{January 9, 2011}   Activities in Action

It’s screencast time again! :)

For this one, I focused on how I, personally, use activities. I got the impression that showing real-world usage might make it a bit clearer what I’m trying to do here. :)

You can probably hear me getting a bit tired at the end… I had to reboot twice and fix my damn volume control before finally getting that one, so yes, I *am* tired. :P

oh, and here’s the activity manager plasmoid I mentioned. :)

Really great stuff, I can’t wait to use more activites in 4.6. is the download link for those who are searching for it.

Chani says:

right, I keep forgetting to include a link to…

btw, I just renamed the “misc” activity to “reading”. :) since that’s what it ended up being: reading material.

…of course, now I bet I’ll find something that doesn’t count as reading material *and* doesn’t belong anywhere else. ah well, I’ll deal with that when it comes. :)

damipereira says:

It does look really good, And I’m sure they are already useful for a lot of people, but at the same time I can’t imagine myself using it.
It seems there is a lot of work to set them and maintain them in order, and at least in my case not sure if worth the effort, are activities oriented to more multi-tasking users?, or It just needs some practicing to take advantage of them.
Some things I think are a bit hard are:
-Moving an app between activities, maybe it could be implemented that when you move a window into the activity bar entry, it moves into that activity?
-Changing between activities when starting a new task was something that I was worried about, but it seems comfortable enough with the activity bar on top, maybe it should be default when having more than 2 activities?
With these changes, or something equivalent, I can imagine myself sitting on the computer and suddenly saying “I will do that work think” move the mouse up and click work, or opening a work related file from the browser in my “fun” activity, and just throwing it in work activity bar on top.
Sorry if this seems a bit ranty, I can write code right now (Im learning) but at least I’d like to give some ideas.

Chani says:

well, it only takes as much work as you care to put in, really. you can have a few vague groupings, or you can micro-manage all your windows, it’s up to you. :)

moving windows to another activity is annoyingly hard, yes. something must be done. probably drag&drop support. is anyone interested in implementing that for the activitybar?

as for defaults… it probably won’t be. but aaron was talking about putting something in the panel, maybe. … hmmmmm, and I bet I could write a panel template that sets it up with the right plasmoid and settings! :)

mutlu says:

Very nice screencast. And amazing functionality. I have quite a good grasp of what I will do with activities. Can’t wait to switch to 4.6 full time.

Lionel Chauvin says:

In my opinion, one of the most interesting use case of activity is the switching between plasma-desktop and plasma-media-center.

KDE developpers should focus on this use case.

Some idea of improvements:
– per activity panels (plasma-media-center doesn’t need a task bar).
– an improved activity manager: it should look like grouped task items.
– automatically stop an activity: people don’t want manually manage cpu or memory usage.

Chani says:

per-activity panels are doable, someone just needs to step up and work on it. :)

anyone can write their own activity manager – like the one in the screencast. the built-in one will see improvements, but I doubt there’ll be grouping any time soon.

automatic stopping was discussed – particularly for plasma-netbook – but first we have to see how reliable restarting them is. some applications haven’t got proper session support, and it would suck to automatically stop those…

DanaKil says:

I’m glad to see that per-activity panels is technically doable (and I hope that someone will implement it one day !).
Beside notes, I don’t really use widgets on the desktop but I am really addict to panels :-)

Thank you for your work Chani, I think this will be very useful for me at work where I often must quickly switch between different tasks

Fri13 says:

The panel functions should not just be per-activity but as well per-virtual desktop.

So we could finally tweak every virtual desktop as we want. Yes, virtual desktop are the big reason why I believe most people will not find activities so usefull. But there are many cases why every virtual desktops should have own panel setups without activities interrupting.

nick says:

This stuff is so advanced, I can be used for evil purposes!

It reminded me of a pc-game I used to play. The apache helicopter’s control screen had a similar activity-oriented approach: You could adjust them to fit different terrain or targets, and change between them as needed in every phase of the mission.


Jeff says:

Great screencast!
I really love the way KDE 4 is coming along.
By what time do you think will kde programs be activity aware, with KDE 4.7?

oh and i liked your enlish to german(i am from germany) , do you learn german in school? ;)

Chani says:

:) yes, we’ll have the first ones in 4.7. rrix has been hacking on konversation (it has kde3support stuff in it still! meep!) and I have a filedialog/dolphin Places patch from my friend that one of us really ought to finish off…

Jeffery MacEachern says:

“and I have a filedialog/dolphin Places patch from my friend that one of us really ought to finish off…”
Heh, yeah, I’m just waiting for KActivityConsumer & Friends to be moved out of kdebase/workspace, and then I’ll probably finish it up.

Chani says:

as for german, no, I haven’t taking any courses. I’m learning by watching lots of german-dubbed tv, reading books, and being in berlin. :) Ich weiss nicht, ob mein Deutsch ist sehr gut, weil ich nur lesen und hören, nicht oft sprechen und fast niemals schreiben. :)

Jeff says:

lol welche deutschen Serien guckst du?
lol what german shows are you watching?
your german aint to bad, the word order is a little off though, it should have been :
Ich weiß nicht ob mein Deutsch sehr gut ist, weil ich nur lese und höre, nicht oft spreche und fast niemals schreibe.

Chani says:

Voyager. :) we have the whole series. Before that, we watched DS9.

Luciano says:

Hi! Although this has still space for improvement, it looks very interesting =). I’m now configuring Activities in KDE 4.5 to try the idea. One question arises: is there a way to configure newly opened applications to be shown in the current active activity only? This would be really useful because, if not, when i’m using an activity and open a new app, the other activities get ‘spammed’ with this new unreleated window. Is this available in 4.6?


Chani says:

yes, that’s the default in 4.6. :)

Gres says:

“I had to reboot twice and fix my damn volume control before finally getting that one, so yes, I *am* tired. :P”

It is a shame that such problems still exist in Linux/BSD OS, when they don’t exist so often in other big operation systems.

Chani says:

yes, who *ever* heard of having to reboot something like windows…

wow, I’ve never seen such a blatant troll on my blog!
do you think trolls go well with BBQ sauce?

gumb says:

At least they admitted that Linux is now a big operation [sic] system. Hehe.

Naproxeno says:

After starting using activities I have a question. What happens when a window in a “background” (not the current one) activity needs attention? Does the user get any hint or Plasma just switches to that activity?

Chani says:

it ought to show up in the taskbar and do the needs-attention animation there.

I don’t remember actually testing that though (what apps use it?) so it’d be nice if someone can doublecheck that it does what it should. :)

Naproxeno says:

Ok, I tested it with Kopete (yes, I could have just tried it instead of writing a comment but…) and it works. It even works when the conversation is open through a plasma notification. So, good work!

The only “complaint” I have is that the user may not be aware that he has switched activities if it’s too similar to the current one. Anyway, it works.

And in a totally unrelated and perhaps better suited for Bugzilla comment… There is a global keyboard shortcut to open the activity selector in Plasma. What do you think about making it a toggle? In my opinion it would be nice if you could open AND close the selector using just the keyboard.


Chani says:

yeah, some sort of actiivity transition would be nice. also nice would be the activitymanager plasmoid using the icon of the current activity. :)

as for toggle… I could’ve sworn it *was* a toggle a few months ago.. either I’m crazy or someone changed it. I’d love a patch to change it back.

frank says:

Wow, a gal who codes for Linux and likes Star Trek. You’re a rare gift, you know that? ;-)

Naproxeno says:

@frank We have Chani. That proves that KDE is better than everything else. :-)

(Just kidding and with all due respect to Chani).

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