Tag Archives: notifications

Good old habits: notifications again

Software

Activities

We didn’t put or effort only in the mobile environment or the new declarative “way of doing plasmoids”, but the general polish of the traditional desktop shell, the “most immediate need” for users is quite high on our priority list too.

Chani recently blogged about the last progress of the activities management: in the Plasma Desktop workspace 4.6 finally the advantages are starting to be exposed to the user. In brief: can virtual desktops stop and start applications on demand when they switch? can an application be on 2 out of 5 vd? can a vd be stopped and when recreated be restored exactly as it was? (wallpaper, desktop widgets, running applications etc) can the user remove a non empty, non last virtual desktop? Can an application behave in a way that is specific for a certain desktop, like showing only work related contacts?

Answer to all of those question is a discomforting, deep, structural no. If we ask those questions for the activities, the answer become yes, and the difference of purpose of those two things becomes evident. virtual desktop -> spatial arrangement of windows. Activities -> what I’m doing. There really is little overlap between the two things. Spatial arrangement is often used as activity separation, but is condemned to remain an half backed solution.

Notifications

Yes, notifications again! There won’t be any very big turning upside down of the notification an job area for 4.6 The form it’s “stabilizing”, with minor tweaks that can enhance quite a lot the look and usability of it, let’s see in brief what 4.6 will bring to the notifications and jobs area:

  • Slightly revised look: better spacing, less visual noise, more pixel perfection
  • More compact layout of the jobs widgets
  • A speed plotter for job in the expanded view to be able to see what’s going on in the transfer of a single file
  • Global jobs progress bar is hidden when only one job is running
  • Notifications can be dragged in the desktop again
  • Only one scrollbar, and only when is necessary: everything scrolls and it’s preferred to keep visible active jobs rather than the notification history
  • Notifications history tabbar is hidden when only one type is present
  • Big icons in notifications to help to identificate what it’s talking about at a glance
  • Action buttons moved beside the test to have a smaller notification widget
  • It is possible to drag anywhere the notifications popup, so regardless of where the notifications Plasma widget is, they will appear in the place it works better with your workflow.

Since a picture is worth 3000 bullet points here are some screenshots πŸ™‚

Notifications on 4.6

A remote notification

Software

In KDE SC 4.4, thanks to a very successful Summer of code project, is now possible to share your running widgets to the local area network. This opens a whole lot of new possibilities, but as every brand new thing, it still did not come to full potential, but is something that developers will have to play with to start to have really interesting applications.

In 4.4, is possible to remote control your media player by publishing the nowplaying applet. Is probably the most obvious application but it’s just a start.

Since I’m refactoring the notifications and jobs for 4.5, it came obvious that it would have been a pretty good use case.

Imagine you started a pretty important file transfer on your main pc and you want wo know when is done, but now you just want to go watch tv on the couch, you can just bring to the other room your netbook or your mobile device, so your options are:

Going polling the other room every 3 seconds (naaah:), use a somewhat overkill tool like vnc, or just share the notifications applet on your main computer πŸ™‚

This video shows both notifications (KMail complaining about misconfigured mail acounts) ahd a short ftp upload job: on the remote pc is exported both the progress and the notification when the job is done (to answer ti the more obvious question, nothing is shared unless you tell to). Had to switch quickly between the two screens, so looks a bit Blair Witch eheh

OGG version

This is not available under KDE SC 4.4, because the notifications system had to be refactored a bit to support that (and there were also some important bugfix that will be in 4.4.1)

As an advices for who does the Javascript jam, provided that you use the last bugfix version, is: use dataengines as much as possible, then you will be able to do really interesting things combined with this feature.

On a different note, tomorrow I’m leaving for Tokamak 4. this will be a really interesting week where I’m sure something cool will come out of, I’ll keep you updated πŸ˜‰

The future of notifications

Software

Warning: this post belongs to the category of the evil teaser ones, that announces features for the release after the next near one πŸ˜€

KDE SC 4.4 has some improvements to the notification system, as I shown there, but still some problems remains:

The popup can still be very big, covering a big part of the screen, stealing input area or just being too big for smaller screens.

Also, being notifications and jobs shown in the same window, it automatically shows again and again the same information, being the individual job progress when a new notification arrives r vice versa.

So, things are changed a bit in trunk (so what will be 4.5) let’s look at a video worth more than 1024 words:

OGG version

This is of course still subject to change a lot before 4.5 release, but it’s on the right track.

When a new notification arrives, it is shown by a popup on its own, without jobs progress. This popup only shows a notification at a time partially covering all the others (maximum 4 total) in order to save space. to see a covered notification is enough to pass the mouse over its title.

The big popup accessible by clicking the “i” button is still quite big indeed but is only shown when the user asks explicitly for it. it shows the usual individual job progress and the old notifications browser introduced in 4.4, where is possible to filter by application. Is a convenient place to search what happened to the PC when you were away for instance.

Similarly, when there are jobs running, the big popup is not shown, but only a really tiny global progress bar, that can even covered by the windows, so won’t be blocking any mouse input to precious areas of the screen.

Another nice thing is that if you compare it with widgets like The microblog plasmoid or the opendesktop ones you see that a very common design pattern is emerging for similar things, making the experience pretty consistent.

notifications and microblog

A brief notification

Software

Brrr! the trunk is frozen

The bug hunting and stabilization period is starting to pay off. Those days I’ve taken the systemtray and the notification system as a target and started hammering on it…

The target were mosty two

  • Slash the count of bugs related to notifications… and 13 were closed, other 13 remains, most of them can be probably be closed as well, just need to wait and see how the last patches behave in the various situations.
  • Refine and take into shape a neat little feature entred just 2 days before te freeze, that by itself closes several bugs too.

So, what it is? sometimes notifications pop up when the pc is unattended, sometimes is something not important at all and if it gets lost in oblivion who cares, sometimes it could be quite important, for instace somebody on IM attempted to contact you and now he is offline, maybe it’s the case to write him/her an email uh?

Now notifications, while they behave exactly as before, being displayed for a short time and then disappearing, they are also “archived” for a short time (varying depending if the pc is used or not) and they are separed by application, so it’s easy to look inside all the old notifications of kopete for instace.

new notifications

This screenshot shows the notifications popup of the systemtray opened: the user asked to see all the kopete notifications, so only them are visible, even tough there were some from kmail too.

Is not the first time the user switches to the kopete notifications: the oldest two were already present the time before, so now they appear “collapsed”, while the newest ones are open.