APR
9
2007

Ars Technica: A First Look At Dolphin

Ryan Paul over at Ars Technica has a short article talking about Dolphin and KDE 4. "The Linux-based Dolphin file manager is now scheduled for official inclusion in KDE 4, the next major release of the KDE desktop environment. Dolphin includes several unique usability enhancements that aren't available in Konqueror, KDE's current file manager..."

Comments

I like the article! I defiantly think that the switch from Konqueror to Dolphin is a good thing. I can't wait for KDE 4, or Troy Unrau's next "Road to KDE 4" article! One of the goals for KDE 4 should be to take the place of gnome and become the DEFAULT desktop for Ubuntu and Suse.


By Kevin Shenk at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

> I defiantly think that the switch from Konqueror to Dolphin is a good thing.

What a cute typo. How appropriate. :-)


By Anonymous Coward at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

You can use dolphin with KDE 3.5 now. Dolphin is no reason to wait for KDE4

e.g. using Mandriva as root
urpmi dolphin

So what was my impression?

Wow!

Dolphin makes it much more convenient. Some features are missing but you really don't care.

What you really would like to have with Dolphin is a MAC OS X style menu bar on top. That is a very nice option for Dolphin and its possible with KDE.Unfortunately non-KDE killer applications as OpenOffice don't play well with the KDE topbar setting. The real question is of course: why do I want the pull-down menus on top. And the reason is: Dolphin is nice but the menu bars take too much screen and are not of so much use.

So What I would suggest for Dolphin is to get rid off the whole pull-down menues. They are really not needed. And when you don't have them on top MACOSX style for small windows they will consumer 3 lines with small windows. See screenshot. - you can apply the options in context menues

File - edit - view -- these three can be made obsolete.
- Go to - you can leave out this one as well.

Extra - Open console: That looks very important to me and needs to be integrated at an appropriate intelligent place. Maybe that should be just another "view".

Search-file --- that one is ugly and bloathed: We want google style simplicity.


By bert at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

> You can use dolphin with KDE 3.5 now. Dolphin is no reason to wait for KDE4

No, the KDE 4 dolphin version becomes more different to the KDE 3 dolphin version every day. Don't review the KDE 3 version and state you know how KDE 4 will look like!


By Anonymous at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Nobody knows how KDE4 will look like. But for KDE 3.5.x Dolphin already makes a real difference.


By bert at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

I just hide the menubar by default for Konqueror.

"ctrl-m"

Sadly this doesn't work with the current KDE 3 Version of Dolphin.


By Arne Babenhause... at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Normally I don't get worked up over what's going on in the KDE world but recently I had a chance to try KDE 4 and I almost lost my mind when I saw Dolphin. From the article:

"Konqueror's elaborate profile system and support for KParts-based document viewing add complexity to file management and intimidate users who are accustomed to less sophisticated file managers."

Who has been intimidated by konqueror? I want names. This crappy nautilus wannabe is catering to a nonexistent audience while simultaneously solving a problem that noone has.

So how does this fine piece of tech journalism end?

"Although some Konqueror enthusiasts are skeptical about the potential benefits of the transition to Dolphin, I think it's important to keep an open mind and wait until Dolphin is complete before passing judgment."

Yeah, who cares if it has half the features and will become the default filemanger? Let's just wait it out and hope (with an open mind) that Konqueror development isn't totally destroyed or subverted into just a web browser.

Whoever is in charge of KDE 4 release decisions needs to squash Dolphin as the default IMMEDIATELY. If you want to a konqueror profile suitable for a three year old or a gnome developer, fine. Go ahead and include it as the default view if you want to. But DO NOT remove as default the one app that differentiates KDE from every other desktop unless you want an even nastier version of the gnome/nautilus debacle (which, by the way, brought me over to KDE in the first place).

Anyone who is a current KDE user needs to burn and run one of the KDE 4 live DVDs to see just what a horror Dolphin is. I promise you will be shocked.


By Two year KDE user at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

I agree, one of the major reasons I use KDE is for Konqueror, which is excellent.

Of course, just like they say: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. That is to say, since Dolphin is going to take center stage, I just may have to go back to Gnome, even if it means missing out on KDE4. I've been a KDE user for several years and I'm sad to hear of this news regarding Dolphin.


By Joseph at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

Konqueror is a _terrible_ browser, and I'm glad it's getting scrapped (well, not really, but it's no longer the default).

It is extremely buggy. I don't crash it as often these days, at least, but it has all kinds of weird and wonderful quirks. For example, keyboard navigation is terrible. You hit the left or right keys and you have no idea where the cursor is going to jump, except that it will generally be in the approximate proper direction. It often "forgets" history. That is, if you hit back, it goes back two. If you then hit forward it goes forward two. There's no sign of the intermediate step.

It is slow. Have you ever browsed a filesystem with Windows explorer? There is no perceivable delay between clicking on a directory and its contents appearing, unless there are many thousands of files in that directory. With konqueror, if there's more than a couple of dozen files, you can watch them appear in batches.

Finally, as much as people might like them, kparts are a nuisance. Do you realize how much of a pain it is to click on something, then hit close, or Ctrl+W, only to lose your entire file browser because you forgot that this particular action (unlike actions on various other files) opens in a kpart in the browser.

Konqueror is terrible. If you people can't see that, KDE 4 is doomed and I'm switching to Gnome. Fortunately, I think that common sense is finally prevailing and maybe soon, this monstrosity will die.


By Anonymous Coward at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

"Have you ever browsed a filesystem with Windows explorer? There is no perceivable delay between clicking on a directory and its contents appearing, unless there are many thousands of files in that directory."

I don't care much for the rest of your statement, I neither love nor hate Konqueror, but this remark is just silly. Yes, I use Windows all the time and yes, even om my brand new dual core system there are often noticeable delays when clicking on directories! Especially if they have a lot or large .zip files in them for example.

At other times it's because there is a drive letter referring to some inaccessible server.

You might think that's normal but why the heck does it need to hang the entire program?? And if you don't have the option enabled to give each explorer window it's own process ALL of the explorer windows are unresponsive!

That's a problem I've never had with KDE and I'm always glad that whenever I accidentally enter "that" folder that contains several thousands of files that I can still hit back or up without waiting for KDE to list all those files.


By Quintesse at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

> I neither love nor hate Konqueror, but this remark is just silly.

I can browse files on my Linux box faster over SMB using Windows than with Konqueror. This is taking into account various things like the dentry and inode caches. Call it silly all you want, but it's true.


By Anonymous Coward at Thu, 2007/04/12 - 5:00am

> For example, keyboard navigation is terrible.

Might be. Does matter for some 0.x percent of the current user base maybe, not to speak about the masses caring even less.

Konqueror is quite nice, but has a few problems:

- missing dns cache (and no, that you can use a small server like dnsmasq isn't an argument for joe user)
- very slow javascript
- no plugin ecosystem like firefox


By Carlo at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

- no plugin ecosystem like firefox

There is a plugin system, it only lacks the audience creating plugins.
Perhaps kde4 will change that as konqueror gets a larger potential usergroup including windows and mac users.


By whatever noticed at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

> There is a plugin system, it only lacks the audience creating plugins.

It's not the /audience/, but the missing effort to build such a community and maybe the entry level is to high for a number of people, having to code them in C++. That's why it's no _eco_system. Honestly said, I haven't even looked what you can do with it, because even the builtin stuff (cookie handling, ad filtering, conditional javascript usage) doesn't hold a candle to the extensions available for Firefox - neither functionality- nor usability-wise.


By Carlo at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

> Might be. Does matter for some 0.x percent of the current user base maybe,
> not to speak about the masses caring even less.

Maybe, but Windows gets it right. There's a big difference between saying that something doesn't need to be added because nobody will use it and saying that something doesn't need to be fixed because nobody notices. People do notice, and it's been around for a very long time. Also, people have been working to fix it as it _has_ been improving, albeit slowly.


By Anonymous Coward at Thu, 2007/04/12 - 5:00am

Have you ever browsed a filesystem with Nautilus? On my computer it takes 15 seconds to display the contents of /usr/bin (+/- 2000 files) and the screen is blank until the list is completely loaded (the same applies when you want to select another application in Firefox than the default one for opening some mimetypes and you have to select the app in the GNOME file dialog that pops up; what's even worse is that if you type e.g. /usr/bin/kpdf and press Enter then the file dialog first loads the contents of /usr/bin before closing). In Konqueror it takes 2 or 3 seconds (for the same directory of course) and you can start browsing immediately since the list is built up incrementally.

KParts is not a problem at all: if you don't like them, go to the "File Associations" tab in the Konqueror Options and disable embedding for all mimetypes.


By Vlad2 at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Maybe Nautilus sucks, too. That's not the point. You also can't start browsing immediately because things are moving too quickly.

As for KParts, you can turn them off, but then you have an uglier Dolphin, no?


By Anonymous Coward at Thu, 2007/04/12 - 5:00am

Fortunately I haven't run into these bugs... but if Konqueror is boggy or have useless navigation then that should be fixed instead of writing a completely new application.


By Grósz Dániel at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

It should be, but all these bugs have been there for years, and some of my complaints (e.g. KParts) were about the fundamental design of Konqueror. I think it is time to move on.


By Anonymous Coward at Thu, 2007/04/12 - 5:00am

That's a very odd reason to go back to gnome :o)
As stated in the article, you can use konqueror as default filemanager if you wish.

And besides that, i think you should use the final version of dolphin before you can judge if kde does a step forward or backward by including dolphin as default filemanager.


By whatever noticed at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Well, that's weird. I'm using KDE on FreeBSD and I prefer Konqueror as a browser to any other (although it has some issues with native flash on FreeBSD).

I think its file management capabilities are very satisfactory (besides the missing split view), but just to try out, I installed Dolphin and use it for common tasks now. I miss some things there, but overall it's fully usable. There's nothing wrong with it.


By Silver at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

>the missing split view

Uhh...

/me coughs


By Wyatt at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Man that's an ugly setup.

But yes, Konqueror has split view and yes, Dolphin is a terrible idea.


By foo at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

and yes, you can use konqueror as default filemanager if you want to


By whatever noticed at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Oh yes, sorry. Konqueror really has the split view :)


By Silver at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

Konqueror was one of main reasons why I use KDE. I think many do.. Why to replays it? to sophisticated? Nonsense. I think its wrong turn of KDE team..
Hope you will realised that soon...


By Dumas at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

though i oppose the capitalization, i share your point. having the same app that is the file manager serving also as web browser is great, and so is konqueror.
i'd be interested to learn in which process it was decided to make dolphin the default file manager. anyone with the enlightning-rod around?
knowing it s too late anyways, out of curiosity i'd like to see how a vote on this would turn out.


By somecoward at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

I'm sure there will be an option to make konq a default filemanager with one click, it's not like somebody removing konqueror without any possibility of recovery. All your rant is about just a couple of .desktop files, that can be easily changed to start any program you want. Heck, I would add a dialog that would pop at first Dolphin launch to ask whether you want konqueror to be the default. Same thing can be added to KPersonalizer, KControl module, etc. As a power user of KDE with 9 years of experience I want to try Dolphin, and I'm confident that I can reconfigure the desktop to my old defaults under <5 min.


By Sergey at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

I second your thoughts!

kde is unique because of konqueror. i like to have both usecases in 1!!! app!


By funnyfanny at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

> Who has been intimidated by konqueror?

i don't suppose you care, but this is the result of actual user feedback augmented by user testing to see what the feedback has been about.

> who cares if it has half the features and will become
> the default filemanger?

you and i want/need all those features. turns out a huge # of people don't, including a good % of our current user base. but hey, screw them just so we get what -we- want, right? no point in trying to have something for everyone, right?

seriously, come off your pedestal and realize that kde is not only for you, it's for everyone. if i can do it, as one of the people helping make the damn thing, i'm sure you can too.

> Let's just wait it out and hope (with an open mind) that Konqueror
> development isn't totally destroyed or subverted into just a web browser.

nothing quite like fear, is there? ;)

look at the change in konqueror as a file manager between 3.0 and 3.5. very little changed. so let's not go inventing some silly story that konqueror development was ripping along.

and how has it been doing for 4.0? there have been at least as many improvements for 4.0 than did between 3.0 and 3.5, such as the move to model/view based views and tweaks to the gui.

so you don't need to guess or hope, you can see it happening right now.

furthermore, we've (the developers) stated from day 1 that we are not looking to or wanting to strip down konqueror to a webbrowser-only (i'd rather see a dolphinesque web browser first before that ever happened). konqueror is remaining in kdebase where it always has been (well, since 2.0 anyways =) and stays as the power tool of choice.

> But DO NOT remove as default the one app that differentiates KDE from every
> other desktop unless you want an even nastier version of the gnome/nautilus
> debacle (which, by the way, brought me over to KDE in the first place).

ah, now we get to the heart of the issue: you feel you were screwed over once by completely different group of people with an app that looks similar (not even identical) in screenshots. i can empathize: once bitten, twice shy.

please realize that kde is not gnome: we do not have their agenda or their way of approaching either technology or our user base. which approach is better, well, everyone can decide for themselves. but the approaches are different. please don't paint us and our efforts by the outcome of theirs.

i'd also hold off on passing judgement on dolphin for another couple of months until 4.0 starts to settle down. it's not going to be a nautilus.

and finally, this is kde: you get to choose. want to use konqueror rather than dolphin for your file manager? great! nobody is stopping you. simply make the switch, something you are far more capable of doing than those who benefit from dolphin's simplicity; and we won't be hiding these options beneath a registry tree somewhere either.


By Aaron J. Seigo at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

++


By Troy Unrau at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

+++ !


By Askrates at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Aaron,

Is this user study online somewhere? Did the users actually say they want those features removed?


By John Tapsell at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

I don't know where the studies are now, but they have been posted on dot or kde-core-devel at various times.

I think the biggest problem with the usability studies is that all make the same mistake, and only study the rare and elusive first time user (sometimes first time KDE users, sometimes first time PC users).

I have yet to read a usability study that focus on everyday day use, and test how useable KDE is a too a user who has used it at least half a year. They are the ones that are our users, and they are the ones we SHOULD be catering to.

It seems usability people consider previous experience a complication in their studies they just can't or won't handle.


By Allan Sandfeld at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

thats makes absolutly no sense. how do you want to determine they "easyness" of a task when all participants allready learnt how to do the task?

the point is, that a task should be done with as little extra learning as possible.

maybe you should look up what usability is about...


By ac at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Maybe get a user that used kde in general for half a year, then get them to do tasks that they haven't done before or tasks that they don't do very often.

You could even get them to do a task that they do fairly often, and see if they still make mistakes or take the long route round etc. See how well short cuts are discovered/used.


By John Tapsell at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Hmm, for the basic tasks, you only learn them once, but do them over and over again. Wouldn't it make sense to optimize for efficient _usage_ rather than for efficient _learning to use_? And for what etymology's worth, the word 'useability' would seem to point to easy 'usage' rather than easy 'learning to use'. And of course, I am not against easy to understand interfaces, only for me it seems that it is not as important --- I am willing spend some time learninng to use the tools I do my work with, if it's worth the effort.

Just my 2c.


By Jonathan Verner at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

vi has pretty efficient usage, but terrible "learning to use". As a result hardly anyone uses it and even those that do (like me) probably don't use all the features they could benefit from. OK, vi is a bit of an extreme case but whatever tool we talk about tasks certainly have to be easy to learn to do. People won't get the manual out to learn how to do something, they'll just get an easier-to-use tool even if, in the long run, it's less efficient. The real trick to design is to cover both aspects, ease of learning and long term efficiency.


By Adrian Baugh at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

There's a difference to efficient usage and terrible learning curve and efficient usage and some need to learn.

The problem with vi as well as emacs is, that their shortcuts are (more or less) only useful within the single application. Staying in the context, the problem with KDE (or the whole desktop - no matter which application toolkit in use) is, that there's no consistent profile of actions and behaviour.

An example: The Konqueror side bar can be shown/hidden with f9, when I use KPDF it is ctrl+l. Moreso, when I open a pdf file in Konqueror, the KPDF kpart is opened, but its navigation widget doesn't embed into Konqueror sidebar as you'd expect it to. When I want to see a pdf in fullscreen, I use ctrl+shift+f. Contrary to Konqueror, there's no button shown to get back to normal view mode; That I have to press ctrl+shift+f again (allowing esc as well wouldn't be bad) is something I have to know. There're lots of these inconsistencies making it hard for new users. And it shouldn't be up to single application developers to define shortcuts and implement widgets with similar functionality in different ways. Have a look at your KDE application. There are many with sort of a sidebar and all of them "feel" different.

The problem becomes even more blatant, if you extend it to the whole desktop: Why has the user to know that e.g. Firefox and Gimp use F11 as shortcut for fullscreen functionality, while KDE applications use ctrl+shift+f? Why can't the unix desktop world come together, define abstract actions, implemented as profiles and all applications would react to the user chosen profile shortcuts, instead defining their own?


By Carlo at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

Well, that is one (a very wrong) way to look at it.

Studies (they were mentioned in the AAAS journal Science) have shown that no matter what the task there are two types of users which are (surprise :-)) new users and experienced users. There is, or should be, a difference of kind, not just degree in the way these two types of users use something.

This is the source of one of the most valid criticisms of the Mac interface. It is very easy for first time users, but experienced users gain little -- the learning curve doesn't descend very far.

So, applying the tautology that most users of a product have been using it for a while, it is a valid question to determine how experienced users use the product and also to determine how rapidly users become experienced users.

You can also study metrics (no actual users needed) based on the presumption that the user knows how to do the task. That is, how much does the user need to do to accomplish a task. This paradigm easily shows the gross stupidity of not having things on the toolbars. Is it really better, and easier, to click through three levels of menus than to click on an icon on a toolbar to do something?


By James Richard Tyrer at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

but experienced users are allready part of the kde development. they provide their wishes through the bugtracker, or even write the software ;).

so studies with new users are far more important for kde.

also it depends on how you use studies. as i see it, the kde team uses them to determine how to implement something, not to determine what to implement. because they know very well what they want. so again, testing with experienced users isn't realy needed, at leased not as much as testing new users...


By ac at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

Hmm.

In my trade, we can tell inexperienced mechanics from the tools they choose. The most useful and quickest tool, used to diagnose almost everything, requires knowledge and experience. Without the knowledge and experience, it is confusing and useless.

But once a person has the knowledge and experience, all the extra 'user friendly' stuff in the other tools get in the way of doing the job.

When I see usability studies suggesting removing features to appeal to inexperienced users, I literally lose interest and walk away. Inevitably the buttons and features I use regularly disappear. I don't mean to insult anyone, but this has been my experience. Obviously the intended target is someone else.

BTW, the first thing i noticed about Dolphin (for 3.x, which may not apply to the final product) is the file preview required one click. I deleted it. I hope it's changed since then. It seemed to be geared to esthetics as opposed to actually being useful.

Derek

ps. Konqueror was getting very close to replacing the command prompt for file management. I'm quite happy to see continued work on Konsole, since I (and probably many others) will need it.


By D Kite at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

or you could just keep using konqueror. I suppose expert mechanics aren't necessarily too good at reading tfa though.


By Adrian Baugh at Wed, 2007/04/11 - 5:00am

thats makes absolutly no sense. how do you want to determine they "easyness" of a task when all participants allready learnt how to do the task?

the point is, that a task should be done with as little extra learning as possible.

maybe you should look up what usability is about...


By ac at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

It's not worth bitching about it. There are people who like it simple, who follow the hype, and there are people, who know what's Konqueror worth, both as a file manager and (well, a bit less) as a browser.


By Carlo at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

>>Who has been intimidated by konqueror? I want names.

Well, i did, but i'd rather stay anonymous. Dunno if i would get even more intimidated by you :o)


By whatever noticed at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

Me too. It has way too many 'things'.

Dolphin looks a lot cleaner, and makes more sense too. Most of the web browsing tools don't apply to file browsing and vice versa.

For example: The history (although konquerors sucks anyway)
Home page
The 'metabar'
File tree.


By Tim at Tue, 2007/04/10 - 5:00am

I am also shocked that Dolphin is going to replace Konqueror as the default file manager in KDE 4. Why doesn't KDE simply create a simple "file manager view" if people complain about konqueror being to complicated?

Konqueror is a fantastic, flexible, feature rich file manager. As a browser it is not yet very good (slow, instable). I am pretty sure that many people would agree.

So a reasonable person would think that KDE would keep the good stuff and improve the weak parts. But what do the KDE folks do? They say: "Well, let's keep the bad stuff and replace the good stuff with bad stuff. "

Why do they do this?


By Oliver at Thu, 2007/08/09 - 5:00am

I am glad that you think you're the %100 of the KDE user base on your own self "two year", Myself, I'm pretty happy to have both dolphin and Konqueror, I use Konqueror now only for very specific file tasks, a few complicated ones. For the rest I happily use Dolphin (in Kde 3.5.6) and I am very happy with it, Personally I find I am much more confortable, and faster working on my daily file tasks in Dolphin's clean, simple interface than I ever was with Konqueror.

Rather than a "Nautilus wannabe", I think Dolphin is a good tool designed by people who understand ussability and have learned from other great systems, including Apple's Finder.

Now please I beg you to stop talking on my stead (proclaiming there is no need for Dolphin, and nobody wants it), Because all you're doing is demoting your comment from usefull feedback to useless trolling.


By Lars at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

++

The incessant whinging by people who seem to want us to look up to them as "power users" when apparently they are too inept to spend 20 seconds changing the default file manager from Dolphin to Konqueror is becoming most tiresome.

Peter, and everyone else behind the decision - ignore the naysayers! Your determination to use Dolphin as default in spite of the barrage of flames and threats from people such as TYKU sends a clear signal that you have listened to the criticisms of Konqueror and have a clear focus on usability for KDE4 while - even better - the fact that you have left it so that the decision can be easily reversed shows that you have not turned your back on some of KDE's most devoted fans (which includes myself: Dolphin looks great, but I personally won't use it unless it has tabs :)).

Whining about something so trivially changed is like screaming at the top of your voice about how much you hate the dark when you have a candle and a match in your hands, and frankly is the kind of tantrum I would expect from a two-year-old. It's simply embarrassing to watch.


By anon at Mon, 2007/04/09 - 5:00am

Pages