Sunday, June 29, 2008

Plasma

When we learn new things, our brains reorganize. This process produces feelings of confusion and frustration. I like that state, and always pursue the limits of my understanding.

Keeping the above in mind, I explored the current Plasma desktop ideas. Very interesting, in fact, not frustrating at all. I've often wanted to explore the idea of zooming in and out of various work areas, or areas of interest. Right now I have 10 windows in my panel, and often have more, depending on what I'm doing at the moment. I would love to be able to zoom in and out of tasks, leaving everything open and where I left it. OS/2 had attempted this with the Workplace Shell. You could create a folder (don't remember the terminology of the time) with links to applications or files, open the folder which opened the applications, closed the folder which closed the applications. Handy, but flawed. The api was closed of course, and to do anything mildly useful required using undocumented interfaces. And the Workplace Shell didn't show the filesystem, but had something akin to .desktop files that linked to the various real files. So if you moved the physical files, the whole thing got confused. And in practice, it was flakey. Plasma didn't make the same mistake. Nice.

So far not much new learning for me. Only questions, which will be answered in time as things get done.

If you click on the cashew thingy, one item is Zoom Out. Try it. Your desktop, not including panel, will shrink. If you left click on the checked background, you can slide it side to side, hiding your desktop. There is lots of real estate open for exploitation. Click on the cashew thingy, and another item shows up. Add Activity will create another desktop. You can add widgets to that, zoom in or out to each one. Cool.

So here comes the questions. Will applications be able to work within the plasma zooming scheme? That would be a killer. Or will applications based on the plasma api be the only ones? Then the tricky parts. This could get complex in a hurry, which I have no problem with. But how to allow a user to keep track of what is there, easily switching etc. I see that the panel we know doesn't really fit into the paradigm. What would replace it, and how? As it stands it is just starting to be useful. There is a pile of work to be done yet, and I eagerly await what is to come.

One thing for sure. My monitor is suddenly too small. And I don't feel the slightest frustration. Maybe time to delve into the plasma api. I'm sure I'll get there quickly enough.


Comments:
hate to say this: but we're about a year away from getting the window management community on board with the whole zooming idea.

kwin and compiz (and macos) have the ideas in basic form with things like desktop grid, desktop cube and expose.

but to coordinate the desktop and the window manager is a bit more work.

it's work i have on my chart/plan here but the desktop is soooo far behind where window managers are that we're working as hard as we can to catch up.

eventually we'll sync up. i expect 2 more releases (ergo a year) for this to happen.

but yeah ... you've got the idea of where we're heading.

think of a globe of the planet earth, only it isn't the physical planet but yours, and everyone else's that wishes to share with you, information.
 
Perhaps you could use a minimap, or something akin to that, like most strategiy games use?
 
aaron: great. I can see glimpses of what it will become, and am truly impressed.

From what I see now, if you are saying two releases ONLY, wow.

Derek

ps. take care of yourself. I walk straight up the mountain here every morning, maybe 75 minutes with the dogs. After 45 minutes or so I don't even remember why I'm stressed.
 
oh, now i (think/hope) i see the use for that zoming thingy, if it was tied to the desktop "cube" or some such gizmo. and maybe as a replacement for virtual desktops?

anyways, I really like the direction plasma, and kde4 in general is going. you are all working hard to make my life easier, and for that you have my utmost respect.

oh, and mr. seigo, the planet isn't the same without you...
at least i miss you :)
 
as
 
oops, hit return by mistake.

2 releases? I do hope so. At the moment I really need to get on top of my day-job work but I hope to start being useful to KWin in the medium term. Here's yet another incentive to get involved.

minimap... hehe... and full RTS-style paninning and zooming controls.

Walking in the widden is the stuff of life - and no going to the gym is not the same thing.

p.s. Every post contains a new, previously unreleased word, collect them all and win a paper car.
 
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