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Activities and the move to context-oriented desktops

Activities and the move to context-oriented desktops

Posted May 28, 2009 12:12 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304)
Parent article: Activities and the move to context-oriented desktops

Well, this was as clear as mud:

After all, he added, "for certain people, the current metaphors work well," especially those who do not carry their computers about or those who use them for basic productivity.
How does carrying your computer about relate to a desktop (background/ widgets/visible apps) that changes between configurable sets on demand? And what on earth is 'basic productivity'?

I'd say a better way of putting it is that activities are useful if you switch tasks a lot: they mean you can put Plasma widgets in appropriate configurations for each task and have them follow the tasks around, while if you only used non-linked virtual desktops you'd find the widgets static and thus much less useful.

The advantage of not linking virtual desktops and activities is, to me, simply that you can have multiple desktops associated with the same activity, and changes to the widgets in one desktop propagate instantly to the others. If you linked the activities to the desktops, and you used several desktops for one activity, you'd need to make any changes three times.

Activities are a very nice concept, but, er, they're not revolutionary, sorry, although maybe they have revolutionary consequences. If anything was revolutionary it was the plasmoid idea --- somewhat pedestrian itself in hindsight --- that your desktop background could be more than just a file folder. Once it was dynamic at all, allowing saved, interchangeable states (which is basically what activities are, counting window presence as part of the state) seems a straightforward generalization. (I was actually surprised find that KDE4.0 hadn't done it already, and chalked it up to Plasma's unfinished state in that release.)


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Activities and the move to context-oriented desktops

Posted May 28, 2009 12:59 UTC (Thu) by nye (guest, #51576) [Link]

The thing is that activities, at least to the extent to which I've been able to figure them out, just seem to be a way of changing the content of the Plasma desktop.

I never interact with my desktop - it's just a backdrop for whatever I'm doing if that happens not to cover the screen, which is uncommon. If I wanted an interactive window, I'd use an interactive window and get the benefit of the usual alt-tab behaviour, and other window management features. Hence I personally find the Plasma desktop to be a flashy gimmick of no real value or interest - so far no real examples seem to have been given of how it's used for anything but bling - so activities seem rather useless.

Activities and the move to context-oriented desktops

Posted May 28, 2009 20:39 UTC (Thu) by nix (subscriber, #2304) [Link]

It *is* useful if you have a big screen so can avoid maximising your app
all the time, or if you bind a key to windowshade your app (trivial with
any decent wm). Then you can have a bunch of per-app widgets (generally
folder widgets) giving things like graphical file management (useful? yes,
if, say, you're working on something with images in it: instnt
thumbnailer!) on a per-project basis.

One thing I'm not clear on (because I haven't looked) is how much of
plasmoid functionality you can bind to keys. (Next time I'm near a system
running X I'll have to check, but I'm on the wrong end of a modem right
now.)


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