Posted Jan 30, 2013 15:35 UTC (Wed) by pboddie
In reply to: Seigo: Plasma.next()?
Parent article: Seigo: Plasma.next()?
leaning on brand reputation is how one builds on earned reputation. starting from scratch each time is absolutely insane. neither the customer nor the producer wins with that strategy.
Leaning on brand reputation is trading on that reputation but not always building on it. What would have happened if KDE 4 had been called something else? People would have been obliged to consider it more on its merits than on its connection with the KDE brand, which might not have been a good thing for the developers because it wouldn't have automatically directed an audience to that product, but then again people would have been obliged to reset their expectations, which would actually have been a good thing for all concerned.
Starting from scratch is a brave thing for developers to do, what with needing to work hard to persuade people of the merits of the software itself, when the alternative is to capture everyone upgrading from one release to the next.
when we started with Activities, nobody else had really explored this idea.
Really? If you ignore the way people use virtual desktops, there are plenty of examples of grouping content and functionality by activity, at least beyond general window and desktop content management. The most ancient form is the spreadsheet and the use of separate files or sheets to organise different things (albeit with fairly restricted functionality on offer even with object embedding available), but you also find Web-based content management systems like Wiki sites providing activity-specific resources and employing tools that allow people to move beyond the application-centred view and towards a content-centred view that necessitates the integration of different applications or tools.
In fact, the way that Web applications often integrate different kinds of functionality in the same view is precisely the kind of thing that presumably inspired things like Microsoft Active Desktop, Netscape Constellation and, of course, Plasma.
There are also numerous articles online about activities; google provides a good number when searching for "plasma activities", such as this one: http://hanschen.org/2011/02/04/activities-a-change-in-workflow/
I don't think the author makes a good pitch for activities, really. He says, "With activities you can associate a particular window with more than one activity." You could do that already with virtual desktops in KDE 3, to the point where you can choose which desktops can see the window in KDE 3.5. I accept that using the term "activities" makes things easier to explain to people, but then you can argue that using that name for virtual desktops would solve that problem. Certainly, the toy examples I see given about making new activities for every single thing you do aren't going to scale, although I accept that if you do need another workspace it's easier than going into the configuration and adding one.
Having both activities and virtual desktops is confusing. The article seems to advocate one desktop and many activities, stating that you could have many desktops within an activity if you needed that, but then you're navigating some kind of maze just to find that window you were using. When I tried KDE 4 (Plasma Desktop?) recently, the workspace and pager functionality was so poor (minimised windows didn't appear in the panel at all, and the workspace indicator just showed two blank panels), I started to think that one reason for people being persuaded to use activities was that the other functionality just isn't usable any more, sad to say.
I think that activities are obviously an interesting idea and are widely used and proven already in other domains, but I don't think they appear as usable as the existing features for doing this kind of thing in KDE unless the audience is primarily people who need to be told how to organise their work. That would explain the photo activity which, if I were to find a comparable implementation of the concept in another medium, would be similar to having a simple Web photo gallery application, but even with a richer user interface toolkit available the usability just wasn't at the level I would expect: the navigation controls kept jumping around as the picture went from portrait to landscape and back again, and the picture needed resizing in a sometimes complicated set of user interface gestures.
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