Top-notch usability and productivity for basic software
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Description

Description

We should focus on making the KDE Plasma environment a lean, mean productivity machine for ordinary users who are not skilled at the command line. Our users should not have to become terminal experts to create at the speed of thought.

What it will take

We will need to focus on adding productivity-related features, fixing bugs, and addressing quality-of-life issues in our software's GUI interfaces, particularly the most basic and commonly-used KDE software and the frameworks that power them: Plasma, Dolphin, Kate, Okular, Gwenview, System Settings, Konsole, Discover, Baloo, KIO, Kirigami, and others in the same vein.

How we know we succeeded

People will fall in love with KDE software for its maturity, ease of use, stability, and long list of features that are genuinely useful for normal people's typical use cases. We should get a lot of positive press for fixing many longstanding usability and productivity issues and implementing longstanding feature requests. Reviews of Plasma should note its maturity, stability, polish, and ergonomics compared to other offerings.

Relevant links

To follow our weekly progress, see https://pointieststick.wordpress.com/category/usability-productivity/

Click here for the full list of issues we will be targeting (we are using the Bugzilla "usability" keyword to tag issues). Here is a sample of some of the more high-priority ones:

I am willing to put work into this

  • Nate Graham (submitting patches, managing bugs, getting the word out)
  • Neofytos Kolokotronis (@neofytosk) - tracking down bugs and prioritizing, getting the word out
  • Adrián Chaves (@adrianchavesfernandez) (submitting patches)

I am interested

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lydia moved this task from Backlog to drafting on the Goal settings 2017 board.Aug 20 2017, 1:51 PM
ngraham renamed this task from Aggressively focus on usability and productivity to Aggressively focus on usability and productivity for basic software.Aug 20 2017, 2:05 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 20 2017, 2:07 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 20 2017, 9:47 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 20 2017, 10:03 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 20 2017, 10:05 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Aug 20 2017, 11:11 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Sep 30 2017, 4:30 PM
lydia added a comment.Oct 2 2017, 6:18 PM

To make all goals uniform I suggest a title like "Top-notch usability and productivity for basic software".

ngraham renamed this task from Aggressively focus on usability and productivity for basic software to Top-notch usability and productivity for basic software.Oct 2 2017, 6:19 PM
cfeck added a subscriber: cfeck.Oct 2 2017, 7:52 PM
gregormi updated the task description. (Show Details)Oct 3 2017, 8:27 AM
gregormi updated the task description. (Show Details)Oct 3 2017, 8:35 AM
gregormi added a subscriber: gregormi.
maxrd2 added a subscriber: maxrd2.Nov 6 2017, 2:26 PM
obogdan added a subscriber: obogdan.Nov 6 2017, 9:19 PM

Thanks everyone for helping draft this proposal. The voting has started. If you are an active KDE contributor and have not received an invitation to the vote please send me an email to lydia@kde.org.

abetts added a subscriber: abetts.Nov 27 2017, 7:53 PM

Is there room for visual redesign in this proposal? Or are we thinking that this is more of polishing existing applications without a lot of changes?

lydia added a comment.Nov 27 2017, 7:55 PM

Congratulations! This task is among the 3 selected ones to focus on for the next 3 to 4 years. It will need all hands on deck to make it reality. If you can help please add yourself to the list in the goal description.

abetts updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 27 2017, 7:57 PM
lydia added a comment.Nov 27 2017, 7:59 PM

Is there room for visual redesign in this proposal? Or are we thinking that this is more of polishing existing applications without a lot of changes?

I would say there is room but let's flesh out the plan over the next days/weeks.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 27 2017, 9:19 PM
sh4nks added a subscriber: sh4nks.Nov 27 2017, 9:33 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 27 2017, 9:37 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 27 2017, 9:46 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)

I think one way to add to the polish is to have new users do a wizard on their first login to a kde session. This wizard will invite the user to configure kde how they want it Look and Feel. KDE3 used todo this and I propose the new one follows the KDE3 method. First the user would be asked how they want the desktop to Feel some options could include default KDE, mac like , windows like , unity like, custom, etc. Provide some kind of prevew when selecting the options with descriptions here. This step would set up plasma and kwin, Then we move on to the 'Look' Part. Give the user options to customize the color scheme and widget set background, and other look options like icon theme . Then do the About me portion where you can set your user icon and fill out their Telepathy stuff. and then be sure to tell them more settings can be changed In system settings . Also provide a way to make it easy for users to make a Look and Feel theme from their settings so they are less afraid to try new things.

I think doing this will help plasma be more useable to three different groups 1. The people who complain kde is not acting like some other (usually properitary) desktop enviroment 2. Those who want to tinker with these settings but are to afraid to break something 3. People who don't even think their DE can work how they want.

There is a huge amount of antipathy towards installation wizards but one idea me and @adridg have talked and worked a little on is making Calamares have a "first set up" thing during the installation phase where you usually have a random slideshow. So instead of seeing random information that few bothers with you use that time to set up things for the core user (multiple users is a bit of a PITA)

The only issue I could see with making this happen is Calamares is that not all distros are using it. Some distros (such as arch ) will never use it This creates inconsistancy for KDE users. That is the reasaon I suggest we do it on first login.

There is a huge amount of antipathy towards installation wizards but one idea me and @adridg have talked and worked a little on is making Calamares have a "first set up" thing during the installation phase where you usually have a random slideshow. So instead of seeing random information that few bothers with you use that time to set up things for the core user (multiple users is a bit of a PITA)

That's mostly because people remember the terrible experience with Windows back in the day. Nowadays every mobile OS - and even many mobile apps! - have such a wizard and people seem to be perfectly happy with them, so if we take some design hints from those, we should be fine.

I keep hearing "I hate first-run wizards / tutorials" from people, but they are so prevalent and effective in the mobile (and game) world that I believe we have to overcome our grudge from the negative experiences from yesteryear (and yes, most of the first-run wizards or tutorials in old KDE applications were pretty bad as well) and embrace well-designed first-time user experiences as a good thing.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 28 2017, 5:17 PM

I keep hearing "I hate first-run wizards / tutorials" from people, but they are so prevalent and effective in the mobile (and game) world that I believe we have to overcome our grudge from the negative experiences from yesteryear (and yes, most of the first-run wizards or tutorials in old KDE applications were pretty bad as well) and embrace well-designed first-time user experiences as a good thing.

I also would support some kind of first run wizard setting up standard keyboard shortcuts and panel widgets. Especially for migrating Windows users. I believe it is feasible to make the wizard in an unobtrusive way. E.g. an icon could be shown in the system tray which shows popup that informs the user briefly about the existence of the customization wizard. Ideally, the wizard can also be run at a later time with a fine-grained selection of what should be changed from the installation default (or back to the default).

I agree. Wizards in mobile are simple, to the point and disappear once you learned your way around. We could follow a similar concept for wizards on the desktop.

raban added a subscriber: raban.EditedNov 29 2017, 1:46 PM

In general it is not so much wizards but first-run experience.

Just think back to 2003 and user evaluation of music players. A music player was excellent when it was able to play a song file. Users didn't care which part of the pipe broke so that they could not hear a sound. A music player that failed to play a song was considered "garbage". And it could well be that the music player worked as intended, just the underlying sound pipe or the drivers messed it up or the distribution failed to package the ogg decoder libs properly.

In this sense, the UX question is if the applications appears "right" at first start or if you have to manually configure it because the app is not responsive to your screen size etc. As developers we tend to forget about first time user configuration but that is just like the Berlin Tube: as a regular user you do not need the signs and it is difficult to imagine up being a stranger to the city.

As regards user experience you probably do not need "wizards" but user system tests. Does the sound work?

Example: I install Dolphin from the Linux Mint repositories and run it for the first time. The Icons do not show up. All the string are only partially translated to my locale. Is this a bug of Dolphin? Probably not. And I know I could make it work. Still, first run experience is: looks like there is something broken with this piece of software.

Now, here is a bug, a bug that could be (and is) detected from within the application and also by some kind of system test tool that looks if all icons are available.

As a user the app is partly "garbage" to me but I give it a second shot by trying to solve the problem online. Here are examples what you find:
https://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?t=225416
"It doesn't look like you're using KDE but probably Cinnamon. Correct? Dolphin runs best on KDE as it is part of that desktop environment. Mixing up Gtk and Qt applications can be a pain with themes; as you're trying to use an application built with the Qt toolkit on a desktop environment written for Gtk toolkit. The issue you're having is probably related to the icon theme. It may be solvable; if you changed to a different icon theme, change back to the default. Try using Dolphin from a new user account. I have no other suggestions but to recommend you use KDE if you want to use Dolphin."
and another
" Thanks for the link ,the command "sudo apt install kdelibs-bin kdelibs5-data kdelibs5-plugins" has given me some improvements,however dolphin still displays no icons but at least I can see what's inside my folder (only file names). But I'm still not happy about what's happening, as I have written on the installation prior to that it worked!"
and another
"for the sake of a working dolphin, I returned back to Mint 17 Cinammon, now it's doing great."
and another
"Dolphin icons are managed separately, so they require System Settings, the central configuration center for KDE, in order to change them. Install System Settings:

sudo apt-get install systemsettings"
and another
"XDG_CURRENT_DESKTOP=kde dolphin"
and another
"apt update && apt install libqt5libqgtk2 libqt5svg5"

The Dolphin crew is probably not responsible for that bug when running Dolphin on Mint Cinnamon. Looks like a packaging bug. But the application really gets bad karma from it and users get horrible and hackish advise from people who don't really know what they are doing..

These are two different things, and both relevant. Yes, things should work "out of the box". Yes, things should ideally be self-explanatory.
Games (regardless of platform) and many mobile apps and OSes have shown, however, that it's often not possible for everything to be self-explanatory. Or if you make it so, you end up with a "chatty UI" that annoys users once they've figured it out.

Many things only have to be explained once and then feel really easy. That should not come in the form of a boring "Tip of the day" text dialog which nobody reads. Designers have found much nicer ways to do that. For example by having some usually hidden control "peak in" to make users aware of its existence. Or a tooltip pointing users to new features in a new version.

Same goes for settings: When you run an email application the first time, you first need to set up an account otherwise it's useless. If you want to integrate a system deeply with a cloud service (Nextcloud comes to mind) you need to offer users an easy way to set that up. When we use KUserFeedback, we need to ask users if they want to opt in to telemetry.

There is a huge amount of antipathy towards installation wizards but one idea me and @adridg have talked and worked a little on is making Calamares have a "first set up" thing during the installation phase where you usually have a random slideshow. So instead of seeing random information that few bothers with you use that time to set up things for the core user (multiple users is a bit of a PITA)

That's a cute idea. I always have to wait until the installer was finished. It would be nice to get some config options like install additional apps, system settings, online accounts (nextcloud, firefox, ...) for me it's always strange to add wifi connection again when the system was installed with wifi connection. Kde connect config would be cool so you can show the user what kde connect is and the user can use it instantly

Firefox and other software ask you after your account. Would be nice to have one single account (secret service) somewhere (your cloud, hard disk, ...) where everything is stored and one login would be the universal key. Kde vaults by default where all setting dictionaries will be stored.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Nov 30 2017, 2:47 PM

We should be cautious in mixing up what Calamares (not a KDE project) does with what the desktop environment might do. For background, Calamares can be used in two ways:

  • as a system installer; you boot a live CD or memory stick, and install some (Linux) system to a hard disk
  • as a system configurator; you boot a newly purchased laptop and it starts into a "newuser" which reconfigures the system with the user preferences (and login name) you give

In both cases, you could ask a whole lot of configuration information for "first run" purposes. Independently of what you ask, there's an idea to do the asking asynchronously, while some lengthy operation is taking place. For the installer, that's during filesystem creation and population. For the configurator, the wait is typically much much shorter, as all you have is to resize some partitions and/or create a user and a home dir.

Calamares (not a KDE project) is also committed to supporting Linuxen in general, so it would like to avoid large KDE dependencies if it can (optional KDE dependencies, which are used when a KDE-supporting distro is being installed or configured, are fine).

I also would support some kind of first run wizard setting up standard keyboard shortcuts and panel widgets. Especially for migrating Windows users. I believe it is feasible to make the wizard in an unobtrusive way. E.g. an icon could be shown in the system tray which shows popup that informs the user briefly about the existence of the customization wizard. Ideally, the wizard can also be run at a later time with a fine-grained selection of what should be changed from the installation default (or back to the default).

Kaos (https://kaosx.us) a distribution focused on KDE-Plasma and Qt has a first run system setup wizard. (Can be found here https://github.com/KaOSx/kaptan, is itself a fork of this project https://github.com/PisiLinuxNew/kaptan)
It is described like this

KaOS uses a First Run Wizard. It will run on the newly installed system and enables with just a few clicks to adjust mouse behavior, menu launcher, desktop theme, used wallpaper, color scheme, widget style, window decoration and virtual desktops used. With one click this Wizard will also link to KaOS Documentation and all contact info.

It does its job pretty well I can say (I tested Kaos in a VM half a year ago , just for fun) and covers a lot of requirements that were mentioned above.
One could use this as a base and could extend its feature-set. For example one could add the option to select a look_and_feel_theme (Breeze, Windows-like, Mac-like, Unity-like... a lot of options here) or whatever one would like to see appearing there.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Dec 3 2017, 7:52 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)
neofytosk updated the task description. (Show Details)Dec 17 2017, 6:12 PM
neofytosk added a subscriber: neofytosk.

The recently introduced KWallet support in VLC is cool; can it also be implemented for Firefox? When a master password is set, Firefox asks for it on every launch, which for me is usually just after unlocking my Wi-Fi passwords with KWallet. If Firefox could make use of KWallet (like Chrome and Opera do), it'd be one password prompt less on every device boot :)

The recently introduced KWallet support in VLC is cool; can it also be implemented for Firefox? When a master password is set, Firefox asks for it on every launch, which for me is usually just after unlocking my Wi-Fi passwords with KWallet. If Firefox could make use of KWallet (like Chrome and Opera do), it'd be one password prompt less on every device boot :)

That would be tracked by https://bugzilla.mozilla.org/show_bug.cgi?id=278343

Its age doesn't give me a lot of hope for a fix from Mozilla. I suspect this is one of those cases where if we want it, it'll be up to us to produce and champion the patch.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 23 2018, 7:08 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 27 2018, 4:09 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Jan 31 2018, 5:30 PM

Hi ! I wonder whether this one would fit in the KDE usability list : global menus don't work with GTK apps, cf :
https://github.com/kotelnik/plasma-applet-active-window-control/issues/78

Also I guess it'll be easier for people to use them soon as apparently the active-window-control applet is back under the KDE umbrella. (makes it possible to mimic well known Unity features)

Cheers ! :-)

Well, I reply to myself as I got the following notification just after making the post above :
https://phabricator.kde.org/D10461
gmenu-dbusmenu-proxy
"This application finds windows using GTK GMenu DBus interfaces [1] and forwards them through DBusMenu. This way no adjustments in Plasma are needed."

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 14 2018, 6:42 PM
manuelmuzzurru added a comment.EditedFeb 18 2018, 1:25 PM

hi, i wish to ask you:

in Dolphin add little feature: status of filesystem, example: device pendrive mount and show filesystem is NTFS or FAT32..EXT4, etc.. little feature..like as detection filesystem when open dolphin.. will be place to panel information.. this is cool.. is possible?

meven updated the task description. (Show Details)Feb 19 2018, 8:49 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 9 2018, 9:30 PM
rkflx added a subscriber: rkflx.Mar 13 2018, 8:33 PM
ach added a subscriber: ach.Mar 20 2018, 9:42 PM
acrouthamel updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 25 2018, 3:51 AM

hi, did you see my comment for filesystem in dolphin (panel information)?

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 25 2018, 7:21 PM

@manuelmuzzurru, the best place for that kind of request is in the form of a Bugzilla ticket for frameworks-kio.

@ngraham ok i did open new bug report : https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=392339
i hope you will add list this in "Top-notch usability and productivity for basic software" thank you

ach added a comment.Apr 6 2018, 4:31 PM

Maybe it's worth to add to the describtion of this task:

Update HIG to include

chivo added a subscriber: chivo.Apr 14 2018, 6:38 PM