full text of its license, as expected (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.20.5)

The Comics applet now displays icons in the tab bar’s tabs, like it was always supposed to (Arnav Rawat, Plasma 5.20.5):

The Bluetooth applet’s placeholder message now displays the correct text when Bluetooth is disabled (Nicolas Fella, Plasma 5.21)

When you change your user avatar in the System Settings Users page, the image displayed in the list of users now also changes immediately (Yunhe Guo, Plasma 5.21)

Back and forward navigation buttons in Kirigami-based software no longer sometimes overlap the name of the current page (Devin Lin, Frameworks 5.78)

Install and Remove buttons in Discover no longer look slightly bizarre and have an invisible icon; now they use the standard style and re-color the icon (Marco Martin, Frameworks 5.78):

KDE app window sizes and positions are once again remembered correctly in KDE software run on Windows (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.78)

KDE app windows no longer sometimes open in a maximized state when they were not maximized at the moment they were last closed (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.78)

User Interface Improvements

Elisa’s configuration window has been given a UI overhaul and modernization (me: Nate Graham, Elisa 21.04):

Elisa’s number of remaining tracks indicator now lives in the Playlist’s footer alongside the total number of tracks indicator, where it can never accidentally overlap with any other text (me: Nate Graham, Elisa 21.04):

The Bluetooth applet and System Settings page now only display paired devices; available devices are shown in a separate list only visible when adding new devices (Nicolas Fella, 5.20.5)

There are now default shortcuts set for moving the active window to another virtual desktop (Meta+Ctrl+Shift+arrow keys) and to another screen (Meta+Shift+arrow keys) (Thiago Sueto, Plasma 5.21)

When receiving files via Bluetooth, the notification displayed on screen now has information about how many files are remaining, and shows an “Open in File Manager” button when completed (Nicolas Fella, Plasma 5.21)

Improved the appearance of user avatars in the user avatar chooser view (Carson Black, Plasma 5.21):

After the first time you manually mount a removable disk, it will by default be automounted automatically the on all subsequent times when you attach it (Claudius Ellsel, Plasma 5.21)

The default actions of “Mount” and “Unlock Vault” in Plasma’s Disks & Devices and Plasma Vaults applets (respectively) have been changed to “Mount and Open” and “Unlock and Open” to save you an extra step of having to manually open your file manager and navigate to the newly-available locations. For people who don’t want this, the old “Mount without opening in file manager” and “Unlock Vault without showing in file manager” actions are still present, but in the expanded view rather than used as default actions (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21):

Discover’s task progress sheet now displays the current download speed as well as an estimated time of completion (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.21):

The detailed icon size popup in System Settings’ Icons page no longer confusingly offers to let you configure the size of “Desktop” icons, because it didn’t actually change the size of files and folders on the desktop (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.21)

How You Can Help

Have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover ways to 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.

48 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Usability bonanza

  1. Here is a usability suggestion. Please add a way to have sound when i insert a USB device( because we are talking about KDE, maybe different sounds for different USB type category).. also, to bridge the gap between Linux and windows users, KDE should work on a “kdevice managePower users don’t need it, but Windows defectors will.

    Like

  2. Cool “Elisa now lets you repeat the current track over and over and over again if you want”
    But in order to keep KDE from liability I propose to this feature should not work if the song playing is “Last Christmas” 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. > Plasma’s Timers widget now has a page listing all the predefined timers, which allows you to modify them and add your own

    That’s cool! However, the font size of the times is HUGE and there’s a lot of empty space to the right: Is it meant for titles, annotations?

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  4. > Meetings/screencasts using WebRTC now work in the Plasma Wayland session! (Jan Grulich, Plasma 5.20.5)

    That’s awesome! Definitely another +1 for Wayland, which makes it more usable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. > After the first time you manually mount a removable disk, it will by default be automounted automatically the on all subsequent times when you attach it

    Not quiet sure if I’m a friend of it. Is this configurable?

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  6. Meetings/screencasts using WebRTC now work in the Plasma Wayland session! (Jan Grulich, Plasma 5.20.5)

    YEEEEEEEEEEES. Thank you very much Jan :).

    Another week, another great post from Nate, delivering us happiness and new goodies for our beloved KDE Software.

    Hoping to see the KWin work being made by KDE, (apparently the initiative been started by Vlad), as soon as possible, maybe for KWin/Plasma 5.21? Man, that would be awesome, even more amazing news for that really really promising new Plasma version, which really looks awesome already.

    As always, very grateful to everyone, who’s making all this amazing software possible, improving it, adding new features, polishing it and Nate, our dear Nate, apart from doing that great work, you also allow us to see what’s been done (finished at least) every week since a lot, the evolve of KDE Software has been amazing and I’m really excited to see what’s going to follow, because I remember to read that Plasma 5.18 LTS is the last LTS for the Plasma 5 series, so I suppose that in 2 years (since the release of Plasma 5.18 LTS, of course), Plasma 6 should be ready to be launched. Always happy to see how KDE Software improves, every week, how Wayland becomes more and more usable and feature parity with Xorg, so the ones we have been using it for quite a time already, can enjoy it even more than ever.

    A huge, sincere, warm & virtual hug to everyone, hoping you’re fine, healthy, happy and all your beloved ones too ^^.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for the kind words around this holiday season. 2020 has been a challenging year, but it’s always nice to read your expressions of enthusiasm and warmth. 🙂

      Like

  7. More drakes icons would be appreciated.

    Questions:

    1) Could the media player in notification area run videos too?

    2) Could discover show the speed of downloading and installation separately?

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      1. “sure” is better than maybe as answer assuming “sure” = truth. Now imagine the user that looks at the downloading bar observing the speed in MB/s until it indicates the download is complete until the bar is completely blue from no color, or dark color. Then after the other bar starts to indicates the progression of the installation of the packages in the mass memory measuring in MB/S, until it becomes completely red, yellow or any other color. 😯 It is amazing. 😁

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  8. Hi Nate,
    hi developers,

    thanks for your great contribution to KDE.

    As for usability, why not add some new features in KDE Plasma 5’s clipboard manager such as a “Persistent History” for frequently used clips and a “Show in reverse order” like in Parcellite svn?
    To understand what I mean take a look here: https://linuxreviews.org/Parcellite

    Thanks again and have a nice day.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Are you going to sum up the road map 2020 at the end of the year? I’m excited to see how much of the planned things have worked out and which haven’t! Then again, is there already road map for 2021? 🙂

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  10. > After the first time you manually mount a removable disk, it will by default be automounted automatically the on all subsequent times when you attach it (Claudius Ellsel, Plasma 5.21)

    I don’t think this is a good default. Years ago the Gnome 2.x thumbnailer had a bug where an image file could be modified in a way that merely attaching a USB drive could be used to take over a locked session (drive was automounted and the thumbnailer ran automatically). KDE was safe back then because it did not do this. Had there been a similar bug in KDE, the impact would have been a bit less severe because it would only occur when there is user interaction but not when the user is away (imagine an office environment where plugging in a flash drive would unlock the session).

    What’s the benefit anyway? Is waiting a second after clicking on the drive icon such a big deal? Mount on click even works in file picker windows.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The benefit is that for the normal, non-computer-type clients and friends that I put Kubuntu on their computers, this action makes perfect sense for them. Asking them to do something that they think the computer should do for them automatically makes the computer less friendly.

      The issue you’re using as a reason for this not being the default needs to be addressed specifically.

      Like

      1. Not a single word makes any sense. Mounting happens semi-automatically by clicking on the drive, the very same task one would do to open a window. The sole difference from a user’s point of view is a second delay which is a completely irrelevant trade-off for added security.

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          1. I don’t have a Plasma install in front of me but if there’s an opt in way to Auto mount specific known drives, it would be fine. A passive notification bar in dolphin pointing users to Auto mount options could be an approach as well.

            PS: are thumbnailer running in a sandbox these days, btw?

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        1. As I have written below, you seem to miss some further points and I don’t agree that none of Michael’s words made any sense.

          I am even more concerned that Nate agreed to such statements (at least “Yes you’re right” implies that).

          Also note that I think I’d been fine if it were only “a second delay”. But afaict that statement of you is not true.

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          1. Maybe it’s two seconds. I’ve never set a stopwatch. It has always been close to instand whenever I’ve clicked to mount.

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          2. I was not talking about the time, but about the other problems that are mentioned for example in the discussion of the corresponding bug report.

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    2. Please have a look at the discussion in the linked bug report.

      Afaict bookmarks on such drives won’t work before mounting it for example.

      Also there was the problem of not easily being able to select such drive in file picker windows in Firefox (which rely on GTK for the distro I used).

      Please also note that it would only mount drives that had been mounted before.

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      1. Afaict bookmarks on such drives won’t work before mounting it for example.

        Confirmed, but we should fix this rather than working around it. Seems doable.

        Also there was the problem of not easily being able to select such drive in file picker windows in Firefox (which rely on GTK for the distro I used).

        Just tested this and it works fine: you click on the unmounted device in the GTK file picker and it automatically mounts it, same as in the KDE file picker.

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        1. > Also there was the problem of not easily being able to select such drive in file picker windows in Firefox (which rely on GTK for the distro I used).

          Problem is that it is not just one click but due to how the GTK file pickers work you have to go to “more places” or something like that, then select the disk to mount it and then go to the folder you wanted to go. With automount it would just display the last opened folder on that drive afaik.

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          1. I am not denying that, just wanted to say that it was not like that for me. Maybe due to specific differences or simply because I used a different distribution.

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        1. It always was opt-in, I just changed the default (to be on) as I thought it was the “better” default. I also wrote there that if there are security concerns, I am open to discuss them, but none have been brought up there. So thanks for bringing up that example of GNOME. I still think that this is not really the problem of automount in general and would argue to fix such bugs instead of disabling automount altogether by default.

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        1. Google did not really give relevant results for that. If it is something that needs to be activated at compile time: Manjaro does not do that, although I have seen openSUSE which does it.

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  11. What about automount a fixed drive at startup? That feature it’s a must for many users😁(should be enable by right click on the drive, not only in system settings).

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    1. Who are those lots? Why does anybody even care.

      Obviously it’s Plasma and the tray is just a widget like everything else. Just install a list tray widget. Surely those exist for a massively popular feature…

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  12. Another thing it should be “Fixed”: Shortcuts on the panel can be moved freely when panel it’s not in edit mode. This can lead to moving them by accident when trying to launch them by someone not very good with using the mouse or touchpad. The panel has a “Edit Panel ” button. That should prevent this for happening. ( for example, after my non-tech wife it’s using my laptop, sometimes the application launcher icon it’s in the wrong place.Please fix this “problem/feature”

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  13. Hello,

    as always, there’s great news in the kde world :).

    Nate, there is one thing i’m always trying to do with Elisa that i simply can’t get working (and when i do it’s very a very harsh experience).
    When i get home/work and have a kdeconnect connection established betweeen my phone and my main computer, i would like to simply open Elisa and be able to play the songs i have on my phone, without having to actually transfer them off to the computer (an action that, in some workplaces, can even bring legal problems).

    Is there anything like this planed? or am i doing something wrong?

    the only way i have to get this songs to play is to get to the Elisa config pages and add the phone’s remote folder to the index however, since the address/ID used by kdeconnect seems to change on every connection, i have to manually add the folder every day (and it takes ages to index the few songs i have – not to mentions it actually occasionally pauses in the middle of the songs)

    thanks

    Like

  14. Great stuff as always!
    One more usability proposal: pls make “line edit” view of Dolphin’s navbar placed on the toolbar to have the same length as it occupies in navigation mode. Now when I click it, it shrinks dramatically and that looks weird.

    Like

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