Launcher Menus Convergence
Open, WishlistPublic

Description

Launchers

Plasma currently has 3 launcher styles added. I believe all of them can be converged or made to look similar. However, given user requests, we have to keep 3 of them and they currently don't seem to correlate visually. We have the dashboard launcher (WIP), Kickoff and Kicker. Each of them brings different kinds of interactivity and space savings for the users.

I would like to propose a visual merge of these three applications so that they look more cohesive, tight and closer to a Plasma style.

Things to note:

  1. Icons are not meant to be final. They are just a representation
  2. Spacing is relative
  3. Current elements on the screen are meant to be there

Introductions

Fullscreen button: Will resize from kicker to dashboard launcher, from kickoff to fullscreen launcher. Removed the idea of right-clicking the menu and offered visual controls.

Kickoff Menu: To provide consistency, I preserved the kickoff bottom menu bar throughout the different iterations. This will take care of the category clutter menu that is present in the dashboard launcher.

Things to Consider

  1. I don't know the possibility of creating this code-wise. I welcome feedback.

Before:

After:

abetts created this task.May 20 2018, 1:56 AM
abetts triaged this task as Wishlist priority.
januz awarded a token.May 20 2018, 2:19 AM

Thanks so much for opening this for discussion!

Here's something at the strategic level to throw out there, while we're discussing the matter: I've noticed on the internets that there seems to be an amount of pent-up desire for the full range of features available in GNOME's Activities Overview. I understand this desire. IMHO, Activities Overview is one of GNOME's real UI success stories. I loved using it back when I was a GNOME guy. It's so nice to be able to launch apps, switch apps, visually switch windows, manage and interact with virtual desktops, and monitor system status all from the same place. It really succeeds in being a "system dashboard". It's got its problems of course, but for the most part, I think it's an excellent feature, and I understand why some of our users are envious of it.

Going down to the realm of the tactical, Kickoff's Applications tab is in desperate need of a UX overhaul. It's incredibly slow and awkward right now, and requires so much clicking to navigate the different categories. The current clickyness is a bad fit for using a multi-level navigation paradigm. Having to click to enter, leave, and change categories is really annoying and slow, and I think we can do better. I'd also love to see an icon grid like in the second "after" image, which would make it very touch-friendly.

Back to the strategic level a bit, I think if we can do enough UI work, we could wind up with a menu that's better than Kickoff, and also wins over the people (like myself) who currently prefer Kicker because of Kickoff's deficiencies. If this could be accomplished, we'd essentially have just two versions: the menu representation and the full screen representation. Then it might be really nice to be able to switch between them with a "full screen" button as depicted in the screenshots. This would also further unify the codebase, as right now there's a lot of copypasta code between the three.

Whatever UI we wind up with, I'd really like for us to make it much easier to find recently installed apps, and for them to be highlighted as such. Less technically inclined users otherwise often have difficulty finding newly-installed apps, as these people usually have little conception of where programs "live" on their computers. See also T7913: Make it really obvious where newly-installed apps can be found and https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=384936

One final thing before I shut up for a bit: please let's not go with small white text on a blurry medium gray background. Font readability is so much more important than design-y-ness! We also need to respect the user's theme. Unless we're planning to ditch Breeze, I'd like to see us stay with the general Breeze look-and-feel rather than fragment the system into a collection of jumbled styles like Windows 10 is. We already have a measure of this with Plasma style vs QWidgets app style vs Kirigami app style, and I'd prefer that they converge rather than further fragment.

Thanks so much for opening this for discussion!

Here's something at the strategic level to throw out there, while we're discussing the matter: I've noticed on the internets that there seems to be an amount of pent-up desire for the full range of features available in GNOME's Activities Overview. I understand this desire. IMHO, Activities Overview is one of GNOME's real UI success stories. I loved using it back when I was a GNOME guy. It's so nice to be able to launch apps, switch apps, visually switch windows, manage and interact with virtual desktops, and monitor system status all from the same place. It really succeeds in being a "system dashboard". It's got its problems of course, but for the most part, I think it's an excellent feature, and I understand why some of our users are envious of it.

Going down to the realm of the tactical, Kickoff's Applications tab is in desperate need of a UX overhaul. It's incredibly slow and awkward right now, and requires so much clicking to navigate the different categories. The current clickyness is a bad fit for using a multi-level navigation paradigm. Having to click to enter, leave, and change categories is really annoying and slow, and I think we can do better. I'd also love to see an icon grid like in the second "after" image, which would make it very touch-friendly.

Back to the strategic level a bit, I think if we can do enough UI work, we could wind up with a menu that's better than Kickoff, and also wins over the people (like myself) who currently prefer Kicker because of Kickoff's deficiencies. If this could be accomplished, we'd essentially have just two versions: the menu representation and the full screen representation. Then it might be really nice to be able to switch between them with a "full screen" button as depicted in the screenshots. This would also further unify the codebase, as right now there's a lot of copypasta code between the three.

Whatever UI we wind up with, I'd really like for us to make it much easier to find recently installed apps, and for them to be highlighted as such. Less technically inclined users otherwise often have difficulty finding newly-installed apps, as these people usually have little conception of where programs "live" on their computers. See also T7913: Make it really obvious where newly-installed apps can be found and https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=384936

One final thing before I shut up for a bit: please let's not go with small white text on a blurry medium gray background. Font readability is so much more important than design-y-ness! We also need to respect the user's theme. Unless we're planning to ditch Breeze, I'd like to see us stay with the general Breeze look-and-feel rather than fragment the system into a collection of jumbled styles like Windows 10 is. We already have a measure of this with Plasma style vs QWidgets app style vs Kirigami app style, and I'd prefer that they converge rather than further fragment.

Should we implement something like autoarranging newly installed apps by placing them at the beginning of the list? Or maybe a mobile-like circle at the corner of each new application icon?

Hi very good job,

I appreciate in the dash launcher that you see the recent apps when you start it so not all apps, only the recent one. Would be nice to see the recent apps and recent documents.

From my point of view there should be also an discussion between favorites, recent and most used apps. I would prefer something like in firefox where you see the most used apps and you can pin or remove them from the launcher. So I don't know how to call it but a mix between most used apps, recent apps and for the users how like to define favorites manuell, favorite apps.

I heartily agree on a proposed combined view that shows favorite apps, recently used apps, and newly-installed apps. I proposed this a bit ago, in fact: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=391275

The idea was that by default it would show dynamic view of recently-used apps. You could "pin" apps to make them become favorites, with a little badge or pin icon. And newly-installed apps would also appear here, with a different badge/icon/background/whatever.

I heartily agree on a proposed combined view that shows favorite apps, recently used apps, and newly-installed apps. I proposed this a bit ago, in fact: https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=391275

The idea was that by default it would show dynamic view of recently-used apps. You could "pin" apps to make them become favorites, with a little badge or pin icon. And newly-installed apps would also appear here, with a different badge/icon/background/whatever.

That could work!

That's something I also had in mind but how should this section be called?

As pc doesn't mean only open a app I would like to see some improvements in file and folder handle. Why plasma can't show me what I did recently so I can start the work again.

Windows 10 had the usefull dynamically recent folder feature for the file manager. It would be awesome if the start center will show me the most used apps but also my recent work, which I can also pin or move tothe an activity, ..

As pc doesn't mean only open a app I would like to see some improvements in file and folder handle. Why plasma can't show me what I did recently so I can start the work again.

Kicker, Kickoff, and Application Dashboard already have "Recent" sections that show you recent apps and documents. Maybe it needs some polish, but the feature already exists.

Dashboard didn't show recent files only when you search you get recent file and apps listed.

Maybe recent files can be linked with folders and apps.

How does this relate to T3833: LiftOff - an idea for a new launcher? Should we subsume the proposals and mockups from there into this one, or move this discussion over there?

How does this relate to T3833: LiftOff - an idea for a new launcher? Should we subsume the proposals and mockups from there into this one, or move this discussion over there?

They don't seem to share a lot of relation to what I am proposing here. LiftOff also introduces, to my taste, too much navigation.

I proposed a crude mockup for an improved desktop version of Kickoff in T7913#147930. With a Full Screen button visible somewhere on there, it could easily become a full-screen UI like our Application Dashboard or GNOME's Activities Overview serve the convergence mission.

@andreaska may be interested, given his desire for a better "recent stuff you did" user interface.

Let's work on it!

I've moved my ideas into sub-tasks of T9042: Kickoff improvements so as not to clutter up this ticket, which really should be used to track convergence.

This is what I'm thinking when we talk about Document integration into Application menu.

General Layout
everything is grouped according an extended "icon view". Left you have the icon (big) than the header and 3 lines (secondary color)

Bottom
On bottom you have the user avatar as icon and the user name as header. in the 3 lines search (if you start using your keyboard, search come instant) Recent is preselected but you can also switch by keyboard to applications.
Second column show the application "health" like bubble widget as icon and leave header with the last 3 leave options

Top Section
Is the application section application icon and application name as header and the last 3 recent files (or for dolphin 3 recent folders)

Click on fullscreen icon will witch the starter to fullscreen where you simple get more columns (according to the windows size) and on bottom you can get e.g. also more columns (activity list, ...)

As additional feature you can highlight open files and apps so you get also an overview about the stuff which is still open.

Background:
Recent for the layout is that users can search fast (with the eyes) after applications with the application menu. Show the last 3 recent things from the apps will fit better than show a list with recent files cause than you have to arrange the recent list in your head first to the application. So it's easier cause you know I'd like to use kate but you want to work with the last files, ...

right click to the application icon will give you the option to pin an application so it's a mix between recent applications and pined one.

my proposal is a bit away from search cause my DE should support ME and give me useful results first and if they are not useful for me I have to search. Plasma should think for me not I should think for plasma.

Here is another thought. It would be great also if users could create their own clusters or groups of applications, that way, certain applications can be dedicated to work, personal life, design, development, etc. The advantage of having them together under their own tab would make it easy for users to find the applications they use most often. Another cool trick would be the ability to "LAUNCH ALL" applications from within that tab. So, two ideas:

  1. Ability to create personal tabs where groups of applications can go
  2. Ability to "LAUNCH ALL" applications within a tab for personal purposes
rooty added a subscriber: rooty.EditedJun 21 2018, 11:24 AM

Guys ok so I saw this in Nate's mockup (T9040) and I have a few thoughts.

A number of people (myself included) use Plasma with a global menu and a dock, and the smaller kickoff works just fine, please don't do away with it :D

I think the idea of having a button/key to make it full screen (dashboard) is a great idea, even though I can't stand the dashboard (sorry Nate haha). The clustering apps thing is a good idea, but you may need to find a way to make it work with the current application categories (which are fine as is).

Please do not overemphasize recents because a lot of the files you may open are fairly disposable. Favorites would be a better area to focus on.

What I would like to see in a rework of the current launchers is a full integration of KRunner. Currently there are two separate but very similar ways on the default desktop to start apps through the launcher (Meta key) and through KRunner (Alt + Space). These should be a combine in my opinion. One idea I had was having the "search field" at the top of this combined launcher (see for example Simple Menu from the KDE store) and having the drop-down menu of KRunner "drop-up" above it.

ngraham added a comment.EditedJun 28 2018, 2:54 PM

What I would like to see in a rework of the current launchers is a full integration of KRunner. Currently there are two separate but very similar ways on the default desktop to start apps through the launcher (Meta key) and through KRunner (Alt + Space). These should be a combine in my opinion. One idea I had was having the "search field" at the top of this combined launcher (see for example Simple Menu from the KDE store) and having the drop-down menu of KRunner "drop-up" above it.

Very very strongly agree. See also https://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=382760

We discussed this in the VDG BoF today in Akademy and the idea as originally articulated here did not prove to be very popular. Arguments against it includes the following:

  • We already have a more general way to switch between alternatives, even if it's not as polished or discoverable as it should be
  • Kicker, Kickoff, and Application Dashboard are not fungible; they target different use cases, so it doesn't make sense to make one easily able to morph into another
  • Since people don't switch launchers frequently (or ever), it doesn't make sense to put a button right there visible in the main UI to do it

What shook out of this discussion was the idea that we should polish the pre-existing Alternatives user interface instead. Should we close this ticket and open a new one for that?

We can talk about this, we are inviting more ideas to this bigger idea

ndavis added a subscriber: ndavis.Apr 6 2019, 1:02 AM