This is the work blog for the KDE Visual Design Group a group of dedicated designers striving to improve community participation in design for KDE as well as design work in general for KDE applications and Plasma.

söndag 13 juli 2014

The Road Ahead

Plasma 5.0 is wrapping up and we have all learned a LOT in the first few months of the Visual Design Group's existence. One thing is clear though. If any of us had any doubts about whether an open approach to visual design can produce great results, most of those doubts have been assuaged. I'm super-proud to be part of this community and the quality of the results we have produced. It is really exciting to see the participation and the optimism by everyone involved!

So one question some folks might be pondering is "What's next for the VDG?" Well I'm glad you asked. The core VDG group sat down and looked at the long term approach to supporting the Plasma desktop and KDE applications.

Plasma 5.0 is a beginning, not an end. Just like on the technical side where the focus was on the laying the foundations for the future, the same can be said for the VDG's activities as well. We worked together with the wider VDG community and the Usability group to come up with design guidelines that are now integrated into the Presentation section of the KDE HIG. This is a living document and will see continuous updates. We recently updated the typography guidelines and have just begun work on coming up with tooltip and animation guidelines. For the Plasma 5.0 release much of our focus was on trying to get the design of the building blocks in place (UI controls style, icons, colors, cursors, window decoration, etc.). These should also be considered "living" as well. We need your help to flesh out more of the fantastic Breeze icon theme effort that Uri has been leading. Design work continues on the Breeze window decoration design in the forums. The Breeze plasma theme will always need refinements and evolution as well.

Beyond the building blocks, we'll be focusing on identifying common application layout patterns, navigation patterns, as well as more localized, functional patterns to help application designers and developers build consistent, beautiful, powerful solutions. The hope is that over time we will build up a set of resources that will enable the entire KDE community to more easily create total user experiences that are both functionally and visually amazing. (About that last block in the diagram; please don't go about saying that KDE is creating an OS. We are not. That block is simply about designing the total user experience assuming all the underlying layers of the OS have whatever capability might be needed).

One important clarifier though; we don't need to wait until all these pieces are in place to create new designs or improve existing ones. We already have a great foundation to build on. There is much we can do today to improve our existing designs. More importantly, your creative ideas today will inform what we identify as desirable approaches to design both today and tomorrow. That's why we're working on the System Settings design today. That's why when a developer approaches the VDG for help we will always try to help instead of saying "hang on a bit till we get some more stuff in place". This is a continuous process of learning and improvement for everyone.

So please, don't wait around for all of this to "finish" to start sharing your ideas or helping to improve things. There is no finish line. Join in on the fun today and help to update an application design, application icons, a dialog window, a panel applet, a window decoration theme, a plasma theme, fix a visual design bug, whatever. As Jens always says, you do not need to be a "designer" to participate. Just be creative! Be positive! Share your ideas! Participate! We will walk the road ahead together, in the open, where everyone can participate, learn from each other and create a new future for community design together!

lördag 28 juni 2014

Wallpaper Challenge - winners

In which we go through the winners of the wallpaper competition, talk about voting issues and where we go from here

Nuno's wallpaper the default wallpaper for Plasma 5

The Heat is on! 
Right it's getting closer and closer to the D-day of Plasma and things are getting hectic. All of us are wild at work and things are getting cooler and cooler. But the wallpaper competition is at least finished and done with for this release which is nice :)

None of this could have happened without the help of Sogatori who has been a prince in shining armor and earned enough good Karma to last a lifetime as far as I'm concerned.

Sogatori Speaks! (below is written by S)
After two weeks and almost 1400 casted votes we’re finally ready to announce the 3 winning wallpaper submissions:

Congratulations also to the 3 winning artists namely orbmiser, ivan and mck182 who is the third runner-up, all of whom can look forward to receiving a copy of the excellent book “Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual” by Timothy Samara. We’ll contact the winners shortly so they receive their prices as quickly as possible.

Some Small Hiccups
Those of you who have kept an eye on the election might have noticed that the website we were using displayed a different result than the one we’re presenting here. The problem was that Sogatori clicked the wrong checkbox when he created the election, the website was using proportional representation to determine the winners instead of a non-proportional one. It is not possible to change this option after the election process has started and at the time we noticed the mistake there had already been over 500 casted votes, so we decided against opening a new election. Instead, we were able to download the data from the website and re-run the election locally using the same software as the website. Special thanks to bshah (Bhushan Shah) who helped us despite having much to do with his GSoC project. A big thumbs up please! 

onsdag 11 juni 2014

Wallpapers! Vote for your favorite!

This post was written by Sogatori who has been a rock during this process. I want, before we continue to just have a massive High Five and "You rock!" sent to Sogatori for being such a stand-up dude during this entire process. 

The Wallpaper Contest!

We’re glad to announce that the contest has been a success with over 50 submitted wallpapers.
After the submission phase closed on June 6th, a jury of 3 (1 VDG member, 1 forum member and 1 plasma developer) selected their favourite wallpapers.
The submissions ranged from photographs to artwork. Those who want to take a look at all the submissions that didn’t make it into the finale can do so by looking at our deviantart group and this forum thread. It was no easy task to select the wallpapers for the finale, considering how many great submissions we received. We would like to take the chance again to thank everyone who has taken part in this contest. You are the people who make the KDE community what it is. It’s a pleasure to work with you all.

Now though it is time to move on to the next phase of the plan: The greater KDE community now has the chance to vote for their 3 favourite wallpapers out of the 15 nominees. The winning wallpapers will be shipped with the first release of Plasma Next. Additionally the creators of those 3 wallpapers will receive a copy of the book “Design Elements: A Graphic Style Manual” by Timothy Samara, an excellent introduction to the basics of the world of design.
You can vote here. Simply rate the individual wallpapers on a basis of 1 to 5 stars, where 1 star is the worst and 5 stars the best rating, and submit your ballot by clicking the “submit ballot” button at the bottom.
The vote will end 2 weeks after this blogpost has been published.

(Jens Addendum: ok so if you want to talk about the wallpapers and not just vote - please do so in the community thread! The more talky-talky the better! Also, IF by chance on person gets two of the three highest votes one book will go to Number Four on the list (because what are you going to do with TWO books? Better to spread the love around)

"Monday Report" - bi-weekly edition

In which I complain about having too much to do, then start going all insane about all the cool stuff you so need to see, ask you to test the Plasma 5 beta2 and then on to the wallpaper competition and the last leg of that.

Right first off - I am swamped. I know it's not good that I skip the monday reports but lets just say I had to cut down or something or skip sleep entirely... sry guys, I know reports are relevant, but not as relevant as "working on Plasma Next and Next-next" (yes there is a Next-next in the works :) ) so I hope you forgive my tardiness.


Right on to the awesome stuff. The screenshots are all from Sebastian "Il Capitano" Kügler who is hacking away like his life depended on it. These are all "where we are now" - and check below for "where we're heading" hints.

This is the new login screen - there are plenty of fiddly bits to deal with but it's the first step towards making a unified login experience. Yes the work is still far from over but it's getting closer every day.

 So you've logged in have you? Well this is what you'll meet all the system tray icons have been reworked the new Plasma Theme "Breeze" is there and you can see the new wallpaper switcher as well as the new layout for the Application Launcher. Please note that Breeze is transparent - only that its transparent with some dark magic by Marco Martin making the background fuzzy and desaturated.


Below is the new battery and brightness tray in the systray. Notice that there are two screenshots, one with the layout as is and one with the new icons. The icon sizes will be fiddled with but when have I ever NOT shown you guys and girls some work-in-progress love?

So the switcher has gotten some revamped workings too based on the Activity Switcher by Ivan Čukić to try to make the entire feel of the switching a tad bit more unified and safe for users.


 Below is a pop-up for a new message - now granted not much of a change BUT the work is being done on the layout of the thing. Essentially the Icons size in comparison with the Header and the subheader.

Here's the new Networks Systemtray dohickey - you look me in the eye and tell me that isn't the most awesome thing you've ever seen! As you can see a MASSIVE part of the work has gone into trying to make Plasma feel more unified in its design, trying to make it part of an entire whole instead of different details. The work is far from over but you gotta admit, this is nerve-tinglingly (should be a word) good!

The calendar... Now now before you go all bananas and think "Where's my daily planner bit!?!" the reason it's disabled is because we don't have support for it in PIM just yet. So better disable it by default than bring something that doesn't work amirite?

Also note the Breeze windowdeco. It's there now :)


Where can I get my greasy mitts on all this magical goodness you ask? Well young madams and sirs you can download and test the Beta 2 of it following the instructions of Jonathan Riddell on the Dot remember that this is for testing only. And please please please write in bugreports and test it thoroughly the better its tested the easier the work becomes!


Wallpapers! What about the wallpapers? Well the competition is at its final stage. But hey I'll post ANOTHER blogg post in a few seconds ok? It'll be easier for you guys.


Oh oh oh before I go any further I will whisper to you all a secret... "The system settings are being worked on and although its to early to show anything... lets just say when I saw the current version of them I went "ooooh daaaaaaaamn!" so loud my husband asked what was up" ... I cannot explain how brilliant this will be... ooooh! :D:D:D

Ok I gotta dash, have insane amounts of work to get to and I'll try to do these things properly each week but IF I don't rest assure that the only thing stopping me is because I'm working on something brilliant!

torsdag 29 maj 2014

System Settings and new VDG members

In which we introduce the work on System Settings, talk about our new members and the action group for System Settings.

Right, a while back we had some additions to the VDG team: Anditosan, Gartheco and Ken300 - I promised then that I would make little avatar images for them (which I haven't done, mea culpa etc) but that doesn't mean they've been resting or doing nothing.

Gartheco joined Andrew Lake in working with the new window decorations - as I've posted about before. Being a veteran Aurorae theme designer and a QML genius he and Andrew work in tandem to fiddle with bits about that.

Anditosan and Ken300 where both doing work on System Settings redesign and joined forces with Heiko Tietze and Thomas Pfeiffer from the HIG team to work on the question "How will system settings work in the future?". Together they make up the System Settings Action Group (it's like a superhero team, only less spandex and more thinking) and if you want to contribute with ideas I can only suggest that you go to the forum and post your mockups and help out!
Now with System Settings this is a "way into the future" job - because we are working on the "bit-by-bit" production model AND lets be frank here, the devs are more or less working 24/7 getting the first version of Plasma Next out the door.
But this is what system settings will work like in the future - it's what they work on that will shape the things to come.

Also can I say something that is cool? I am right now struggling to keep up. My intray is massive, I keep trying to read blog posts and forums posts as fast as possible. Individual members of the VDG community are doing awesome work in the forums and I can hardly keep up. I spend hours trying to answer one thing and work on it, then notice someone else have already done it.
This is the coolest thing I've ever seen. Yes it's kinda harrowing but it's amazing the amount of work done.
Tomorrow I'll have a "what Jens need to do" day, and start making lists and tick them off one by one. My greatest challenge for the near future is getting the right design work and designers in contact with the right devs... THATS the tricky bit right now and where I should spend my time.

Why? Because whatever work I can do, the VDG community is doing it quicker, better and cooler than I ever could alone.

You guys and girls ROCK! <3

måndag 26 maj 2014

Monday Report: Wallpaper Edition

The world shortest update in which we talk about the wallpaper competition, whats needed, when it ends and what we need and what you can win.  

Wallpapers are relevant, yes they are easy to change - and yes they probably shouldn't matter since everyone changes the wallpaper but it's one of those things you see first. So a few weeks ago we started a wallpaper competition and we have gotten some great wallpapers sent in but we want more.

The wallpaper competition will therefore be extended two weeks so more can take part in it.

So how does it work, you ask? Easy, our three members of the Jury, Me, one from the community (Sogatori to be precise, if you wish to want to send bribes) and one member of the Plasma dev team will pick out the favorites and with the help of the community pick out the three winners who's wallpapers will be included in Plasma Next.

The three winners will get the awesome book "Design Elements - a Graphic Style Manual" and of course a worthy mention.

So what are we looking for? Photo wallpapers, illustration wallpapers or graphical and abstract wallpapers are all accepted for submission, personally I would suggest to avoid text elements or logo's entirely - the theme we're going for is a hopeful futurism but this should be considered something to focus around, not a prerequisite.

The submissions can be posted in the Deviant Art group or in the thread here in the forums. If you have them elsewhere post a link in the forums.

How about licensing? Well this will all have to of course be yours to licence and done as Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 or GPL v2 or later. 


måndag 19 maj 2014

Monday Report: Deluxe Edition!

In which we talked about the "Conspiracy of the Missing Monday Report", a short thing about the Beta and then some screenshots of where we're heading concerning themes and icons and then talk some more about participation and how much it means.

I forgot.

I know, I know, no Monday Report last week - lets just keep it at "its been kinda hectic lately", "I forgot" and move on. Monday reports are continuing no matter what so don't worry about that. :)
So I will post this and then ANOTHER post soon after to delve some more into the work going on with Wallpapers and the wallpaper competition.

To the Long and the Short of it: We have a Beta as most of you have read. What shocked some is that the beta wasn't a major change in visual design. No, it wasn't intended to be. I've said back in January, over and over, "bit-by-bit". This will be a slow change and let me delve into the "why's".
Plasma is a massive project, it has millions of users and a long history. What started as another Linux Desktop Environment has grown and grown with layers and layers of function. Now some of you might say "Well scrap all of them and build it from scratch" and for a mission with less demands that would be true. Plasma is a MASSIVE project for a reason. One of those are that the users who like the way it is NOW should not feel dismissed, another was that changes had to stick to an obvious layout path from KDE4 another that flexibility should never be compromised and a third that "Community" should always be the focus etc etc (or as a friend said when I told him about the project "What, are you stupid? Why are you doing this!?" ;) ). So bear with us, things are changing but we will do it slowly.

Anyway I wanted to show two screen shots of where we're heading. The first one is from Andrew Lake who together with Garthecho (a new VDG member) heads the work on QML and is tied into almost every bit of it. You can see the new window decoration (that needs to be properly ported as right now we have an Aurorae theme for it but Aurorae doesn't play nice in Plasma Next (so if you're a C++ programmer who likes to get his/her hands dirty, tell us!)) and you can see what Plasma looks like too as well as the Widget theme and a few of the Icons.

Under here you can get a nice good look at Uri Herreras icon work so far. Now Uri is one of life's many overworked people who tend to take on quite a load when he gets a chance so if you want to help out with Plasma Next, try to help HIM with his Flattr Icon theme so that he gets more time to do our theme (yes it's as confusing to write as it probably is to read :) )

Please note that they window decorations, Plasma Theme and Widget Themes are for Nitrux OS and not Plasma Next!

Ok so finally about participation - I know since things move slowly it might be tricky and many seem to think that they are being overlooked or that no devs are checking their work. Trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. It's just that things WILL move slowly. We're working on Plasma Next. That means that when this Beta is out the door we will still be working on its refined state. Plasma as it will be in June, is not the final product. It's just the first iteration of it and my intention is that when this year ends the changes will be visible to all.