Plasma-Netbook Mockups

Marco Martin notmart at
Fri Apr 9 19:59:28 CEST 2010

On Friday 09 April 2010, Markus wrote:
> Dear readers.
> I had some ideas how to possibly improve Plasma's netbook interface.

ideas are always welcome :)

> (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 ideas.
> 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)

right now, when compositing is off, exactly such a menu is displayed.
i think however the exposè effect has more informational value, so i would 
keep the menu as fallback. i agree that the current effect is lacking, what 
would be nice is:
layout as a grid when we are in netbook mode (will make the workspace kcm 
configure it as so)
-having the possibility to "scroll" if too many windows are open (a crappy 
device is supposed to not have garzillions of apps open at the same time btw)
-maybe a close button on the thumbnails

> 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.

there was a reason for the strange layout we have now:
the close and maximize buttons are epected to be at right, and i think it's 
really weird if as in your screenshot those buttons are separed from the 
applet that gives the title, even if they could mae sense at opposite sides of 
the screen.

> 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.
> <>

as discussed here some days ago, a menubar like that is quite challenging.
and problem will be that probably only kde applications will be able to use 
it could make sense a layout like that, but i would like to have it really 
feasible witout being an hack like is now.

> 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.
> <
> on- applet/>

i am really on the fence right now between splitting the window controls from 
the title/switcher applet or not. both have advantages, but having controls 
for the current window in two opposite parts of the screen really looks 
strange to me.

Marco Martin

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