22 March, 2009

usability in KDE

I'm not a usability dude, and following the usability mailinglist has taught me it's an art I shouldn't get too involved in. Unfortunately, while we have a few hard-working usability experts in KDE, they can't thoroughly check each and every application.

Luckily, we have users joining KDE from a platform known for a strong focus on usability. I'm not saying we should copy the approach others have chosen for usability. KDE is different and has different ideas about usability - enough has been said about that. However, advice never hurts - and there are several points in this blogpost that make sense. The contents have been discussed a bit on the usability mailinglist, and as I said - several points make sense, others might not. Yet Sebastian's blog might be helpful for somebody who wants to improve some obvious areas in KDE in terms of usability, so I thought it'd be good if ppl read it.

Personally I think such articles (I can hardly call it the usual blog) can help in improving KDE, as they point to issues and solutions developers might not have been aware off. Peter Penz (of Dolphin fame) has read it and implemented at least one suggestion, while several others were already done in KDE 4.3 branch. Who's next?

13 March, 2009


Today, I was going to write a rather sarcastic and hopefully funny story about silly responses my blog a few days ago. It would have involved hamsters forcing KDE developers to write code. Including proof, in the form of images with KDE developers and my own little dwarf hamster.

Unfortunately, there won't be such a story. Somewhere between last night and coming home after work today, Thomas, my beloved dwarfhamster, died. This is a sad day.

No more watching him run in his weel. Or through my room, or on my lap. No more feeding him nor giving him silly things to play with. No watching him shred paper into little pieces. I will even miss cleaning his cage :(

Life goes on, but I'll miss my little hamster...

10 March, 2009

Plasma dev team rocks

Yesterday I updated KDE SVN. So, I have the latest dev stuff on my box again. Upon logging in, I was greeted by the new look of plasma.

First of all, congrats to the artists. The AIR theme (of course a work in progress) looks bloody good.

Next I want to express my respect for the coders. I am very happy with the zooming capabilities of plasma - which allows you to create a bunch of desktops (called activities). Very nice considering the room you would need for all the useful plasmoids. There's a blackboard now, the microblog is kick ass, and there is that desktop assistent thing which doesn't make much sense to me... I just would love to be able to connect virtual desktops to activities!

Third - Qt 4.5 rocks. The performance improvements are very noticable, nice work!

Fourth, interesting article on Techrepublic (a nice "ten reasons why Gnome is better than KDE", I'm not even going to link to it). I was surprised with a new uninformed rant/opinionated piece/whatever about KDE 4. I though we were getting past all that.

Arguments were same-old, same-old. Like "KDE developers don't listen to users". Clearly, the plasma developers focussed entirely on fun stuff and didn't do anything in the last 6 months to get plasma on feature parity with KDE 3.5.x. Oh, wait....

Funny to see what he complains about. KDE 4 is like Vista. Hmmm, what about all the complaints about either Gnomification or Macification of KDE? If we simultaniously copy Mac, Gnome and Vista, what does that make us?
Funny to see it's mostly about what KDE does wrong, not about what Gnome does right. What does that say about both projects?
Funny to see how KDE 3.5 these days is used as a prime example of a 'perfect' desktop, a great and usable piece of software. I distinctively remember all the complaints about how cluttered and busy it was, how unprofessional it looked. Now, suddenly, while we are giving more attention to both usability and innovative interface elements, KDE 3.x is the best desktop FOSS has to offer. Hmmmm. He actually complains how cluttered KDE 4 is... Not saying there is nothing to improve, but worse than 3.x?

I think I don't have to talk about his specific points, most are either silly, uninformed, stupid, or a random combination of those. I guess I should just point to this pic wade made...

06 March, 2009


Last night I drove back from Hanover, where I joined the champions at the KDE booth. We probably had the largest FOSS team there, yet were swamped pretty much all of the time with visitors asking questions. Besides that, there were lots of opportunities talking to interesting people from various companies around there. Actually I intend to go the full week next year, as these 2 day s already generated a couple of very interesting leads.

The most intriguing thing at CeBIT is what happens after the visitors have been thrown out around. Before 18:00 you see all the employees at the stands talking to visitors, looking serious and handing out folders. After 18:15, the folders have been replaced by beer, and the professional smile has changed into actual happiness. In the next few hours, the whole area turns into a big party with live music and free beer. And despite that beer, you can still get in contact with interesting people all over the place. Yep, had a great time!

@those still at CeBIT: respect for the work you're doing, and take care!