This week in Usability & Productivity, part 7

Another busy week in Usability & Productivity. As has been observed, we’re fixing issues at Warp 9 speed! KDE contributors racked up some pretty significant wins this week, and we’ve already got some great stuff in the pipeline that I hope to be able to announce next week! But for now, take a look at this week’s haul!

New Features

  • Plasma now shows an on-screen-display that allows you to choose what happens the first time you connect in an unknown new screen (KDE Phabricator Revision D9414, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13):
  • KRunner can now be limited to searching for archives, presentations, and spreadsheets; search for e.g. “Type:Archive [search term]” (KDE Phabricator revision D10624, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13.0)
  • KRunner now shows a downward-pointing arrow you can click to bring up its search history (KDE bug 375207, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13.0)
  • Okular gained improved support for calculations in PDF forms that use Javascript (KDE Phabricator Task T7805, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0) – See more information here!
  • Okular now renders content within code tags in FictionBook files (KDE bug 387426, implemented in KDE Applications 17.12.3)
  • Kate/KDevelop syntax highlighting is now compatible with SELinux config files and work better with AppArmor config files (KDE Phabricator revisions D10174 and D10220, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug that broke certain global keyboard shortcuts for mute, sleep, and brightness control for some users upgrading to Plasma 5.12 (KDE bug 389991, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2)
  • Fixed a bug that broke auto-mounting certain disks for many users who upgraded to KDE Frameworks 5.43 (KDE bug 389479, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44).
  • Fixed a bug that caused KRunner’s bookmarks runner to crash all the time and not display favicons from Firefox (KDE bug 363136 fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2)
  • Fixed a bug where Spectacle would capture an inappropriately large area for certain windows (such as Spectacle’s own window!) when using “Window Under Cursor” mode (KDE bug 376350, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0)
  • Fixed a bug where dragging a maximized window’s titlebar down using a touchscreen on Wayland did not de-maximize the window (KDE bug 390113, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause entries in Dolphin’s breadcrumb menu to be accidentally activated when the menu was very tall and Dolphin’s window was close to the bottom of the screen (KDE bug 380287, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44)

UI improvements and polish

  • Headers in System Settings’ sidebar are now actually visible (KDE bug 384638, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2)
  • The Desktop Toolbox (That little square button in the corner of the desktop) now defaults to always living in the screen corner on the opposite side of the where the desktop icons appear by default, which based on whether you’re using a left-to-right or right-to-left language (KDE bug 390038, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0)
  • Task Manager status icon badges are now readable when using the Breeze Dark theme (KDE Phabricator revision D10697, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2):
  • Hidden files in Dolphin and file pickers can additionally be shown and hidden again with the Ctrl+H keyboard shortcut, matching other Linux file browsers (KDE Bug 390527, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0 and KDE Frameworks 5.44)
  • Places that have been hidden in Dolphin’s Places panel no longer appear in dropdown menus that show Places items, and categorys now get their own sub-menus for greater usability (KDE bug 389635, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44):
  • The Media Frame widget’s “image fill mode” dropdown menu now correctly displays all text (KDE bug 390571, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0)
  • Clicking on Gwenview’s “show image full screen” hover button now actually shows the image in full screen mode (KDE Phabricator revision D10651, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0)
  • In Gwenview’s browse mode, tooltips for long image names no longer lag badly when you move the cursor very quickly between thumbnails (KDE bug 245091, fixed in KDE Applications 17.12.3)
  • Most of Gwenview’s toolbars and menus that lacked icons now have them, and the icons are more appropriate in HiDPI mode (KDE Phabricator Revision D10726, Fixed in KDE Applications 17.12.3):

  • KTorrent now looks good in HiDPI mode (KDE bug 390605, Fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0):
  • KGet now looks good in HiDPI mode (KDE bug 390903), fixed in KDE Applications 17.12.3):
  • The Plasma Network Manager’s Add New Connection scrollbar now looks right when you use Breeze dark for your panel, but Breeze light for your windows (KDE bug 390846, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)

Someone on Reddit recently mused, “It’s like a year’s worth of improvement every week”. KDE’s momentum is intense, and it’s an amazing time to join the team as a contributor! In these tumultuous times, you can be part of a project that’s producing enduring value. KDE’s impact is truly global, and grows all the time. You can help us provide humanity with the finest free software ever written.

If my efforts seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal.

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Kubuntu: how to fix pixellated app icons in Discover

Do your app icons in Discover look ugly and pixellated? If so, you’re probably a Kubuntu user. Every user of a recent Kubuntu version unfortunately sees horrid low-resolution icons in Discover. It’s very unpleasant.

Today I helped drive an investigation and resolution for this issue. Here’s the good news: it’ll be fixed in the upcoming Kubuntu 18.04, and you can fix it for yourself, today! Here’s how.

  • Run the following terminal commands:
    sudo sed -i "s/hidpi/large/" /etc/apt/apt.conf.d/60plasma-discover
    sudo apt update
    sudo appstreamcli refresh-cache --force
  • Restart Discover, if it’s running

Ta-daa! Pretty, high-resolution icons:

This turned out to be a bug in how Discover was packaged in Debian. Ubuntu was re-using the Debian Appstream configuration packaging, and that packaging was erroneously downloading HiDPi versions of small icons instead of large icons. This illustrates an eternal principle in software: the price of 3rd-party and upstream dependencies is eternal communication. When every layer of software is built on top of another layer provided by someone else, communication is mandatory; when the people responsible for each layer don’t talk to one another regularly, bugs creep in. Once all parties were talking to one another in the same (virtual) room, a fix materialized literally within minutes.

Thankfully, this bug has been squashed, and Kubuntu users will once again see pretty app icons.

If my efforts seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal.

This week in Discover, part 7

The quest to make Discover the most-loved Linux app store continues at Warp 9 speed! You may laugh, but it’s happening! Mark my words, in a year Discover will be a beloved crown jewel of the KDE experience. Here’s what this past week yielded for Discover:

New Features

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug where searching didn’t work when the main window is narrow and shows an app page (KDE bug 390191, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Fixed a bug that caused the app list to inappropriately re-order itself after clearing a search (KDE bug 390909, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Discover to get stuck in the “Checking for Updates” state (KDE bug 389072, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause a crash when trying to remove a Flatpak app under certain circumstances (KDE bug 390805, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.3)
  • Fixed a bug that prevented Discover’s App page from being scrolled vertically when the cursor was positioned over the screenshots (KDE bug 389974, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.1)
  • Fixed a bug where Discover could only launch one version of an app when multiple Flatpak versions were installed (KDE bug 389079, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Discover to crash while opening a .flatpakref file under certain circumstances (KDE bug 390907, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause certain Snap apps to appear to be installed when they weren’t actually installed (KDE bug 390482, fixed in KD Plasma 5.12.3)

UI improvements and polish

  • Discover’s sidebar is now has a more appropriate width (KDE bug 385992, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3):
  • “Application Addons” section now only has application addons, and “Plasma Addons” category now only has Plasma addons (KDE bug 390594, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2):
  • Discover’s Multimedia category now has sub-categories (KDE bug 388933, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2):

    These categories are still a little rough and will display some things that shouldn’t be there, but we’re going to refine them over time.
  • The horizontal shadow in the screenshots view on Discover’s app page now looks good when using the Breeze Dark theme (KDE Phabricator revision D10701, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3):
  • Discover no longer confusingly points users to non-existent documentation (KDE bug 390401, Fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.3)
  • Discover’s Install and Remove buttons now have the same icon colors in Desktop view as they do in Mobile view (KDE bug 389481, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13)
  • Discover’s “Check for Updates” button is now on the Updates page where it belongs (KDE bug 390347, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13)

Like what you see? Be a part of it! Becoming a KDE contributor is easy as pie, and we’re working to streamline the process every day. Help us build something of enduring value during these tumultuous times.

If my efforts seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, consider becoming a patron on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal.

It’s now much easier to be a bug triager

We’ve just rolled out a significant and welcome policy change to KDE’s Bugzilla bug tracker: Everyone with an account may now edit any bug without prior permission. This means that every KDE Bugzilla user can now be a bug triager anytime they want!

So get out there and triage some bugs! Our documentation can be found here. This is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to contribute to KDE, and it doesn’t require a significant time commitment. Most bugs can be triaged in a minute or two, and boring downtime is a perfect opportunity for some bug triaging! It’s also a great way to ease into development; bug triagers will become familiar with KDE’s codebase and encounter small easy-to-fix issues that are the perfect entry points for submitting patches.

If my efforts seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, consider supporting me on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal.

This week in Usability & Productivity, part 6

It’s been another big week in Usability & Productivity! We’ve got usability improvements, performance improvements, and bugfixes galore! Have a look:

  • Plasma is now a full second faster to start (KDE Phabricator revision D10536, Improved in Plasma 5.13)
  • Fixed a severe freeze in Discover 5.12 (KDE bug 390123, available in KDE Plasma 5.12.1)
  • Apps whose desktop files contain spaces can once again be pinned and stay where they’re supposed to be on the panel (KDE bug 385942, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13)
  • Creating a new file using Dolphin is now instantaneous (KDE bug 388887, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04)
  • The Open With panel received a UI redesign that yields significant usability and productivity boosts, in addition to fixing some bugs (KDE bug 359233, implemented in KDE Frameworks 5.44):
  • Fixed Drag-and-drop from Spectacle to Chromium (KDE bug 369404, available in KDE Applications 18.04)
  • Dolphin’s Edit menu now has menu icons for Select All and Invert Selection, making it a 100% icon-complete menu (KDE Phabricator revision D10503, implemented in KDE Applications 17.12.3):
  • All KDE Apps using the Deselect and Replace KStandardActions now get menu icons for them (KDE Phabricator revision D10508, implemented in KDE Frameworks 5.44):
  • Apps on the touchscreen-friendly Application Dashboard can now actually be launched with touchscreen taps (KDE bug 366527, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.2)
  • Gwenview can now be configured to not show the image action buttons that appear over thumbnails when you hover over them with the mouse (KDE bug 164847, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04)

  • The Web Browser Widget has been overhauled and now works much better, regaining the features it lost in the KDE4 -> Plasma 5 transition (KDE bugs 361939 and 371023)
  • Icons in Dolphin’s Information Panel now look good in HiDPI (KDE Phabricator revision D10532, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04)
  • The Toggle Touchpad shortcut actually toggles the touchpad now (KDE bug 370588, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.1)

I’ve noticed a significant influx of new contributors recently, so what we’re doing seems to be resonating with the community. It’s a great time to get involved. Our documentation and new contributor pipeline are getting better all the time. You don’t need to be a programmer to start submitting patches! Most of my first patches were simple one-liners and string changes. Once you’ve got your development environment set up, submitting trivial patches like these is as easy as pie, and will familiarize you with the codebase so you feel comfortable tackling slightly larger challenges.

If my efforts seem useful and you’d like to see more of them, consider supporting me on Patreon, LiberaPay, or PayPal.

I’m on Patreon now

Howdy everyone! So many folks have asked me to set up a Patreon page that I’ve gone and done it: https://www.patreon.com/ngraham

By supporting me on Patreon, you’re helping me provide the focus, direction, support, and technical contributions that work to turn the KDE software suite into a lean, mean, bug-free productivity machine, and get it distributed well so that our users have great options for getting our software.

Of course, I’m only one man; what really matters is not me, but rather you! KDE’s greatest strength is its passionate community of developers and users, who work tirelessly to develop, improve, polish, promote, and use KDE software. I truly couldn’t do this without all of you, and in fact, I wouldn’t even want to! All of you are the reason why I work so hard on KDE software. Thank you, so very much.

Become a patron

This week in Discover (and Kirigami!), part 6

This is going to be a double-header: today we’re discussing Discover as well as Kirigami–KDE’s UI framework that facilitates writing convergent apps that look and feel good on both the desktop and a mobile device.

…At least that’s the idea. The truth is, KDE users have voiced a lot of criticism for how well this works out in practice. An especially common complaint is that the desktop user experience gets short shrift, and Kirigami apps feel like big phone apps.

We’ve heard this feedback, and we’re acting on it. Over the past week, we’ve been hard at work to make Kirigami UI components behave more appropriately on the desktop, and have Discover make use of them instead of its custom components.

So I have exciting news for everyone who has complained about Discover’s design being too mobile-ey and wasting too much space: that’s going to be a thing of the past. Here’s how the Featured page now looks in git master:

No more huge header with the picture of the coffee cup that nobody liked! This is not the final appearance; there’s still polish work to be done, and we are heavily iterating over Kirigami to improve it to make the Desktop UI a first-class citizen. But it’s a model for what we’re going for.

We also added some other much-requested user-centric features to Discover, such as making reviews more prominent. Have a look!

  • Discover now shows the top three reviews right on the app page (KDE bug 380514, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13):
  • Discover’s review submission pop-up is now more user-friendly and makes it impossible to accidentally submit a one-star review (KDE bug 390426 and Phabricator revision D10500, improved in Plasma 5.13):
    Note the presence of a close button! Another much-requested feature for Kirigami pop-ups.
  • You can now use Discover to write an app’s first review (KDE bug 390339 and KDE Phabricator revision D10476, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.1):
  • Kirigami scrollable pop-ups (used for Discover’s review page) no longer let you scroll beyond the content in desktop mode (KDE bug 388942, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44)
  • Kirigami non-scrolling pop-ups (used for Discover’s review input pop-up) now have correct bottom padding (KDE bug 390032, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44)
  • Kirigami toolbar headers are bit taller their titles and navigation buttons have appropriate padding (KDE Phabricator revisions D10483 and D10524, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44)
  • Kirigami pop-ups (used for Discover’s screenshots and reviews pop-ups) now have close buttons (KDE bug 387815, Fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.44)
  • Discover’s “show more reviews” button now always shows the correct number of reviews, has slightly better text, and no longer lets you write the first review for apps that you haven’t installed yet (KDE Phabricator revisions D10527 and D10525, Fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13)
  • Items in app lists now have better top padding, so they don’t touch the header (KDE Phabricator revision D10548)
  • Improved the metadata for the KDE Nightly Builds Flatpak repo so it has a more appropriate name, in preparation for encouraging our users to try it out (more on that soon…):

Well there you have it. We never stop working on improving Discover, and we really do listen to user feedback. Mark my words, Discover is going to become one of the most-loved Linux software centers, you heard it here first! Help is always appreciated, so feel free to start contributing and making a difference to a project that truly matters. You don’t have to be a programmer to have an impact!

And if you look at my efforts and like what you see, consider donating on Patreon to help me do it full-time, rather than squeezing it in before and after my regular job. With your support, I could bring forth even more for KDE!