KDE-Artists.org: Featured Coder Ryan Nickell

The KDE-Artists website is featuring an interview with Ryan Nickell, one of the current authors of SuperKaramba and Smooth Blend. He talks about his baby SuperKaramba, the KDE community website KDE-look.org, Plasma, KDE 4 and he even answers some personal questions. Enjoy the interview!


My favourire Windows scheme is slate pcd + mystic colour scheme, it looks great.

By Peter at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Any screenshots, or maybe a link to kde-look?

By ac at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

I use it on Win too because it looks great with the Safaris style skin for firefox. However you have to patch XP to use the Longhorn skins.

By Aranea at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Hmmm, your web browser still has underlining of links? That's so 1990s!

By Anonymous at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

yes, 1995

By Aranea at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

No, underlining links is basic usability.

By Erik Hensema at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

yes, its one of the first things i turn on in konqueror when i install KDE.

By superstoned at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

yes I do that as well

By ac at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Um, it's just clutter and one of the reasons people have been criticizing KDE for looking cluttered. You can just turn on hover which will underline the link at that time instead of all the time, the rest of the time the link should be indicated by color.

Underlining is used VERY RARELY in the publishing business for a reason you know.

By Anonymous at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Underlyning in Konqueror file manager was a mess as everything was underlined. But for web pages?

By gerd at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

See attached screenshot. One of these is an unmitigated mess. There is an excess of underlining that serves no function that the colored links don't already do. The other is a professional presentation.

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

If one has any sort of a colour deficit at all (even a minor one) they will _not_ be able to tell what are the links and what aren't.

You're confusing usability with aesthetics.

Underlining isn't used in the publishing business because italics looks better, not because it's unusable. Underlining links is a clear way to indicate their existence. In your attached screenshot, I can pick out the links immediately in the lower, underlined, section, whereas it takes a bit longer - due to the poor contrast between navy and black - in the upper, non-underlined, section.

By Bryan Feeney at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

some sites i read don't give links another color, the only way to see them is to underline them...

By superstoned at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Those sites are unusable, but KDE can underline on hover! It's great!

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

yes, but i'm not willing to slowly move my mouse over all text to find out where the links are... the site that annoyed me most was the now closed http://www.expert-zone.com/. impossible to find the links to the news without konqi forcing to underline them.

By superstoned at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Haha, yes that site sucks so bad. Thanks for a good laugh. :-)

I don't know, maybe with CSS stylesheets you can force links to be a different color.

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

> You're confusing usability with aesthetics.


I don't have any kind of colour deficit whatsoever (I've done the tests), and I still think the underlined version is far more readable. The difference in colours is too subtle.

People saying underlines make things "cleaner" remind me of myself when I was a kid. I used to reduce the size of the scrollbars and toolbars, use a small font size, use a funky colour scheme, etc.

After a while, I figured out that smaller isn't faster, darker and "cleaner" isn't more readable, in fact most of the things I was doing to "optimise" my interface were actually counterproductive.

By all means, people should be free to make their desktops look good. But usually it makes them *less* usable. And a desktop that works well is more important to me than a desktop that looks pretty.

By Jim at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Well it makes sense for people with failing eyesight or have accessibility issues. It does not make sense for normal-abled people.

Would you have an On-Screen Keyboard enabled by default just because it supposedly makes KDE more "usable" for a minority, even though it creates clutter?

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Perhaps that might be because the publishing business doesn't use hyperlinks?

By taj at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Nope, as someone said it's because italics and sometimes bold look much better.

As for hyperlinks, heard of PDF? No underlining there, my friend.

By Anonymous at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

I'm glad you brought up PDFs. Most of the documents are created by people with limited hyptertext thinking, leading to most of them having serious hunt-the-pixel-to-find-the-hyperlink issues. This is the 21st century. Hypertext is not a 1980s graphical adventure game.

If we coopt bold and italics for hyperlinks, we are going to have to come up with new ideograms for headings, quotations and emphasis (traditionally denoted by boldness and italics). Underlined text? ALL CAPS? Animated dancing bears?

By taj at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Sigh. Didn't we already cover this? That's what the link colors are for. You know? Now, I yield to you that some people have disabilities, but then again we already covered this ground.

By Anonymous at Tue, 2005/07/05 - 5:00am

> Sigh. Didn't we already cover this? That's what the link colors are for. You know?

You may want to re-read the whole thread. Quite a few people disagreed with you on that. And it wasn't only about people with disabilities...

I didn't get the feeling that that case was closed. Nor is there a need to. The Konqi option is not going away.

By cm at Tue, 2005/07/05 - 5:00am

He's the author of Smooth Blend
I really like his Smooth Blend Window Decoration :).

By Michaël Larouche at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

>Ryan Nickell: Don't throw tomatoes at me for this one.. I use Firefox currently.

What's better in firefox or which feature is missing in konqueror dude? Just wanna know what makes you like firefox. Could you answer that please... Ryan!?

By Asif Ali Rizwaan at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

how do you use mouse gestures in konq?

By pholie at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

You configure them under Accessibility/KHotKeys

By Anonymous at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Most of the time I use Firefox too.
There are only three things I am missing from Konquerer.

The first one is a Javascript engine as fast as Firefox'. Konquerer's Javascript is so slow that I can't use it on several forums and other sites which I visit regualary because Konquerer freezes several seconds because of the scripts. With Firefox this doesn't happen.

The second one is the nice highlighting when searching. This is something I really like with Firefix.

The last one is plugins. There are some very cool Firefox plugins, like webdeveloper, dictionary lookup, etc. Very convenient.

Otherwise Konquerer has gone a long way and is a great browser.

By Andreas at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

> The second one is the nice highlighting when searching

Doesn't Konqueror highlight the text as well?

By Kevin Krammer at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Do you mean "/ Search while typing" and " ' Search hyperlinks while typing"

(I'm translated them, my konqueror is in spanish, it could be different)

By pepebotika at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Yes, I mean the search-while-typing feature. Firefox has a checkbox on the search toolbar (the one below the document space) to highlight all occurenctes of the search string in the document.

Just like 'set hlsearch' in vim.

By Andreas at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

yes, this is very cool. also the way it says "plugins are needed, download them here", and the slightly better popup blocker integration. altough the windoze popupblocker allows to show a blocked popup, that's still missing in firefox AND konqueror.

By superstoned at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

I think the fundamental problem is that Konqueror tries to be a file browser (http's just a fancy ioslav right ;-) ) and a file-manager at the same time. These are two separate tasks. Might I suggest the unthinkable, and promote the ideas of two apps for KDE4? One a dedicated file-manager, and one a dedicated browser?

For example, it was always very annoying that the home button could only link to your home dir or a homepage, but not both. Likewise, the existence of two appearance sections (albeit under different names) in the Settings dialog was always a bit odd.

A side effect of this would be that it might reduce the number of menu items and configuration options, which are intimidatingly numerous and complex.

By Bryan Feeney at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

I'm with you here :) I really like konqueror but it desperately need a clean up in both areas. When browsing web I need those webbrowser functionalities like history (and easy searching from it) etc.

By Petteri at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

I disagree, you can completely customize your konqueror to be just the file browser you want, and you can use another browser for your web, or you can even use others, why take away an option for those who happen to like the multitask way of konqueror, in favor of something that already exists???
(although I partially agree on that home button stuff, but then again, there is something like the bookmarks-line where you can have your favorite bookmarks at hand).

By Matthias Logghe at Sat, 2005/08/06 - 5:00am

"dictionary lookup"

You can always use dict: $wordToLookup


By am at Mon, 2005/07/04 - 5:00am

Konqueror totally sucks with adblocking and pop-up windows. The configuration menu contains 100 useless option.

By SinDios at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

Konqueror badly needs a list of closed windows (in order of closure) which you can recover after you've closed them (accidentally or because you want to lok sth. up again you've just read).

Opera has this, in v8 this even has a trashcan icon - so you can think of it like trash:/ on the desktop; you still have access to closed sites before they're irrecoverably lost (ok you can always torture your brain for hints on where you found the information you have in mind, or try to surf back to this specific location). Just hit CTRL+Z and the tab is back. No, the general history of visited sites is not the same.

And it needs some kind of crash handler which brings up the sites you we're browsing when the browser crashed at the next startup (restore session). Crashes do happen (through the application or by bad html) and it's very annoying when you've lost a whole surfing session with several tabs.

Someone else missing these, too?

By Phase II at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

> And it needs some kind of crash handler which brings up the sites you we're browsing

kdeaddons has as "Crashes Monitor" Konqueror extension.

By Anonymous at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

yep, and i guess its very easy to create an "closed websites" extention? please, i'd love to see one...

By superstoned at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

What about F9 + History (the clock)? I use it every now and then to go again to a website I've looked at some time before.

By Ingo Klöcker at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

usefull, but not half as usefull as it could be. mostly because it annoys me by constantly changing (yeah, obvious, but it still does, and that's not very usefull)

By superstoned at Sun, 2005/07/03 - 5:00am

What about a search box and/or a lock history button?

By ninj at Tue, 2005/07/05 - 5:00am

The history sidebar has a search box.

By Anonymous at Tue, 2005/07/05 - 5:00am

i don't want to SEARCH for the tab I just opened, the point is i want a FAST AND EASY way to re-open it.

By superstoned at Thu, 2005/07/07 - 5:00am

surprised on the amount of non-KDE apps he uses, The Gimp, Openoffice, Evolution and Firefox. KDE maybe a good desktop environment, doesnt mean KDE has better applications.

By Salsa King at Sat, 2005/07/09 - 5:00am


- Krita couldn't be taken seriously as competitor of Gimp before the release of KOffice 1.4 which is only some weeks old. Let's see what the future brings here ...
- OpenOffice still has much better MS Office filters. So if that's important to you the choice is a no-brainer. Startup is dog-slow though...
- Evolution: I don't think Kontact is any worse than Evo. And he said he wanted to switch.
- Firefox: It's a good browser and even cross-platform, so why not? Makes a nice backup browser for me for the few pages that Konqi does not handle...

Often people just use what they are used to. It's not only about current quality.

You cannot take it for granted that KDE always has the best solution for any particular problem. It's not like other developers are bad or stupid!

The good news is that for many common sets of requirements it's possible to find a KDE app that's up to the task, and quite a few times it has even the best-of-breed solution (but that judgement is subjective, of course). In addition to the functionality, the KDE apps have integration into and consistency with the KDE desktop and its other apps as strong points.

By cm at Sat, 2005/07/09 - 5:00am