Wednesday, March 22, 2006

KDE4: Backstage

The system tray is a limitedand valued realestate. Besides that it is extremely limited, smal icons make it hard to aim and actions can only be added in a menu, usualy right click menu, which is a problem all by itself.
But the problem is there are a lot of apps that use it as a mini taskbar. Like amarok, kontact, kopete, ... to many to name. And then there's superkaramba with widgets to control programs like amarok and other widgets to display feeds.
There's an opportunity here, what to do if programs want to remain running without a window open? Minimize them to the desktop as a widget. Of course this is not new, it's a concept used in CDE and probably others, they just create a icon on the desktop. But this is something different, so bear with me.

I call this concept Backstage, it would be a part of plasma and a there would be a framework to create Backstage widgets as easy as creating a system tray icon.

As example: the backstage widget for amarok

  • When sitting idle on the desktop and amarok is not playing the widget would look like the big amarok icon without the buttons.
  • If you move the mouse over the widget the actions swirl around the icon and stop where they are in the image.
  • When a track is playing the artist and title would rotate around it and the progress is visible by the percentage of the icon that is in grayscale.
  • Clicking on the action buttons does the expected thing, clicking somewhere else on the widget restores the amarok main window.
Practically I would implement this with animated SVG's for the graphics, Python for the behavior and DCOP for the communication with the parent application.

Off course the system tray doesn't need to dissapear completely but at least KDE4 apps that run in the background should have a backstage widget and let the user decide.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

first post

The best ideas are common property.
Seneca (5 BC - 65 AD), Epistles

I agree with the ancient roman guy, thats why I'll post the idea's I get on the most impractical times in the most awkward places on this blog.

I'm Bart Cerneels, a.k.a. Shanachie, a.k.a. stecchino, a electronics engineer, free and open-source enthusiast and KDE hacker.

Want to know what goes on in my head when my eye's turn glazed and I reach for my notebook? Read this blog!