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.

Interview on Linux Unplugged podcast

A few days ago Jupiter Broadcasting’s Chris Fisher approached me about doing an interview for his Linux Unplugged podcast, so I said sure! I talked about the Usability & Productivity initiative, Kubuntu and KDE Neon, my history at Apple, and sustainable funding models for open-source development.

Awesomely enough, it turns out that their systems all run Kubuntu 18.04, and Chris calls it “the best distro we’ve ever used in production.” Now that’s what I like to hear! It’s exactly what the Usability & Productivity initiative is all about: making KDE software a lean, mean, productivity machine for creators and professionals.

You can listen to the show here: https://linuxunplugged.com/268. My segment starts at about the 25 minute mark.

Konquering the World

I had the pleasure of attending Akademy this year–my first time. Not only that, the organizers were actually crazy enough to let me give a talk! In it, I discuss my view of how we can systematically improve the competitiveness and reach of KDE Plasma and KDE apps, and what you can do to be a part of this effort. This master plan is what guides my KDE work. I talk about how the Usability & Productivity initiative fits into the plan, but the plan itself is much more ambitious. If you’ve ever wondered whether there’s a method to my madness… here it is!

If you’re interested, the Akademy organizers have posted a video of it:

If you feel like this effort is worthwhile and that my leadership of it is important, consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal. Also consider making a donation to the KDE e.V. foundation.