09 August, 2012

Dolphin immediately useful

Like many, I read this already famous blog post about the stripped-down Nautilus with growing surprise. I won't go into what I think it's wrong with it as others have said enough already. I'd like to focus on the positive: the very first point made.

Immediately useful

Mccan describes how Nautilus should be immediately useful upon starting. This is accomplished by showing recent files instead of the home folder of the user. A very neath idea, actually - I always have all my files sorted on date (newest on top) and most of the time that means I just have to click on the top-left of the file view in a folder to get what I want. But I first have to go to the right folder... So I'd say - awesome idea.

I also realized this is extremely easy to have in dolphin due to the Nepomuk 'timeline' KIOslave. This shows you a calendar of your active files per date. The screen shot below shows this - yes, I use the split function to show both the files and the dates, I hope it is not confusing ;-)

And of course, the timeline has a vitual 'today' folder which basically shows you all files you touched today. Drag the folder to the side bar, call it 'recent', give it a proper icon and it's just like the new Nautilus:

With KDE's technology being as it is, it will also show in file open dialogs (even in Firefox, as openSUSE has KDE integration by default):

(unfortunately it can't actually open the files as the Firefox KDE integration only works with real, local files and these are 'virtual')

Of course, what you really want is that this is the default - the home folder that Dolphin opens when you start it. Unfortunately, here you'll bump in a limitation (or bug?) in Dolphin: it won't allow you to set this location from the GUI:

But challenges only exist to be overcome. Just edit
and navigate to the [General] section to edit the HomeUrl into: HomeUrl=timeline:/today.

Hit save and be happy. Ensure you don't have Dolphin running while you do this as it will overwrite the changes upon exit!

You'll now have your recent files always visible when you start Dolphin:


And may I hereby propose to make this the default in Dolphin? I know, it depends on Nepomuk running, but we're going there anyway... I expect that the 5.0 release of Plasma Workspace has a Nepomuk up to this task, if the current one doesn't do it yet - for me, Nepomuk as part of KDE's 4.8 platform is good enough already and I know many bug fixes have been going in since this release. And of course we can always check if Nepomuk is available and if not, fall back on the 'old' home folder.

Scrap that proposal, the Dolphin developers are (of course) much smarter than I'll ever be. As you can see in the Plasma Workspace 4.9 announcement, Dolphin already has a feature similar (but better) than this:

I strongly suggest to support KDE developers as they are clearly VERY smart people ;-)