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Seigo: Plasma.next()?

Seigo: Plasma.next()?

Posted Jan 30, 2013 17:21 UTC (Wed) by aseigo (guest, #18394)
In reply to: Seigo: Plasma.next()? by pboddie
Parent article: Seigo: Plasma.next()?

> What would have happened if KDE 4 had been called something else

then we would not have been responsible for the results, and after things shook out and came right we'd now be left with a recognized brand (KDE) with not relation to what we're actually working on.

what you're suggesting is forking our own community.

> people would have been obliged to reset their expectations

a) that would not have happened as we were no longer maintaining the old code base, so it would be pure smoke and mirrors and our user base would have seen through that in a moment's notice

b) we would have lost countless more users due to the resulting confusion

c) it's good for the product if the group behind it takes responsibility for it. that means putting your name to it. like IBM did with the mainframe and Boeing did with the 747.

> Starting from scratch is a brave thing for developers to do

which is not what we did, btw. yes, the desktop shell got rewritten. everything else was a port. (including many pieces of the workspace itself: from kdm and kwin to various workspace libraries)

> what with needing to work hard to persuade people of the merits of the
> software itself

we had to do that with 4.0 release, despite using the KDE brand :)

people are not nearly as sheeplike as you seem to think

> If you ignore the way people use virtual desktops
> Wiki sites providing activity-specific resources

Activities are not spatial grouping. they aren't content grouping. they aren't limited to grouping at all. we utilize grouping visually in various areas of the Activity presentation, but grouping is not the core concept.

rather it's about contextual relatedness: given what $PERSON is doing in $PLACE at $TIME, what should the computer be doing?

a very simple example that steps outside the bounds of content grouping: when i switch to my Presentations activity, the power management settings on my laptop change appropriately.

or: when i switch activities on my tablet, the people in my address book that "matter" change.

> I don't think the author makes a good pitch for activities, really.

you wanted a sales pitch. i thought you meant documentation. my bad.

> I don't think they appear as usable as the existing features for doing
> this kind of thing in KDE

and all the people who do use them and swear by them are .. what? i think we can agree they are not you. :) but if we step outside of "you" == "definition of usable", we find people actually getting use out of activities that they didn't have access to before.

personally, i don't try and argue with reality when it presents itself, nor do i feel the need to add interpretation on top of such results in order to measure value. "why do these people find activities so useful" is a very interesting philosophical question, and one that can drive future development, but "according to people who use them, activities are useful" and "plasma active's implementation of activities tests very well with the general public" is enough to get to "does the concept work?"

i absolutely will submit that we will find people who do not use them and do not WANT to use them. there are people who hate broccoli too (many/most because of an interesting genetic variation that allows them to taste a compound in broccoli as intensely bitter). so there is no point in arguing about universal perfectness. the question is: does it do well for the people and place it is found?

in the case of Plasma Desktop, you can freely ignore Activities, so it's an interesting discussion perhaps but moot. many do use them there and find great utility in them. they are still a work in progress there, not as far along as in Active (which had the benefit of starting with all our lessons learned from Desktop).

in the case of Plasma Active, they are a core part of the system .. and, thankfully for us, actually works in the hands of people using the devices. there are people who use Active every day. in that sense, we've moved past theory.

i'm not sure how much more there is to discuss given those data points.

> unless the audience is primarily people who need to be told how to
> organise their work.

does a filing cabinet tell you how to organize papers? no. it's a tool to do so.

same with activities. they provide a set of mechanisms by which to create contextually relevant states of being for the machine. you are in control them. they do not tell you how to organize your work.

the original inspiration for activities came while watching a graphic designer tell the *computer* how to organize his work by manually moving files and app icons around between folders and the desktop in the most painful of mouse and keyboard ballets.

so rather than activities telling you how to organize your work, it grants you tools to tell the computer how you'd like to see your work (or play :) organized and handled.

> That would explain the photo activity

not really. that was put there as an example to get people started in a useful direction some releases ago, but it hardly scratches the surface (and was actually put there before we had a number of the current features available implemented). apparently it failed in its mission. :) that can be rectified with a simple git rm ...


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Seigo: Plasma.next()?

Posted Jan 31, 2013 0:27 UTC (Thu) by pboddie (guest, #50784) [Link]

What would have happened if KDE 4 had been called something else
then we would not have been responsible for the results, and after things shook out and came right we'd now be left with a recognized brand (KDE) with not relation to what we're actually working on.

I don't think you follow. There is a discontinuity between KDE 3 and KDE 4 in terms of technology and in terms of the developers involved, as I understand it. I get the impression that people didn't want to work on KDE 3 any more, but had KDE 3 been more actively maintained then it might have been inappropriate for KDE 4 to claim to be a continuation of that heritage.

You can claim that most people involved with KDE development moved on and that they have the right to apply that label to whatever they subsequently do, and you can claim that this isn't confusing to the users if what they subsequently get meets their expectations based on what that group produced before, but those expectations are very high indeed: you only need to read the complaints about functionality regressions (or whatever people want to call them) to realise that. Moreover, as the various GNOME forks have shown, being in control of the brand doesn't mean that such a group is actually the best flag-bearer for continuing any traditions or fulfilling any expectations.

b) we would have lost countless more users due to the resulting confusion

Who would have lost users? That's my point: there's the idea that a new project automatically takes over the users of an old project because the new project uses the same name as the old one, but those users are using the old project, not the new one, and they don't belong to anyone. Who do GNOME 2's users "belong" to? Nobody. The only thing "lost" is the opportunity to convince people using a previous product to adopt the current one.

Starting from scratch is a brave thing for developers to do
which is not what we did, btw. yes, the desktop shell got rewritten. everything else was a port. (including many pieces of the workspace itself: from kdm and kwin to various workspace libraries)

I was referring to branding the thing from scratch. I've had the argument about whether some heritage has been maintained in these exercises fairly recently, and many people seem to think that it's confusing to suggest an upgrade to an existing product when the result is actually a different product which can't provide feature parity with the previous one.

Activities are not spatial grouping. they aren't content grouping. they aren't limited to grouping at all. we utilize grouping visually in various areas of the Activity presentation, but grouping is not the core concept.
rather it's about contextual relatedness: given what $PERSON is doing in $PLACE at $TIME, what should the computer be doing?

Isn't "contextual relatedness" just a fancy term for grouping? Or if "grouping" is too vague, how about "showing and doing common stuff in the same view"? I mean I get the examples about laptop settings and address books, and formalising these things is obviously overdue (particularly the former), but I still dispute that "nobody else had really explored this idea".

I don't think the author makes a good pitch for activities, really.
you wanted a sales pitch. i thought you meant documentation. my bad.

Well, that article barely passes for documentation if that's what you think it is.

I know that it's easy to label my misgivings as anecdotal and support from other sources as data points, and it may well be the case that "plasma active's implementation of activities tests very well with the general public" (source needed), but I'd like to know under what conditions. Were people given tuition or did they sit down and figure it out themselves? Were the people doing this in a dedicated period of time or as part of their normal routine?

I'm not accusing anyone of deception but it's very easy to sell a particular story. Every day of late, I have been confronted with an advertisement that gives a supposedly objective assessment of the merits of a particular company's product in the form of a taste test - guess where the advertiser's product is placed in the ranking - and in my idle moments staring at it, it has become obvious how one would game this in several ways to encourage a certain outcome (and not even considering just running many surveys until one gets the "right" results).

Maybe the testing accurately measures the perception of the target audience, but I'd definitely be worried about inadvertently reaching the "right" result and reinforcing an unfortunate strategy. Then again, I'm sure you've given this plenty of thought, so I guess there's nothing to be gained from giving it any further consideration.


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