A screencast!

So, aaron screencasted last week, and talked about the Plasma kpart from a general point of view… Let’s take a gander at my bug-ridden code which uses said kpart to make a plasma dashboard in Kontact!🙂

http://blip.tv/file/4189941

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~ by Ryan Rix on 1 October 2010.

6 Responses to “A screencast!”

  1. Sorry but I am afraid I don’t really get why the overview should use plasma. Imo the current view is a lot more clean, consistend and provides me all the info I need with a glimpse of the eye and without the need to scroll or whatever. So why change something when it is not broken and when the new way — as it appears to me — does not really offer much more?

    Take the fonts e.g., in the current view you have like two different font sizes, while you have multiple here. Also you have one background for everything now and would have multiple for every applet then.

    Imo Plasma is a nice technology, but it does not need to be everywhere just for the sake of it.

    • So, I was writing a reply to your comment, when Aaron more or less did the same thing on his blog. Since my thoughts more or less mirror him, and he’s far more eloquent, I’ll just copypasta it:

      Ryan Rix published a screen cast about the Plasma Dashboard KPart that he worked on, particular with regards its use in Kontact. The first comment on his blog asked why use Plasma there at all. The answer is wrapped up in a new way of thinking about application development. This is something I’ve also blogged about in the past, but that we’re starting to actually see happen now.

      Instead of writing applications as monolithic things, or at best as collections of components that work with each other only, we’re starting to see the emergence of applications that are written as collections of self-contained components that are then collected together into a single interface.

      In the specific case of Kontact and it’s summary view, it needed to be rewritten for Akonadi anyways. So it was decided to do it in a way that (a) improved what is already there and (b) made new things possible at the same time.

      The version shown in Ryan’s screencast isn’t finished, and the layout and graphic design still has tweaking left to do so it looks a bit nicer in certain places, but even in its current state it gives Kontact’s summary dashboard some nice improvements.

      I’m not sure how many people new that you could actually move items around in the summary. This is both more obvious now (which is mostly a factor of the graphic design), but also has the ability to provide multiple columns in addition to rows. Horizontal scrolling is there when needed, another improvement.

      To extend the summary page requires a plugin system of some sort that everyone can use. Plasma provides just such a component model that fits that perfectly. So an existing widget that is related to email, contacts, events, etc. can now be used in Kontact without any additional work being required by the Kontact team. The email summary widget seen in Ryan’s screencast, with all of its great features, is Lion Mail. This was developed for Plasma Desktop in mind originally by sebas, but can now be used in Kontact, saving the Kontact team a ton of work.

      What about a weather widget? It was going to have to be re-written, too, to use the new weather data fetching in KDE Platform 4 (which happens to be driven by a Plasma DataEngine now). Well, with the dashboard it doesn’t need to be re-written at all: the existing weather widgets can be used there.

      Conversely, components written for the Kontact dashboard can also be used in Plasma Desktop, Netbook, other apps using Plasma Dashboard, etc. So the nifty “upcoming events” Plasmoid, written for Kontact is now also available wherever you want.

      This is a remarkable, if seemingly subtle, change in how we are writing applications. It’s a floating mix of components that we can re-arrange, mash-up and re-use .. at runtime.

      http://aseigo.blogspot.com/2010/10/on-impending-future-of-ui-greatnesses.html

      • Sorry if I missed it from the Aaron’s blog post, but it does not address the styling / inconsistent issues the mat69 also mentioned.

        Would it be possible to create a plasma theme that would mimic the normal app elements and style, to be used when plasmoids are being included within the apps? Because also I find the plasmoids being out-of-place when embedded in the apps.

        Anyway, glad to see Kontact summary getting some love – and I’m sure you already have plans to add that elegance as well🙂

      • That doesn’t really convince me either, in some cases a monolithic approach is imo better than exporting everything in everywhere available plugins (you could say that plasmoids are that to a degree).

        With the monolithic approach you can polish something exactly to its usecases while in the other case something like that is either not possible or hard to achieve –> to satisfy all the use-cases a good looking, consistent and useable way.

        Take plasma applets, their look depends to a large degree on the theme used, so it can happen that they could look out of place, unless a fixed style is used in the Kontact case. And further that style also defines the place the applets will use — by default fonts etc. — so to have a consistent experience in a program that still is mostly QWidget based one would have to work around one of the features of Plasma.

        It starts with the formfactor, in general QWidgets have the same font-size, no matter if they are resized or not. That does not hold true for plasma applets, resize the calendar to something larger and you get larger fonts, vice versa. That might be ok on the desktop but looks imo out of place in an application.

        Yes and as mentioned I understand that the applets can be fine tuned, but imo that is a maintenance problem –> who will do that? It is a lot harder to fine tune a lot of apps that work differently internally than to maintenace a small set of hardly changing tools.

        I really hope that all of my concerns will be non-founded, though I fear that the experience won’t be as polished and straight foward anymore.

  2. It is true that this dashboard needs MUCH love. Because, currently user-wise it is worse than the current summary view in Kontact.
    And the topic with Plasma themes is quite a problem now – although in theming Plasma is quite diverse, finding a good Plasma theme is still quite hard – most of them are of quite low quality and need much love. And I truly do not want to have in my contact the theme from my desktop.
    Maybe this tendence with “Everything is applett” is targeted at using these appletts in the future on all kind of hand-helds?

  3. Answered that on aseigo’s blog — blogs really suck for discussion, meh:

    Well I was the one with the first comment on the new Kontact summary page.

    Who is going to provide a consistent look? Who will work on that?

    The thing I fear is that “(a) improved what is already there” will not happen, the main priority — provide a lot of information in a easy graspable, consistent (with the rest of the program) way as fast as possible — seems to degrade.

    In any case I hope that the discussion will remain there and not be here, so I’ll also post that post there.

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