Improve Places panel usability and presentation
Open, Needs TriagePublic

Description

Right now, by default the Places panel shows a small number of user places, and a large number of Virtual places of questionable utility (e.g. the 4 Search For entries, 4 Recently Saved entries, and the redundant Root entry). Overall the signal-to-noise ratio is low, and usability could be better.

Let's consider the following changes, roughly in this order:

  • Remove the Recently SavedThis Month and Recently SavedLast Month entries by default; they're of questionable utility to feature so prominently, and the functionality is available from the Find panel anyway. D11767
  • Fix a bug causing the Information Panel to not display previews for folders added to the Places panel: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=392621: D11894
  • Add at least Desktop and Downloads to the default Places section, in a nod to real-world user workflows (see D10245#201638): D11768
  • Add Documents to the default Places section: D16852
  • Use a better icon for Network: D15931
  • Generally improve the visual presentation of disks: T9740
  • Make it obvious which disk in the Devices section corresponds to /: D16653
  • Remove Root from the Places section; it's redundant, and that location can always be accessed from a disk in the Devices section, which is visible by default: D15739 D21789
  • Re-order sections so the Removable Devices section is closer to the top than the bottom
  • Maybe do the same for the Devices section too?
  • Implement collapsible Places panel sections: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=389803
  • Make Search For entries collapsed by default (i.e. available and accessible, but with the entries invisible until the header is expanded)
  • Improve or change the Recently Saved items or the recentdocuments:/ KIO slave to exclude non-files: D14893
  • Improve the KRecentDocuments system to notice files that were recently opened and created by non-KDE programs
  • Add a Recently Used item: D7446
  • Add a Tags section, and put it at the very bottom (maybe even collapsed by default): D7700
  • Implement section re-ordering: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=309621
  • Give unmountable external disks a visible eject button: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=154499
  • Add ability to create splitters/separators between places: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=169751
  • Implement «Show All Entries» for places in the Panels submenu: D16767

Thoughts?

Related Objects

There are a very large number of changes, so older changes are hidden. Show Older Changes

Should Desktop be displayed only if Plasma Desktop is configured as a Folder View?
Otherwise some users will save things in the Desktop (as is done in other OSes) and will not see them, creating uncertainty.

Should Desktop be displayed only if Plasma Desktop is configured as a Folder View?
Otherwise some users will save things in the Desktop (as is done in other OSes) and will not see them, creating uncertainty.

We're talking about default settings here. By default, there's a Folder View on the desktop, so I think it's appropriate enough to add Desktop to the Places list too. Distros that change this (are there any?) would be aimed at super-advanced users where the usability concern is immaterial.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 28 2018, 2:35 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 28 2018, 2:56 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Mar 28 2018, 4:01 PM
sharvey added a subscriber: sharvey.Apr 2 2018, 1:26 PM

If you don't mind, a suggestion on presentation and appearance - for Dolphin and the file dialogs in general (since the discussion seems to have expanded to include them).

Would we consider doing away with the "line art" icons at the smallest scale and using a full-color icon instead?

Doesn't need to be a custom-rendered icon with a backdrop, just a solid blue folder instead of the black outlines. To my eye, those line art icons look very "technical" instead of user-friendly. They look like what many people assume Linux is - basic, technical, harsh, etc. I don't imagine using a colored or themed icon would have any effect on performance (it's how they render in HiDPI, after all), but I think it would be a good visual improvement.

I don't disagree with you, @sharvey, and I find the tiny 16x16 icons to be rather inscrutable and harsh myself. If we wanted to make that change, IMHO the best way to do this would be to raise the default size of the icons to 32x32, at which point they automatically change to pretty colored icons, and the places entries themselves have nice large click targets, which improves usability.

Doing this increases the vertical height of the panel though, so we'd want to make sure we first optimize the contents and presentation by moving more relevant items closer to the top and making the Search For section collapsed by default to make sure that important items aren't buried "below the fold" (so to speak) for users who don't think to scroll the sidebar.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 2 2018, 4:14 PM

If we wanted to make that change, IMHO the best way to do this would be to raise the default size of the icons to 32x32, at which point they automatically change to pretty colored icons, and the places entries themselves have nice large click targets, which improves usability.

Big mouse targets are good things, but I don't think we can increase the size of the icons. My idea was more along the lines of taking the existing Breeze 16x16 icons and giving them a fill color instead of just an outline. I know it's only 16x16, but I've seen people pull off some pretty impressive pixel art. Nothing against the VDG team who designed Breeze, but I think we can add a little life to the 16x16 places icons. Even if it's just a simple fill, it would brighten up and modernize the Places panel.

I've got some gripes with which icons are used for the Search listings - Breeze already has a better 16x16 "Documents" icon than the one that's currently used, for example. It's a more traditional "pages of paper" icon instead of the cryptic "staggered lines" symbol that's used now. Likewise, there must be a better choice for "Network" than that mysterious black box.

I'm just throwing out wishlist ideas. I may tinker with Breeze (in a disposable virtual machine) and see if I can spruce things up without disrupting the entire universe.

@sharvey Let me know what icons you prefer where, and I can put together a patch for review.

@sharvey Let me know what icons you prefer where, and I can put together a patch for review.

Nifty! These are all in ../breeze/places/16, although they might be symlinks to elsewhere.

Network: globe.svg and/or folder-network.svg (The globe is more common, but the VDG guys designed folder-network for a reason)
Documents: folder-documents.svg

For user bookmark folders, I filled the default folder icon with the default Breeze blue. If you can plug this in, I'd be curious to see how it looks. (I suppose I could have symlinked it myself, but...)

Thanks for taking a look at this.

I'd prefer a globe for Network if it looks decent in 16x16 form, FWIW. The current Network icon is really baffling. I think it's supposed to look like a 1U rack, but 1) it doesn't and 2) that's not a visual metaphor that's accessible to 99.9% of users.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 2 2018, 6:16 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 2 2018, 11:08 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 3 2018, 10:41 PM

For me @16x16: less color == better icon. I like my DE to visually calm.
Also please consider overlays from e.g. dolphin's git plugin they would become less distinct with a colored base icon.

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 4 2018, 8:54 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 4 2018, 9:00 PM
ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 4 2018, 11:14 PM

I got hold of the wrong end of the stick, we're talking about icons in places here. I change my opinion to the opposite. Colored icons there

  1. won't bother me as I rarely use it
  2. would in fact help to know which panel is in front (tree or places).
  3. The "overlay argument" is probably not valid in this context.

Sorry for the noise.

Wrt tags in panel

$ kioclient5 ls tags:/ | wc -l
353

How is places supposed to cope? (Ok, I should do some clean up, but ~50-100 tags will probably remain.)

Wrt tags in panel

$ kioclient5 ls tags:/ | wc -l
353

How is places supposed to cope? (Ok, I should do some clean up, but ~50-100 tags will probably remain.)

That's better discussed in D7700, but the suggestion there was to have the top 8 tags displayed by default, with a "show all tags" button that reveals the remainder. Most people won't have hundreds of tags, I suspect.

But it might make sense to reconsider that "show all tags" UI, or allow heavy tag users like yourself to turn it off. Keep in mind that by the time this is implemented, we'll have collapsible Places Panel sections, so if your Tags section has 335 tags, you'll be able to hide them all with one click by simply collapsing the section.

In general a agree with you. But what is panels supposed to be? Optimally one should not have to scroll it at all, imho.
Just as an idea: Implement user defineable groups. That way users could drop their most important tags/searches/whatever into it and expand and collapse as they wish.

In general a agree with you. But what is panels supposed to be? Optimally one should not have to scroll it at all, imho.

Agreed, and that's why this Task covers removing unnecessary entries, allowing sections to be collapsed, and proposing that one whole section be collapsed by default.

Just as an idea: Implement user defineable groups. That way users could drop their most important tags/searches/whatever into it and expand and collapse as they wish.

That's not a bad idea. Might wanna drop a comment to that effect into D7700

bruns added a subscriber: bruns.Apr 6 2018, 6:26 PM

Why not add just the toplevel "Tags" / "tags:/" (if there are tags), and let the user add any specific ones to their favorites? Bonus points if one could just DnD a query to the Tags section.

In T8349#137077, @bruns wrote:

Why not add just the toplevel "Tags" / "tags:/" (if there are tags), and let the user add any specific ones to their favorites? Bonus points if one could just DnD a query to the Tags section.

I suggested that in D7668, but the reaction was lukewarm at best. Also, there were some unresolved usability issues, such as:

  • Ability to make it disappear (and should it? Could it?) if and when Baloo is turned off
  • Default presentation when there are no tags
  • Ease of access; wouldn't be able to access tags with one click

Simply atting the tags:/ ioslave would certainly be easier but I still favor the more expansive approach of adding another Places Panel section. Such a thing would be easier to turn off when baloo is off and/or when there are no tags, and would overall present greater usability and polish.

tomsk added a subscriber: tomsk.EditedApr 22 2018, 1:41 PM

Please add option for adding separators into Places panel. https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=169751

ngraham updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 22 2018, 2:05 PM
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