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Visual harmony in Plasma Workspaces 2

Published May 9 2013 via RSS

One of the big things we've accomplished on the road to Plasma Workspaces 2 is making all the desktop "chrome" use Qt Quick (nee QML). The log out dialog, the lock screen, the splash screen, the log in screen, the activity manager and widgets explorer .. everything.

(Well, with the exception of KRunner, which I actually have rendering with QML in a branch in kde-workspace, though it is not quite complete yet. You can do searches, results come back, etc. but a few things like configuration are missing.)

We recently defined a new package type, the Look and Feel package, that will hold all of the QML used to render these various components. The idea is simple: by having everything in one package, you will only need to select your preferred look in one place and the entire desktop will conform. This is a natural extension of the ideas behind the SVG theming, bringing consistency to the user interface itself.

I'm very excited about this as it will allow us to put some of the professional, elegant touches that are currently missing. I've probably mentioned it in my blog before, but the fact that the log out dialog is a dialog at all (with a moon!) bugs me every time I see it. Understanding why it is a dialog (with a moon!) helps explain how we got to this point in general.

Each of these user interface components were originally designed way back in either the KDE1 or KDE2 eras. Windows and widgets fit the design sensibilities of the time, so when you go to log out you just got a little window that sat in the middle of your screen asking for confirmation. There were no desktop effects (so no nice fading of the screen) and certainly no ability to do anything very pretty other than traditional widgets like push buttons as seen in every other application; but we could do images. So someone put a picture on the left side of the dialog. Pretty! Shiny! .. and it was. For the time.

Since then we've iteratively improved everything around and under these components, but these bits of the UI themselves were translated faithfully from one version to the next. So even though there is no reason to do it this way now, the log out dialog still has things that look like little push buttons and it still has inexplicable picture on the left, despite now being written in QML and having all the power that implies.

Plasma Workspaces 2 is our opportunity to improve these parts by harmonizing and modernizing them. The log out interface ought to look like it belongs with the lock screen; the log in screen ought to mesh with the splash screen; the activity manager should echo these components visually; etc..

We have a couple people who can do this kind of work, but they have lots on their plate already. This is a great opportunity for someone with a flair for design to get involved and help draw all these pieces together to help create an improved KDE Plasma Desktop.

If you are that person, or know someone who could be, get in touch with us and let's talk. (aseigo at kde.org works for email.)

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