Progressing towards Next

In the Plasma team, we’re working frantically towards the next release of the Plasma workspaces, code-named “Plasma Next”. With the architectural work well in place, we’ve been filling in missing bits and pieces in the past months, and are now really close to the intended feature set for the first stable release. A good time to give you an impression of what it’s looking like right now. Keep in mind that we’re talking Alpha software here, and that we still have almost three months to iron out problems. I’m sure you’ll be able to observe something broken, but also something new and shiny.

For the first stable release of Plasma Next, we decided to focus on core functionality. It’s impossible to get every single feature that’s available in our long-term support release KDE Plasma workspaces 4.11 into Plasma Next at once. We therefore decided to not spread ourselves too thin, and set aside some not-quite-core functionality for now. So we’re not aiming at complete feature parity yet, but at a stable core desktop that gets the work done, even if it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some of our users might be used to, yet.

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Apart from “quite boring”, underlying “system stuff”, we’ve also worked on the visuals. In the video, you can see an improved contrast in Plasma popups, effects in kwin have been polished up to make the desktop feel snappier. We’ve started the work on a new Plasma theme, that will sport a flatter look with more pronounced typography than the venerable Air, and animations can now be globally disabled, so the whole thing runs more efficiently on systems with slow painting performance, for example across a network. These are only some of the changes, there are many more, visible and invisible.

We’re not quite done yet, but we have moved our focus from feature development to bugfixing, the results of that are very visible if you follow the development closely. Annoying problems are being fixed every day, and at this rate of development, I think we’re looking at a very shiny first stable release. Between today and that unicorn-dances-on-rainbows release lie almost three months of hard work, though, and that’s what we’ll do. While the whole thing already runs very smooth on my computers, we still have a lot of work to do in the integration department, and to translate this stability to the general case. Systems out there are diverse and different, and only wide-spread testing can help us make the experience a good one for everybody.

9 Responses to “Progressing towards Next”

  1. labatts says:

    Wow, looks great. I really like the looks of the kickoff launcher and the new calendar widget. The activities switcher was also nice.

  2. isemenov says:

    Looks really nice, esp. the re-worked Calendar. Way cleaner than it used to be. Although, honestly, the Notifications system seems to contain some unnecessary animations. Well, from my POV, they add distraction and visual noise, as well as a certain amount of perceived delay to the process. What if only 1 notification arrives, will the whole cluttered UI (doubled “Notifications” title, the tab widget on the left, the applicaiton categories tab widget) come up as well?

    • sebas says:

      Yep, overall, I think the changes so far work out pretty well.

      I’m not entirely happy with the notifications part, either. The doubled title needs to be fixed, and I think we can remove some visual noise there, indeed. These parts haven’t undergone the new theming yet, I expect to see the final result to look cleaner.

      • akiaki says:

        I agree that notifications need some further polishing. For me it resembles a bit to the old calendar: when one first looked at it, in a glance one could find it cluttered. In the new version, however, it became an airy, well-structured widget which is totally straightforward to understand from the very first glance on.

        I would like to congratulate, there are many little things that are bugging me in KDE 4 which were fixed and enhanced in this Next version. I’m looking forward to release its final version, I’m sure it will be awesome :).

  3. Rajeesh says:

    Looks beautiful!

    In the video, opening KInfoCenter showed awkwardly (re)sized window with long scrollbars. Is this the application itself should fix, or in Qt, or can be only done easily in QtQuick? I would like to help if you can show some pointers.

    • sebas says:

      The video shows an issue with initial sizing of windows. We’ve had some changes in these mechanisms while moving away from KApplication to the QPA plugin, which is apparently amiss here.

  4. Jon G says:

    Looks like it is developing nicely.

    Is icon only tasks going to be included in the initial release (or at least that functionality rolled into the default task manager)?

    I don’t want to have to roll my UI back to Vista/XP days…

  5. Carol says:

    The skin looks a bit dated by now. And it does not adapt well to a touch oriented user paradigm.