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.

32 thoughts on “This week in Usability & Productivity, part 6

  1. Any chance we’ll see the return of the ability to rename fines in the Open/Save window? Years ago a previous maintainer who is no longer with KDE (IIRC Aseigo) removed the feature against all opposition because of his views on usability.

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    1. Any chance you can find the commit that removed the feature? I’d be happy to propose bringing it back if people are in favor, provided we can make sure that it’s not easy to accidentally trigger.

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      1. +1 from me, renaming files by pressing F2 (or by slowly double clicking if you don’t use open-with-single-click) also in the Open/Save dialogs was useful.

        @kmi: you can still rename files if you right click them and select properties, not as easy as F2 but it’s something 🙂

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  2. Wow ! This is one such blog I never miss and always eager for new articles. Wonderful Nate. I’ve read earlier that there are plans to implement a ‘Recent’ (similar to that in Nautilus) side panel shortcut in Dolphin and also in the file open/save popup windows ? In fact, that is the only one most required feature I miss in Dolphin.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your support! Yes, we do have a plan for this. Note that Dolphin and the file open/save panels already have a “recently saved” section that does part of this. As a semi-workaround, there’s also a hidden “recent documents” kioslave you can use by navigating to “recentdocuments:/” and making a Places Item out of it. It’s pretty rough though as it shows URLs and folders.

      This is all tracked by https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=357542

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  3. @Kde users : Plasma 5.12.1 works pretty much flawlessly for me. But there’s a nasty bug I didn’t manage to pin-point to make a proper report.

    Once in a while, the bottom panel kind of visually “freezes” but remaings clickable. For instance : I can still open the KDE Menu. I can still user the workspace switcher although its appearance is not updated. I can still switch tasks with the panel task switcher although the windows titles do not correspond and the entries are not updated.

    It occurred a couple of minutes ago when pinning some apps to the panel. The apps that were running at that time were Thunderbird, Firefox, Steam. Disabling / re-enabling desktop effects makes no difference. Using : KDE Neon, Plasma 5.12.1, Nvidia proprietary driver.

    I ask it here as I don’t know where to file it and as it seems kinda important 🙂 I don’t know how to make it reproducible. I first though that was nvidia related but I think it’s actually not as it remains after disabling composition.

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  4. Since we’re talking about Usability and I was just reminded of this little thing: In Application Menu, the difference between the options “Add to panel” and “Stick to taskbar” have never been obvious to me. I always choose the latter because they work with Win+1234.

    Well, just a comment from a user.

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    1. I agree. “Add to Panel” Makes a new launcher that’s its own Panel widget, while “Pin to Task Manager” adds it as a launcher to the launcher section of the Task Manager. The distinction exists because if you should be able to create persistent launchers even if you don’t use a Task Manager. But this is definitely a corner case, and and is unnecessary in the general case. There may be some usability polish we can do here; see https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=390817

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  5. Hello, what I point out to you is not a serious bug, but it’s a bit annoying. In all distributions with Plasma 5 by default for GTK applications it is set as the Breeze Frost pointer theme (I do not know if the translation is correct, however it is the white pointer theme). Obviously it is inconsistent with the default pointer, among other things what you see is the Gnome Adwaita pointer.

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    1. Which distros do you see this in? I saw it once myself in Kubuntu 17.10, but chalked it up to a distro bug since it wasn’t present in 17.04 or 18.04.

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      1. Opensuse, Kde Neon and Kubuntu all set as white breeze pointer, while it would be correct to set by default the same breeze theme or the one using other qt apps. Sorry for my English.

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        1. It would be best to file bugs on those distros, and ask them to change the GTK cursor to match the breeze one.

          I know it’s already fixed in Kubuntu 18.04, since I reported it there myself 🙂 So that leaves Neon and openSUSE to fix.

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  6. Hi Nate
    Congratulations to this great progress. That really looks nice.

    Since it looks like you are a master of KDE / Dolphin and Co, here an issue of mine:
    I do run openSUSE LEAP 42.3 (KDE-Plasma 5.8.7, KDE-Framework 5.32.0, Qt 5.6.2) on my Notebook (my Main-System).
    With it, I work on several locations with various accessible storages (File-Server, NAS). I have setup autofs.
    This works in general very good. There is one big issue:
    When using “File open”, “File save” from several applications (like LibreOffice, Firefox, Okular, etc.) it is extreemly slow. I guess, those apps are using the system standard file access routines. And it is taking minutes to show the location / directory. And navigating through the directory tree, is always hanging again. So everytime I click a new folder, it again takes minutes to show the location. The whole pop-up / dialog window is hanging and not responsive and the window / dialog content is not rendered properly. Only the title bar and the frame around it (looks like just the server side decoration stuff) is rendered/responsive.
    This hanging in general happens when using “File open”/”File save” on some other location (different than the most often or previously used one). On the location I work about 80% of the time, it rarely happens.
    So I guess it could have something to do with some history (last opened, last paths or alike).
    I don’t know if this file access (“File open”, “File save”) routines are those from dolphin, or from another source. However, using dolphin itself, navigation etc. is very fast and not affected by this bug.

    My problem: I don’t know what the source of the problem is and where to report?
    Is the issue a KDE issue?
    Is it a dolphin problem?
    Is it a openSUSE OS problem?
    And depending what it is, where then to report?

    It looks like you are a pro in this context.
    -> Is there a way for me as a user to determine what is causing those hangs?
    -> To find the source / application / ….. which is causing / having the problem?
    -> And then, where to report.

    Sorry for contacting you through this blog, but I didn’t know where to report it.
    Thanks in advance for your help.

    Best regards from Switzerland,
    Rolf

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    1. In general, the best approach is to just report a bug. If you don’t know where it should go, just do your best. A lot of Dolphin bugs wind up moved elsewhere; we’re used to it!

      The issue you describe sounds like a variant of https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=354750. Essentially, your autofs network locations are being inappropriately accessed by the file open/save dialogs when they shouldn’t. I suspect that the hangs occur when the network locations are not available.

      Feel free to file a bug to frameworks-kio about this issue, and mention 354750. See https://community.kde.org/Get_Involved/Bug_Reporting.

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      1. Hi Nate

        Thanks for your response. And for pointing in the direction to look for.
        I read the “Get_Involved/Bug_Reporting”-Page you linked.
        Well I will then try to find a way to properly reproduce the issue.
        Eventually stop autofs on the main location and see what happens.
        Thanks again.

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  7. How about disambiguation around how Activities and Virtual Desktops are really supposed to be different. If it’s just different plasma widgets, I’m not sure there is a lot of value. This is one area that needs work IMO.

    Also, the KIO subsystem needs some TLC. File copies and streams over SMB KIO slave has never worked well. For things like remote filesystems, I think KIO really should be more like the GVFS layer which has worked really well AFAIC.

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