KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 77

We’re up to week 77 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative! This week’s report encompasses the latter half of the Usability & Productivity sprint. Quite a lot of great work got done, and two features I’m particularly excited about are in progress with patches submitted and under review: image annotation support in Spectacle, and customizable sort ordering for wallpaper slideshows. These are not done yet, but should be soon! Meanwhile, check out what’s already landed:

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Pretty freakin’ sweet, huh?! It was a great development sprint and I’m really happy with how it went. I’ll be writing another more in-depth article about it, so stay tuned.

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a tax-deductible donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

An easier way to test Plasma

Having the Plasma and Usability & Productivity sprints held at the same time and place had an unexpected benefit: we were able to come up with a way to make it easier to test a custom-compiled version of Plasma!

Previously, we had some documentation that asked people to create a shell script on their computers, copy files to various locations, and perform a few other steps. Unfortunately, many of the details were out of date, and the whole process was quite error-prone. It turned out that almost none of the Plasma developers at the sprint were actually using this method, and each had cobbled together something for themselves. Some (including myself) had given up on it and were doing Plasma development in a virtual machine.

So we put some time into easing this pain by making Plasma itself produce all the right pieces automatically when compiled from source. Then, we created a simple script to install everything properly.

So now all you have to do is compile Plasma and run this script once:

sudo ~/kde/build/plasma-workspace/login-sessions/install-sessions.sh

This will install all the necessary bits to make your compiled-from-source Plasma appear in the SDDM login screen’s session chooser. You even get both the X11 and Wayland versions!

Thereafter, you can just log out of your distro-provided Plasma session and log into your custom-compiled Plasma session whenever you want. It’s super easy:

There are a few quirks surrounding DBus and Polkit that you can read about on the wiki, but it totally works and now it’s super duper simple to test and use your custom-compiled Plasma without polluting your base system. I’ve been using the Plasma Wayland session from git master with no VM for my daily computing and development needs for the past three days and it feels *amazing* to be able to do this. Many thanks to veteran KDE developer Aleix Pol Gonzalez for this work.

So now you really have no excuse not to build plasma from source! 😉 Check out the developer documentation and give it a try!

KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 76

Week 76 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative is here! This week’s progress report includes the first several days of the Usability & Productivity sprint, and as such, it’s absolutely overflowing with cool stuff!

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 75

Week 75 in KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative is here! It’s a little lighter than usual because we’re all feverishly preparing for the dual Plasma and Usability & Productivity sprints next week in Valencia, Spain. I’ll be there, as well as the whole Plasma team, a bunch of VDG people, and a number of folks who have stepped up to work on apps for the U&P initiative. Sprints like these promise the kind of face-to-face contact needed for big projects, and should be a fantastically awesome and productive time! I’d like to offer a special thanks to Slimbook (makers of the KDE Slimbook II laptop) for hosting the sprint!

Anyway, here’s the week’s report:

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 74

Week 74 in Usability & Productivity initiative is here!

Now that Plasma 5.16 is frozen and almost out the door, we’ve started turning our attentions to Plasma 5.17. One of the big features I’m pushing on is a visual evolution of the Breeze theme. The first component just landed: KWin-generated window borders are now off by default for the Breeze theme! Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean you have to aim for a single pixel to to resize windows; there are virtual resize areas just the same size as the old window borders so the behavior is unchanged. It also has no effect on other themes, many of which have big, beautiful borders that stand out as part of the theme’s design. But Breeze is a minimalistic theme, and this is the first step towards modernizing the look and feel of KDE apps. We think you’re really going to love the final result!

In the meantime, take a look at all the other cool stuff that got done this week by KDE’s awesome contributors:

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.

KDE Usability and Productivity: Are we there yet?

KDE’s Usability & Productivity initiative is now almost two years old, and I’ve been blogging weekly progress for a year and a half. So I thought it would be a good time to take stock of the situation: how far we’ve come, and what’s left to do. Let’s dive right in! Here’s a short list of some of the achievements we’ve accomplished:

  • Full support for configuring mice and touchpads using the Libinput driver on both X11 and Wayland
  • A brand new notification system with hugely improved usability for common workflows
  • Better default text contrast and font rendering settings
  • Massive, far-reaching user interface and performance improvements for Discover
  • Huge user interface improvements to the open/save dialogs
  • Many performance and reliability improvements for the Baloo file indexing service
  • “Open Containing Folder” actions added throughout KDE apps
  • A variety of usability-related bugfixes, new features, and user interface upgrades for Spectacle
  • Typewriter/text box annotation tool in Okular
  • Support for showing file creation dates
  • Easy support for file tagging in Dolphin, and a more useful and comprehensible Places panel
  • Slideshow wallpaper configuration that shows the actual images that will be a part of the slideshow
  • Configurable grid size/maximum label width for files and folders on the desktop
  • Better lock and login screens
  • Consistent styles (grid views and centered form layouts) for settings windows throughout KDE software
  • Simplified and more comprehensible user interface for many System Settings pages
  • Bugfixing and user interface improvements throughout the whole software stack

It’s a lot of great stuff!

There’s still more to do, of course. KIO still doesn’t mount network locations locally, though that’s being actively worked on! Touchpad scrolling behavior has improved, but is still not consistent across all KDE apps and there’s no inertial scrolling yet. Samba sharing is improving, but still rough. Okular’s annotations are becoming more full-featured, compatible, and discoverable, yet more work is still needed. More System Settings pages still need to have their user interface overhauled. But are you seeing a pattern here!? Things are happening! The trajectory is really good! It’s unbelievable how many of the rough edges have gotten smoothed out over the past two years, and I feel super upbeat about the state of KDE’s software offering!

With this kind of ongoing work, KDE’s software moves ever closer to the day when I envision that it has become humanity’s preeminent computing platform. It will take time, but open-source software is immortal as long as people care about it. And the KDE community clearly does! So slowly but surely we continue, improving year by year as competitors stagnate, drop out, or are corrupted by the lures of money and power. It will be a KDE world.

Author: opekope2, KDE community member, from our recent wallpaper competition: https://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=312&t=160543

I’d like to offer a congratulations to the incredible KDE community. This all is not my work… it’s yours! The passion that people feel for this stuff is amazing, and it’s not misplaced: more and more KDE software becoming best-in-class in its product category. The future is bright, very bright. Thanks again, everyone.

KDE Usability & Productivity: Week 73

Week 73 in Usability & Productivity initiative is here! We have all sorts of cool stuff to announce, and eagle-eyed readers will see bits and pieces of Plasma 5.16’s new wallpaper “Ice Cold” in the background!

New Features

Bugfixes & Performance Improvements

User Interface Improvements

Next week, your name could be in this list! Not sure how? Just ask! I’ve helped mentor a number of new contributors recently and I’d love to help you, too! You can also check out https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved, and find out how you can help be a part of something that really matters. You don’t have to already be a programmer. I wasn’t when I got started. Try it, you’ll like it! We don’t bite!

If you find KDE software useful, consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.