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Live plasmoid switcher

User avatar notmart
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Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:27 pm
Wha?
It's a way to dinamically switch at runtime between plasmoids that give a similar set of features.
For instance, we have two launchers, several clocks, and in the future several alternatives of taskbar/docks/whatever.
The idea is to give a simple and universal way to switch what applet to use in a single step, *from within the old running applet*.
Idea is well described here:
http://sessellift.wordpress.com/2014/02/06/leveraging-the-power-of-choice/

So now, the implementation is pretty much done (depending on the changes that would be still needed in the ui)
right now looks like that:


here it shows the choice between the 2 start menus: kickoff and kicker (the kickoff and kicker names don't appear anywhere in the metadata, so wether their "internal" name should be shown is another issue, about guidelines for naming)

The info that we can show is pretty much what we can show in the widget explorer (same model) name, description, icon, author, license, author email (would be neat this as well widget explorer gaining support for a tiny screenshot, but is technically not possible yet).

So, right now the ui is shown in the widget config dialog, since it needs a view to show extra information (while cramming this in the context menu would allow only name+icon) and need to be shown within somewhere reachable from the running plasmoid, since the point of this is to replace said running plasmoid (so i don't think the widgetexplorer would be really suited)

Comments? changes needing to be done?
User avatar colomar
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:13 pm
Some questions that need to be sorted out:
- What would happen if one of the alternatives had more sections (icons in the left navigation bar) in the config dialog than the other? Would the config dialog rearrange itself once one selects a different alternative and click "apply"?
- What would happens if the user has installed many alternatives for a Plasmoid? Would the list become scrollable?
- What would the design look like with screenshots (and I do agree those would definitely have to be there in the future, because users may often make the decision based on looks/layout rather than textual description)?

Just putting it directly in the context menu certainly wouldn't be a good idea, for the reason you named. Users need to see all the information we can give them to make a good decision.

My idea wasn't to just use the normal Widget Explorer (because that wouldn't be much different from the current workflow), but use a presentation similar to it, but only showing the alternatives for the selected Plasmoid.
User avatar notmart
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:23 pm
colomar wrote:Some questions that need to be sorted out:
- What would happen if one of the alternatives had more sections (icons in the left navigation bar) in the config dialog than the other? Would the config dialog rearrange itself once one selects a different alternative and click "apply"?


This is one big issue that will need to be tackled (and should probably be considered here now).
Due to a technical limitation, both here and in the desktop settings (where you chose the desktop layout, that may be good ti give it the same ui as this) the apply button is not "really" functinal yet: since what is "really" happening is that the old applet (or the old containment in case of desktop layout) is deleted and a new one is created in the same place.
This is something the config dialogs can't handle yet, so right now they just bail out and close.
Ideally, the dialog should stay open and reload all its contents (is possible as well for instance that the new applet has more or less config categories)
But unfortunately i know right now this is far from perfect.

colomar wrote:- What would happens if the user has installed many alternatives for a Plasmoid? Would the list become scrollable?

yep.

colomar wrote:- What would the design look like with screenshots (and I do agree those would definitely have to be there in the future, because users may often make the decision based on looks/layout rather than textual description)?


buh, maybe some mockups could be a good idea..
right now the biggest hurdle in this is probably the fact that every plasmoid should have a little hand made screenshot added in its package, so would require work to get there, but i fear the case where a plasmoid doesn't provide a screenshot will always have to be managed.

colomar wrote:Just putting it directly in the context menu certainly wouldn't be a good idea, for the reason you named. Users need to see all the information we can give them to make a good decision.

My idea wasn't to just use the normal Widget Explorer (because that wouldn't be much different from the current workflow), but use a presentation similar to it, but only showing the alternatives for the selected Plasmoid.


So basically open another window by itself..
that would be possible (even tough slightly more complicated in the code)
would kinda workaround the problem of the apply button being borked, but would perhaps add complexity to the ui?
User avatar Hans
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:59 pm
Closing the dialog when hitting "Apply" sounds less than desirable (yes, I understand the technical difficulties). It may be better to have a separate dialog for now. (From a technical viewpoint, is there a "nice way" to make the config refresh its content when switching widgets?)

Rather than showing screenshots, would it be possible to render the widgets in the dialog? I'm imagining having a "Preview" section that shows the currently selected widget. Would it be too slow?

Finally, do you think there should be a warning that the user will lose all settings related to the original widget?


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User avatar notmart
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:08 pm
Hans wrote:Closing the dialog when hitting "Apply" sounds less than desirable (yes, I understand the technical difficulties). It may be better to have a separate dialog for now. (From a technical viewpoint, is there a "nice way" to make the config refresh its content when switching widgets?)


i have to see what would take to hot swap the applet under the dialog feet, should not be impossible, but yeah, in each way, always means losing the apple initial settings, because you are running another one now

Hans wrote:Rather than showing screenshots, would it be possible to render the widgets in the dialog? I'm imagining having a "Preview" section that shows the currently selected widget. Would it be too slow?


yes, it would mean simpy load all the widgets, that's not realistic.

Hans wrote:Finally, do you think there should be a warning that the user will lose all settings related to the original widget?

[/quote]

yep, probably.
User avatar colomar
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:11 pm
notmart wrote:So basically open another window by itself..
that would be possible (even tough slightly more complicated in the code)
would kinda workaround the problem of the apply button being borked, but would perhaps add complexity to the ui?


I don't think it would add complexity. Just having a context menu option "Choose Alternative" which opens a widget explorer-like UI with a filter on the alternatives. The only difference would be that the user wouldn't place the Plasmoid freely, but it would replace the existing one.
How difficult would it be to create an interactive mockup to play around with?
User avatar colomar
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 7:13 pm
Hans wrote:Finally, do you think there should be a warning that the user will lose all settings related to the original widget?


There should be a warning when the user actually has changed any settings, but always showing a warning would be annoying. Can we find out whether any changes were made to the settings?
rumangerst
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:27 pm
colomar wrote:
Hans wrote:Finally, do you think there should be a warning that the user will lose all settings related to the original widget?


There should be a warning when the user actually has changed any settings, but always showing a warning would be annoying. Can we find out whether any changes were made to the settings?


Yes, warnings are annoying, but the user should also know that the settings are lost .. maybe something like this:

http://s1.directupload.net/images/140717/pain5l5v.jpg

?

NOTE: I cannot use img tag, because it says " It was not possible to determine the dimensions of the image. " :-\
User avatar notmart
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:30 pm
[quote="rumangerst"]
Yes, warnings are annoying, but the user should also know that the settings are lost .. maybe something like this:

http://s1.directupload.net/images/14071 ... .jpg/quote]

not sure how to achieve that yet..
but I actually kinda like the idea :) (and the layout chooser for the desktop would end up pretty much the same)
User avatar Hans
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 8:53 pm
rumangerst wrote:Yes, warnings are annoying, but the user should also know that the settings are lost .. maybe something like this:

http://s1.directupload.net/images/140717/pain5l5v.jpg

?

NOTE: I cannot use img tag, because it says " It was not possible to determine the dimensions of the image. " :-\


I like this idea! In this case, I think it would be OK to close the dialog and maybe open the new widget's configuration dialog.
Also, I think I see where you're going with the grayed out settings, but it doesn't seem obvious that the settings will be lost.

Instead of [img] you can try to use [thumb=720][/thumb].


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rumangerst
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:09 pm
Then maybe adding a little warning that won't annoy anybody should make everything clear to the user:



Thanks for tip that I can use thumb :)
User avatar colomar
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:54 pm
rumangerst wrote:
colomar wrote:
Hans wrote:Finally, do you think there should be a warning that the user will lose all settings related to the original widget?


There should be a warning when the user actually has changed any settings, but always showing a warning would be annoying. Can we find out whether any changes were made to the settings?


Yes, warnings are annoying, but the user should also know that the settings are lost .. maybe something like this:

http://s1.directupload.net/images/140717/pain5l5v.jpg

?

NOTE: I cannot use img tag, because it says " It was not possible to determine the dimensions of the image. " :-\


Hm, completely changing the confirm buttons depending on which radio button is selected? That could make the whole thing very "jumpy".
Couldn't we just always use the "replace" button and and grey it out when the current Plasmoid is selected? I mean, there's nothing to apply or confirm then anyway.

I'm still not sure about the placement in the config. It's rather hidden, while we want switching to alternatives to be as easy to discover as possible. Especially novice users might not even go to the settings of a Plasmoid at all.
Saabhero
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:58 pm
What if the "Choose alternative" option was in the context menu of the launcher (or whatever needs to be changed), and the default widget explorer (which is vertical on the left of the screen in plasma5) appears with the category "Application Launchers" activated?

so the following (or its plasma5 successor) is opened:
http://i.imgur.com/ReyGJCn.png

I think this would add some consistency.

This would also be positive to the standard process of adding widgets, because if someone steps up and adds preview images, adding widgets the standard way would also get more discoverable and profit from it.
User avatar colomar
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:35 am
Yes, that's precisely what I meant with my suggestion. Thanks for summing it up and making it clear! :D
User avatar notmart
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Re: Live plasmoid switcher

Mon Jul 21, 2014 8:56 am
colomar wrote:Yes, that's precisely what I meant with my suggestion. Thanks for summing it up and making it clear! :D


I was looking at what would take to implement a dialog that puts directly an item in the context menu.
technically a disadvantage is that in order to put the item in the menu only in plasmoids that do have any alternative, i would have to do a sycoca query right at the moment the context menu gets opened, that may not be much good performance-wise..

as for the dialog, did you tough it more as a themed thing like the global widget explorer or more a normal window with system theme, titlebar etc?

 
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