{May 23, 2008}   state of the ZUI

another thing I’ve been chipping away at for 4.1 is the ZUI. it’s far from complete, but it’s at least becoming something I actually use now. :) keyboard shortcuts can be used to navigate it quickly (see my previous post), clicking a containment will make it the active one (barring the focus bugs mentioned in that post), and notmart has amazingly made the cashews actually show up in the right place! :)

I also added an option in the contextmenu for removing activities. right now you can only remove ones that aren’t active (ie when you call up the dashboard you don’t get that containment shown) but it’s pretty useful when you’re playing around and add way more than you actually want. :)

Oh, and if you don’t want to zoom out, you can use the keyboard shortcuts to switch containment instantly. my extreme laziness leads to features like this. :)

There are some features I didn’t get to, though… I wanted some kind of visual clue as to which containment is active, but seeing as I haven’t even started to think about how to implement that and soc starts monday, I doubt it’ll happen for 4.1. I also wanted a way to change which plugin the current containment uses – kinda ‘swap out’ the containment under all its applets, so that you can go from defaultdesktop to blankdesktop to folderview at will. At the same time, I wanted to kick the theme config out of the defaultdesktop config, because it really doesn’t belong there – but there was really no time for that, and anyways, the other containment changes coming in 4.2 might mean someone else handles that :)

There are some rather obvious bugs in the ZUI right now – dashboard has issues with containment switching, and you can’t drag the view around while zoomed out any more – but I’m confident those will be fixed for 4.1 :) so we should have something simple but useful. with the keyboard shortcuts you don’t have to keep moving your mouse to a toolbox and finding the buttons, and with a single click you can choose the containment you want, so hopefully I’ll find myself making use of the ZUI more regularly from now on. :)

just… if you have two monitors… don’t zoom out both at once. trust me… just don’t.

As for the future of the ZUI… there’s still lots to be done. some of the bugs I run into are making me think that there’s a bigger problem. I’ll have to do some deep thinking about the design… what really belongs in the desktop toolbox? should we have some other tools elsewhere or something? what changes should be made to the fully-zoomed-out level? how do we handle multiple views without madness?

I have a feeling there were other zoomy things I was pondering, but it’s past my bedtime now. I’ve barely left the computer in over 12 hours :/ but I’ll be out in that big blue room all day tomorrow, so I guess it balances out in the end ;)

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Thanks Chani, I’ve added some bits of information from here and your other blog entry on the ZUI in the Plasma FAQ.

IAnjo says:

*looking forward to getting home to his two monitors and trying to zoom out*

Adriaan de Groot says:

Configuration And Settings Holistic Expression Widget.

Finally. Found a good acronym for cashew, one that expresses that the cashew is “that things that you click and then you can change stuff in a natural and fluid fashion.” What would life be without acronyms?

Luciano says:

Great work! :D
One simple question: Since zoom out option is there (from early KDE 4.0 builds if remember correctly) zooming out implies a major slowness when moving around the rescaled plasmoids. I never reported it or anything because I thought it was pretty obvious but since I haven’t seen any mention to it I was wondering if this is a common issue and if it will be solved by 4.1.

Thanks for your time. :)

[...] state of the ZUI another thing I’ve been chipping away at for 4.1 is the ZUI. it’s far from complete, but it’s at [...] [...]

intellectable says:

Humm, very impressive!

I grok the concept of cashew to don’t click dot it.
I am very excited about breaking into the conceptual space in the Z axis.
Long over due doors of perception finally opening.
I envision a key feature being a skeleton like spine to attach stuff/plasmoids to.

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