This week in KDE: custom tiling

KWin got a very cool new feature this week: a built-in advanced tiling system that you can use to set up custom tile layouts and resize multiple adjacent windows at a time by dragging on the gaps between them!

This feature is still in its infancy and not designed to completely replicate the workflow of a tiling window manager. But we expect it to grow and advance over time, and also the new APIs added for it should benefit 3rd-party tiling scripts that do want to let you turn KWin into a tiling window manager. Thanks very much to Marco Martin for contributing this work, which will be released in Plasma 5.27!

But there’s much, much more as well!

Other New Features

You can now browse Apple iOS devices using its native afc:// protocol in Dolphin, file dialogs, and other file management tools (Kai Uwe Broulik, kio-extras 23.04. Link):

Konsole has now adopted KHamburgerMenu (Me: Nate Graham, Felix Ernst, and Andrey Butirsky, Konsole 23.04. Link):

As always, if you hate hamburger menus, you’re welcome to use the traditional in-window menubar, which is still there if you show the menubar using Ctrl+Shift+M, and won’t be going anywhere

By default, Konsole’s tab bar is now located toward the top of the window like in most other apps, rather than at the bottom (me: Nate Graham, Konsole 23.04. Link)

You can now drag an image onto the Color Picker widget to make it calculate the average color for that image and store it in its list of stored colors (Fushan Wen, Plasma 5.27. Link):

When a KRunner search matches nothing, you’ll now be given the opportunity to do a web search for the search term (Alexander Lohnau, Plasma 5.27. Link)

Gained support for the Global Shortcuts portal, which allows apps on Wayland to offer a standardized user interface for setting and editing global shortcuts (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.27. Link)

User Interface Improvements

When you delete the current folder in Dolphin, it now automatically navigates back to the parent folder (Vova Kulik and Méven Car, Dolphin 23.04. Link)

When you launch Discover from the “Uninstall or Manage Add-Ons…” menu item in Kickoff for an installed app, and that app is available in Discover from multiple backends, Discover now always opens showing you the app from the backend it’s actually installed from, so you can immediately click a “Remove” button if your goal in opening Discover was to uninstall the app (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.26.4. Link)

Speaking of the context menu that contains that action, the first time you right-click on an app in Kickoff to show it, the menu now appears immediately instead of being delayed by a few seconds (David Redondo, Plasma 5.27. Link)

KWin’s “Cascaded” window placement mode has been removed, because now every other window placement mode where it makes sense includes cascading behavior itself! (Natalie Clarius, Plasma 5.27. Link):

The screen chooser dialog you’ll see for Wayland apps requesting screen sharing permission now includes preview thumbnails for each screen or window that you can share (Aleix Pol Gonzalez, Plasma 5.27. Link):

Plasma panels now automatically become thicker as needed when you switch to a Plasma theme whose graphics don’t work in thin panels (Niccolò Venerandi, Plasma 5.27. Link)

Plasma no longer somewhat strangely remembers different thicknesses for each panel in horizontal vs vertical setups; now each panel has one thickness and it keeps that thickness when you change from horizontal to vertical and vice versa (Fushan Wen, Plasma 5.27. Link)

When you manually add your home timezone to the Digital Clock’s timezones list so that you can change it to something else when traveling and have your home timezone appear automatically, it now disappears automatically when you’re in your home timezone when displaying it would be redundant (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.27, Link):

The Battery & Brightness widget now considers a battery that’s been charged to its configured charge limit to be fully charged (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.27. Link)

The questionably useful “Search For” section in the Places panel has been removed by default to avoid presenting so much visual clutter by default. The functionality is still available and you can re-add these items if you like and use them, of course (me: Nate Graham, Frameworks 5.101. Link):

The way the Places Panel looks by default now, with greater relevance

Significant Bugfixes

(This is a curated list of e.g. HI and VHI priority bugs, Wayland showstoppers, major regressions, etc.)

Plasma is no longer capable of crashing in a loop on launch when any of the Qt image reader plugins that are installed on your system but aren’t in use to display the wallpaper are buggy and crash-prone (Fushan Wen, Plasma 5.26.4. Link)

Scrolling on the language list sheet on System Settings Region and Language page is no longer almost unusably choppy (me: Nate Graham, Plasma 5.26.5. Link)

When your 3rd-party lock screen theme is broken but the kscreenlocker_greet background process has not crashed, you’ll once again see the fallback lock screen rather than the dreaded “your screen locker is broken” screen (David Redondo, Plasma 5.27. Link)

The Weather widget no longer escapes from its space in the System Tray and overlaps other icons at various icon and panel sizes (Ismael Asensio, Plasma 5.27. Link)

When Night color is active and the system or KWin is restarted, it now turns on again as expected (Vlad Zahorodnii, Plasma 5.27. Link)

Notifications can now be read using a screen reader (Fushan Wen, Plasma 5.27. Link)

Did a bunch of performance work to speed up the process of drawing UI elements in Plasma and QtQuick-based apps, which should result in faster speed and lower power usage (Arjen Hiemstra, Frameworks 5.101. Link 1 and link 2)

In the Plasma Wayland session, when you drag a window containing QtQuick-based user interface elements to another screen that’s using a different scale factor, the window instantly adjusts itself to display properly according to that screen’s scale factor, with no blurriness or pixelation. It even works when a window is partially on one screen and partially on another! (David Edmundson, Frameworks 5.101. Link 1 and link 2)

Other bug-related information of interest:

Automation & Systematization

Until this point, Plasma Mobile-focused apps have been released using a release schedule called “Plasma Mobile Gear.” Going forward, these apps will be moving to the normal “KDE Gear” release schedule, with “Plasma Mobile Gear” being discontinued to simplify and unify packaging (Link)

Added an autotest for local file size calculation in Filelight (Harald Sitter, Link)

Set an appropriate image for the Automation goal group, which was clearly the most important thing to do (Justin Zobel and me: Nate Graham)

Changes not in KDE that affect KDE

A new Wayland protocol for fractional scaling was merged, which opens the door for Qt and KWin to support it and then we get better fractional scaling visuals and performance for Qt and KDE apps! This work on the Qt and KDE sides is in progress, but not merged yet. Once it is, I’ll be sure to announce it! (Kenny Levinsen, wayland-protocols 1.31. Link).

…And everything else

This blog only covers the tip of the iceberg! If you’re hungry for more, check out https://planet.kde.org, where you can find more news from other KDE contributors.

How You Can Help

KDE’s end-of-year fundraiser is in full swing, so please consider making a donation!

Otherwise if you’re a developer, check out our 15-Minute Bug Initiative. Working on these issues makes a big difference quickly! And you can have a look at https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved to discover lots of 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!

40 thoughts on “This week in KDE: custom tiling

  1. Incredible! So many features I was affected!

    > and resize multiple adjacent windows at a time by dragging on the gaps between them!

    Unbelievable! That appeared in Win8, and I wanted it on Linux, and now it is here!

    > The screen chooser dialog you’ll see for Flatpak and Snap apps using the XDG portal system now includes preview thumbnails for each screen or window that you can share

    Thanks Aleix! Is that also planned for usual (non flatpak) apps?

    > In the Plasma Wayland session, when you drag a window containing QtQuick-based user interface elements to another screen that’s using a different scale factor, the window instantly adjusts itself to display properly according to that screen’s scale factor, with no blurriness or pixelation. It even works when a window is partially on one screen and partially on another! (David Edmundson, Frameworks 5.101.)

    Oh yeah! Thanks David! Good to know that is fixed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. > Thanks Aleix! Is that also planned for usual (non flatpak) apps?

      It is applicable for any apps which use the Portal system for screensharing. This may be Flatpak or non-Flatpak. For example it’s the only way possible on Wayland.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great work! Thank you. I have question, why does the screen sharing dialogue needs to have the word “Portal” in its top? I have noticed this already appearing in the open/save dialogues. For me it appears not to be a useful information for the normal user, rather confusing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. About visual clutter in the places panel, the lines beneath HOME and OS that show used/available space look terrible and using that colorscheme in the example makes it even worse. If anything, they look like weird misplaced separators. Highly questionable that’s the place users look for when checking for storage space when it’s also visible in the down right corner of every Dolphin window.

    Like

    1. Oh, and also, is it maybe time to use other icons for HOME and OS too? I mean those old spinner HDD device icons there are not exactly 2022/2023-worthy.

      Like

    2. Aaaand more, sorry for megareposting, the DOCUMENTS icon should be one document, not two overlapping ones. For visual clarity one document would be good. What is the DOWNLOADS icon even.. An arrow with bits of it missing pointing at a thin line. Yeah, that’s no good. One clear downwards pointing arrow without missing bits and pieces is perfect. These are small icons and messing with them adding more details makes them very busy looking and really stand out among the other ones that are straight to the point.

      Like

    3. > Highly questionable that’s the place users look for when checking for storage space
      Hey, I find it very useful there! Please don’t remove it!

      Like

    4. @KayDeeMee those Downloads, and HDD/SDD icons are quite nice. Are they part of a download-able theme? If so, what one please? Thanks.

      Like

    5. @pm
      No, I just quickly scrambled them together in Photoshop to prove my point. Took a minute or two. I hereby give anyone all permissions to use/modify them freely, forever.

      Like

    6. Those look like good improvements! I think I’ll try my hand at making those changes and proposing them officially.

      Like

    7. Thanks. It’d be quite cool if the icon correctly reflected the type of drive, i.e. whether HDD or SSD. It is a bit irksome when the icon shows the wrong type as my PC has a mix currently.

      Like

    8. I’ll second Max’s comment.
      I don’t use Dolphin so that’s lost information if you remove it from every application.

      Also, I prefer the hard drive icons, I’m not even sure what your proposed icons are supposed to be (SSDs? SD cards? SIM cards? PDAs?). Modern or not, their not as clear IMHO.

      The Documents icon is debatable (it’s Document”S” after all) but since Pictures and Videos have a single pic too, for consistency I actually prefer your version.

      I don’t have any problems with the rest of your suggestions, their vaild IMHO, but please try to be more polite in your comments, you sometimes sound like your bashing the current designers/developers and I think that’s unfair.

      Cheers and thanks for contributing!

      Like

  4. waiting for mouse gestures working on wayland. probably last thing that stops me from using it daily. (actually it’s customizable mouse gestures that keep me using kde 🙂 )

    Like

  5. > As always, if you hate hamburger menus, you’re welcome to use the traditional in-window menubar, which is still there if you show the menubar using Ctrl+M, and won’t be going anywhere

    This is why I love KDE. I already have Global Menu setup — KHumbergerMenu is nice on Dolphin, but it’s unnecessary for me on Konsole. At the same time, it’s probably great for devices such as Steam Deck. Both scenarios can have what they want, just adjust it, everyone can have what’s best for them and no one has to be shafted.

    Love KDE, thank you guys for not breaking usecase that’s supported in exchange for supporting new things.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. “You can now browse Apple iOS devices using its native afc:// protocol in Dolphin, file dialogs, and other file management tools ”

    Thank you for this feature.

    It would be great if there was a way to read the associated tags of files edited with the Mac. They are found in a different place in Xattr than in KDE (as far as I know).

    Like

  7. OMG this is amazing, more advanced tiling was literally the only feature that kept me hopping between i3/sway and Plasma. I hope the advanced tiling mechanism allows us to auto-place windows like in i3 and move/resize them via the the keyboard? Additionally, will we be able to focus adjacent windows with the keyboard, e.g. with Super+{h,j,k,l}?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s no auto-placement right now, though that can be added with KWin scripts, and *may* get added to KWin as an option later (no guarantees though).

      You can alrady move keyboard focus between windows using the “Switch to Window” shortcuts visible on System Settings’ Shortcuts page. By default they’re bound to Meta+Alt+Arrows keys, but you can easily re-bind them to whatever you want.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. “When a KRunner search matches nothing, you’ll now be given the opportunity to do a web search for the search term”.

    I don’t understand the point of such feature and without concrete examples I take this change as useless and invasive. It is not the role of the DE to deal with web requests.

    Like

    1. Agreed. That’s the sort of thing I disable, because I know perfectly well that my own files are local… If I’d wanted to search the web, I’d have used a browser and would not have been searching locally to start with.

      Unless I’m missing something here?

      Like

  9. Nice week! I would like to see the new Overview animations getting fixed, along with smooth/customizable mouse gestures. On a 144Hz screen they really feel so choppy and truly a regression from the previous animation. It makes such a great environment unpleasant to use, especially since it used to function right. Is anyone recognizing this issue at KDE rn?

    Like

  10. Hey Nate, I feel bad that you only really hear from me on bugzilla, so wanted to say I appreciate and look forward to the weekly updates. And this week has some serious updates; that tiling will be legit on my ultra-widescreen. Thanks very much to you and the team for the hard work & great job!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Another ancient bug from 2003 fixed! This need to be said more 🙂

    “KWin’s “Cascaded” window placement mode has been removed, because now every other window placement mode where it makes sense includes cascading behavior itself!”

    This is something that I’ve long wanted and even once reported.

    Like

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