kamikazow at web.de
Fri Apr 9 19:37:33 CEST 2010
I had some ideas how to possibly improve Plasma's netbook interface.
(I published this set of suggestions also in my blog. Maybe it's easier to
While my task within KDE is mainly to translate K3b, I see myself as a
usability geek as well. So while cycling through parks in my hometown and
enjoying the spring weather, I thought about improving the netbook experience.
And while I continued to think about it Plasma applets I already know exist
and how they could be incorporated and refined. I also remembered using
classic Mac OS which featured a pointer-based GUI that was targeted at screens
that have roughly the same proportions as today’s netbooks.
I have to add that I don’t know how in what shape Plasma Netbook in current
trunk is, so my suggestions may even already be obsolete. I also lack any
talent to code, so obviously I’m hoping for an actual programmer to pick up my
So, enough introduction talk. Let’s get started.
Plasma Netbook how it looks today:
Page One displays various Plasma applets in an aligned way. So overall I think
this screenshot is pretty self explanatory. One aspect is worth pointing out:
How task switching currently works. You click on the Running Apps "button" and
get an Exposé view of all open windows.
This IMHO has some drawbacks. A.) it requires compositing (not available to
everyone) and B.) totally breaks down if many windows are open.
Well, classic Mac OS had a simple drop-down list of running apps. Hardly
fancy, but worked really well, so this is what I came up with:
http://kamikazow.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/netbook2.png (No active app)
I moved clock and tray to the far right where IMO it’s expected by many users
anyway. "Show all windows" triggers the Exposé effect, so no functionality is
lost. The menu could also be assigned to a keyboard shortcut.
When an application runs, the top bar changes:
http://kamikazow.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/netbook3.png (App active)
On the left side is still the app switcher, but now also featuring the options
to hide or quit the app (Quit and Show All maybe should switch positions). The
button title switches to the app name to indicate what’s running.
The pages bar is changed to the app’s menu bar. Plasma Netbook works in a
similar fashion already, but by simply launching apps in full screen and
hiding the window decoration. My proposal should look better esp. if smoothly
transitioned from pages bar to menu bar (eg. using a slide effect).
A similar menu bar is already implemented by Bespin’s XBar applet.
<http://kde-look.org/content/show.php/Bespin?content=63928> Another approach
seems to be in development.
On the far left side, window control buttons move clock and tray. I figured
that in this case it’s more important to keep users’ muscle memory for window
operations intact rather than tray interaction.
The window controls are what we are all used to:
Minimize/Hide — Unmaximize — Close.
It can be argued that netbook users should run their application always in
full screen anyway, but this would effectively kill the usage of multi-window
apps. I also saw several people connect bigger screens at home to their
netbooks. An unmaximized window can more easily be moved to the other screen.
That feature is also already developed.
Any comments (praise, insults, volunteering coders)?
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