Thursday, February 5, 2009


Per default the details view in Dolphin looks like this:

and can be configured to be a tree view:

Some settings in Dolphin, like 'Show Hidden Files', 'Show Preview', 'Sorting' and 'View Mode' are remembered per directory, which means that e. g. directory A can be configured to always show previews, while directory B can be configured to show just icons.

Other settings are global. For example the icon view can be configured to have a specific font. When changing the font, this font will be used for all directories where the view mode is an icon view.

The decision which setting is global and which setting is directory dependent is not easy. Currently the setting whether the details view offers collapse/expand-items for the tree functionality is a global setting and is called "Expandable folders". We are unsure whether there are use cases to remember this setting per directory or not and if we should change this in KDE 4.3.

Remembering the "Expandable folders" setting per directory would make it possible to have a tree view for directory A, while having a details view for directory B. I would be very interested to have some feedback for this topic by providing a use case that makes it useful remembering this per directory.

Generally speaking remembering the settings per directory has the benefit of being very flexible, but this flexibility also has it's drawback: Each time a new directory is created or entered the first time, more view dependent settings have to be adjusted.

So what do you think?

PS: All users that have activated the option "Use common view properties for all folders" I'd kindly ask to give no feedback, as with this setting all options are global settings and not directory dependent :-)


elvis said...

The "remember settings for all folders" is the first thing I enable ;)

Anonymous said...

I like the Konqueror behaviour of "view profiles". Once a view setting is selected, it does not change when switching folders.

So I can create a "Photo management profile", which has enabled large previews, and, say, a "System profile", which shows files in a "ls" style listing.

I understand that Dolphin has not been written to replace, but rather complement Konqueror. But looking at the differences, I think the lacking view profiles is what prevents me from using Dolphin as my main file manager.

Anonymous said...

Please also add the "Go one directory up" button by default since it's reeeally useful if you're going to fish:// somewhere and currently you have to edit the toolbar manually to add it.

Unknown said...

I mostly use NTFS partitions, but on "/boot" "/home" and "/" ... I need to, as I also use Windows. The issue with Dolphin remembering directories setup is that it seems to create a ".directory" file - which is not hidden by default.

Plug an MP3 player ... and a .directory will be created ... plug a SATA drive and You'll end up with as many ".directories" as folders.

I realise that - performance wise - it may be cumbersome to have directories' setups stored in a database, for instance, and be matched by the current directory's path.

What would be nice - and I haven't got around to testing it - is a "per directory" icon position. So that one can cluster several files together by moving icons and find them just as they were left upon re entering the directory.

As for the "expand tree view": there are so many populated directories (/etc /lib /var ...) that it'd make more sense to have just a few directories where the tree is expanded (like the home directory).

I would definitely argue for a directory dependent setting, for this option.

Leo S said...

The third (complementary) option, and one that I believe windows does, is to try to detect what kind of view would be appropriate for a given folder. This can be annoying when it switches to its useless image gallery view for folders full of pictures, but I think it would be useful to turn on icon mode and preview for folders full of multimedia files.

Anonymous said...

I'm also missing the view profiles. Sometimes you need to see big icons, and other times the details, remaining over directory changes.
A jump back to a specific folder settings on every folder change can be distracting.

Maybe there shouldbe a checkbox in view menu for "(temporary) overwrite local settings"? So one can select to show big icons even for folders with details setting, when this checkbox is activated...

Anonymous said...

I too have a related usability question: How does one clear the folder-specific settings for a folder/a recursive group of folders? Is it possible to clear the settings for all folders?

This is not at all clear to me from the UI.

Akhmad Fathonih said...

A little bit OOT:
The problem with treeview is, I am always unconsciously forced to click at the very center of the plus sign.

Do you think treeview needs a usability review?

Unknown said...

Folderspecific view properties are fairly important to my comfort and workflow, and I can see uses for remembering listview or treeview.

However I think "show hidden files" should not be remembered; remembering it defeats the purpose of hiding files. If I wanted files to be visible by default, I'd remove the leading dot.

Anonymous said...

1) I always turn off the option to remember the view settings for each folder, and almost everybody i know do the same. Maybe it is a good idea to make a poll for that setting (turn it on by default or not)?

2) For the "expandable folders" switch, it is really usefull. My opinion is that it should be turned on by default.

3) I can not say if it should be dependant on the folder, because i do not use the "remember the view settings for each folder".

4) Please add the switch to "show a side preview" in file open dialog to the toolbar, or make the toolbar configurable.

//Sorry for my bad English.

Unknown said...

Thanks for all your replies, but my original question has not been answered by a single reply yet: Would it be possible that someone shows me a *usecase* where it makes sense to remember this setting per directory? I don't intend to change anything until someone can give me a concrete usecase...

E.g. I've a pictures folder with a lot of sub directories that contains all my camera snapshots. For this folder I want to have previews enabled. I've another directory called Development where I use the details view without previews, as for development I need informations like the date and size. Conclusions: The setting "preview" and the setting "view mode" must be directory dependent for this use case.

Anonymous said...

Maybe bit off topic, but that came to my mind reading this blogpost:
How about an opt-out option for Folders.
Now there is "remember settings for all folders", so its not flexible.
The other possible would be per folder setting.
A good future option would also be "remember settings for all folders but the ones that are opt-out", so you have your default settings for all new folders, but if options are set for this folder they are used.

Irina said...

I agree completely with previews by default for a pictures directory (having just struggled with that myself). I'd like there to be "remember setting for this folder and all its descendants"; that would make much more sense for the way I work than either a completely global setting or having to set it for each folder separately.

Anonymous said...

One of the first things I configure in any file manager is not to remember stuff per folder - I want things to work consistently across the whole system.
So, as long as the option not to remember stuff per folder is there, I'm probably happy. ;-)

Something different I'm still missing in Dolphin though is the ability to right-click folders in the "folders" pane/sidebar and have the same action on the as for folders in the details view.

Unknown said...

My usecase: When browing picture and movie folders, I use *big* previews. Folders which include many files of "unpreviewable" but same type (~/music, /etc, /.kde, ...) are best used with plain listview mode for me. For "Allaround folders" which include many different file types like $HOME or Desktop I use icon mode. I like Treeview for things like code folders, because several source files which belong together may be located in subfolders.

Claes said...

I prefer no directory-specific settings at all.

Ernie said...

I use Mandriva Linux with the KDE 4.2.0 Desktop and I firmly believe in choice (choice = freedom) so the per directory option is a no brainer here. We should have this freedom even if we choose to not use it (I also chose to "remember settings for all folders").

Perhaps the best way to overcome the dilemma of what to do about new folder settings is to provide for a default settings configuration so the user can make these choices.

Finally, for those like me who want to use the same configuration for all folders, you should retain the option to "remember settings for folders".

This may entail more work, but you will be providing each user with the opportunity to make Dolphin his (or her) own (and is that not the whole point?).

Dotan Cohen said...

Hi Peter. In my opinion View Type (list, icons) and Show Hidden Files should be sticky for the life of the session. Additionally, persistent selection (selection with the + icons) should stay selected even if the user enters another directory and then comes back.

Shaun Reich (sreich) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for your work Peter. I'm starting to like Dolphin, as it has progressed greatly from KDE 4.0. I appreciate the ability to comment on your work, and to offer suggestions for which I bet most users would benefit from.

Personally, I, like other users who have commented, prefer a single view for all folders. But I also have previously made extensive use of the other Konqueror view modes, such as the photobook mode. I miss very much that option in KDE4.

On a more general note concerning Dolphin, I also miss the option to have view profiles such as in Konqueror. We need custom view profiles, and also an option which confirms we have saved them and an easy way to select between them. Most other highly-rated file managers have this option, including Konqueror, the old Norton File Manager, Total Commander, and PowerDesk. That way you can have a file manager with the best of both worlds: an easy to use icon view or an advanced tree view with details. Right now when I change options in Dolphin I must assume they will be saved, but that doesn't always occur. So a more definite method of saving settings would be helpful.

I second the suggestion that you make an "Up" button a default in the toolbar. That button and a "Home" button are no-brainers and sorely needed. We also need an "Extract Here" option that actually works. While Konqueror has that now unrotunately Ark is still broken when using bz2. Also, Konqueror needs the option back for inline renaming like you have in Dolphin. I don't know if that is in Dolphin_part or in Konqueror, but it is badly missed as the other way really slows things down when doing actual work.

Thanks again for all your hard work. I look forward to your next Dolphin revision.

lancelot said...

The way view modes are implemented in Dolphin-part is really awful.

If there are to be global settings, obviously we should be able to override them on a per-tab basis in konqueror.

Of course, changing a view mode setting globally in dolphin should never alter view modes used in the views contained in the tabs of existing konqueror profiles...

And of course, no setting should be exclusively global or exclusively per-folder.

For ALL settings, there have to be:
1) a global setting acting merely as a default.
2) a setting for each view of each tab in konqueror overriding the default
3) a per-directory setting overriding the two above.

For some reason, KDE4 destroyed the second level, and split all settings in two batches, one which is handled only at the first level, and one which is normally handled at the third level.
This is not convenient and destroys the purpose of konqueror profiles.

Anonymous said...

1) a global setting acting merely as a default.
2) a setting for each view of each tab in konqueror overriding the default1) a global setting acting merely as a default.
2) a setting for each view of each tab in konqueror overriding the default
3) a per-directory setting overriding the two above.
3) a per-directory setting overriding the two above.

and in 3):
- make subfolders inherit settings
- by default do only save overrides and always remove the settings (including unused obnoxious dotfiles) if they happen to match the defaults. Only opt-in to save "sticky" folder stettings.

Plus add an option to remove/clean all the junk from a directory tree once viewed with dolphin.