Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hello Planet KDE

Until now I was very reluctant for maintaining an own blog. I'm not good in writing thrilling stories and answering questions in the comments section is not always a straight forward task.

But during the development of Dolphin-features for KDE 4.1 I faced the situation that I don't get enough feedback. There are not that many people who work regularly on SVN trunk, so I thought that I use this blog to present some new features in Dolphin. Any feedback is welcome!

I should be subscribed to Planet KDE now, well let's see whether it works :-)

24 comments:

Niels said...

Hi Peter,

I'm one of those happy trunk users, recompiled this morning.

If you are looking for feedback / feature requests from users I have a few for you.

- The information pane containing the Nepomuk and metadata fields looks (to me) too chaotic. A small cleanup/hiding, or a 'show more' button/arrow would help to keep the interface 'klean'.

- Why is rating/tagging in the information pane shown when nepomuk/strigi is turned of in my kcm? Does it still do something?

- When I add a directory to my places by dragging from kicker/konqueror or dolphin it doesn't copy the src-dir settings. So when I drag a directory with an custom icon it gets forgotten.

- I'm really missing the 'up' action in the toolbar, it should be default there imho, but that's choice :).

Really, Dolphin ROCKS, and it's quite a good application!

Peter Penz said...

> The information pane containing
> the Nepomuk and metadata fields
> looks (to me) too chaotic.

I agree :-) I have already some ideas how to improve this.

> Why is rating/tagging in the
> information pane shown when
> nepomuk/strigi is turned of in
> my kcm?

This is a bug and I was not aware about it. I've added the issue to my TODO-list.

> When I add a directory to my
> places by dragging from
> kicker/konqueror or dolphin it
> doesn't copy the src-dir settings.

Added to my TODO-list now...

> I'm really missing the 'up' action
> in the toolbar, it should be
> default there imho, but that's
> choice :)

We decided to leave the up-button away per default in Dolphin, but the good news is that in opposite to KDE 3 the toolbar settings are remembered when upgrading your KDE from e. g. 4.0 to 4.1 (in KDE 3 all toolbar settings were lost) - so once you've added your up-button, Dolphin won't forget it anymore :-)

> Really, Dolphin ROCKS, and it's
> quite a good application!

Thanks!

Anonymous said...

my feedback:
- I would like to have an ablity of drag&droping Nepomuk's star rating and description to the Places panel. Because showing the information panel only for stars and description is a waste of space on the right ;) I don't like those huge icons on top of information panel and I really would like to have an ablity of enabling only stars and description on Places panel under places icons.
- Please remember that a) Dolphin really is an improvement over Konq as a default file manager. b) those who like Dolphin don't shout on dot.kde.org c) those who shout are IMO a minority of Dolphin users (based on opinion of mu linux users friends)

greetings and thanx for this great app

Peter Penz said...

@Anonymous:
> I would like to have an ablity of
> drag&droping Nepomuk's star rating
> and description to the Places panel.

The plan is that the information panel is more configurable, so that e. g. the previews can be turned off. By this approach you could add a tiny information panel below the places panel. I hope this would fulfill your needs :-)

> greetings and thanx for this great app

Thanks for your input!

Anonymous said...

I love my Dolphin. It's smooth, slick and easy, especially the KDE4 version. I'm amazed at how even little things like the rescaling of the preview in the right column make just about every one who sees it ohh and ahh.

Here's my ultra nit-picky feedback having introduced newbies to it:

1. If the Dolphin window doesn't have focus and someone tries to drag a file/folder it draws the selection box instead of dragging it, which leads to confusion. The same happens if you have the window split and you try to drag something from the inactive panel. I found out by experimentation that you needed to click on the window/panel first and then drag. It works, but it it's not intuitive and hurts usability.

2. Scaling places icons to fit the containment. Niiiiice. Intuitive. Keeps things where you want them even when resizing windows and looks bling. :)

3. The name Dolphin is confusing. There's nothing in it to suggest what it does. Yes, the menu also displays a description, but when it's open at the bottom of the screen and a new user is looking for "the file manager" all you see is "Dolphin"


4. I agree with the previous poster about the "Up" arrow. Yes people can click on the breadcrumb trail, but often the way people seem to think is "I just want to go up a level."

5. The way you can have more than 1 docker(?) in the left/right containment and have them adjust themselves without scrollbars or overlapping is sheer interface sweetness itself. Way of the future, and I'm loving it now. :)

6. It would be nice to see some kind of plugin / widget / docker / plasmoid(?!) for the information panel that just always listed recently visited folders / places. I'm forever jumping back and forward between about 5 folders, which means usually having 3 Dolphin windows open, all split.

7. For a file manager, performance, especially scrolling by dragging the scrollbar often seems slow compared to other kde4 apps. I'm on 4.0.2 with 4 gig of ram a 3.2gHz P4 with SATA and a new motherboard, so this seem a bit strange.

8. Would be nice to have a slider that resizes previews, exactly like in Gwenview KDE4.

9. I've noticed users often try to drag folders from the breadcrumb bar into places which doesn't do anything right now.

10. Took me a while to figure out which side the "Unsplit" button would close (the inactive side). It's really nice that the icon shows this (which I didn't notice). What would add even more would be if rather than it just saying "Close" as it does now, if it said "close left panel" or "close right panel".

11. A super easy one! I'd suggest adding Ctrl and = as an alternate keyboard shortcut for zoom in. It's confusing to be able to just use the Ctrl modifier to zoom out (Ctrl and -) but to need to use shift as well to zoom in (Ctrl, shift and = to zoom in).

12. Clicking to the right of the breadcrumb trail is a really nice way to access typing the path as it lets you be much more inaccurate than clicking an icon. Trouble is that nothing indicates you can do this. What would be amazing would be if when you hovered over the area you can click to do this, if it faded in something to let you know you can do this eg "Click to type the file path instead."

13. Columns. Beautiful. Who cares if it's from Apple. They grabbed most of their desktop effects from us, anyway. ;-)

14. Lastly but not least, thankyou for all the usability enhancements. They are all appreciated, from the extensive shortcuts, to the clear layout, to finally showing diskspcae clearly. These are the everyday things that make a new average user feel like KDE runs a system that they can be even more comfortable with. You've done an awesome job, and as you can see I had to look hard to find *anything* I would improve. In short. You (and Dolphin) rock!

Hans said...

Hello Peter,

Nice to see your blog on the planet. Dolphin is a very nice application, but what's amazing is the feedback you've given so far. Can't thank you enough.

This seems like a nice place to dump suggestions/requests. I won't do it today, but I promise that I'll return one day (when my exams are over).

Hope you don't grow tired of us pestering users. ;)
Keep up with the great work!

Peter Penz said...

@Anomymous:
> If the Dolphin window
> doesn't have focus
> and someone tries to drag a file/folder
> it draws the selection box instead of
> dragging it, which leads to confusion.

Is a Qt-issue, I hope this will be fixed in Qt4.4 final. Otherwise I'll try to bypass this in Dolphin in the meantime...

Thanks for your other points too, it is also interesting to hear what people like :-) Minor notes to some points:

> The name Dolphin is confusing.

I'm not sure whether Konqueror, Nautilus or Explorer as names are really better ;-)

> What would add even more would be if
> rather than it just saying "Close"
> as it does now, if it said "close
> left panel" or "close right panel".

This would make the toolbar button very large...

> For a file manager, performance,
> especially scrolling by dragging the
> scrollbar often seems slow compared to
> other kde4 apps.

Is on my TODO-list already, the root cause might be in the enabled smoothscrolling feature.

> Would be nice to have a slider that
> resizes previews, exactly like in
> Gwenview KDE4.

I love this slider from Gwenview too. I did already some improvements for previews in trunk, but no slider is available yet. I think this is more a thing for KDE 4.2 :-)

> I've noticed users often try to
> drag folders from the breadcrumb
> bar into places which doesn't do
> anything right now.

Interesting! Should be straight forward to implement, added to my TODO-list now...

> Clicking to the right of the
> breadcrumb trail is a really nice
> way to access typing the path as
> it lets you be much more inaccurate
> than clicking an icon. Trouble is
> that nothing indicates you can do
> this. What would be amazing would
> be if when you hovered over th
> area you can click to do this, if
> it faded in something to let you
> know you can do this eg "Click to
> type the file path instead."

This is already supported: a tooltip is shown if you leave your mouse on the right side of the breadcrumb. Maybe you turned off tooltips in kcm?

Leo S said...

Hi Peter,

Awesome work on Dolphin. I think Dolphin is the shining example for how to do usability right without dumbing down an application.

I really only have one major issue with Dolphin, and that is performance on some systems. Here at work I've got a Core 2 Duo 6700 running Debian unstable with a Geforce 7600 using the proprietary nvidia drivers. Dolphin flies, and I have no issues.

At home I have two laptops, and Dolphin is kinda slow on both of them. One is a Athlon XP 3200+ with an Ati Xpress 200m (open source drivers) and it takes quite a while to load folders and scrolling the view (by using the arrow keys) is a bit choppy. I saw that you fixed the size calculation code which should help on folder load in the last commit digest though.

THen I have an EeePC running KDE4. And it seems that something in Qt4 or KDE4 really doesn't agree with the Eee. Painting performance is awful. If I scroll the view in dolphin with the arrow keys, the view won't update at all. Just the scroll bar moves until a second after I let go of the arrow keys. It's just about unusable. Strange too, because with the open source drivers I would think that Qt would be decently fast (kwin compositing disabled).

Not sure what you meant by smooth scrolling. Dolphin seems to scroll normally (in increments) for me.

Anonymous said...

Since I found dolphin, a never used konqueror any more ... so first of all thanks a lot for this great program!

There are three points I would like to mention. Note that I am using the latest kubuntu packages, not the svn version.

1) Selecting "Network"->"Add a network folder" always fails for me (KDEInit could not launch '/usr/lib/kde4/bin/knetattach'.). But maybe that's a problem in the package I am using?

2) When opening a konsole with F4, I am annoyed that it does not get the focus automatically, you always need to click in it to be able to use it.

3) In the kde3 version d3lphin, the information panel included useful shortcuts to actions related to the currently selected file/folder, like "compress here", "sent as attachment", etc. Would be great to see this feature return in kde4.

Leo S said...

Another note on the performance problem. Repainting the view seems to be very inefficient. For example, even if I am not scrolling the view, it repaints the whole thing every time something changes.

So if I load a folder and focus the first item, then hit the down arrow on the keyboard several times to move the focus down one file at a time. Every time the focus moves the whole view repaints, even though 90% of it doesn't change at all. (I'm seeing this using kwin's show paint plugin).

Peter Penz said...

@Leo: do you talk about KDE 4.0.2 or SVN trunk? My personal impression is that in Qt4.4 the drawing performance is a lot faster. Regarding the loading time when opening directories: David Faure has fixed a performance issue that occurred in combination with the detailed view. Currently there is still one performance issue left in kdelibs which we hopefully can fix until KDE 4.1. Generally speaking I think there are still some minor performance bottlenecks left in Dolphin/kdelibs because of a lot of new code. But I'm very optimistic that we can make the thing even faster than in KDE 3, just give us some time ;-)

@Anonymous:
> Selecting "Network"->"Add a network
> folder" always fails for me

It's an open issue on my TODO-list, although it is not really Dolphin code.

> When opening a konsole with F4,
> I am annoyed that it does not get
> the focus automatically, you always
> need to click in it to be able to
> use it.

Is on my TODO-list (http://bugs.kde.org/show_bug.cgi?id=158223).

> In the kde3 version d3lphin, the
> information panel included useful
> shortcuts to actions related to
> the currently selected file/folder,
> like "compress here", "sent as
> attachment", etc. Would be great
> to see this feature return in kde4.

This is not planned currently, but I'm open for any input. It is planned that the information sidebar gets more configurable in general. Maybe adding an option for service menus can be done later.

Leo S said...

@peter

Sorry, 4.0.2 from Debian experimental.

For the most part performance is fine. Seems to be just some strange interaction between Qt4 and some video drivers, and some less than optimal repainting of views.

I hope the compress file gets added to the right context menu at some point. A very useful feature, especially since ark is pretty broken in KDE4..

Peter Penz said...

@Leo:
> I hope the compress file gets
> added to the right context menu
> at some point. A very useful
> feature, especially since ark
> is pretty broken in KDE4..

Yes, I miss this service menu too. I've seen that the distributions already added some service menus for KDE 4.0.2 (as you might know it's quite straight forward adding new menus by your own: http://techbase.kde.org/index.php?title=Development/Tutorials/Creating_Konqueror_Service_Menus). If it is defined which applications are shipped for KDE 4.1, I'll check the service menu topic again.

Rafael Fernández López said...

Great, great, great !!! /me claps !! :)

Anonymous said...

Great app!

I especially love the ability to browse archives (eg zip/tar/gzip).

It would be great if the "Back" and "Forward" (and maybe "Up"?) arrows worked like Konqueror in having a dropdown to go back/forward/up more than 1 level.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to the return of the ability to set the default folder view type. :)

Peter Penz said...

@Anonymous:
> Looking forward to the return of the
> ability to set the default folder
> view type. :)

This is already possible: navigate to any folder which looks like a good template for your default folders. Go to View -> Adjust View Properties..., check the "[ ] Use as default for new folders" checkbox and click "Apply". Or did I missunderstand your request?

Piers said...

Ah Thanks,

I was looking for it in "Configure Dolphin"

Anonymous said...

Hi, I think I'd like to check this most recent svn version, too. Can someone tell me how to do this without checking out large parts of KDE? I just want to get the newest development version of dolphin ...

Anthony said...

I accidentally deleted the trashcan from the Dolphin sidebar. I've tried restoring it by both a complete uninstall/reinstall of Dolphin, as well as adding a bookmark with trash:/ as the target, but I'm unable to restore a trashcan with right-click functionality to the Dolphin sidebar.

While I know it's bad form to ask for help through a blog comment, the only pertinent result I got from a Google of "restore trash dolphin" was an unanswered post from somone with the same issue on the Ubuntu forums. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Peter Penz said...

@Anthony: just enter "trash://" into the URL navigator of Dolphin. After the trash directory is listed, go into the view, open the context menu and select "Add to Places...".

Hmm, maybe we should prevent that the trash entry can be deleted (it still can be hidden). I'll discuss this with Kevin Ottens (= maintainer of the places bar).

Anthony said...

Thanks for the lightning fast reply, Peter. I go to "trash:/", right-click on the view-pane, and I don't see "Add to Places," but rather "Bookmark this Folder." If I do that, it does add a bookmark to trash in the sidebar, but the bookmark lacks "empty trash" and the other right-click functionality of the original trash that I stupidly removed. I'm using Dolphin 0.9.2 in KDE 3.5 on Ububtu Gutsy. Thanks again.

Dean W. said...

Peter,

thanks for this _fantastic_ application!!

The basic setup is so user friendly that even my parents (+55) can understand and work with their files - finally.

And me, the poweruser, am also soooo delighted with an interface that is just perfect for 98% of the time.

And for the remaining 2%, I'll just start up old fellow konqueror with pleasure - and it makes me realize that it's exactly the lack of complex features why I like dolphin so much.

It makes my day. Day after day. Keep up the good work!!

James said...

Anthony: I did the same thing with the trash bookmark in dolphine. If you right click on the other book marks they don't seem to have any extra functionality. I am going to conclude that the trash folder didn't either. The trash folder on my taskbar is probably an applet, explaining why it has the extra functionality. So, I just added it back in as trash:/ and changed the icon to a trash can. The .d3lphinview config file in my home folder didn't seem to change anything after I attempted to restore that from a backup. Anyway, more thanks to Peter!!! Cheers.