Sunday, April 12, 2009

Information Panel

Dolphin for KDE 4.3 will have some improvements for the Information Panel. One improvement is that Nepomuk is used to get the meta data, which allows to show a lot more information:

Currently the meta data titles are internal names used by Nepomuk (e. g. "audioCodec"), but this (hopefully) will be improved until KDE 4.3 so that it is written as "Audio Codec:".

It is also possible now to configure which informations should be shown:

Because of Phonon it is possible to play audio files:

... or even videos:

Please note that it is not the intention to convert Dolphin into an audio-player or video-player. The current functionality is just meant as improved preview for media files.

Final remark: Until KDE 4.2 it was possible that Dolphin got blocked for several seconds when reading the meta data of specific files (huge videos, compressed files). The nice thing about using Nepomuk is that no blocking occurs anymore, as the meta data parsing has been done already outside the context of Dolphin.

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 :-)