KDE HIG Configuration dialogs - Update

@ 800x600 rule

So far, I'm not sure if we should go for a fixed maximum size or a maximum default size. There is one good reason for a strict maximum size: It better prevents configuration dialogs from being overloaded. "Designing for 800x600" may be understood as "hey, it fits onto the page!". A tricky developer might reduce the height of scalable widgets like the table in the screenshot below, and argue that users can resize the dialog if they want to have a better overview over the element in the table.

I expect that a maximum size will make you think more deeply of what options should be provided on a page, and what should go into an advanced popup.

[image:2719 class=showonplanet align=center]

Also, 800x600 is a rule of thumb. If you really really need more space, you can of course add ~50 Pixels to each dimension. And this rule applies to configuration dialogs only. Other dialogs will still be resizable.

The one strong argument against fixed dialog sizes is accessibility: When increasing the font sizes, the dialog should resize proportionally even for fixed sizes. This, however, should be done by the API. Is it feasible that we get this in the early life cycle of KDE4?

@ Advanced sections

As there was a comment against Advanced sections ("You never find what you are looking for"), I want to make sure that the guideline is understood correctly: The first choice should always be to embed advanced options with their context. That's why foldout sections or popup dialogs are preferred. Only when you have advanced options that don't fith into the other groups, provide an advanced section.

Foldout sections are still missing in the API, by the way ;-)

@ Configuration menu

In the standard section, I suggested to move notification into the general configuration dialog. I suggested this as there are various new types of notifications which are not covered in the standard notifications dialog. Notifications are an important setting and they should be covered in one place. That's why they should be located in the general configuration dialog.

I still think that toolbar and shortcut settings should remain in separate dialogs. It's a consistent location all over the applications, and they are rather advanced settings which shouldn't bloat the general configuration dialog.

@ about:config

One suggestion was to introduce searchable about:config dialogs which list all configuration options in text form. I remember to have heard this suggestion at akademy as well, and wonder if it's something that is desired by a broader part of the community?

@ Reset to Defaults

I completely forgot about the "Reset to Defaults" guideline. In KDE3, "Defaults" works differently in (almost) every application. What we need is a common solution.

A quick-fix would be to provide a split button that provides two options:

  • "Reset [page title]" e.g. "Reset Fonts"
  • "Reset all Settings"


This is something good for advanced users, like myself. Since using current infrastructure this may come for free, I'd be great to expose this.

But something more informative than mozilla's implementation, maybe by requesting descritive information and exposing the part of UI that uses it (if there is a UI using it, of course).

By gsbarbieri at Tue, 03/13/2007 - 21:21

> This is something good for advanced users, like myself. Since using current infrastructure this may come for free, I'd be great to expose this.


By carlo at Tue, 03/13/2007 - 22:21

Notifications are very interesting thing. I find myself foing into that menu very many times in Kopete, Konversation and other communication-type applications. I usually set up a "silent", "almost silent" and "normal" (noisy) profiles and switch very frequently. As such for some applications, I almost want the "Notifications On/Off/Profile" to be a toolbar button or a sub-menu of "View".

I like crowded menus as much as the next guy (and Kopete's menu and config structure is hell) but moving "Notifications" into config dialog may be a bad thing if no quick access to it is provided.

By suslikreal at Tue, 03/13/2007 - 21:26

I don't think an about:config is a good idea. It's an easy excuse - or way out - to avoid clutter. However, it only moves the problem, it doesn't fix it. Developers get lazy, directing users to "well fix this and that in about:config". There is no need to fix the dialogs themselves, e.g. improve the layout.

One of the best examples is the improvements made to the Desktop settings between KDE 3.1 and KDE 3.5. KDE managed to get this cleaned up, while keeping advanced settings like a different wallpaper with every desktop. GNOME took the other route, removed support for multiple wallpapers (perhaps it's still in GConf), and just nobody bothers to look at it. Funny thing is, when I showed my sister the wallpaper options in KDE, the first think she did was setting a different wallpaper per desktop. So it's definitely a neat feature, and I'm glad it was improved :)

With Firefox 2, I still don't know know the option to restore the close button at the right side. It's supposed to be somewhere in about:config, but lost the website and can't find it anymore.

If you really want an about:config, we already have it. It's called ~/.kde/config/

By vdboor at Tue, 03/13/2007 - 22:20

when i asked for about:config, i asked if this is a feature very advanced users (like developers or the ones who read the planet) wish to have.

but you are right, the danger that it would be used as an easy excuse is pretty high...

By Ellen Reitmayr at Wed, 03/14/2007 - 10:17

I think that this is why scroll bars were mentioned in the previous post — if you allow the window to be resized arbitrarily, you may end up with the OK, Apply, Cancel buttons out of viewport, just like it happened so often in KDE3 and is such an annoying event. Keep in mind that people needing to see bigger letters likely won’t have a bigger resolution to go with it.

I think the 8 by 6 thing is doable and a good proposal, and while scrollbars in a config window can be subpar, it’s much better than having to miss information and the most important buttons altogether.

// P.S. I just wasted about half an hour trying to get my account to work here — I’m still not getting any password e-mails in any of my mailboxes :(

By [email protected] at Tue, 03/13/2007 - 22:59

yes, i think that's why dialogs should be aware of the size of the actual viewport (excluding the panel). so whenever the dialog resizes itself, it shouldn't grow bigger than the viewport, and scrollbars should be added.

By Ellen Reitmayr at Wed, 03/14/2007 - 10:12

about:config does already exist. It is called kconfigeditor and it is already way better than what Firefox's about:config has to offer because it does not just list the configuration keys but also a description of the keys (at least for those configuration options that have a description and that should include all configuration options that are provided by KConfigXT).

By Ingo Klöcker at Wed, 03/14/2007 - 07:29

Well, not part of KDE, only extragear. But thanks for the pointer.

By carlo at Fri, 03/16/2007 - 01:48

Put toolbar and shortcut configuration in the main configuration dialog. It's confusing for people that it isn't there, I've seen many examples of people looking in the main configuration first and then wondering where they should be looking.

People generally find the settings menu silly. And it is. And it makes KDE application have an additional and uneccessary menu which means our apps look more complex at initial glance.

There doesn't seem to be a good reason for splitting the configurations into separate dialogs. I note you didn't provide one.

By mxcl at Wed, 03/14/2007 - 11:49