OSNews.com: KDE 3.2-beta2, Towards a Better KDE

KDE 3.2 Beta 2 was released last week for general testing and OSNews offers a preview of what is to expect from it early next year upon its release. The article mentions KDE's new features (faster loading times, Konqueror's Service Menus, Kontact, KPDF, Plastik theme etc), the problems that still plague it (cluttered KMenu and Konqueror menus, too many disorganized control center modules) and some constructive suggestions on how to get over the bloat without losing the functionality.

Dot Categories: 


by Matt (not verified)

I think that was a fair preview. Especially the conclusion sums up the situation pretty well.

by Anonymous (not verified)

... that she didn't post a screenshot with a crash or error dialog as usual? I think that's a good sign.

by Rayiner Hashem (not verified)

Thank god she didn't review beta1. Orth's Nov. 5 CVS is the most unstable KDE I've seen since the pre 1.0 betas I got with RedHat 5.2!

by Max Howell (not verified)

Such a good preview from Eugenia is excellent and does indeed suggest KDE has improved in the right directions. I agree with most of her points, however, putting settings under the edit menu has always seemed daft to me, I think the settings menu is very sensible. But otherwise I know exactly what she means, everything starting with configure can be confusing, but what's the solution there? She suggests hiding the "configure toolbar.." entry but doesn't that completely oppose good UI design - hiding the functionality?

I don't agree that Keramik is hideous. At the very least it is distinctive. I don't think you can ever appease even 70% of people when it comes to things like widget style.

She is right about the bouncing cursor needing to be default, and the text shadow also. The text shadow makes the test unreadable when the contrast is too high, however I have found that a 50% gray with white is really nice. I suppose the solution is to find the average colour of the wallpaper and desaturate it a little. If this is done I think the KDE solution is much superior to the usual text shadow effect in terms of making the text more readable. Perhaps this is already known and I missed the relevant discussion.


by Fabrice Mous (not verified)

"I don't agree that Keramik is hideous. At the very least it is distinctive. I don't think you can ever appease even 70% of people when it comes to things like widget style."

Ask laptop users if they use Keramik. For me on my laptop it takes too much screenspace ...


by Rich Jones (not verified)

that's why you can change the windowdecorations to 'laptop', among others.

I've got a monitor running 1200x1600. I like large window decorations. It should take up more screenspace, I think...

by Anonymous (not verified)

Having a laptop is not a prerequisite to being able to use wiget styles that take generous amounts of screen space. I have a laptop with a 15.7" screen running at 1280x1024, for instance. So stop using the excuse that you have a laptop. If you have a small screen that is one thing, but having a laptop is no reason to complain.

by Anonymous (not verified)

The reviewer is absolutely right when it comes to the "soft lines" between toolbars. They would help a lot and - more importantly - simply make KDE look better.

by Bryan Feeney (not verified)

I think the default theme should be bland. Something that no-one will particularly dislike.

Now by my definition of bland, Plastik is bland. I think it looks great (kudos to the author), but there's no massive in-your-face effects like other themes. Understatment and minimalism are good things. I also like Bluecurve (or QtCurve for purists ;-))

People who really love fancy themes will know where to look. Kids on boards always moan about bland themes and want the latest and greatest with translucency and drop-shadows. Personally I think developers should resist this and ship a decent default that the average new user won't mind.

by Carlo (not verified)

>putting settings under the edit menu has always seemed daft to me
You're not the only one, who never will understand this.

>I don't agree that Keramik is hideous. At the very least it is distinctive.
Oh, it is. Distinctive and hideous.

by wilbert (not verified)

I can understand putting settings in the edit menu: You get an English sentence: "Edit Preferences". But in other languages this is less obvious, so i like a separate "Settings" menu very well. It acts as a good container and is very predictable across different KDE applications.

by Robert Guthrie (not verified)

she (Eugenia) jumped to bash konq on the poor rendering of her site, but neglected to note the huge improvements konq has made in its rendering overall, she vagely mentioned speed increases.. but these are huge in konq since the last offical kde release, and deserve more note. I just cant believe that people arnt singing konqs praises like they do for our fat friend mozilla.

she also lets her personal preference for VERY simple interfaces get in the way of her discovering the beauty of the rest of the system.. she thinks it sucks (how it exists today, she does like kde technologies), and she couldnt be more wrong... try surfing over a pdf in konq.. its just gloriously simple. She completely neglects the user who is accoustomed to the interface (which, dispite the impressions she gives, is very usable) and can harness all the power of KIO, kparts etc. dont get me wrong, i agree with her points on the interface.. but i just cant help but think that she hasnt used it long enough to have a good opinion on the "deeper" aspects of kde.

:::Still bias against konqueror i think

Give her the benefit of the doubt. Konqueror does have problems.

Well, she seem to value her own estetical views very much.
It is a fact that humans do not have any problems
filtering much information. So a "cluttered" window does
not affect usability much. Of course, there are always extremes
but KDE is certainly below the limit.

And what's more, KDE is fully themeable and have a Kiosk mode
so it should be quite easy to change it to ones liking.

It is a fact that humans do not have any problems
filtering much information

Care to prove that with a scientific usability research? I think it's bullshit. People get enough information overload already, so overload in the interface only makes it worse.

by Jesper Juhl (not verified)

Very true.

Personally I very much appreciate the many features, options and settings of KDE, but I think they could be pressented a lot better than they are currently.
Menus are cluttered, too many options are visible by default, grouping seems illogical in places, etc, etc..
In my oppinion KDE should deffinately keep all its customizability but should be cleaned up to provide less options in menus, toolbars and config windows by *default*, the stuff still needs to be there and it must be possible to enable it, but a lot of it should be hidden from the average user.. I think a perfect solution would be a trimmed down interface and the abillity to configure the interface to ones liking, but hiding all (or at least most) of that stuff in "Advanced configuration" menus/panes/tabs/whatever ..
Make it simple and uncluttered by default, but make all the options and whatnot available to the advanced user in some "advanced options location" ...

Well, Konqueror is extremly fast but it still fails to render most (most sites I visit anyway) of the pages correctly. It DOES render simple sites like Slashdot, Freshmeat and dot.kde.org correctly but it screws up almost all more advanced sites. Try www.metica.se for example. It renders the page but then clears it?!! I see that kind of stuff all the time.. I still need mozilla for many sites..

www.metica.se renders fine for my under KDE 3.1.2

by cypherz (not verified)

looks fine here too (kde 314 on SuSE 9.0)

I see the problem as described on kde 3.2beta2. It is not uncommon to encounter pages that do not render well under Konqueror.

by Gabriel Gazzán (not verified)

I've just been there and it looks OK to me (I don't know how it should look, however). One thing is sure, it didn't clear up as you mentioned.
Mandrake 9.2 (out of the box) here.

Both Gabriel and Bob uses KDE older than 3.2 beta 2, and therefore shouldn't comment.
That site really IS broken on beta 2 (tried now on two boxes).

I've actually found about, at least, 4-5 sites broken in 3.2 that wasn't so in 3.1.x.

Hope it's just temporary bugs though...
And while it - when will we get a functional certificate manager in Konq?
Right now I need to keep mozilla in order to access my online bank!

by tanghus (not verified)

> That site really IS broken on beta 2 (tried now on two boxes).

It seems the site sees konqui as ns4. I you change you UA to IE5.5 win98 or something like that it works just fine. So don't blame konqui - blame the programmer of metica.se...

by wilbert (not verified)

www.metica.se no problem here (kde 3.1.4). And many sites which _were_ problematic are fixed in current CVS.

by cbcbcb (not verified)

Comes out as a blank page here (KDE CVS HEAD).

> And many sites which _were_ problematic are fixed in current CVS.

And many sites which _were_ fine are now broken in current CVS. :(

by Leonscape (not verified)

Although the page contains a lot of errors it still renders here.

by Trejkaz (not verified)

You mean "although Konqueror exhibits a lot of errors displaying the page"

by Aaron J. Seigo (not verified)

the problem is in its broken browser detection JS. try switching your user agent setting to IE 5.5 and it renders and works PERFECTLY. even the DHTML menus are flawless.

by Ed Cates (not verified)

When I change the Browser ID to "IE 5.5 on Win2k" the page renders fine in Konqueror (CVS version, compiled a couple of days ago).

It didn't render right at first (rendered, then blanked out), but changing the browser ID caused it to re-render the page, and it stayed up.

I also come across that fairly frequently. Is it a Konq issue or a server issue?

by Thiago Macieira (not verified)

Interesting. It's that "getflta(ap)" error. If you search for that on bugs.kde.org, you'll come up with other sites with the same problem.

What's interesting is that JavaScript function is not in any of the pages. I suspect a Konqueror bug. But, then again, changing the UserAgent fixes it...

If someone has a better idea of what causes this (the contents DO get lost! Check your DOM Tree), feel free to post comments on the open bug reports.

by Trejkaz (not verified)

It's a JavaScript issue, and a perfectly good example of how JavaScript shouldn't be used.

by Jeroen van Drie (not verified)

While I agree with most of her article, that's what struck me too. Thanks to kparts and the kioslaves collection Konqueror is arguably the nicest piece of software on the planet. A lot of people think in terms of applications while in KDE that compartimentalized view doesn't suffice to really harness the flexibility.

This kde 3.2 beta is extremely good. Maybe a few config widgets should be moved out of sight but its very configurability and flexibility is what makes KDE so good.

by Anyone know how... (not verified)

I'm working on a project in Suse 9.0. I see in a lot of places where people say that there is a built in kiosk mode now. Up to know I have not been able to find it and have been able to find no references to how to set it up and implement it. Was not even able to find info concerning it on the Suse website. Any assistance is appreciated.


by Lubos Lunak (not verified)

http://mail.kde.org/mailman/listinfo/kde-kiosk is the subscription page for the kiosk mailing list. The kiosk readme file is in the kdelibs source package in kdecore/README.kiosk. That should be enough to get started. BTW, if you searched for 'kde kiosk' on google, these two are the first two hits.

by Max Howell (not verified)

Also why do people always say "KDE needs a HIG.."? I find KDE apps are very consistent. It's hard not to right a consistent KDE app, kdelibs are just too good! As long as you use the standard GUI class (KStdAction, KMainWindow, etc.) you can't help but end up with a consistent KDE-styled application.

Do people just say "use a HIG" because they would feel better if everyone spent hours over UI design details rather than have the base classes designed so conformance is automatic?

Or am I just glossing over some important details?

by Troy Unrau (not verified)

We do have documents: see http://developer.kde.org/documentation/library/ui.html

Some of them are a bit out of date perhaps, but we also have the kde usability mailing lists: see http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-look&r=1&w=2 and similar for other interests (like accessibility). Most of these lists are far from dead, and many of the participants are active developers.

And yes, using the kde libs does half the work for you, but it doesn't do all the work for you.


That said, some of the decisions are truly braindead. Why the hell is Konquerors Fullscreen mode under settings and not View or Window? Oh well, at least it's consistently wrong -- it's in the same place in Konsole and Kate.

They are being worked on. Treatment of tabs is now nearly identical in konq and konsole, as an example, due to a new class in kdelibs designed to unify these things (ksirc and a few others are slower to convert, missed the feature freeze.)

This seems as though it will be the focus of the post-3.2 KDE (based on my perceptions of conversations in the official irc channels). As soon as freeze finishes folks.

by dsmith (not verified)

> That said, some of the decisions are truly braindead. Why the hell is Konquerors
> Fullscreen mode under settings and not View or Window? Oh well, at least it's
> consistently wrong -- it's in the same place in Konsole and Kate.

Nah, come on. ;)
Braindead would be to put it under Bookmarks, to put it under Settings might just not be optimal.

by Jonathan Bryce (not verified)

I would expect to see it in "View"

by Rayiner Hashem (not verified)

There are some things you just can't program in, like guidelines that context menus should be context-specific and not too huge. These are the things we need an HIG for.

by Claes (not verified)

Good usability is not the same thing as consistent user interface - it includes consistency, but is more than that. Usability is also the very small details that are easy to miss if you are an advanced computer user, or if you are used to a certain UI enough to stop bothering about these details. How things are worded, where things are found, if programs behave like the user would expect. No matter how good KDE libraries are, they can in themselves not replace user interface guidelines. What they should do however, is implement the guidelines where it is possible. Where they can not help, the application programmer needs to be aware of them.

Gnome Human Interface Guidelines (http://developer.gnome.org/projects/gup/hig/1.0/) are probably more detailed than would be required by KDE, since the framework can take care of many things mentioned in them. Look at the introduction for example: "Make Your Application Consistent" is indeed mentioned there, but so is also "Design for People", "Let Users Know What's Going On", "Keep It Simple and Pretty" and "Forgive the User". However good the kdelibs are, they can not deal with all this.

by André Somers (not verified)

Eugenia very much seems to like extremely simple interfaces and hiding options as much as usable. I really don't agree with her. Hiding configuration options into a kind of registry-editor alike tool will really make them usable. There was a very to-the-point comment in the reactions that pointed to the amount of downloads of TweakUI for windows, that is basicly a GUI interface to the many hidden options in the windows registry. Please, stick with putting options in the control center...
Personally, I like the configurability of KDE. I can have stuff *my* way. Sensible defaults: sure, but hiding ways to make another choice: please don't.

One thing I do agree with: Konquerors menu's can be trimmed down. She is right I don't need Cervisia on a webpage.

by Gabriel Gazzán (not verified)

A good alternative to hiding options are presenting "Advanced" tabs/buttons/modes in config panels. The user feels that entering this places they are doing "advanced" operations, left for "advanced" (experienced) people. If you are a newbie then you tend not to visit these places very much.

by a.c. (not verified)

Well, I almost wonder if it should not be taken one step further.
One of the settings should be how to handle the config; should it be novice, intermediate, advanced? Then the config panels should adjust accordingly.

Kommander is perfect for this. I have suggested to Eric that Kommander needs to be extended to support kcontrol (I do not have the time). Once he does, I am going to resurect my *nix config project (3 tier config XML that serves to map from system config to a functional interface to a gui interface). I figure that by coming up with a true meta data for describing configs, we can generate Gnome, KDE, WX, distributed, etc. I actually had it going several years ago (should have finished it or submited for others to finish).

by anonymous (not verified)

Do you really have Cervisia's context menu entries while browsing a webpage? I don't! (and I do have kdesdk installed)

by Wilbert (not verified)

I liked the review and its conclusion , and second that for users who don't have a ~/.kde/ already (so fresh accounts) Plastik and the bouncing cursor should be default. Also miss info about the huge improvements of Konqueror.

Don't agree however with the "one editor" mantra: I definately love KWrite and Kate. Kwrite for normal quick work on single files, and Kate for working on trees of files, programming etc. They use the same underlying technology so they really feel the same whatsoever.

by David (not verified)

Mmm. I've thought about one 'KEditor' for a while. It could perhaps change its view depending on what file you opened etc. KWrite and KEdit certainly need to be merged.

by Jon Doud (not verified)

This is a bad usability idea. Each application should have one (configurable) interface. It should not morph into some other type of application based on something a variable as the data being displayed.

I also use both KWrite and KEdit, but I use them for different purposes, even with the same file. For example, when opening a perl script, which editor would you set as default? For simple scripts, I don't need extensive features, just a quick editor, for more complex scripts, I want to use the syntax highlighting, auto formating, completion, etc. that is available.

by Henrik (not verified)

Why not switch between the two modes with a menu choice? Like you switch a calculator from simple to scientific mode?

by Dominic Chambers (not verified)

That's a good idea.

I use both too (mainly Kate). But one thing that bugs me with Kate, and would be made even worse if they were combined, is that if I just want to edit a single file and I do open with Kate it has to open the 30 files I was last editing also.

The button to change views should be from single file mode to project mode, and there should be a way to have more than one project grouping. When you open a file as part of a project it is remembered for that and when you switch projects the old files are still remembered if you need later. This would be far superior to having actual project files which I think is a pain.

by Scott Wheeler (not verified)

I've said this before, so I'll just repeat -- switching the default style regularly is just a bad idea. Can you imagine Mac changing the default look and feel with every minor release? How about Windows XP looking completely different with each service pack? Keramik is part of KDE 3's look and feel. Any decision to change the default should be post-3.2...

The KDE fanclub changes their mind on styles every 3 weeks, but if you go back to just before 3.1 came out everyone thought Keramik was the coolest thing since sliced bread.