MAY
15
2002

KDE Usability Team Takes First Steps

The KDE Usability Team has come out with the biggest and most visible change yet. Aaron J. Seigo recently announced and committed an almost complete re-organisation of the Kicker KControl module with accompanying updates to Kicker. Illustrative screenshots of this important first step can be found here. For more news of upcoming improvements be sure to check the kde-usability archives.

Comments

Now if only kcontrol got smaller size-wise...my 1024x768 feels so crammed with default kcontrol size. I really like the small gnome2 config dialogs(of course they have less stuff), but they are tiny/tidy. Also the no-apply button feature is kinda cool, how results can be seen right away(not sure if kde needs this), there seems to be a need for a revert button in gnome now :)

Anyway, can you guys look at kicker itself now? Stuff like modifying the "K" graphic, assigning shortcuts to it, modifying the konsole icon to exectute aterm, stuff like that is kind of tricky. Also the whole kde vs non-kde buttons are confusing, it should all be streamlined. And yes, I dont know the solutions, I just know whats inconvenient :(.


By Judge Dread at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

you can change the execute field of the konsole icon to aterm easily.


By Mathieu Jobin at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Keyboard shortcuts for the kicker menu have been implemented in CVS (also a result of discussion on kde-usability).


By Hamish Rodda at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Sweet.

I noticed that when I went from 2.1 to 2.2, the Esc key no longer closed the K menu. I have to actually go down and click it again to close it. Dunno if this is still the case in KDE3, but if I find out it is, I guess I'll go file a report with you guys.


By A person at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

ESC seems to work here


By dpash at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Do you probably use Qt 2.3.2? This version had a bug which causes the behaviour you describe. Downgrading to Qt 2.3.1 will fix this problem.

Ingo


By Ingo Klöcker at Fri, 2002/05/17 - 5:00am

the "K" graphic: there are icon sets that offer alternatives. what exactly is wrong with with current graphic?

shorcuts: as hamish said, there are shortcuts for the KMenu (and as a result the bookmark and quickbrowser menus). the mechanism employed there is rather innovative IMO, i haven't seen it implemented that same way anywhere else as. hamish gets the bulk of the credit on that one since he wrote the code. there aren't shorcuts for navigating the rest of the panel, though. and that is a huge shortcoming that does need to get addressed.

buttons: the wording on the add/remove menus has been made a bit clearer, but there is more work that [c|sh]ould be done with that whole bit of kicker as well.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Absolutely nothing is wrong with the current graphic.However I would like to be able to change menu icons and not have them tied to the main K menu system. There is no way to right click the K and select a new graphic that way. Also I dont see a way to add your own menus to the kicker(gnome does that & cde has 1-level menus). Ie one can add menus from the K menu, but you run into the same problem of having to have it in the K menu.

ie, I really like the way gnome/cde/xfce panels let you create custom menus on the panel, without forcing any restrictions on you.


By Judge Dread at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

you can "fake" this by using a quick browser button and some creative symlinking. but it is indeed a hack. this exact thing was mentioned on the usability mailing list not too many days ago. someone just needs to write the code (it really shouldn't be that hard)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

>I really like the small gnome2 config dialogs(of course they have less
>stuff), but they are tiny/tidy.

I think one of the big things the Sun/Gnome usability team did was reduce the number of options. KDE should follow that example. Pick sensible defaults and maybe even support additional config options that aren't in Kcontrol (but are carefully documented somewhere!!) and keep the config dialogs manageable and unintimidating.

>Also the no-apply button feature is kinda cool, how results can be seen
>right away(not sure if kde needs this), there seems to be a need for a
>revert button in gnome now .

This would be a great addition to KDE, and probably not difficult to add.


By Otter at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

The problem is, every time you remove an option someone complains; so cutting any options is a very difficult decision. For example, look at people not happy with the button size option getting removed in the new kcm_kicker.


By Sad Eagle at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

Maybe we should have a newbie mode that would hide a lot of advanced options.
Maybe not...


By aThom at Fri, 2002/05/17 - 5:00am

This doesn't look like new changes, the screenshots look like KDE has been for a long while..


By Rob Kaper at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Doh. My browser wasn't wide enough to see the "after" shots. Oops.


By Rob Kaper at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

yeah, apologies on more-than-horrid "web design". i threw that together so people on the usability list could grab the patches and look at screenshots while we were working on it. it wasn't really meant to end up on a public news site. it's mildly embarrassing to have something that ugly posted =)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

It does illustrate the changes quite well, i think you were right not to use too much time on the web page.

Good work guys.


By troels at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

as said


By Ez at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Certainly. Thanks to Aaron et.al and keep up the good work.


By Claus Rasmussen at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Firstly, how about changind the default ordering of buttons in the title bar, so that the CLOSE button is far away from the MINIMISE, MAXIMISE and MENU buttons? Or is it just me who ended up accidentaly closing programs, when all I wanted to do is see more of it (maximise)?

Secondly I remember seeing (probably my friends windows XP comp), was showing the scaled down screenshots of the actual program, when cycling between windows (Normally invoked by ALT-TAB and you get an icon and what's in the titlebar of the window). Bit like what the pager applet does but invoked by ALT-TAB and thus not taking up screen space all the time. I liked it. What do people think?


By David Siska at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

It's not just you. That one of the first things I always change:

Control Center -> Look & Feel -> Window Decoration -> Buttons


By michael at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

> Firstly, how about changind the default ordering of buttons in the title bar

This is already possible to change if you want to, go to kcontrol, look&feel, window decorations and then change it on the second tab there. The reason for the default placements are many, but mostly that this order seems to be what most people are used to.

> I remember seeing (probably my friends windows XP comp), was showing the scaled down screenshots of the actual program, when cycling between windows

This is a feature from the Powertools package for Windows XP, it's a good one, and it's a good idea for KDE, but it's a very resource-demanding feature. My laptop (which is a PIII 750) slows down terribly when using it..


By Christian A Str... at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Microsoft, the company that introduced this particular joy, puts a small spacer between the maximise and close buttons, so there less of a chance of making a mistake. Maybe introducing a "separator" into the button configuration, the same way as it exists in the toolbar configu might help. This stuff all sounds pretty cool acutally, I'll try and get involved once college is over.

BTW, are the KDE coders planning on implementing the recommendations of the Sun user study? I've glanced through it, and most of it seems applicable.


By Bryan Feeney at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

there _is_ a spacer in the window decoration button configuration dialogue, its just up to the window decoration itself to actually impliment the spaces.

May be better produdtion wise if you just check the dialogue :P


By anon at Fri, 2002/05/17 - 5:00am

Hmm. I posted that in college where we're using KDE 2.0 (and boy is it slow and painful) and that option doesn't exist. It might be in 2.2, which is what I use at home. Maybe I should wait till I get my hands on 3.0.1 before I start talking! :-/


By Bryan Feeney at Fri, 2002/05/17 - 5:00am

in windows decoration choose laptop the closin button is not even on the same side as the others ;-)


By Moulinneuf at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

on newer kde versions (here i have 3.4.3), you can switch in the window decorations dialog to the buttons tab. there you can choose to "use custom titlebar button positions". then you can move the buttons around as you like.

the downside was that this was selected by default, overriding the default layout and thus laptop style did not move the close button to the left.

so, either switch the option off and use laptop - or use whatever style you like and move the buttons around...


By rogue at Mon, 2006/01/09 - 6:00am

The usability.kde.org website was a little...spartan...when it came to details about what the usability team has in store. I'm running 2.2.2 (still waiting patiently for those .debs), so I don't know if their suggestions for Konsole and Kicker were implemented. And since the archives are a little too big for quick perusal, would someone mind giving a Reader's Digest Condensed version of what's going on?
:Peter


By Peter Clark at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

the website is still under construction as far as i know (seemingly perpetually). the real fun is happening on the mailing list where things are discussed and done.

as for the usability reports, things get implemented when someone writes the code. step one is to identify usability issues, step two is to figure out solutions for those challenges, step three is to code it. there are lots and lots and lots of people who are willing to help with step one, some who are willing and capable of helping with step 2 and rather few who do step 3.

the usability project is attempting to get more effort into steps 2 and (especially) step 3. developers are needed, but so are documenters, designers and testers.

as for what is being looked at right now: the minipager, kicker kcm, misc other kicker issues, desktop kcm...


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

There seems no (working) way to access the usability reports announced on the frontpage.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

The concept of import/export, files, printers, database are all the same thing. These should not be seperated. An application should use 1 to 3 kio's (file stream, page, && table/sql). The conversion between fileformats should be external to the application. During the open/save dialogs, the applicable choices should be allowed. Likewise, the printer should simply be part of output (it should be a page kio).
This would allow :
1) a clean seperation of import/export from application,
2) new ideas to be easily added in the future (perhaps via a plugin on the open/save dialog)
3) the constant re-use of import/export code. If somebody creates an output of png, and a 2'nd person creates a conversion of png->jpeg, then the application is now able to save in jpeg. Likewise, if app does a page kio of PS, and somebody follows up with PS->tiff, then a nice fax interface is easier. Or perhaps PS->mng, etc.
Finally, the Location menu should be easily configurable with shortcuts to these. Allow a user to add what they want. I don't believe in paper, so I have no need for a printer. But I would love to send the data directly to kmail or kopete to send a file directly to someone.


By a.c. at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

I think this a great idea; I was thinking along these lines myself. There are all kinds of possibilities: e.g. in KMail, when attaching a file, an "Attach as type..." option; so we can store our documents as KWord files then simply "Attach as type... Word" or "Attach as type... PDF" as required.


By Julian Rockey at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Guys/Gals, The new Location config really really really sucks!

Did a quick test with a non-geek and they were totaly clueless about what the hell it was, much less how to make it work.

You should label the locations buttons IMHO


By JRM at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

That, or replace the monitor image with an image of just the desktop, and label the whole thing 'Desktop Location of Panel' with a caption of 'Click the button closest to the location where you would like the panel to appear' or something like that.


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

agreed! it confused me, I had to look at the before screen a couple times before figuring it out...


By Bill at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

Rather than render the endire desktop, just draw a
representation of the current panel on the display.

This would help people figure out what specifically
is changing on this menu.

You could also render tiny/small/normal and length options as well.

The only option that is not obvious is the "expand to fit
requred space"

Overall, everything looks very slick, even more than before.

Ed


By Ed at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

> You should label the locations buttons IMHO

the plan is to add icons to them.

Carbon said:
> That, or replace the monitor image with an image of just the desktop

and how would that be clearer? putting an image of the current desktop background in the monitor is something i'd like to get to (ala the background kcm), but i don't see how losing the monitor would improve anything.

> with a caption of 'Click the button closest to the location where you would > like the panel to appear' or something like that.

it would be nice to be able to avoid any long-winded explanations. labeling the buttons w/icons will probably help quite a bit. besides, users don't read do they? ;-)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

The most irritating is, that they are located outside of the monitor!
Yes: i know you recycled the monitor image from the screensaver configuration...
And yes, im a nitpicker, but in usability one has to nitpick. :)


By Lenny at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

I think the buttons should somehow reflect the "length"-setting. As it is now, it's as if length was set to 33%. A larger length setting would make the buttons overlap each other though...Perhaps they could have different offsets from the monitor image or be in different colours.


By ac at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

the panel in the monitor grows/shrinks with both the length and size parameters. so you can see how it will approximately look with the alignment, size and length you have chosen. it's fun to play with the sliders =)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

>> That, or replace the monitor image with an image of just the desktop

>and how would that be clearer? putting an image of the current desktop background in the> monitor is something i'd like to get to (ala the background kcm), but i don't see how losing the monitor would improve anything.

Well right now a normal user might think that the buttons on the screen might replace their controls on their moniter (up,down,left,right etc..) Without the monitor image it wont look like it's a hardware setting.

Again IMHO :-)


By JRM at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

they are in the kde panel control panel, it says "you can configure the appearance of the panel here", and it's in a box labelled "Position". if they think it's their monitor settings (for what exactly?) then i don't think anything would be clear enough for them.

btw, that same monitor is used in the background setter and screensaver chooser. consistency.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

I thought it was dead obvious, you chose a screen spot (left, right, top, bottom) and the position of it within that screen spot if your bar is not at 100% (left, center, right).


By Abdulla at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

I know everyone's full of these, but I'd like to see how other people feel about this, and for various reasons, I can't get a mailing list account.

Anyways, one thing that bugs me about KDE 3 is that annoying sidebar in the file open dialogs. I'm not going to get huffy about how it's like Windows (not that being like Windows is much of a plus, either), but there is something I do dislike about it: it wastes screen space, which I find valuble for actually attempting to locate the file I'm looking for! The stuff that appears in the sidebar should be under the pop-up menu on top, anyways, since it doesn't take up any extraneous room up there. Or, better yet, make it optional. What do you guys feel about this?


By Carbon at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

it is optional, in the gear menu (at least in CVS)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

It's already optional in CVS and there exists a patch to make it optional in KDE 3.0.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2002/05/15 - 5:00am

I agree. It was sickening seeing that useless only-for-the-sake-of-being-windows-like useless menu side graphic (which i always hated in windows too).
Glad to hear it is optional in CVS... looking forward to 3.1!


By Raga at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

The "useless menu side graphic" is already optional in KDE 3.0: K Menu Layout/Show Side Image


By Anonymous at Thu, 2002/05/16 - 5:00am

First I think you are mistaken as to what the original poster was complaining about. You are refering to the side graphic, I think he is referring to the icons at the side of the save as and open dialogs which have folder shortcuts.

While for many Windows-like features I would agree with you, but this one I definately disagree. That side panel is rather useful for me. I keep project documents separated and I have different icons there for different projects and it is very easy when I download something to save it in these different directories without clicking through multiple folders to get there. While I will admit that the buttons are much larger than they need be, I feel this is a great feature, and I am glad that it is at least removable for people who aren't interested in it.

And there is one other Windows like feature I would like to see, and that is a highlighted icon strip in application menus. I like having the icons a background color different from the text background, it helps separate them out and eases scanning, at least for us dyslexics out there. I thought I had seen this in some screen shots somewhere but haven't been able to find it, maybe it is a theme or something, or maybe it was just the KDE graphic that runs up the side of the Kmenu.

Just as an FYI, Microsoft has whole teams of usability folks out there, they do some things very well in their design, it would be stupid not to take hints from what they do right in building KDE, it would be even more stupid not to take hints from what they do wrong. Configurability of options is key to keeping different people happy, we all work in different ways. Microsoft locks you in to their idea of what is the best way to work, sure the usability people found it was good, but it doesn't always work for all of us. I must say that I am getting rather used to the quick start menu in XP now, I only run about 5 applications in Windows anyway, so it was easy to pin them to the short menu without having to see all the sub menus and such. Maybe another thing we could learn from Microsoft. Maybe someday they will learn to make a good OS from the Linux folks, or how to make a powerful and configurable desktop from KDE and GNOME.


By Anthony at Tue, 2002/05/21 - 5:00am

> And there is one other Windows like feature I would like to see, and that is a highlighted icon strip in application menus. I thought I had seen this in some screen shots somewhere but haven't been able to find it

It's a widget style thing: ".NET style" and upcoming Keramik style have it.


By Anonymous at Wed, 2002/05/22 - 5:00am

> I think he is referring to the icons at the side of the save as and open dialogs which have folder shortcuts.

Sure. Recently I installed Mandrake 9.0 and also stumbled over these annoying icons on left side of Save (and some other) dialogs. KDE FAQ and Google search didnt tell me how to get back to normal Save, without this microsoft-mimicking.

How do I switch them OFF forever, PLEASE tell me somebody! Linux is great in its configurability, so there should be easy way to get rid of them.

Harry


By Harry at Sat, 2002/10/19 - 5:00am

Pages