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Experiment: Window Decorations around thumbnails

mgraesslin
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I did an experiment with KDecoration2 and created a QML component which can render an interactive decoration. Combined with other components this allows to do something like this:
Image

It's the decoration put around a Window Thumbnail. For those with sharp eyes: the thumbnail is showing the QML code to generate it.

The interesting aspect is that while the thumbnail is scaled, the decoration isn't. The buttons have the same size as a normal decoration button. If it had text it would be readable and not scaled.

Now I would like your opinion on what you think about it and whether this could be used in our UIs. I could imagine it to be used in:
  • Fully interactive taskbar thumbnails: close button would close the window, menu button would open the context menu
  • Present Windows: replace the close button, the icon and the caption put on top of the window
  • Window Switchers: replace icon and caption
  • FUTURE: DWD integration

So what do you think? Is it worth to take the experiment and turn it into a product?
User avatar colomar
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I like that idea!
Some of the pros...
- Reusing the existing buttons allows for easier transfer of knowledge from the full windows to the thumbnails and thereby easier formation of correct expectations
- No need for overlays with the buttons
...and cons challenges I see:
- Users may not expect the buttons in the deco of thumbnails to work, so we'd have to make use of highlighting and/or animations to make the interactivity clear to users (for the first time they're presented with them, that is)
- Since the thumbnail is (a little or much, depending on the context in which it is displayed) narrower than the original window, the windeco would have to become narrower as well, which would make it difficult to comfortably fit DWD widgets in there. I would absolutely love to see some controls on thumbnails, but at least for cases like the task manager, where the thumbnails are quite small, probably not all would fit in the narrowed border.

Having widgets in thumbnails is something I've been wanting ever since the Window Strip came to life in Plasma Active: For example, pausing/resuming a music player or a download without having to switch to it first would be of tremendous benefit, both in Plasma Active and Plasma Desktop
mgraesslin
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colomar wrote:- Since the thumbnail is (a little or much, depending on the context in which it is displayed) narrower than the original window, the windeco would have to become narrower as well, which would make it difficult to comfortably fit DWD widgets in there. I would absolutely love to see some controls on thumbnails, but at least for cases like the task manager, where the thumbnails are quite small, probably not all would fit in the narrowed border.


Just an idea: the DWD controls could go into a context menu in this case. A common interactive button to indicate "there's more", which then opens a context menu with e.g. play/pause/stop/forward...
User avatar colomar
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mgraesslin wrote:Just an idea: the DWD controls could go into a context menu in this case. A common interactive button to indicate "there's more", which then opens a context menu with e.g. play/pause/stop/forward...


That would work, but the additional click might defeat the benefit of really quick interaction (using this would require hovering over the taskbar entry, clicking the "more" button and then clicking the "pause" button, whereas using an SNI would just be right click -> click "pause", so one mouse move plus delay less).
I wonder if it might make sense to include in the DWD API something like "This is one of the main controls which should be displayed if there isn't much space" and then put these controls right on the thumbnail itself instead of the decoration. These widgets could then also be the ones shown on a device connected via KDE Connect for it to act as a remote control.
User avatar jensreuterberg
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So (taking the worlds shortest work break to repost what I said on G+ here too) one thing that would be really cool would be a combined "window and workspace overview" which reused this by having a workspace overview (which already does a window spread thing) where the windows have a close button so you can close them from there.

(it would probably need to have icons replacing the content if the content is too small too see (too many windows) AND it would be kinda awesome if the workspaces where dynamic so they could be added/removed automagically)

[back to workity for poor Jens]


KDE Visual Design Group - "Sexy by default - Powerful through cooperation"
luebking
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Window Switchers: replace icon and caption

Given the typical scale factor in window switchers, I doubt this would work.
If the thumbnail is down to 128x128px, there may be space for the buttons, but not for a reasonably long title.

Similar problem in eg. present windows.
Also, when there're many windows, much of the (vertical) screen space is distributed to the titlebar (regardless of captions, which would be clamped or scaled anyway) and lost for the actual information (window)
Overmore, the caption overlay in present window somewhat YELL that this window is not interactive and you can safely click anywhere.

Lastly, if this was used eg. as taskbar tooltip (replacing the label - the window can actually be big enough here), this would blend in "too perfectly" with the actual windows and not be spotted as a reference.
Otoh, a decorated thumbnail (w/ shadows?) inside a label (and w/o text aside) might look weird?

About using the close and menu button:
the task you hover will typically be on the bottom of the screen, the thumbail probably left aligned, the titlebar and close button on the other end of the window -> large mouse way.

Compare eg this layout:

Code: Select all
[=]|--------------|
   |--------------|      LABEL
[x]|--------------|
User avatar Kver
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mgraesslin wrote:
colomar wrote:- Since the thumbnail is (a little or much, depending on the context in which it is displayed) narrower than the original window, the windeco would have to become narrower as well, which would make it difficult to comfortably fit DWD widgets in there. I would absolutely love to see some controls on thumbnails, but at least for cases like the task manager, where the thumbnails are quite small, probably not all would fit in the narrowed border.


Just an idea: the DWD controls could go into a context menu in this case. A common interactive button to indicate "there's more", which then opens a context menu with e.g. play/pause/stop/forward...


I've been working on a DWD draft spec I'd like to send to Martin at some point; one of the new ideas in the draft spec is layouts & contexts; Layouts include compact (for situations like these), toolbar (for window decorations or panels), and extended (for things like phones or lock screens).

For example, a media player could comfortably show play/pause, mute, next, and previous buttons in the compact layout, such as these thumbnails. That same media player could use a phone as a full remote-control through the extended context.

Contexts are just for switching the layouts on the fly. So the update manager might have one context for managing updates, and an alternate context while actually applying them - it doesn't really apply here, but I figured I'd include it.


Reformed lurker.
Sogatori
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This looks really promising! :)

I'm unsure about possible DWD integration. Correct me if I am wrong but the only place where window thumbnails are used is the window preview in the taskbar, the desktop grid and the present window effect. These tasks were/are designed around getting an overview of that is happening and then selecting the window one likes to interact with. I'm not sure about "stuffing" these tasks with more functionality beyond reason.
I think these effects should only be concerned about handling windows and not application functionality. So for example I would be in favour of the suggestion to enable window tabbing from the desktop grid, but I'd be against integrating DWD button into it, application controls like media buttons that is. Though that's just my stance on it.

Other than that I think this could work very well. AFAIK Unity does something very similar. When one hovers over a thumbnail in their desktop grid implementation a non-scaled title bar will appear, containing the window title and a close button. I think this works very well an improves the overall usefulness of this effect.

 
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