Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What's wrong with oxygen buttons ?

Since there are recurring complains about how oxygen buttons look like, and requests to make them more beautiful, whereas, on the other hand, both Pinheiro and I are quite happy with them (we are, really), I'd like to gather some more details about what's really wrong with them.

Picture on the top-left shows basically all the buttons that oxygen can draw. I'd like to know what's not right with them. Margins? Shadows? Gradients? The way they look when pressed?

Things like: "they're ugly", and without any constructive idea to counterbalance the statement will be ignored. Also, things like "they should look like plastique" (or any other theme) will not help much either (since this is precisely the point of oxygen, not to look like plastique).

Other than that, if anyone has comments on these, or even better: mockups, feel free.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Moving windows around

A new feature added to Oxygen for KDE SC 4.5 is the possibility to move windows around by clicking (with left mouse button) in any of its 'empty' area and dragging it around, in a way that is similar to what one usually does with the window decoration titlebar.

How this works is illustrated in the following screencast (sorry for the poor quality of the video):

This feature has been present in bespin (another kde4 widget style) for quite a while. It has been ported (and largely rewritten) to Oxygen, on popular demand.

It is believed to be very useful, notably on touch-screens, for which dragging windows from the sometimes tiny decoration titlebar might end up being problematic.

Now, this is still quite experimental and conflicts might exist between dragging the window and some other mouse actions for some applications. I hope we can identify, and fix, most of these conflicts in KDE SC 4.5 beta cycle, so that a well crafter and fully functional feature can be delivered to users with the first release candidate.


Since KDE SC 4.4 many hidden options have been added to oxygen to 'fine-tune' the appearance of widgets and window decorations. At the time, they have been made hidden, in order not to scare normal users by facing them with a large number of choices with most of which they would have no idea what to do.

As a drawback, there was a number of bug reports and wishes from advanced users asking for features and configure options which in fact were already there, but not easily accessible. The answer to such reports have been: "edit your configuration file (usually $HOME/.kde4/share/config/oxygenrc), and add this or that line, in this or that section". Not very satisfactory.

For KDE SC 4.5, a new application has been added to remedy the above. It is called oxygen-settings (it runs from either krunner or one's favorite terminal), and provides access to all the previously hidden options. The other advantage of oxygen-settings is that all options for both the widget style and window decoration are regrouped at the same place, fewer clicks away one from the other.

Hopefully this addition will make advanced users happy, without scaring normal users, who would not care about all the functionalities offered here.

Below are a few screenshots of this application.

The first page, corresponding to widgets' style configuration:

The animations page:

It allows to customize each animation used in the widget style independently from the other.

The window decoration page:

It is very similar to what's available in KDE's configuration tool (systemsettings) but includes a number of additional, otherwise hidden, options

After about a year coding for KDE's Oxygen widget style and window decoration, and because KDE SC 4.5 is around the corner (first two beta versions are already out), I finally decided to start a blog to:

  • advertise new features
  • gather comments
  • get feedback
This is not about oxygen icons (icons are Nuno's realm), this is about how widgets and window decorations look like, how they animate, and how to make it all look better.