Plasma Active at Tokamak 5

Our two big topics at Tokamak 5 are infrastructural changes and libplasma2, and Plasma Active. In a session yesterday, we discussed the Plasma Active shell, and how we want to interact with it. The discussion was very fruitful, and based on a mockup by Riccardo, we decided to implement a top panel that you can drag out, offering access to the window switcher, the “system tray”, and a couple of other things. That’s quite a big visual change from what we have right now, but it allows us to achieve a number of interaction cleanups. Let’s look in more detail what we’re doing here:

  • Window switching – The top panel has a horizontal window list, which you can use to switch between app windows and widgets in your workspaces. The window decoration is going away, windows can be closed from the window list. The present windows effect has this already implemented, as a trashcan you can swipe your window into. It works pretty well and is snazzy.
  • Semantic Resource Visualization – In order to display things like files, contacts, bookmarks, music, etc. we use separate QML elements for different uses (items in a listview, for example). The data comes directly from Nepomuk. This part is also starting to work, we can list different resources, and based on its type (defined in the ontologies), it will choose a suitable QML file to display this Thing in a suitable way and allow for interaction with it.
  • Storage of bookmarks – As most of the information we use in Plasma Active is coming from Nepomuk, we decided to store the bookmarks in there as well. The NFO Ontology has classes for Bookmark and Bookmark folder, which is what we’re using here. Last night I’ve restructured the metadataengine to make it easier to build special purpose dataengines on top of that. These dataengines allow for easy access and usage in QML / Plasma Quick.
  • Web Dashboard – I’m doing some work on a nice way to view your bookmarks, as interacting with the web is an important use-case of Plasma Active. We now have (cached) previews of webpages, we can use directly in QML. Combined with the dataengine that lists bookmarks, it’s now easy to implement a bookmarks browser, done entirely in Plasma Quick, shippable as architecture-independent package. Connecting these bits and pieces is next on th list.

Some of these things are working already, others materialise as we speak, some will surely stay on our list until after Tokamak, so we’ve got something to hack on when everybody’s back. :)

5 Responses to “Plasma Active at Tokamak 5”

  1. Paul Hoell says:

    Nice outlook, i’m really looking forward to a first look at this work.

    As often, KDE Devs step in and show how it can look, if you go the whole way.

    Thanks for your work

  2. GJDitchfield says:

    ‘windows can be closed from the window list. The present windows effect has this already implemented, as a trashcan you can swipe your window into”

    Ew, ick, terrible idea. Trash cans are for deleting things. This invites confusion with deleting the data displayed in the window, and with deleting the application that is displaying the window.

    • Stephan van den Akker says:

      I agree with you on the trashcan. I find that lots of computer users fail to see the distinction between data and applications. They say things like: “This text is stored in Word”.

      From what I hear Apple is deliberately hiding the difference between applications and data on the i-pad. Data is always tied to one application and can only be viewed through that application. This way, they will probably create a large group of tablet users that are totally oblivious to the difference between data en application.

      To these users swiping a window into the trashcan may mean: “deleting the data” instead of “closing the application”.

  3. Stephan van den Akker says:

    Yesterday at Tokamak I tried two tablets with Plasma Active. I liked it, but application switching confused me at first. I think that version didn’t yet have the top panel with the windows list, but had a button in the top left corner. This button looked too much like the KDE “Pager” to me, hence the confusion…. I lost a couple of open windows for a while.

    The windows list could be a nice solution to this problem!

  4. Christopher Grebs says:

    Damnit, and my order didn’t arrive at time. Hopefully you can use it for other fancy events like those. Keep up the awesome work!