This week in KDE: Overflowing with UI and accessibility improvements

This week we have the usual assortments of bugfixes and little new features here and there that you’ve come to expect, but the real focus was on user interface and accessibility improvements–and there is a truly massive amount of them! You would be forgiven for skipping straight to the “UI Improvements” section. 🙂

New Features

When renaming files in Dolphin, you can now quickly start renaming the next or previous file as well by hitting the Tab/Shift+Tab key, or even the up or down arrow keys while in Details view (Michal Sciubidlo and Méven Car, Dolphin 21.08)

The System Settings File Search page now lets you check on the status of indexing and temporarily pause or resume it, or monitor its current status. And if you disable indexing, it now offers you the opportunity to delete the index database on disk (me: Nate Graham and David Edmundson, Plasma 5.22):

The Plasma Browser Integration feature now notifies you when a download hasn’t started yet because the browser is waiting for you to click the “Yes I accept the risk of downloaded files blah blah blah” button (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.22):

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

Changing the icon size of Dolphin’s Places panel sidebar and then reverting the change now results in the list items having the correct spacing again (Harald Sitter, Dolphin 21.04.1)

In the Plasma Wayland session, Plasma no longer crashes when dragging a file over the panel (Alois Wohlschlager, Plasma 5.21.5)

You know that annoying bug with the volume percentage being sometimes adjusted by too much or too little that we thought we had fixed? It was not in fact actually fixed, but now we re-did it to be actually fixed this time, honest! (Chris Holland–so you know it was done right, Plasma 5.21.5)

You know that other annoying and recurring bug where the applet configuration menu in panel edit mode with a top or left panel sometimes disappears right when you move the mouse over it? That’s finally fixed for real too! (Niccolò Venerandi, Plasma 5.21.5)

The Cover Switch and Flip Switch task switchers now work properly again (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.21.5)

The new Plasma System Monitor app no longer sometimes loses the names of processes after modifying columns (David Redondo, Plasma 5.21.5)

Comboboxes in GTK apps now use the correct dropdown arrow icon (Jan Blackquill, Plasma 5.21.5)

The System Tray’s blue indicator line now appears in the right place after performing an action that causes the current’s visible applet to become hidden (Konrad Materka, Plasma 5.22)

Discover’s “get addons” feature for Flatpak apps no longer shows an empty dialog before taking you to the real content (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.22)

KRunner-powered calculations now perform exponentiation operations for numbers with real superscripted exponents; i.e. entering “8²” will produce the correct result of “64” (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.22)

Excluding certain folders from the file indexer now works properly when for some reason the $HOME environment variable ends with a slash (Oded Arbel, Frameworks 5.82)

Fixed one way that the file indexer could crash when trying to index a moved or renamed folder (Oded Arbel, Frameworks 5.82)

Clicking on the darkened area behind a pop-up sheet in Kirigami-using KDE software once again closes the sheet (David Edmundson, Frameworks 5.82)

Checkboxes in QtQuick-based desktop apps now elide long text and show underlines for alt-accelerators (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.82)

User Interface Improvements

In Elisa’s Now Playing page, the status bar on the bottom now correctly shows the “Show In Folder” action when there’s space, sticks it in an overflow menu when there’s not, and elides the file path from the left side when space gets really limited (Tranter Madi, Elisa 21.04.1):

Okular now lets you disable seeing those big notification messages about embedded files, forms, and signatures (Okular 21.08)

The System Settings Shortcuts page is now accessible and keyboard-navigable (Carl Schwan, Plasma 5.22)

The “Most Used” category icons in the System Settings Quick Settings page are now accessible and keyboard-navigable (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.22)

The Plasma Calendar applet and the popup for the Digital Clock applet which includes it have been completely re-done to look vastly more modern and consistent (Carl Schwan, Plasma 5.22 and Frameworks 5.82):

Next we’re going to replace those little spiky triangles with dots

Task Manager window thumbnails now display a nice little drop shadow behind themselves (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.22):

Re-did the legends for system monitor graphs, which particularly improves the presentation for CPU graphs when there are a lot of cores (Arjen Hiemstra, Plasma 5.22):

System Settings’ Virtual Desktops and Desktop Effects pages now support the “Highlight changed settings” feature (Benjamin Port, Plasma 5.22)

Klipper’s history pop-up (shown with Meta+V by default as of Plasma 5.22) now uses more user-friendly text (Felipe Kinoshita, Plasma 5.22)

Your Plasma Panels no longer totally disappear while the Present Windows effect is active, and app icons are now larger and appear in the center of the window (Felipe Kinoshita, Plasma 5.22):

The Show Desktop effect now just hides all your windows while it’s in use, rather than keeping little half-visible phantoms of them visible in the corners (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.22):

When you trash a screenshot from the notification in the history view (not a pop-up on screen, but from its entry inside the System Tray applet) it now disappears afterwards (Kai Uwe Broulik, Plasma 5.22)

The new Plasma System Monitor app now defaults to sorting “Applications” views by memory usage, rather than by name (Felipe Kinoshita, Plasma 5.22)

The new Plasma System Monitor app now has a “Report Bug…” item in its hamburger menu (Marco Martin, Plasma 5.22):

The Battery applet no longer shows a silly little empty overlay when using the “Show Percentage” option but with no batteries. This could happen I suppose if you have one of those rare laptops that still has hot-swappable batteries (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.22)

The Battery applet now opens the Energy Saving page in System Settings, not in a funny little standalone window (Eugene Popov, Plasma 5.22)

Grid items in System Settings pages are now fully accessible and keyboard-navigable (Jan Blackquill, Frameworks 5.82)

Grid items in System Settings pages now display their inline actions for the currently-selected item as well as the hovered one, improving usability on touch and discoverability for everyone (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.82):

When the file dialog ever has to display a progress bar while it’s loading the view, the progress bar is now aligned properly (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.82)

The “Open or execute” dialog is now modal, so it’s no longer possible to accidentally show it multiple times and launch multiple instances of an application (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.82)

Icons on your Plasma panel now resize more gradually when changing the panel thickness (Niccolò Venerandi, Frameworks 5.82)

Web Presence

Did you ever want to know exactly how Plasma Panels work? Niccolò Venerandi would love to show you in exhaustive detail:

One more thing

Technically this is not in KDE, but it’s relevant to us nonetheless: the SDDM login manager can now run the greeter without needing root privileges! The work was done by Pier Luigi Fiorini and will land in SDDM 0.20.

…And everything else

Keep in mind that this blog only covers the tip of the iceberg! Tons of KDE apps whose development I don’t have time to follow aren’t represented here, and I also don’t mention backend refactoring, improved test coverage, and other changes that are generally not user-facing. If you’re hungry for more, check out https://planet.kde.org/, where you can find blog posts by other KDE contributors detailing the work they’re doing.

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.

38 thoughts on “This week in KDE: Overflowing with UI and accessibility improvements

  1. I would like to report a wish, but I am not sure against which component. The wish would be to sync the places in the KDE file dialogue with those in GTK-file dialogue (e.g. in Thunderbird but also other apps with no KDE integration). Can you tell me to which component this needs to be reported?

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        1. I do not know, because I do not use these applications. But why just not to try? =)
          Personally, I am trying to avoid gtk applications when possible. But sometimes kde applications are working not so good as their gnome competitors and sometimes I could not find a kde application for some tasks.
          For example kmail for some reason works way too slower at getting list of messages than thunderbird, at least currently. Probably, it requires some reconfiguration or reprogramming. So I used thunderbird for some time. But ideally, I want to fix kmail and switch to it, because it has some nice integration features with kde, such as notifications from specific folders only and so on.

          Like

  2. The link “the progress bar is now aligned properly” points to the wrong link.
    Now I will never know how that was fixed…

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    1. Darn, I didn’t notice that because my window thumbnails are currently broken on Wayland. :/

      If it’s a small and obvious fix, maybe you can submit a merge request?

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  3. Great job overall!! Especially SDDM without root! Woah! We’ve been waiting at least for 7 years for this. 🙂

    > Your Plasma Panels no longer totally disappear while the Present Windows effect is active, and app icons are now larger and appear in the center of the window

    That’s great, all what’s left needed is a to have less dimming for the non-selected and an outer glow for selected one, to be able to see the content on a non-bright monitor in sunlight. 🙂

    Like

        1. I can’t understand some of the comments on the PR and the bug report. This is/was one of the biggest annoyances in Plasma for me. Even removing the darkening effect would have been much much better than keeping it. That’s one of the very few cases that a “feature removal” would actually be a real improvement 😉

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  4. One small issue:
    “When the file dialog ever has to display a progress bar while it’s loading the view, the progress bar is now aligned properly (Ahmad Samir, Frameworks 5.82)”

    the link seems to be wrong and doesn’t point to the bug/MR

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  5. I don’t know if it’s fixed in Plasma 5.22 but my biggest peeve right now is when trying to send a window from Desktop 1 to Desktop 2 in Wayland session. The Alt+F3 menu gives the option to show on a particular desktop but not move it, and when pressing down key to select the desktop to show on it goes straight from 1 to 3, skipping 2. Using the task bar menu gives a direct “Move to desktop” menu but the context menu gets closed when the window thumbnails or a tooltip fade out.

    Related bug here: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=431147

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  6. Great work! Any plans to add Samba support to Elisa? I mean currently is not possible to add music folder that is located on smb network drive.

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  7. Nice!

    One odd thing about showing the panel on present windows is that you can’t interact with it–it just cancels the effect. (This isn’t helped by it’s not being dimmed.)

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  8. Just wanted to say another huge, HUGE thankyou, for the improvements you make, and for bringing the work of Plasma teams together into the wonderfully cohesive desktop environment we have today.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. “The System Settings File Search page now lets you check on the status of indexing and temporarily pause or resume it, or monitor its current status. And if you disable indexing, it now offers you the opportunity to delete the index database on disk”

    Where it should always be, now the “File Indexer Monitor” section in KInfoCenter is over.

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  10. > You know that other annoying and recurring bug where the applet configuration menu in panel edit mode with a top or left panel sometimes disappears right when you move the mouse over it? That’s finally fixed for real too! (Niccolò Venerandi, Plasma 5.21.5)

    Wow, I encountered this bug several times myself, it is indeed very annoying! I am glad it will be fixed soon. 😀
    The new calendar looks really nice too. I usually never comment, but I read your blog posts every week and always look forward to it, so for once I wanted to thank you. With every post there are improvements, new features and bugfixes. It is really nice to see how passionate you and all the other KDE people are about providing the best desktop environment and applications for Linux. You are truly a gift. ❤

    I love KDE and the Plasma desktop, so I want to thank you Nate Graham and everyone else who belongs to KDE for being so awesome! 😀

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! They’ve really brightened my morning. 🙂

      It’s easy to be passionate about something when it’s aligned with your values (freedom, empowerment) and you get good feedback about the results from people who benefit from it!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I think that’s great that the ability to pause indexing is right there in the File Search KCM, instead of having to open up another app and digging to find the control 🙂

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  12. Dear Nate,

    I rarely see updates about Konqueror. So thought of asking here. Is Konqueror kind of abandoned ? If so, that’d be unfortunate. OTOH, if not, it surely would need some of your attention.

    In my opinion, Konqueror still does a pretty decent job. With its Webkit kpart, it is as good as any other modern web browser

    Like

    1. I don’t follow Konqueror, which is why I don’t mention it on this blog (see the “…And everything else” disclaimer on the bottom of every post). My impression that Konqueror is on life support these days though, without much development work. The bug reports pile up and people don’t really fix them.

      Like

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