The Randa Meetings are happening now in the Swiss Alps. More than 50 people are giving their time to improve KDE software and innovate new value for users. The theme of this sixth edition of the Randa Meetings is Bring Touch to KDE, and the KDE Visual Design Group (VDG) is making their contributions to the look and feel of KDE technology. Visual appearance has been a primary consideration for KDE from the beginning—"users [should be able to] expect things to look, feel, and work consistently".
The Visual Design Group
The Visual Design Group is responsible for the User Experience, Usability, Design, Look and Feel of KDE software. The VDG has been working from a TODO list at the Randa Meetings. There has been good progress and still things the VDG wants to accomplish in Randa.
The following items have been tackled or are completely done:
- Make all Oxygen icons available in the Breeze theme
This is planned for Plasma release 5.4.2 in October. The icons are mostly done; for example, device icons are now 80% covered.
- Meet with Plasma maintainers on Plasma Mobile
Together the groups decided how Plasma and applications should look and feel on mobile devices. The two teams addressed hot topics such as the behavior and results of swipe action from the edges, navigation in applications and application layout in general. Human Interface Guidelines for mobile applications will be available soon, so that developers can start porting their applications to Plasma Mobile.
- Discuss the look and feel of sidebars with Plasma developers and maintainers
The discussions about the look and feel of sidebars lead to the results described in a blogpost by members of the VDG.
- Rework System Settings (KDE Control Module - KCM) for Desktop Search
As a part of the ongoing work of streamlining system settings, the KCM for Desktop Search was reworked. See screenshot below.
- Fix all icon-related bugs
These fixes will be available in Plasma release 5.4.2 (October).
Still to do in Randa
- Enforce Breeze icons for applications wherever possible
A couple of applications have hard-coded icons that do not respect the user's choice or do not reflect the current state of the Breeze and Breeze Dark supported icon themes.
- Design sessions with interested application developers such as Kdenlive
Some applications either lack appropriate Breeze icons or the developers are not sure which icons are the best to use. Working closely together helps both the VDG and developers to know how to offer a good set of icons that look nice, fit well and are easy for users to understand.
- Oxygen will be moved to git and maintained together with Breeze and Breeze Dark
Many users prefer the Oxygen icon theme. However, it had not been maintained for a while and is not officially supported. This will be changed as Oxygen will now be maintained as an additional choice (though not extended or further developed), along with Breeze and Breeze Dark. Users will be able to switch between any of the three icon themes with a simple click.
Feedback and message to the users
The Visual Design Group is very happy to be in Randa, where they have a full week to work together, and are able to have intense discussions about design and code with application developers. There has already been a lot of progress in a small amount of time. In addition, some issues that came up during the sprint were resolved, such as KDE software on Windows and Android application developers concerned with the size of icon packages that have to be provided along with the applications.
Developers, interested people or KDE software users are invited to participate in the Visual Design discussions. This is an important aspect of KDE technology. Please contact the VDG on their forum.
The Visual Design Group is planning to have a Design Sprint in 2016. Money raised in the current fundraising campaign will be used to cover that sprint and others. KDE sprints have the primary objective of providing value to users of KDE software. So please consider donating to the Sprint Fundraising Campaign.