{December 25, 2010}   poll results

so I finally convinced myself to look at those poll results. :)
Not all of them, though; I got sick of it after about 60.
Given how varied (and sometimes ambiguous) the details were, it’s not very scientific anyways – some people talked about their systray, some didn’t; some counted their tabs, some just said there were “lots” – but I think I’ve still learned a few things.

The number of applications open ranged from 3-16, but most people had 6-7. The number of windows was usually similar; while it ranged from 3-38, it was usually 8-9 – two more than the number of apps. That means people are using tabs a lot, and rarely opening extra windows. There seemed to be three main resons for having extra windows: first, chat lists; second, okular (since it doesn’t do tabs); third, having different windows for different desktops.

The number of tabs is probably the most unreliable number; given a very liberal interpretation of “tab” (basically any form of switching views inside a single window – be it files, chat windows, or other resources) and counting one window as one tab (not zero), I counted from 3 to 90 – but I’m pretty sure it would have been more if some of the people who said “lots” and “many” had given numbers. :) quite a few people had >20 tabs in a single window – how do you guys *manage* that?? :)

Personally, I find myself moving *away* from tabs. It seems to me that they were invented to compensate for inflexible window management; now that I can sort my windows by activity, I have less need for tabbing. I open websites in new windows instead, only tabbing searches or sometimes links from the first page.
I still have a bajillion documents open in most of my kate sessions, though. I don’t think those would work so well as individual windows. :) although I do sometimes find myself trying to alt-tab to the previous file…

Anyways, back to the results: I was also surprised to learn that lots of people still minimize things to the systray. I’ve stopped doing that, myself… if I want something easily available, I put the window on all activities.

Oh, and while most of us pile lots of things on each desktop (well, I assume so – less than half the comments even mentioned desktops), some people have picked up a one-app-per-desktop workflow. Why? Is it because of the ability to assign a specific keyoard shortcut to each desktop?

That reminds me… on my screencast post, there were a fair number of people not understanding why we have both activities and virtual desktops (btw, thanks for being so polite and not going “omg u sux” – criticism is discouraging even when it’s done nicely). I think the poll shows one of the reasons: people have different ways of using virtual desktops. Some people use them in a similar way to activities, and – like the people who were happy with just icons on the desktop – won’t see a need for both. Indeed, they might be better off picking just one and not using the other. But there are other people, with other workflows, who will benefit from using both activities and virtual desktops. Perhaps we have an overabundance of choice here, but I think it’ll be a good thing, and will lead to lots of new ideas. :)

Oh, and I didn’t count browser usage in the poll, but if anyone feels like doing that I’d be interested to know the results. I seem to remember seeing several konq+FF comments, and several rekonq, but also some chrome, and one guy had at least three different browsers running…

…One more thing: Fuck ads. they sucked, they did *not* have the skip option that it claimed they’d have, so they’re gone. owes me only $7 for that… and since they don’t pay out until you reach $25 I guess I’ll never get it. oh well :) it didn’t really seem worth subjecting everyone to 3-4 more ad-enabled screencasts.

Markus says:

I also minimize a lot to the tray but actually I wish there was a task bar implementation that merges launcher, open task and systray into one icon — similar to Mac’s Dock though not necessarily being a clone of it.

Chani says:

we’ve wanted one in plasma for years, and I’m pretty sure there was even a gsoc application for it (but we didn’t have enough slots to accept it).
all we lack is manpower…

Markus says:

I’m aware of attempts to merge launcher and task but also tray?

Chani says:

oh, right – we have launchers in the default taskbar for 4.6 :)
nobody’s tried to integrate the systray yet, though. it’s one of those things that everyone wants but nobody’s doing.

J. Janz says:

@Chani @Markus Re:

I don’t know if there were more but I guess You meant mine … I’ve still improved a little bit that idea I’ve applied for GSoC then but I’ve still haven’t made it. I even started it up (quite a taskbar clone in python and javascript — big-time straight forward options for plasmoids and also the first was more documented then and later I’ve translated it to js) but I’m missing time to learn a bit more to achive what I really intent to. I also still fail to know if it’s now possible to access windows’ thumbnails (like those on taskbar items’ hover) through js plasmoids. Maybe Chani could give me a hand and point me that out (case positive — either easy or hard way)? Thanks, in advance.

Chani says:

hrm, I don’t know how it gets the thumbnails. have you asked the plasma-devel mailing list?

J. Janz says:

I have asked it there quite some time before my GSoC application. As it’s a lot of time ago (more than a year, that’s for sure) I’ll try it again. Thanks again, Chani.

Siv says:

I happen to be one of those people often having one or two (or at most three) windows per virtual desktop: I like it because I can group the ones belonging to the same “activity” to the same desktop (say: web related apps, current document with its sources, current project source code with apis, the three gimp windows…), and switch between them with shortcuts. I *hate* when I have to use Windows, because I have 6-7 programs in the same desktop, and lots of alt+tab for finding the one that I want in a specific moment…

I’d like to think of activities (meaning KDE activities) as a superset of the previously described virtual desktop subdivision of windows…

damipereira says:

I’m a light user, I usually prefer to do one thing at once, but sometimes I do have 5 or 6 apps, and then someone asks me to do an entirely different task, that’s when virtual desktops are useful for me.
Also I would like(when my netbook returns from repair) to have an extra activity dedicated to study, with mathematics/engineering plasmoids .
My problem with activities is that they are a bit ahrd to understand, once I really understood what them was, I started thinking they are great (which they are). I think the ui of both different concepts need to be merged, like I said in your other post, making a grid with files of desktops as activities.

FiNeX says:

On the pool I’ve forgot to wrote that some apps are binded to specific virtual desktop thanks to kwin advanced settings. In this way I’m able to instantly jump between desktops using CTRL+F1..F7 depending on my needs…



Francesco R. says:

Can’t think to leave tabs behind. After starting to use “Tree style tab” plugin in firefox I’m become addicted.
Also in konsole they are really useful expecially because of the “shift+arrow” to navigate tabs.

If you are interested in what make TST plugin so useful here is a short not exaustive list:
1) tabs opened with ctrl+click become children of the opener.
2) undo close tab
3) possibility to operate on trees namely:
3a) close tree
3c) undo close tree :p
4) bookmark the universe
5) Alt+pg{Up,Down} navigate to logically near tabs (even if this is also a negative point sometimes)

Francesco R. says:

I’ve read that comment from you about a “tree taskbar” any idea from where to start?

Chani says:

hrm… well, I’ve heard that there are alternative taskbars available from kde-apps (or was it kde-look?), glancing at the code of those and the default taskbar would be a good start.

there’s also lots of useful stuff in kdebase/workspace/libs/taskmanager/ – you’d probably need to use that directly because the tasks engine is verry simple.

the default taskbar is not the prettiest code, having been around probably longer than containments even, but the fancy grouping stuff should actually be easy to adapt to a tree structure. :)

I can only see the UI working in a vertical panel, though…

J. Janz says:

All right, I’ve also got another idea for activities that I think reflects user’s way of thinking/doing stuff and the concepts of activities and virtual desktops. I’d like to share it and try to help making activities more natural, discoverable and useful.

At a quick glance, activities are virtual desktops with a meaning (to that user, at least — which is already a lot of improvement, not only exposing what user needs for each thing s/he’s doing there but also in the workflow for activities against for virtual desktops, once they’ll get created/removed when needed or not). Also, kde virtual desktops (I’m struggling with myself to not shorten it to VDs =O ;) ) seem to be basicly extra space in the same desktop (activity). Both evidenciate it (if I’m wrong, these are at least the impression they’re making) when you can’t, for example, change the background image or plasmoids set to only one virtual desktop and can do it for activities.

I must say what activities do are precisely what I always expected from virtual desktops and I’m one of those that used these as activities (one virtual desktop for job stuff, another one for fun and so on — I’m right now also thinking of my Media Center with one activity for each: Images, Videos, Audio and Games) but I’m not making this suggestion only with that in mind but thinking that it would fit any use of either Activities and Virtual Desktops. So, please open your mind and see yourself as a regular user and also different kinds of users doing regular stuff while you read the following suggestion and tell me what you think. I’m basicly blurring the line between activities and virtual desktops.

Activities would get exposed as virtual desktops are today: through pager, however displaying an icon instead of number (so user could quickly tell each activity apart), being this icon associated to each one when user gives/changes their names. Activities could be easily created/deleted through context menu and, also, what I think make creation more discoverable: this pager could have a little extra space on the right (or left or top or bottom, depending on language and/or panel position — or maybe even both left&right or top&bottom sides, looking like a small “margin”) where a plus icon would appear when hovering this pager. “And where would virtual dekstops go?”, you ask. Same place: pager. “What?!”, you ask again. Easy: as virtual desktops are created inside activities (again, if I’m wrong, this is the impression they give when all virtual desktops look the same and then seem only to be grouping windows), so pager would represent them visually by expanding that activity (again, in width or height, depending on panel’s place, with or without a line between them — I prefer the first). Visual aid, if needed: ;)

What I haven’t completely cooked yet: how to add/remove virtual desktops (I thought of dragging a window outside current one but could end up in too many accidents), arranging activities (drag and drop but that depends on the next), window’s frames/icons (as pager does today — I’d ditch them from default view, once activities already tell the user what’s supposed to be in each of them, and maybe display them on hover, replacing today’s long textual lists of windows for images, that also inform the same thing more quickly, being that today’s pager content for a desktop).

I tried to make this proposal as stupid-simple as possible, so regular users wouldn’t get scared of it but instead feel comfortable to try and use, and powerful enough to speed the way for those who use Activities and Virtual Desktops heavily. What do you think, Chani?

J. Janz says:

Ok, that link might need to be entered in browser’s addressbar … =/ Don’t know why exactly but clicking it might lead to an 1px x 1px image but simply selecting its url in addressbar and just hitting [enter] made it appear here when it happened. Sad small gitch. =/

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