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Streamline KWin desktop effect timings

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Manko10
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Hi,

I just upgraded to KDE 4.9.90 and found some new effects I really like and which reminded me of something I already wanted to discuss for quite some time. I know that the KWin desktop effects are currently revamped and I thought this might be the chance for it.

Currently we have a lot of effects, some with separate timing settings, some without. Additionally, there are the global timing settings "Instant", "Very Fast", "Fast", "Normal", "Slow", "Very Slow" and "Extremely Slow".
The only really meaningful settings here are (IMHO) "Normal" and "Fast". Animations should look nice and natural, but they shouldn't get in your way in any respect. An effect is definitely to slow if you have to wait for it. This becomes annoying very quickly. But an effect is also too fast if it just looks bumpy, e.g. because it is too fast for the effective frame rate or just too fast to be fully recognized.

Now the problem is that there is quite a gap between "Normal" and "Fast". Some effects are a little too slow with the "Normal" setting, but have a good timing with the "Fast" setting, but there are also effects that look exactly right with the "Normal" setting, but are too fast with "Fast" one. A few of these effects offer a separate control for adjusting the timing (e.g. the Magic Lamp effect, which, to my taste, is too slow with the "Normal" setting, but also a tiny, tiny bit too fast with the "Fast" setting), but many of them don't (e.g. the "Glide" effect, which is just right with the "Fast" setting, but pretty slow with the "Normal" setting).

Overall, we can say that the timings are very different between the effects. I don't know exactly how the timings are implemented technically. Maybe, they're all exactly the same, but even if that's the case, you have to take into account that a switching effect for the virtual desktops of 300ms looks much faster than a small "Sliding Popups" effect of the same time. It always depends on the size of the area on which an effect is performed.

I asked myself how this situation could be improved and my suggestion would be this: Get rid of the "Very Fast", "Very Slow" and "Extremely Slow" setting (maybe keep the last one for testing purposes if you like) and only keep "Instant", "Fast", "Normal" and "Slow". Rename "Slow" to "Very Slow", "Normal" to "Slow" and insert a new "Normal" timing between the old "Normal" and "Fast" (maybe make the old "Normal" a tiny bit slower for that).
Then adjust the timings for the effects so that they look almost the same (with emphasis on look). Finally, the last thing to do is to give all the effects a separate timing option so the timing can also be adjusted on a per-effect basis. However, this setting shouldn't be an absolute value in milliseconds (which is IMHO a little hard to configure anyway if you have no experience with how long an average effect takes), but a relative percentage. This value just specifies how much longer (or shorter if you give a negative value) this effect takes compared to the global setting.

I think this would streamline the overall desktop experience very much since the effects become more even and also easier to customize. What do you think? Any further suggestions? :-)
User avatar Fri13
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I like your suggestion and that you consider dropping those multiple choices off to simplify them and I agree on them.

I would argue for the usability feature what those effects offers. Meaning that when new users, kids, seniors or visually impaired people use computers, the purpose we have graphical user interface (GUI) is that we can see what are our options and what is happening.

Those who demands "No animations, not any kind" are typically very familiar with the GUI so they do not need any hints of "secret actions" like window minimization or notifications popping up.

I really would like to see three main settings for speed and same time bring back the old fashion advanced settings per effect where user can override the common speed (set on three speed level with information of their speeds, like "fast (0.15 second)" and "normal (0.25 second)" ) and type wanted speed per effect, not in milliseconds (as you suggest) but in seconds with decimals.
Do we need adjust effect between 0.2 and 0.3 seconds? How about between 0.6 and 0.7? I would argue that 0.1 steps would be enough as accuracy as one second gives 10 steps and if someone needs more steps...

There are lots of users who would get benefits of visual aids that something is happening and that computer is following their actions and when something happens, it is visible that does. So no sudden pop-up information what is no clear where it came or it actually came visible.

As for many it is problematic to understand where does window get when it is minimized and when window is restored.
it would be awesome to have drop-down menus animated but when they are either too fast or too slow it is better to keep disabled.

I don't anymore remember the reasoning why did developers remove the per-effect speed settings in the first place, but I think it was huge mistake. As common speed setting for those who just want something sane defaults and per-effect options for those who need it. Then even offer a "Accessibility" module in system settings to set specific animations slow (if enabled) by KDE usability team. Many functions can be itself explaining features for people who are familiar or fast learners (teens) but we really could improve the usability with good adjustments when needed.
Manko10
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My suggestion was to use positive and negative percentage values for the per-effect configuration of animation speed. I think that's a little more intuitive than absolute values, but in general I agree. I don't consider the removal of those options as a huge mistake, but I don't think it's a great idea either.
Having a few general speed settings and then consistent per-effect settings would be a valuable feature. Currently only a few have separate speed settings and every setting works somehow different as it seems.

 
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