Plasma-Netbook Mockups

Markus kamikazow at
Fri Apr 9 19:37:33 CEST 2010

Dear readers.
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 
read there: )

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: (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: (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.
<> 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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