Choose Your Own Experience – This Time it’s for Real!
As many of you have noticed, yesterday’s blog post “Freedom Maximized!” was indeed an April fool.
I had thought that if including KDE 2 as a choice hadn’t given it away yet, the completely over-the-top fake quote from Jens Reuterberg at the end (which he loved so much that it’s now his signature on the KDE forums) would make sure nobody took it seriously. Apparently, though, at least some people think I’m really nuts and Jens really talks like a Viking warrior, or they were so fascinated by the idea that they just ignored those not-so-subtle hints 😉
However, all those that like the general idea (and that was the majority at least of those that commented), do not despair: As with many jokes or lies, there was a kernel of truth in it! While we certainly do not want to faithfully recreate the experience of KDE 2 (or even KDE 3) with Plasma Next, Jens and I indeed have been thinking about offering users the choice between a set of pre-configured setups we’d like to call Experiences. Those would include things like Panel configurations, Plasmoids, application menu positions (in the window / in a Panel / in the window’s title bar / …), Plasma theme, widget theme, window decoration theme, cursor theme or the selection of KWin effects (like desktop/task switcher, animations, etc.). Part of the groundwork for this are the Plasma Look and Feel packages which go a great length in the visual department, but our idea goes way beyond that.
UPDATE: Credit were credit is due, these ideas did not originate completely in Jens’ and my head, they already started in a VDG forum thread, where user EraX had already posted a mockup of a Desktop Preset selection and configuration dialog. I supported the idea, but it wasn’t followed much further in the forum. I was still aware of the thread when I wrote this post, but admittedly I had completely forgotten about the mockup (otherwise we would have considered it when creating our own mockups). Thank you Hans for pointing it out to me and to EraX for inspiring us with the mockup!
UPDATE 2: Damn, the VDG forum is so full of awesome ideas that one just forgets too many of them! David Wright just brought another forgotten thread back to my awareness where he’d posted a mockup for something similar to an Experience manager as well!
One obvious use of the Experiences would be to allow people who migrate from a different operating system or desktop environment to Plasma (or upgrade from the 4.11 version) and don’t want to re-learn everything to just select a pre-configured Experience that looks and feels familiar, while still offering all the advantages Plasma has over their previous OS or DE. People who are long-time KDE/Plasma users, have seen another OS or DE on screenshots or in action and liked it but still want to stick with Plasma should find Experiences just as useful.
We wouldn’t want to only offer Experiences modeled after other existing operating systems or desktop environments, of course. We see enough great examples of Plasma configurations made by our users to know that people can do things with Plasma that they can’t do with any other OS or DE. Therefore, you would likely see several fresh new Experiences created from scratch by our design community as well. And of course if people took the time to create Experiences similar to KDE 3 or 2 (or even 1, if they like), they could be selected, too, though they might not be shipped by default.
While we still want to offer users an Experience Picker right at the end of (post-)installation wizards, people should be able to select, install and of course customize Experiences later on, as well! For more details on that, head over to Jens Reuterberg’s post!