System Settings Progress

I would like to provide some information on working with System Settings. This is a big endeavor and not an easy one. System Settings is a good expression of the power of Plasma KDE and also the many influences that have shaped it over the years.

Trying to untangle the work that has gone into System Settings requires time and patience. I have always been interested in working in revamping this UI. We worked with the team in the VDG on this some time ago, and although there were many great and interesting changes, the scope of the work was too great. Therefore, we decided only to move forward with those things that were achievable at the time.

We reorganized our settings.

In recent iterations of the software, we have also decided to change a few more visuals with the application and have added a second column for specific KCMs.

However, I feel we want to go further in the future and achieve even more. It is because of that vision that I have decided to keep working with System Settings to help the modules arrive at a good place in the near future. I have taken consideration of a few ideas and initiatives that our team has, some reported bugs and overall perception. I suggested that I become a lead designer for this project.

But I can’t do it alone. If you have ideas and thoughts (albeit without drastically changing the direction that I am taking) please share them.

This is somewhat rough, but here is something that I can show for now, please note this is a graphic mockup, not a working UI:

 

Please note that these ideas here are still in progress. They are developing and changing a lot. Further things that I would like to design are:

  •  Work on labels and develop a tone and angle for descriptions. Right now labels don’t have a consistent sound and tend to lead to confusion, at least in English.
  • Work on removing tabs in favor of a one-page interface where settings can be together without the need for more than 3 clicks before getting to the desired content.
  • Design new interactions for certain KCMs and follow a predictable structure for information presentation.

I hope this helps understand where System Settings can be.

Our KDE team is working hard these days in many areas. Adding System Settings to the mix might take time. For now, they are focused on getting people at our next sprint at Randa. They will be working on accessibility. I am hoping that we can bring System Settings to those discussions as well.

UPDATE: I should make a statement as it seems that others have been misled. This mockup is only a graphical concept, not a developed application. I am not a developer, I am a visual designer. This mockup is intended to have the KDE team review and come to a consensus to develop System Settings to something like I have proposed. The mockup is missing a few things, title bar, search fields, labels, and buttons. I hope it is evident that those changes will be included.

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47 thoughts on “System Settings Progress

      1. do you think it will be well received with the KDE community? Because the design looks like CSD and KDE guys prefer the native window management through window manager. Will there be an option to switch between the two designs?

      2. I feel the community is ready to optimize System Settings. We have been talking back and forth about this and this is my third attempt at a redesign. I am sure there will be a lot of changes along the line but I am positive that the team wants to have a better System Settings and are willing to work with it.

      3. Thank you, I will keep improving the design so it is a strong option for the team.

    1. Still a mockup Bastian. We need to sort it out before we move to production and then deal with production details as well. This is nowhere near release at this time.

  1. Yes, please.
    Awesome outcome even in this early version. This is very, very much appreciated.

    I’m very much in favor of simplifying plasma, and generally changing the overall looks. This is a good step in the right direction which (IMHO) will bring kde to the third millennium from the ’90s design it is currently in.

    As an idea: section fonts/fonts is a bit unclear. What is the difference between fonts and fonts management?This could be more clear up front otherwise I will not know what it is until I click ‘fonts’ -> will be more Intuitive.

  2. While I like the menu/categorisation, which enables a responsive layout also fitting for mobiles, it looks a bit weird to me. Not like Kirigami, not like Breeze either. What’s with the title bar, for example?

  3. Looks pleasant! But please do not forget the possibility to search via name and keywords on the “start page”. That’s much faster, if you have an idea what you need, than searching through a hierarchy of icons. Thanks!

  4. Given the nature of the type of images blogs are using today, I can’t actually read anything that is in the pictures. I can see that there is a two columns, but you said as much in the blog.

    BUT… from the little bit that I can actually see in fuzzyville, it looks good!

  5. This looks awesome! It would be nice to see bigger versions of both images though (omgubuntu has one).

    Some thoughts:
    – What’s the difference between the “Appereance” and “Style” sections?
    – Where would the button for GHNS go? (is it the plus icon in the second image?)
    – “Widget style” could go under Workspace Theme instead of it’s own category. They are closely related.
    – Is that a CSD/DWD I’m seeing? 🙂
    – What about searching by name? Is there an overlay? Maybe you could get an input by clicking a button, or by hitting ctrl+f

    The two-step sidebar looks beautiful. I’d love to see that integrated into Kirigami and used in more places (like Discover).

    1. Hi Januz,

      Thank you for your questions and reviews. The questions you have were some of the ones that our team reviewed some time ago before reorganizing System Settings. They created different groups to where the different modules fit best. This doesn’t mean we would not want to change that, but System Settings is rather big and it takes time to align all of its modules to a good structure. I am not particularly working on that structure for this mockup. Maybe we can review that in the future. The GHNS button would generally be placed at the end of a list (I have that in another mockup) like an empty box where you can click and bring up the GHNS dialog.

    1. Thank you Arun, those buttons are not part of the final result. I used them because minimize and maximize buttons are too small and it makes it hard to move them around with the design. Don’t worry, it will be reviewed.

      1. Please remember that we don’t use client side decorations. If you push for that design I will strongly veto it as it would just result in a very inconsistent and broken user experience.

  6. ANDITOSAN, what I’ve seen of your idea for the NEW UI for KDE system settings, it looks great. It’s along the same principle as what Gnome is doing with their re-vamping work on their system settings. My only complaint about the current UI is that you have to click on an “apply” button for each change you make. The “default” button can stay in most cases as if you mess up you can return to a system “default” setting. However, if you make changes that you KNOW that you want, should you REALLY have to hit an apply button if they are “sane and safe” settings? Otherwise, I prefer KDE over all other desktops for configurability. Just my two cents worth as the saying goes.

    1. Hi Terry,

      Thank you for your review. I have had this same question before, our developers tell me that there are many moving parts to change, bigger than we have capacity to work on at the moment, to change the way that changes are applied. Maybe for now we will need to use those buttons and later in the future, we can have instant application.

  7. Just have say that so far it’s a beautiful layout! If for some reason you were to abandon your work now it would still be an improvement over the current system settings.

    But, (since you’ve asked for it) I can offer one suggestion… In the interest of minimizing the need for mouse clicks to get where you want to be, I would suggest offering the option to use either the tabbed interface with the categories on the left as you now present them, or to switch to a list-style menu, much like the approach taken by the system settings application in current Android releases. That way, if the user that function they would be able to get to any desired KCM with simply one click (and some scrolling, of course).

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for your kind comments and suggestions. Can you show me an example of your suggestion? Also, note that I have a first screen in my design that might address some of that. It is not in this mockup.

      1. I’m not the OP, but I’m assuming he’s referring to something along these lines:

      2. Thank you Garret. My assumption is that we will be able to hide the first sidebar on the left and that gives way to the full list. So I think that is being considered.

  8. Hello, that’s awful.
    Before we saw a title of a group of settings and the settongs rhemselves, but now we do not see all available settings on one screen!
    Greetings from Russia, I appreciate the work of the whole KDE

  9. I thought i’d dislike it based on quick look but then i opened pictures on fullscreen. I actually like it. Especially good that you don’t just have icons or text but both and in a way that is pleasant to an eye.

  10. Appearence and Style. Ye, I would for sure be confused again where to change appearence/visual stuff. Isn’t style part of appearance?

    For the visual style the mockups look great.

  11. What about wayland implementation? There are issue switching from XORG to nvidia drivers… some conflict appears to occur. This inconviniences will be fixed in the next release?

    1. Hi James,

      I know our team is working on Wayland a lot right now. I don’t know, however, what their timelines are. You are welcome to review those by going to our site kde.org. That is a part of the system that I am not involved with directly.

  12. Very interesting! It’s a funny coincidence as I was exploring ways to clean up settings, just not for KDE, but for XFCE, recently.

    My focus was more on improving the way different settings have been grouped together and not on the visual design though. For instance, I made efforts to handle everything related to the appearance in one place, not spread across multiple places as currently done in XFCE.

    Nevertheless, your designs will surely serve as an additional source of inspiration!

    If you are interested, here are my thoughts on what I would like to change in xfce4-settings-manager:
    http://soc.github.io/blog/xfce/thoughts-on-configuration

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