This week in Usability & Productivity, part 12

Welcome to week 12 in Usability & Productivity! Despite all the awesome improvements I’m about to share, there are EVEN MORE that I wasn’t able to announce this week because they’re not quite done yet! But In the coming weeks, some very nice fixes and improvements are going to land. Without further ado…

 

New Features

  • Mouse settings now fully support using libinput as the backend (KDE bug 350688, Implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Roman Gilg):
    Keep in mind that this this user interface is rough and will be substantially refined before Plasma 5.13 is released!
  • Hidden files on Windows partitions are now properly marked as hidden (and are no longer visible by default) when viewed in Dolphin (KDE bug 171537, implemented in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by Roman Inflianskas)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a few bugs that could cause Spectacle’s Rectangular Region selection box to jump around (KDE Phabricator revisions D11598 and D11704, fixed in Spectacle 18.04.0, authored by Tao Guo)
  • Fixed a bug causing the Shift+Home/End keyboard shortcuts to not work while editing the name of a file or folder on the Desktop (KDE bug 392318, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Plasma to lock up when an app updates its window’s title very rapidly (KDE bug 365317, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by David Edmundson)
  • Fixed a bug causing the weather widget’s BBC source to not fetch data after the BBC changed the URL on us (KDE Bug 392510, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Friedrich Kossebau)

UI Polish & Improvements

  • In Open/Save dialogs, the context menu’s “Show Containing Folder” action now highlights and scrolls to the selected files in the window that appears (KDE bug 392330, improved in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by me, Nate Graham)
  • Kdenlive icons now look good in HiDPI mode (KDE bug 390104, improved in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Andrew Crouthamel)
  • Improved the look of Task Manager tooltip previews (KDE bug 390457, improved in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by Fredrik Höglund):
    Before and after
  • Made it slightly easier to figure out how to change the wallpaper by adding a wallpapery icon to the “Configure Desktop” menu items (KDE Phabricator revision D11253, improved in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by me, Nate Graham):
  • Icons and text in Dolphin’s Places panel are now always perfectly aligned with one another with any font and size, including the common Noto Sans 11 (KDE bug 390771, improved in KDE Applications 18.08.0, authored by Scott Harvey)
  • Improved the appearance of the category and subcategory headers in System Settings (KDE bug 392340, improved in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by me, Nate Graham):
  • The logout screen’s buttons are now more readable against a dark background (KDE bug 382264, improved in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Radek Hušek):
    Stay tuned, because this should get even better in the near future…

Every week, you can see the omissions being remedied and the papercuts being healed one by one. We’re on a mission to make KDE Plasma the best graphical desktop on planet Earth. There’s a lot of ground to make up, and we need your help! Climb on board and be a part of something truly magnificent.

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This week in Usability & Productivity, part 11

Check out what KDE contributors have been up to this week in the world of Usability & Productivity! The KDE Applications 18.04 feature freeze happened this week, so there was a burst of energy to get in some last-minute new features for core KDE apps, among other welcome changes:

New features

  • Dolphin’s trash view now has a visible “Empty Trash” button (KDE bug 163306, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Roman Inflianskas):
  • Okular gained support for forms with read-only fields that update based on other fields (KDE Phabricator task T8097, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0 and poppler from git master, authored by Andres Heinecke)
  • Gwenview’s crop tool can now constrain the crop proportions to those of the current image (KDE bug 236970, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Huon Imberger)
  • Gwenview’s crop tool now allows the cropping proportions to be constrained to their current shape by pressing the shift or ctrl keys (KDE Phabricator revision D11380, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Huon Imberger)
  • Gaming controllers with batteries now appear in the Battery and Brightness plasmoid (KDE Phabricator revisions D11553 and D11331, implemented in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by Florian Dollinger)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug that was causing KRunner to require two presses of the down arrow key to navigate to the list of search results (KDE bug 392197, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by me, Nate Graham)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the Device Notifier plasmoid to display a confusing message about unmounting a device right after it had been mounted (KDE bug 391180, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.4, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik)
  • Fixed a bug that was causing different feedback options in the Launch Feedback System Settings page to not take effect when chosen (KDE bug 392050, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Scott Harvey)

UI polish and improvements

  • The SDDM login screen now has a more appropriate Breeze-style default avatar (KDE Phabricator revision D11057, improved in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Phil Stefan):
  • Gwenview’s crop tool settings are now remembered after navigating away from the current image (KDE bugs 391757 and 392036, improved in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Huon Imberger)
  • Gwenview’s Recent Folders list now shows folder paths in a much more human-readable manner (KDE bug 383850, improved in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Henrik Fehlauer)
  • Dolphin no longer shows two redundant ways to open a folder in a new window (KDE bug 391997, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik)
  • KMenuEdit gained HiDPI support (KDE bug 390737, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Andrew Crouthamel):
  • Konsole’s “Edit Key Binding List” window now has a more reasonable default size (KDE Phabricator revision D11637, improved in Konsole 18.08.0, authored by Ahmad Samir):

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This week in Discover, part 11

This week we landed a significant visual improvement for Discover: the app lists have been re-implemented using a new “cards” style in Kirigami. This was a lovely collaboration between Marco Martin, Aleix Pol, and myself. And best of all, this pretty “cards”-style list is also available to other Kirigami apps!

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug that could cause Discover’s “active tasks” view to not show any progress (KDE bug 391760, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Aleix Pol)

UI polish & improvements

  • Discover’s list items look much prettier now (KDE Phabricator revisions D11316 and D11625, and commit 29a1228f67b8b65e866128df0d8aa85a72345f5b, improved in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Marco Martin Aleix Pol, and me, Nate Graham):
  • The Proceed dialog no longer shows a redundant close button in the corner (KDE Phabricator revision FFFF, improved in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by me, Nate Graham):

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Guest post: The Importance of QA

Today we have a guest post from Buovjaga, our friendly local QA evangelist for LibreOffice, KDE, Inkscape, Firefox and Thunderbird. Without further ado, I’d like to present…

The Importance of QA

With this post I hope to convince you that a strong quality assurance team can do miraculous things for a free software project.

The spectrum of QA is wide, and reducing the skill requirements is particularly relevant for KDE’s onboarding initiative.

The critical phase of onboarding a new contributor is the first contact. Sometimes the new person does not know what they want to do. Often you do not have a clear picture of what skills they have. You need to act fast or they will lose interest and disappear! This is the moment where you should hand them snacks: a query of bugs that need to be confirmed or re-confirmed. This is the lowest threshold for them to step across and into being a contributor, because:

  • They do not need to learn version control
  • They do not need to learn the patch submission processes
  • They do not need to be wordsmiths
  • They do not need to know interface design or how to draw pretty pictures
  • They should not even need to know how to use the features they are testing, because a valid bug report includes clear steps on what to do!

QA is highly important in itself, but it is also a gateway drug. A simplified story of the evolution of a contributor might be as follows:

  1. They work on something meaningful
  2. They get familiar with the structure of the project
  3. They discover their own potential and the multitude of things they can help with

Not only does this evolution flow naturally through the QA team, but the experienced members are in a unique position to speed it up. This is because QA in the course of its work typically has to ferret out information from all the other teams. This leads to QA

  1. Knowing who the subject-matter experts are
  2. Discovering weak points in the organisation
  3. Helping the various teams stay in sync with each other

In this aspect QA is acting like neurotransmitters in the body of the project.

The most apparent beneficial effect of having a strong QA team is that the developers are not distracted by massive amounts of first-stage bug analysis.

Raatajat_rahanalaiset.JPG
Primitive development team working in the bug tracker without the luxury of a QA team

In QA, too many cooks do not spoil the broth. A large and diverse team is more effective than a small one when trying to keep up with a myriad of software and hardware configurations.
A large teams allows the freedom for members to level up their skills. The more experience on advanced triaging techniques the members have, the less work developers have to spend per bug fix.

There is a long road ahead for KDE to reach a healthy state regarding QA. Recruit contributors early and often. Aim for a feedback loop of recruiting, where even fresh contributors brainstorm to come up with ways to find new people.

I invite everyone to go through these articles and improve them:
https://community.kde.org/Guidelines_and_HOWTOs/Bug_triaging
https://community.kde.org/Guidelines_and_HOWTOs/Bug_triaging/Identifying_duplicates
https://community.kde.org/Guidelines_and_HOWTOs/Debugging/How_to_create_useful_crash_reports

I also recommend KDE to look into making it easy for QA to perform git bisects for pinpointing regressions. Perhaps this could be achieved by offering compressed repositories containing binary snapshots for every single commit in a project like LibreOffice does.

This week in Usability & Productivity, part 10

Christmas came early this week! Today’s Usability & Productivity status is jam-packed with awesome stuff that I think you’re all really gonna love.

There’s all the awesome work on Discover, but it doesn’t stop there:

New Features

  • Dolphin now helps you install Konsole if it’s not installed when you open the Terminal pane (KDE bug 371822, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Roman Inflianskas):
  • Dolphin now lets you find a symlink’s target file or folder (KDE bug 215069, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Roman Inflianskas):
  • Gwenview’s slideshow feature can now be controlled via any MPRIS-compatible playback controller, such as the Media Playback widget, KDE Connect, and laptop keyboards’ media keys (KDE Phabricator revision D10972, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13.0 and KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Friedrich Kossebau). Read more about it here!
  • By default for new installations, windows can now be tiled to any edge of the screen using the Meta+arrow key shortcuts, and can be maximized and minimized with Meta+PageUp/PageDown (KDE Phabricator Revision D11377, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by me, Nate Graham)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug in Gwenview causing image view’s touchpad scrolling to be uncontrollably sensitive when the scroll behavior is set to “Browse” (KDE bug 388353, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Huon Imberger)
  • Fixed a bug in Gwenview causing the “Disable History” feature to not work (KDE bugs 332853 and 391527, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Peter Mühlenpfordt)
  • Fixed a bug in Plasma causing fonts to be rendered in an ugly and pixellated manner when using a non-integer scale factor (e.g. 1.3x) and PLASMA_USE_QT_SCALING=1 (KDE bugs 391691 and 384031, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by me, Nate Graham):
    Plasma looking awesome with a 1.3x scale factor
  • Fixed a bug regarding how fonts were rendered in KDE software that uses QTQuickControls controls (such as all Kirigami apps, for example) that was causing text to appear slightly too light and wispy at non-HiDPI and integer HiDPI scale factors (KDE bug 391780, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by me, Nate Graham):
    Top: before. Bottom: after!
  • Fixed a bug in Konsole causing custom tab titles to be reset when changing profile options (KDE bug 354403, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Ahmad Samir)

UI polish & improvements

  • The notifications widget now has a visible button to clear notifications (KDE bug 386068, fixed in Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Christian Fuchs):
  • The Audio Volume widget now presents a simplified display for the common use cases of one input and one output device and no apps recording audio (KDE Phabricator revision D11166, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, Authored by me, Nate Graham)
  • Plasma Folder View (AKA desktop icons) now provides a little bit more horizontal space for file and folder names (KDE Phabricator revision D11358, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by me, Nate Graham)
  • To present a cleaner UI, Konsole now defaults to only showing the tab bar when there are multiple tabs (KDE Phabricator revision D11258, fixed in Konsole 18.04.0, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik):

    It looks even better still with a global menu or the menu in a titlebar button:
  • Gwenview’s middle-click-to-zoom feature now zooms into the mouse cursor’s position, rather then the center of the image (KDE bug 308335, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Peter Mühlenpfordt)
  • Gwenview’s advanced crop settings are now always displayed in the same order (KDE bug 391758, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Gregory Legrain)

Finally, A notorious and longstanding bug has been fixed! The bug was this: in KDE environments where KWallet had not been set up (such as live sessions and barebones/DIY-style distros like Arch), you would be prompted for your password twice when connecting to a password-protected wifi network. This turned out to be a bug not in KDE software, but rather in the upstream FreeDesktop networkmanager software. It’s now been fixed as of networkmanager 1.10.6. If your distro doesn’t have that yet, please ask them to update or backport the fix.

Pretty awesome stuff, huh? Well there’s even more coming! We’re committed to making KDE Plasma the finest computing environment on planet earth, and I hope this kind of progress demonstrates the depth of that commitment. Want to hop on board and become a part of something big? Consider becoming a KDE contributor, particularly in development!

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

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This week in Discover, part 10

This week saw many positive changes for Discover, and I feel that it’s really coming into its own. Discover rumbles inexorably along toward the finish line of becoming the most-loved Linux app store! Take a look at this week’s improvements:

New Features

  • Discover can now sort apps by last release date in the browse lists and search results (KDE bug 391668, implemented in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Aleix Pol)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug that could cause Flatpak apps to stop being available (KDE bug 391126, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Aleix Pol)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Discover to fail to download Plasma or Application addons (KDE bug 390236, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Aleix Pol)
  • Fixed a bug causing Plasma and Application addons to not display large screenshots (KDE bug 391190, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Aleix Pol)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause Discover to not open properly when invoked from from its context menu’s “Updates” item (KDE bug 391801, Fixed in KDE Plasma 5.12.4, authored by Aleix Pol)
  • Fixed a bug causing Addons to not be sorted by release data correctly (KDE bug D11387, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Dan Leinir))
  • Fixed a bug causing all Addon screenshots to be inappropriately rendered as square (KDE bug 391792, fixed right now, authored by Dan Leinir):

UI polish & improvements

  • On the Updates page, the selection text can no longer overlap with the Update button (KDE bug 391632, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by me, Nate Graham):
  • Increased the width of the “Add Source” dialog, so the URL is less likely to get cut off (KDE Phabricator revision D11219, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by me, Nate Graham):
  • Discover now uses a more intuitive and obvious UI for choosing which source to install an app from (KDE bug 390464, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Aleix Pol):

    (We’re aware of the visual papercuts in the above screenshot, and will be working to resolve them in the coming days and weeks)
  • Improved the app page by removing the redundant second copy of the app’s name (KDE Phabricator revision D11364, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by me, Nate Graham) and fixed the top padding (KDE Phabricator revision D11362, fixed in KDE Frameworks 5.45, authored by me, Nate Graham):
  • Discover now shows a more obvious and less transient page when asked to open an invalid appstream://URL (KDE bug 391756, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Aleix Pol):

Just take a look at these screenshots! Isn’t discover looking really good these days? We’ve chewed through most of our backlog of architectural issues and are working hard on adding much-requested features and polishing the UI.

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This week in Usability & Productivity, part 9

KDE contributors continue to polish up KDE software! In addition to our recent work on Discover, KDE Plasma and other apps got a lot of love too, especially Konsole. See for yourself!

New features

  • Spectacle now exposes a token that can be used to add the window title to the file name of the saved screenshot (KDE bug 378463, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Roman Inflianskas)
  • Konsole tabs can now be marked as “read-only”, blocking all input (KDE bug 126930, implemented in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Joshua Noack)

Bugfixes

  • Fixed a bug causing Spectacle to incorrectly screenshot individual windows when compositing is off and they’re touching or going beyond the edge of the screen (KDE bug 390652, Fixed in KDE Applications 18.04 authored by Alex Nemeth and Henrik Fehlauer)
  • Fixed a bug that could cause the SDDM login screen to not display properly for certain HiDPI systems (SDDM bug 894, fixed in SDDM 0.18, authored by Fabian Vogt)
  • Fixed a bug causing certain files to not show up under “Recent Documents” when right-clicking on an app in the Task Manager or Launcher menu (KDE Phabricator revision D10890, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.11.4, authored by Алексей Шилин (Aleksei Shilin))
  • Fixed bug causing Konsole to recall shell history instead of moving the view when scrolling with a mouse wheel or touchpad (KDE bug 355106, fixed in Konsole 18.04.0, authored by Ahmad Samir)

UI Improvements and polish

  • Plasma’s support for showing app menus globally or in a titlebar button now supports virtually all GTK-based programs (KDE bug 375976, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik; read more about it here!):


  • The Media Player widget now uses better and more appropriately-sized icons (KDE bug 390280, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0, authored by Roman Gilg):
  • Konsole now uses KMessageWidgets to display status indicators, which are prettier and more usable than the old UI was(KDE Phabricator revision D10935, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Joshua Noack):
  • Konsole’s scrollbar now blends in with the terminal’s background color to avoid distracting you (KDE Phabricator revision D11184, fixed in KDE Applications 18.04.0, authored by Marco Martin)
  • Desktop icon behavior and consistency has been much improved for multi-monitor setups (KDE bugs 390676 and 389745; KDE Phabricator revision D10729; fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13.0)
  • Buttons inside text fields (e.g. an inline “clear” button) show the pressed state correctly (fixed in Qt 5.12, authored by Kai Uwe Broulik):
  • Fixed a bug causing System Monitor to open in a partially or fully off-screen location for people with multiple displays (KDE bugs 368158 and 356706, fixed in KDE Plasma 5.13, authored by Valeriy Malov)

We need your help! KDE is committed to polishing our software to a mirror sheen and focusing in the kind of usability that our community is clamoring for, but we need the community’s help to make it happen as fast as everyone wants! Consider becoming a KDE contributor, particularly in development, and help make KDE Plasma and KDE apps total no-brainer choices in the Linux world, and then eventually the whole world…

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

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