Friday, March 14, 2014

The Future of KDE, a look at Plasma Next

Anyone who's curious about the future of KDE will know that they are currently working on the next big milestone. This work is perhaps going quieter than usual in Linux World because the KDE team took the very wise decision to freeze KDE 4.x development, only providing bug fixes and changes on the application framework, while building the new KDE, which we will get a first taste of mid year. Well, we now have a first taste of how that will look like. I will let the video do the talking and share my opinion later.



First thing that comes to mind is that it seems the new KDE will finally deliver on the promise of a Plasma desktop, it seems it is finally complete, which is great. According to their comments, the complexity of the DE has been reduced and streamlined thanks to the use of QtQuick, so contributing and maintaining all of its components should be easier now and performance should also benefit from this change.

In terms of visuals, I don't want to go much into it because I know this is very much work in progress and I know some very talented artists at the KDE camp are hard at work to deliver once again a great visual experience, specially around a new icon theme. I have also heard that support for external icon themes should be improved, something that has always been a bit of a miss for me. What I can say, though, is that the direction they are taking looks very promising. The new calendar and network plasmoids look fantastic, and so does the new menu. Along with a tasty icon theme this thing is going to look superb. Congrats for the great work so far!!

What I don't like, though, is that according to this video, the foundations that make KDE way more complex and difficult to grasp in 2014 remain intact. The Settings window is almost exactly the same, and I was hoping they would use this opportunity to give it a much, much needed redesign. At this stage it's really nonsense that so many categories are there in the window, it's overwhelming for anyone who's not fond of customization. Most users will only care about three or four elements to customize in terms of appearance, so why not just have an appearance category where fonts, icons and themes can easily be found and then bury everything else in that category under an advanced tab? That concept would apply to any and all categories and would make the settings window way easier to grasp and use. In addition, I hope they make all settings fall within the settings window, as opposed to now, where the menu settings are split from the overall DE settings.

Anyways, I will wait for the final release to make up my mind, but I have mixed feelings thus far. Let's wait and see!

1 comment:

  1. If you follow development a closely (or just planet KDE) you'll know that they're actively working to improve system settings:

    http://user-prompt.com/results-of-card-sorting-the-kde-system-settings/
    http://vizzzion.org/blog/2014/05/locale-changes-in-plasma-next/
    http://wheeldesign.blogspot.com/2014/05/system-settings-and-new-vdg-members.html

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