HIG about Simple vs. Advanced Settings

Recently the question was asked in the KDE forums how we handle advanced settings. While there is neither a best practice nor a common approach in KDE software, we actually discussed a similar concept in respect to the Plasma control modules (KCM). This post presents a proposal for a human interface guideline (HIG) that generalizes this concept for all types of applications.


KDE 5 Menu

Note in bold: no official plans here, however many continuously maintained software projects start with N+1 version development long before N version is discontinued. So yes, I really think the current works at UX level are "the" KDE 5 development.

Transition to KDE 5, whatever it means, is a process not just one atomic step. Today a follow up of the previous entry about fruits of the Calligra Sprint: Modern "File" menu merged with start-up view.

The need

The ideas were much older but it all started to take shape in January 2011. First, some analysis and mockups born.


Elegance #4: tab bar uncluttered

In previous "elegance" entries I presented just ideas, without implementation. Readers obsessed in the area of look&feel may remember the proposal for uncluttering tab widget when used in side pane.

Any specific fix would be just for Oxygen style, so it is still unclear if starting to code this makes much sense. But. As a low-hanging fruit today I called this code on my tab widget of Kexi side pane:


Elegance #3: Opinions vs Data

Follow up of the discussion about new UI elements: "it may look weird" first-look opinions vs positive results of usability testing. GMail has removed "select all/select none/..." buttons with single combo box for exactly one reason: elegance or UI uncluttering.


Bangarang has no menus or toolbars!

I have a bit of a depressive sort of personality, usually seeing the cup as 'half empty' rather than 'half full'. And lately I've been a bit depressed about the state of the KDE project despite an awesome Akademy in Tampere. Amongst things that bug me about KDE, are the very slow migration to git, and that Windows 95 look and feel that we can't seem to escape despite having brilliant graphics programmers, usability experts and artists. I just loathe those complicated menus, toolbars and Microsoft's complete lack of aesthic sense that we have copied perfectly.


Cursor focus tracking using QAccessible

KMag used to zoom into part of the screen got just today an additional mode: Follow Focus Mode. That means that kmag can now follow either the mouse pointer or the keyboard cursor.

Video of KMag with 'Follow Focus' mode

Extending for example KWin's full-screen zoom plugin can be done with something like;

    "/Adaptor", "org.kde.kaccessibleapp.Adaptor", "focusChanged",

My rant: How not to do blogs...

Apparently, with my original posting here, I stepped on several people's toes. I'm sorry for that, and for this reason, I've simply removed this content (and also because - as some of you pointed out - some of the things I mentioned were not Plasma's fault, but workarounds or bugs in other areas, although to me as a user they appeared on Plasma).


Error messages are art

Writing good error messages for your programs is art. Your user gets an error message - he cannot ask his computer "how do you mean this?". Error messages are important because they can help you fix a problem. Some error messages are critical because the error prevents you from achieving anything. One example are the error message of startkde. When you have a problem with startkde, you have a real problem. If you cannot solve it, you cannot work (with KDE) at all.