Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Back Online & Humble thought about windecs and styles

It's been a VERY long time since my last post. I'm not a compulsive blogger you know. And I could add to defend my self that I've moved and could connect on the wifi of my neighbor until the walls were rebuild and then I had to struggle three months with a French provider called Free just to discover the owner of the flat did not get the phone cable installed and Free forgot to call me telling they couldn't find my line ! So even though it's more expansive I settled for FranceTelecom that get things done within a month. And here am I, happy to find my once lost extension to my brain : the Web !

So I'm sorry for vanishing without telling first, I never imagined it would last so loong ! It good to be back.
I had a short discution with Kwwii on irc earlier that gotmy mind filled with ideas about windec.

So I'll expose my humble opinion about what problems I face as a kde user concerning Windecs and kstyles configuration, and what ideas I've managed to come up with to adress this.

Keep in mind : I'm no developer but a mere graphic design student without any coding skills. I like to impress people with my linux box with nice styles and windecs and I value working on a clean and stylish Desktop environment. But I never get it to exactly look as I want it to despite all the options these themes usually feature.

Well, the reason why windecs an kstyles developers are filling settings panels for their work with so many options that it exceeds the size of my widescreen is that they understood that people ask for customization.

The thing is that few are able to produce windec and styles for kde since it requires technical knowledge. So a few people are triying to satisfy tons of users with a few windec and kstyles. And in the aim of satisfying most of them they create "meta-themes" with loads of options. But I for one am never totally satisfied with the windecs and kstyle i'm using, even tuned to death.

From that three problems can be identified that kde4 might be a good occasion to address :

- creating a windec or a style requires technical knowledge
- kstyles an windecs configuration panels are :
  1. depending on the developer's taste
  2. overcrowded with bazillion (sometimes useless) options that fail to give total satisfaction to some users
  3. inconsistent
- you have to configure each Windec/kstyle wich creates extra panels

By addressing the first problem, we resolve the others.

I.e, if there was a tool making it really easy to create a widec or a theme in the vein of beryl editor but cleaner (something smartly called like "Windec Maker" or "Style Maker" for example) anyone could build themes. You could make your own theme. And you would see personal themes appearing on the web.
There would be no need for big cluttered not-that-easy-to-deal-with meta-themes anymore and we'd get rid of overcrowded and inconsistent panels.

But we can take this further and resolve the third problem and at the same time give a more consistent feeling to Kde by giving specific guidelines for Windec so that their configuration could be handled only through a unique settings panel dedicated to that task. It would feature a predefined set of options the windec should comply with (plus a very limited set of options specific to the current windec in the case it has been coded and not created/edited through the Windec Maker)

I have an example of how things could work for example : you could define what corners are rounded or not : all corners, top corners, or none. and this would apply system-wide independently of the theme you choose.
Or you could even imagine something more extreme like "use buttons from the widget style instead of the ones specified by the windec".
This wouldn't be handled by the windec style. Instead, the style would inherit the properties you choose.

The benefit of this approach is that it simply avoids multiple configurations of the same element at different places like it's currently the case.

And to make things fit perfectly all themes you may create through these tools would hence comply with Kde guidelines.

Plus they could easily be packaged and distributed on kde-look !

This gives us :

- very consistent look and feel responding to some rules to avoid insanity
- one place to configure everything
- a simply and highly customizable look
- more content to share and download through KNewStuff to satisfy more users

Of course, this is just my POV as a Kde user with a big concern for looks and consistency.
I hope you've not been bored to death reading this ;)

Friday, September 02, 2005

Private concepts artworks

I'm very frustrated not to be in MalagĂ  these days, but it doesn't prevent me from racking my brain and making mockups !
It's a shame people not at the meeting can't get easily involvend on what's going on and I hope what I make doesn't interfere with the ongoing process regarding the desktop look and feel in KDE4.
I tell you I can't code but I got some gimping skills and I wish to commit it in making the desktop more "appealing" ;D .
So here we go, there's an entry I made on kde-look.org which was appreciated.

It includes parts of my Lanthys icon theme as well as my proposal for plasma and the ALI menu, but that's not what you should focus on. The scope of this fakes is to demo the ideas I have of the widget style and the organization a filebrowser/filemanager/filefinder could follow.

Configuration dialog could look like that.

I really enjoy customizing my apps, and I'd never suggest the sense of customization should go away in Kde4. I think it should be done differently than nowadays, Instead of opposing customization and simplicity we should make simple and efficient thing and ease the configuration process.
This configration dialog is my interpretation of the design mode :

- all is done through drag-and-dropping
- contextual information about the selected element
- precise informations about what it enables the user to do
- an accurate preview thanks to Arthur ability to scale widgets

So you get rid of those nasty handlers. the "draw classical handlers checkbox thing" displays toolbars
handlers and also panel handlers so you can resize them. It's not choosen by default because I'm planning to show a more subtle way to achieve that, making the handlers appear on hover.

PS : sorry for the blank entry, I just realized I'm not able to submitt content to blogspot through Konqueror since the text field doesn't displays. I'm bound to use Firefow instead. :/

Thursday, June 23, 2005

ALI Menus Proposal

I should be doing alot of things, prepare Curriculum vitaes and thing like that for next year, but or the moment being I can't think of anything else than Plasma. I'm really enthousiastic about it.

I though alot about task menu organisation, and I think we could organize three main menus :

[b]File[/b]

-create
--[list of filetypes the user can create]

-print
--[list of recent printable documents] (rencent texts, spreadsheets, pdfs and pictures)
--Select a file to open (opens a Print dialog box, which only displays texts, spreadsheets, pdfs and pictures)

-open
--[list of recent documents]
--Select a file to open (opens a Open dialog box)

-send
--[list of recent documents]
--Select a file to send (opens a Send dialog box)

-delete
--Select a file to delete (opens a Delete dialog box)

-filetypes associations (opens the filetype association configuration dialog)


[b]Communication[/b]

-Browse the web
--Open Browser (if only one is installed) / [list of browser apps] (if more than one is installed)
--Web Search (opens a browser window on you default online search engine page)
---[list of browser apps] (if more than one is installed)
--[list of bookmarks sorted by categories] (selecting one opens a browser window on the selected bookmark page)
--Manage bookmarks (opens keditbookmarks)

-Contacts
--[list of contacts sorted by categories]
---possible actions with selected contact
---edit contact informations
--open adress book

-Chat
--[list of chat apps] (if more than one is installed)

-Open mail client
--[list of mail apps] (if more than one is installed)


[b]Multimedia[/b]

-Music
--Open Player (if only one is installed) / [list of music player apps] (if more than one is installed)
--Create playlist

-Sound
--Configure
--Add sound control applet to the systray

-Video
--Watch (opens a Open dialog box) (filters movie files)
--Watch DVD (appears only if a movie DVD is inserted)

-Picture
--View
--Organize
--Import (appears only if a camera is connected)

-Devices
--See content of a device
---[list of connected devices] (cliking on one of the entries opens a browser)
--Burn
---Image file (opens a Burn dialog box)
--CD
---See content (opens a browser) (appears only if a CD is inserted)
---Erase (opens a confirmation box) (appears only if the CD is rewritable)
--DVD
---Watch (appears only if a movie DVD is inserted)
---See content (opens a browser) (appears only if a DVD (movie or data) is inserted)
---Erase (opens a confirmation box) (appears only if the DVD is rewritable)
--Floppy
---See content (opens a browser) (appears only if a Floppy is inserted)
---Format (opens a confirmation box) (appears only if a non protected Floppy is inserted)

-Games
--One player
---[list of games sorted by categories]
--Local multiplayer
---[list of games sorted by categories]
--Networkplay
---[list of games sorted by categories]

-Edutainment
--[list of Apps sorted by categories]

The dialog boxes I mentioned are not the ones you now from KDE3.4 and need mockups, which I'll do as soon as possible.

Now the problem is : How to put Configuration and Programmation tasks ?
I'm wondering if there could be an arrow at the side of the menus applet wich would make it expand and reveal less often used menus.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

ALI ?

For Plasma, Aaron wish seems to get rid of the traditional Kmenu with tons of apps in as many categories.
Dimitri Rizek on kde-artists.org proposed a task-based approach dividing the menu into three different menus directly reachable in the panel.
These menus according to Dimitri would be :

Create
-Document
--Spreadsheet
--Text
--Presentation
--etc.
-Image
--Bitmap
--Vector
-Disk
--Data
--Audio
--Movie
--Photo
-Contact
-Playlist
-Movie
-Basket

etc...

Communicate
-List of Contacts
--Send Mail
--Text Chat
--Voice Chat
--Video Chat
-Browse the web
-Chat on IRC

Configure
-Desktop Settings
--Appearance and Themes
--Desktop
--rest of kcontrol...
-Video Settings
--Nvidia/ATI Control panel
--Monitor settings(some sort of xorg.conf GUI config app)
-Audio Settings(something like kmix)
-Drive Settings(some sort of fstab GUI config app)
-Printer Settings

As suggested on the forum, configuring you desktop is a thing you only do once in a while and doesn't deserve to get its own menu.
But wait ! What if I want to listen to my music ? What if I want to edit a document ? How do I play a game ?
Categories as they're shown here are a proposal for us to get started.

The Communicate menu though seems to be quite mature, and my take is that it could stay the way it is (with minor changes since there always are some)
So here's the way I think it could look like :

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

At least, the general look and feel seems to be appreciated ;)

For the other menus, I think we should start working on the various scenarios a user could follow to accomplish common tasks.
I think I'll soon post a draft of them.

For the moment being I see :

-creating (files, birning media)
-editing (files, birning media)
-reading
-listening
-watching
-communicating
-organizing
-sharing
-configure (network, system, look and feel)
-searching
-browsing
-playing

follow the whole topic on kde-artists.org here : http://kde-artists.org/main/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,48/expv,0/topic,19.0

Plasma Powa !

I've been working for some weeks now on Plasma art on kde-artists.org, the new kicker for KDE4.
I'm only designing early mockups, nothing official.

Kicker Is meant to be a breathtaking piece of artwork. It will use Composite to render real transparency. But more than icker, it will merge tree element together : kicker, the desktop and SuperKaramba, in order to provide a very consistent and immersive desktop experience.

Panels will be able to dock to each other like this (click on the "no thumbnail" thing):



New elements should appear like the extender. It's a "growth" of the panel which brings the user various informations.



Any applet could be dragged off of its panel and dropped an the desktop (like a SuperKaramba theme). Aaron Seigo, kicker maintainer calls them "plasmoids. So plasmoids will be able to take place on the desktop or on a "third layer" appearing above the desktop and the widows it contains.
Here's what it could look like :

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

This last picture is a mockup I made for showing a popup displaying informations about the applications when you hover them in the taskbar. It's not sure wether it will be included or not.

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Anyway, kde-artists.org is a great place with a young and yet very involved community. It's a very pleasing experience to work with it.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hi all !

Let me introduce myself.

I'm Adrien Facélina, 18 years old, (from France, and my english is still not perfect so don't hesitate to correct me), and I'm also a proud KDE user for three years now.
I enjoy making graphics and I feel really concerned about the look and feel of my desktop. I enjoy making icons and mockups, but it never led to something real. Until www.kde-artists.com opened. For those who don't already know, it's a forum where artists, coders but also usability people meet to design projects.
I made some mockups (among them some are animated) in reply to Aaron Seigo post about Kicker4 (now renamed to Plasma), which will anyway be a killer application. And I though I was dreaming when I saw one of my mockups on Aaron's blog (www.aseigo.blogspot.com). I thank you Aaron for having helped me realize that dreamers could really be of help in the open source creative process.
That's what motivated me to start blogging.

I'll release my mockups, my thoughts and my works in progress here.
Unless special notice, all works will follow the LGPL licence.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Introducing Lanthys

I quickly got bored of blue aqua thingies you know ?
And instead of just complaining about it, I begun to work. I never studied graphics, but just worked with tools like photoshop then GIMP and now Inkscape, and one fine day, I felt like I could not just do something good but also consistent from the begining to the end, and then started (more than a year ago) my very own iconset.

It's codenamed "Lanthys", and is aimed to be a clean, fresh and professionnal iconset for KDE. I Begun to work with PNG files and about a month ago with SVGs. It was easier than I though, and I'm actually converting what's allready done to SVG. But I'm very concerned about hand optimization for little sizes.

Well some days ago, I took a deep breath and send this teasers of my iconset to kde-artists mailing list :

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Image Hosted by ImageShack.us

Hope you like it.
And I also hope it will be ready right on time to be included in KDE4. ;)