Saturday, April 11, 2009

Directory Thumbnails

Usually after a KDE version has been released, it's quite clear for me how Dolphin will look like in a half year for the next release. The time for feature development is quite limited, so there is only a small set of features that can make it into one release.

The best thing of being part of the KDE community is when other KDE developers provide patches for useful features, that I did not have on my Todo-list at all. This happened recently when David Nolden submitted a patch for directory thumbnails. I even did not notice the feature after it had been committed (the code for this is outside the scope of Dolphin). I only got aware about this because David send me a mail, where he asked about the reason of having a wrong alpha blended background for directory thumbnails.

I tried to fix the issue and did some adjustments in the code to have the image folder as background and the images aligned in front of the folders. Well I'm no real artist and two days later another mail was in my inbox. This time from Fredrik Höglund, who provided a patch to improve the look of the directory thumbnails by a nice white border and shadow.

David already wrote about this feature in his weblog and even added a very useful slideshow feature for previews. Feeling somehow guilty that Dolphin got improved by a feature I even did not have on my radar I wanted at least to take care on the remaining issues:
  • fix scaling issues for large directory thumbnails
  • improve the performance
  • let the user configure which previews should be generated

The scaling of the icons in general was not as good as possible. This was especially visible with large icon sizes and has been fixed now:


The directory thumbnails get cached now and are quite fast after creating the thumbnails at least once. Before showing the directory thumbnail it is checked whether the directory content has changed to assure that no outdated cache is used.

Still it is possible that some people don't like this feature, so I added a configuration to let the user decide which previews should be generated:


I'll write about the other features that will appear in Dolphin for KDE 4.3 during the next week :-)

20 comments:

WishMaster said...

That looks absolutely awesome!
Much better than the version before.

SSJ said...

Awesome as always :) Unfortunately I got swamped by Real Life work so haven't been able to add any of my features this time around :/

Anonymous said...

Well since this feature is now official... I'd like a cover preview for CD-albums too, like WinXP. I manage my collection and my mp3 reader using dolphin, so it would be very useful.

Milan said...

very nice work!

wilder said...

I didn't check the code to make sure it's not there already, but maybe it would be nice if the pictures to display were chosen randomly but biasing with ranking, i.e. show mostly high ranked pictures

Juan_Pablo said...

Hate the random rotation. I would prefer a four partially overlapped and equally rotated thumbnails

Jeff D said...

Thanks for blogging about the affects-nearly-all-users-daily, thus most-important app in KDE.

JesperW said...

Isn't hate a rather strong word ;-)

I think it adds a lot of life to an otherwise booring layout. Looks great!

mutlu said...

One word: Stunning! :)

philippe said...

I'm not a KDE user but it looks beautiful.

Enrico said...

On my last SVN build, the preview icon was split in 4, even if only 1 or 2 images were available inside the folder.. has this been fixed (using a different layout for 1-2-3+ contained thumbnails)?

Compliments to David and you.. the preview is beautiful and really useful!

Bernhard Rode said...

http://gallery.mac.com/emily_parker

I think a mode like this demo by Apple might be great.

What do yo think?

Goonza said...

I think you've done a great work guys but (there's always a but) I think the way you choose to implement the previews is a bit old fashioned. Why don't you take a look at the web Bernhard Rode posted above. That way you could preview all the photos (or files) in a folder without even accesing it. That way you can discard rotations, frames and shadows. Just show the photos.
Well, thanks anyway. I just wanted to give you my opinion.

@ Bernhard Rode: I completely agree with you.

Gonza said...

I forgot to say that, by doing the previews the way that site does, you can also discard that folder icon in the background of the thumbnails that looks awful.

Jamboarder said...

The caretakers of Dolphin are among the best KDE developers. The practical approach you guys take to adding features is fantastic. It is clear you guys have a development philosophy that is fantastically enabling, not crippling. You can see it in the quality of the feature implementations in Dolphin. Wonderful! Thanks so much for your inspiring work.

P.S. (It really is inspiring - I'm working on a new KDE app because of it).

mhogomchungu said...

is svn frozen or something ..i cant seem tp update past rev 951942 and i think these changes were made after that version number

Anonymous said...

I only say a very big THANK! For your job, and for all KDE devs.

mhogomchungu said...

i have been using the "randomly rotating previews" and it is starting to get on my nerves.

I have a folder with a bunch of video files in it and atleast one of the file thumbnail will change its icon when i move the mouse across the folder. I just tested this right now. I just moved the mouse slowly randomly across the folder and random files started changing their images.

I like to anticipate what my computer next with each of my actions. This rotation of images on hovering is having a behavior i cant predict and its anooying.

Now i am almost afraid to hover around my video files because i have no idea what file will change its image and what will not and this is annoying more than anything else.

I hope the time it takes for the mouse to be over the file will be increased to reduce the likeliness of the above

Philipp said...

Dolphin is great and still gets so much better! Great work, thanks a lot!

I would like to see a possibility to sort photos by exif-date. I've seen this in vista and miss it very much, when browsing in folders with photos from different cameras. Is there something like this on the way?

Ray said...

Does the preparation for this explain why I can no longer choose icons in the place of the default folder icon? Folders that I have chosen icons for in the previous version of Dolphin still show up as they used to, but any icon that I choose to replace the default folder icon will not save: as soon as I click OK, the icon is back to the default folder icon.