folderview: what am I missing?

June 27, 2008

Here’s a dirty secret of mine: I use Windows XP every day at work.  Can you believe it?  Even worse: many people reading this syndicated blog probably do as well.  And a fair share of the marble; what’s the latest percentage of global users on XP?  But what’s worse?  I don’t necessarily don’t fit the “use cases” and “best practices” discussed by Plasma members and others regarding desktop usability.  Why?  Because I still use the desktop as a dumping ground and easy file accessibility perspective.

So, I’m pretty much a nightmare user for the current Plasma set-up, and for future Plasma direction?  Right?  Wrong.  Without some kung-fu or effort, here’s what a majority of the computers users on the planet have: a singular unsizable full screen view via a singular protocol at a singular unchangeable local directory. Really rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?  That’s what the precious desktop dumping ground is for the tech-unsavvy majority that use computers.

And after just a couple of months (or weeks if you just count the true development time), what has Plasma given you: multiple resizeable views via multiple protocols at local or remote directories with semantic search and filtering capabilities.

Really, am I not getting something?  For people with bad habits at work like myself, you don’t think I and others like me wouldn’t kill to have those options out of the box on XP?  How long before Strigi and Akonadi start flexing their muscles with this approach?  How long before people start using regular expressions in unexpected ways?  Imagine: every time a file gets opened or touched in a folderview by someone else, the file gets highlighted or blinks?  Or opens collaboration software or an IM window with the user that modded the file?  Or, or, or…

If I had this ease of use when I was an independent consultant and had multiple clients, I’d be doing backflips.  Or with multiple development environments on multiple servers in multiple data centers (like most programmers do).  If someone from the graphics team updates some .pngs or .css files and isn’t big into scripting or ftp’ing? You’re just a drag-and-drop-and-drop-and-drop or CTL+V+V+V to have all environments updated.

I’m a worst case scenario.  And I’m thinking holy fscking sh!t.  Why do I still see complaining on forums and mailing lists today?  Because you love setting up ftp destination folders and symbolic links manually to try to get the same thing?  Because you love complaining?   Because you love to do searches manually on windows all due to that adorable puppy?  Because Kde promo sucks and you just don’t know any better?

27 Responses to “folderview: what am I missing?”

  1. Golem Says:

    I love this post

  2. Henrik Pauli Says:

    Not trying to be mean, but I think the “doesn’t fucking work anything like we see on the screenshots unless we bother compiling because packages seem to not work whatsoever and KDE isn’t just the desktop and most of the newer versions of the applications are simply not ready yet to replace the old ones” is probably a good argument.

    In before I get chalked up as a “poisonous user”.

  3. Marc Says:

    Sounds pretty cool to me. I’m an independent consultant right now and I would be willing to pay for a lengthened explanation/tutorial about the benefits. If you feel like sending a PDF about it to Lulu.com anytime soon, do let us know.

  4. Tony Murray Says:

    @Henrik Pauli: No I think you get chalked up as a person with zero patience.

    I’m already pretty happy about folderview but this post makes my mind wander thinking about possiblities, especially when you combine it with the ZUI and multiple workspaces.

  5. David Says:

    Well, what most people doesn’t realize is that KDE4 is still unfinished software. Yes, there is already a lot of functionality, but some people expected more. I think that if KDE4 were released as version 3.99.02 (Wine’s style) there’ll be a lot less complainings.
    But some people see the current implementation and say “What??? I’m missing !!! And I’m using the STABLE version! What’s this crap???”

    Seriously. I think that releasing proof-of-concept software and naming it as 4.X is a bad idea.

    But yeah, KDE4 has a lot of potential. Let’s see how evolves before criticize.

    PS: sorry for my English.

  6. timri Says:

    “multiple resizeable views via multiple protocols at local or remote directories”
    That part at least was available in Microsoft Windows 95 with the Active desktop update that came with IE4.

  7. David Says:

    Oops. The system replaced a sentence between “less than” and “greater than” symbols.
    It was mean to say “What??? I’m missing * insert importan feature here * […]”

  8. Benno Says:

    Because Kde promo sucks and we just don’t know any better.

    Really. I believe this is the reason for all these rants. There is no place to find a understandable description of what plasma really aims to be. Just look at

    http://plasma.kde.org

    Especially the “Discover Plasma” part of the “Users” section: Nothing. At all.

    For someone who doesn’t have the time to read all of Aaron’s blog posts with “heavy concentration mode” switched on (otherwise you end up believing they removed desktop icons etc.), it is really hard to get the picture.

    We (the-not-reading-every-single-blog-post-users) just see Kde 4.0.x and are kinda scared…

  9. Caesar Tjalbo Says:

    I don’t get this post. Somehow you’re describing great desktop behavior and then you’re talking about “the tech-unsavvy majority that use computers”. Is this majority going to get all this “multiple resizeable views via multiple protocols at local or remote directories with semantic search and filtering capabilities” ever?
    No, they’re not. Most haven’t even grokked the “CTL+V” part yet. I’m not kidding.

  10. David Says:

    I think the answer is simple, plasma is not what the userd demanded in the first place, it was lauched with the “lets see what happen” mantra, is not based in a study about a need, just to show the “look how cool Qt is”. is too late am afraid, plasma is unstable, unfinished and is not surprising anyone anymore.

    The worse is seigo don’t taking the failure very well, the guys is so stressed, he needs vacations, or a new job.

  11. Jeffro Says:

    My only complaint is that my hardware is long in the tooth. Meaning compiling from trunk sucks for me. And I don’t like using packages from the OpenSUSE Build Service just because I really don’t know where to send bug reports.

    Beyond that, I love what I see coming with KDE4!

  12. Antoine Says:

    @David : Why don’t YOU take vacations away from the kde community instead?

  13. Nikos Says:

    I really can’t believe how rude some people are, especially when they do nothing and eventually enjoy everything. It reminds me of parasites😛 KDE people keep on rocking. There are lots of people who appreciate your work !

  14. Janne Says:

    “I think the answer is simple, plasma is not what the userd demanded in the first place”

    What exactly makes you think that users can “demand” anything?

    “is not based in a study about a need”

    Plasma is a set of technologies that can be used to do many different things. Among those is to draw a desktop and a panel (formerly know as Kicker). Are you saying that there is no need for panel and desktop?

    “plasma is unstable, unfinished and is not surprising anyone anymore.”

    Maybe in 4.0, but 4.0 wasn’t really meant for end-users. Let’s see what 4.1 brings.

    “The worse is seigo don’t taking the failure very well”

    Seigo has no problems with the “failure” of plasma, what he has problems with is bunch of users who whine and complain about thing they have no clue about.

  15. Christophe Says:

    KDE is grreat KDE4 is great and the plasma idea is great too. Folderview really ties everything together nicely.

    And forget what David says. Plasma is far away from being a failure. Aaron has done and IS DOING a wonderful job.

    David: personal attacks DO NOT belong on blog comments. Actually NOWHERE for that matter. Please look in the mirror and turn on self-contemplation mode. Please!!!

  16. DITC Says:

    i definitely don’t see plasma as a failure. looks like david is afraid of change. you can’t replace kicker, etc. within one day. plasma has laid the foundations and now it is up to the people to make good use of it.
    i like the new panel, the kickoff menu and especially the idea of folderview. were can you get that at the moment?

  17. Bille Says:

    @Jeffro:

    Send ’em to bugzilla.novell.com – we’ll weed out the issues from our patches and critical stuff and send the rest upstream.

  18. mimoune djouallah Says:

    ok first i did not understood aseigo reaction, but reading some comments here, i fully understand him😉

  19. kuskus Says:

    I guess basically *all* of the complains we heard about folder view so far, are not *against* the feature but the fear that there are no usable *plain* desktop icons anymore.
    And it seems to me that you have to do a trick to get an “classic” desktop – so we’ll see how Suse and Canonical will handle this (working from 4.2 onwards).
    On the other hand it’s another *new* feature where there are *far* too many open bugs in plasma.
    And yes, new features are always fun to do and fixing bugs is always boring, that’s a sad truth in a developers live….

  20. Gareth Says:

    @David: Wow who made you the authority on “what users want”?

    Plus personally picking on individual developers, but in a way that provides no useful feedback at all is just plain rude….

    My own wish list for kde 4.X at the moment is a short one.

    – A way to move plasmoids on a panel. I want another ruler type thing on the panel configuration window that has a little arrow or icon for each plasmoid that you can then drag to the position you want.😛

    – Video/picture previews in the folder View.

    – Get rid of the black boxes around the sys tray icons.

    All i need is already there, fix the above and i’ll have all i want

  21. iazzi Says:

    Before we get Wade off-line too:

    I think plasma rocks, I think KDE4 rocks, a lot of people does, but when we agree we don’t speak. And so trolls speak alone.

    If one is happy with desktop X, he must use desktop X. Windows 95 is good for you? use that! no problem for anyone.

    I’m personally happy with KDE 3.5.9. I do like KDE4 but I think it won’t replace 3.5 for me for at least one year. And I think KDE devs should be happy that their previous product is so good that it will be used for years from now.

    KDE4 is not an unfinished product: 4.1 is unfinished, 4.0 is stable: look at the opensuse version.

    KDE is not following market share. Sure, it is good to be big, but it is not a priority for KDE. Anyone whining, please ask yourself why should the KDE people listen to you. Keep in mind that “you will lose a user” is not a big threat. Unfortunate maybe, but project gain and lose users on a daily basis, so…

    Ask yourself, how many users will come when KDE will be able to display dashboard widgets (and google’s)? I bet that outnumbers the trolls. And they may write widgets for plasma, being more useful than any whiner.

    As for impatient people. When the “new game X for platform Y” is previewed in the gaming world, do people get angry at the devs because they can’t get it now? and that’s not a world where people is not passionate…

    Much of the critics really come from the fact that KDE is free software, and so open for anyone to try and preview. Fortunately this also means that the devs are free to do what they want with the code they write.

    I really hope that when plasma (and KDE4) will prove a big success, people that now speak of failure will feel at least a bit stupid.

  22. Jon Says:

    You’re right that many people reading the planet are doing so on xp boxes (here’s one!) I think you contradicted yourself a bit though, you said “many users are lazy and not tech-savvy” and then you said “it’ll be great when they all use all the plasma whizz-bang”. But if they aren’t tech-savvy surly they won’t. If they’re first time kde users they’ll WANT to dump all their stuff on the desktop, so KDE has to either provide that for people who want it or have a smart way of making people do something better. I don’t see most people knowing or caring about regular expressions etc.

  23. Kevin Says:

    > plasma is not what the userd demanded in the first place

    Exactly, it goes far beyond what they even could dream of.
    Something often referred to as innovation or progress.

    > it was lauched with the “lets see what happen” mantra

    Exactly, empowering others, developers as well as users, to push the limits.

    > is not surprising anyone anymore

    I am afraid I can’t agree on this point.
    It is absolutely amazing how human beings can design some as flexible, beautiful (both as in visualization as well as code aesthetics) and liberating (allowing traditional usage but simultaniously opening the arena for totally new usage patterns).

  24. Aaron Seigo Says:

    > is not based in a study about a need,

    what do you base this statement on? because i can tell you for a fact that a couple years of (admittedly part-time) research, including real world field research where i sat in people’s offices watching them use various kinds of computers, happened before code was started to be written for plasma.

    i’m not going to comment on their rest of your statement, but i would like it to at least be known that this little tidbit is absolutely untrue.

    someone also asked about the system tray and ugly boxes around it; that’s a problem with the system tray specification on freedesktop.org for X11 as it currently stands. it’s a broken mess that works as long as you don’t expect it to do anything actually useful (like blend in theme-wise, or be shown in more than one place at a time, or addapt to the paltform’s HIG, or…). the e17 people have the same problems we do with it (and have voiced them on the xdg list as well)

    @kuskus: “new features are always fun to do and fixing bugs is always boring”

    two weeks ago i personally closed 112 bug reports. probably 1/3rd of those i fixed with patches to plasma (e.g. they were real fixes versus just closing or other similar triagings). in one 72 hour period, i fixed 21 such bugs, in fact.

    as for folderview being a new feature .. it’s actually a bug fix for the desktop icons in 4.0.x. or at least that’s how i consider it.

    folderview also uses huge chunks of code from libkonq (used by konqueror, dolphin and now plasma), libkfile and libkio so that we didn’t have to write much from scratch.

    @Wade: yeah, i think once people actually get their hands on it they’ll get it. i’m starting to get email on a regular basis now about people trying the beta with folderview and how its improving their workflow.

    one fellow in Germany wrote in saying that at his work he ends up dealing with numerous large sets of files that only exist (for him, anyways) for a short period of time (1-2 days, it sounded like) and that folderview not only matched his workflow but actually improved his efficiency with it.

    and plasma still lets people do it the way they were doing it in kde 3.5. which, to me, similarly seems like a no-brainer good thing: servicing yesterday’s happy people, while making more people happy.

    making changes, though, makes people who are happy today nervous. too many changes that happen in life do not increase happiness, and so people are born with a natural fear of them.

    and yes, kde could use with some better community management and communications systems aimed at the fanbase. we’ve come a long, long, long way when it comes to press, business and a few other useful categories, but the kde user fanbase needs some attention now.

  25. Aaron Seigo Says:

    erm.. when i said “two weeks ago i closed 112 bug reports”, what i meant to say was “two weeks ago, i closed 112 plasma bug reports in 7 days time.”

  26. kuskus Says:

    @aaron,

    Really nice to hear so much progress is going on and thanks for putting so much effort into fixing bugs!

    I really see the benefit for lots of applications with folder view. In the end I realize that I’m a bit too conservative for that matter… well actually I guess the only time I see my desktop are the 3 seconds on boot up until a browser/konsole/kontact takes the main screen space and I don’t even save file to it.

    In the end Aaron, keep on rocking!
    I say we *all* appreciate your efforts into bringing Plasma to a real end-user-ready experience!

  27. rjs Says:

    Wow…

    Just wow.

    I’m one of those useless users who doesn’t have the time or knowledge to contribute a whole heap to the kde project (the best i’ve done is answer a few kde-related questions on ubuntuforums), but i’ve been using kde4 since the first kubuntu packages came out, and I am absolutely loving it. 4.0 is a little rough around the edges, but people calling it beta software is plain untrue. Really, if this is what a release that WASN’T aimed at end-users is like, when releases that ARE aimed at them come out, they are gonna be unbelievable.

    Anyway, the point I wanted to make is that I never quite understood the folderview stuff. It looked cool, and the posts by aaron and others sounded cool, but I didn’t really understand them (and hey, that’s ok, cause you know what, i’m an arts student. And I don’t expect that developers are gonna dumb down THEIR blogs for me. That’s just not how it works, and it’s not how it should work. For God’s sake, they’re their blogs!). Anyways, I was excited, not so much because of what it was, but because if it was along the lines of the awesome stuff I was already using then I knew it would be great. So now after this post, I think I kinda do understand and I’m even more excited. Like massively excited. Massively, massively excited.

    Unfortunately I also understand something else too. I loved reading Aaron’s blog. Not so much for the technical stuff (since as I just said, I’m not a technical type), but for the energy and insightfulness that he displayed about a whole range of things (I remember once he said something about power not having to be a zero-sum game, that completely spun me out. I don’t think I agree, but it’s an awesome thing to ponder). Anyways, I never really read the comments so I’m not sure what they were like, but if they were anything like David’s is here then that is just sick. I’m sorry to feed the trolls, but it is just utterly sick that anyone could treat someone else like that and that other people didn’t beat them down for it. That kind of behaviour just isn’t acceptable. Criticise plasma or kde or whatever you want (after all, nothing’s perfect), but do it based on something and never ever stoop to personal attacks. I’ve never met Aaron, or talked to him, but through his blog I feel like I sort of know him (does that sound stalkerish?), and I feel like I – like we – have failed him if we allowed these kind of personal insults to persist.

    Maybe all users should be redirected to http://xkcd.com/438/ before they are allowed to post on any planet blog. Something like a CAPTCHA but to stop bad vibes rather than spam.


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