Bug 443082 - Categories sidebar is located in the wrong place for optimal usability
Summary: Categories sidebar is located in the wrong place for optimal usability
Status: CONFIRMED
Alias: None
Product: plasmashell
Classification: Plasma
Component: Application Launcher (Kickoff) (show other bugs)
Version: 5.22.5
Platform: unspecified Linux
: NOR normal
Target Milestone: 1.0
Assignee: David Edmundson
URL:
Keywords: usability
: 438553 443332 (view as bug list)
Depends on:
Blocks:
 
Reported: 2021-09-28 16:01 UTC by flan_suse
Modified: 2023-02-03 17:59 UTC (History)
7 users (show)

See Also:
Latest Commit:
Version Fixed In:


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Description flan_suse 2021-09-28 16:01:05 UTC
The Legacy Kickoff Launcher had a clean initial view, where the desired *content* (such as Favorites, Places, History, etc) is positioned vertically, directly above the mouse cursor when clicking the launcher icon.

This new launcher puts the content *away* from the cursor, which requires careful *diagonal* or *zig-zag* mouse movement, simply to click on a favorite app.

---

A picture is worth a thousand words? Then a video is worth a million:

VIDEO #1: Legacy method, cleaner, fewer mistakes, easy targets

https://imgur.com/a/LN7uXUz

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VIDEO #2: New method, more cluttered, less intuitive, more mistakes, requires conscious effort

https://imgur.com/a/iNH9yAF

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It doesn't matter if I switch from grid to list, the same issue applies.

This is why users are still grabbing the Legacy Kickoff Launcher from the KDE Store (even though it's no longer being maintained.)

Soon we might have no choice but to use this new launcher; not because we asked for it, but because we *have* to.

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I implore the devs to watch the linked videos and understand that "simpler is better" when it comes to quickly launching your favorite apps.

Give us big, breathable targets within immediate reach that don't require zig-zags or careful diagonal movements.

Don't make us consciously think about having to carefully aim with our cursor.

Let us be able to hover using the bottom panels.

Currently, too much movements are required, even with Places. Using this new launcher is like a mini-game. The Legacy Kickoff Launcher "stayed out of the way" and let us quickly launch apps and places.

BIG, EASY TARGETS are preferable to always using *sub-menus* and *split views*. It should be the encouraged method. However, with this new launcher, we practically have to keep using sub-menus and arbitrary split views.

CONTENT should be the priority, *not* CATEGORIES nor SUB-MENUS.

Read the comments on the Legacy Kickoff Launcher in the KDE Store. You'll notice a theme.
Comment 1 Nate Graham 2021-09-28 20:31:26 UTC
The particular issue with inappropriate category switching was already fixed in Plasma 5.22. I would recommend that you have your users upgrade. :)

Beyond that, if you prefer the design of the old menu you and your users are welcome to continue using it. Yet, it's not maintained anymore, but it was more or less feature complete and stable.

For what it's worth, we have gotten a lot of positive reviews of the new interface, so it's not like it's some kind of universally despised thing that we replaced an old beloved thing with for literally no reason. :) The new design fixed many design issues with the old one.

*** This bug has been marked as a duplicate of bug 434904 ***
Comment 2 flan_suse 2021-09-28 23:09:53 UTC
(In reply to Nate Graham from comment #1)
> The particular issue with inappropriate category switching was already fixed
> in Plasma 5.22. I would recommend that you have your users upgrade. :)

The videos I linked are from,

Operating System: Manjaro Linux
KDE Plasma Version: 5.22.5
KDE Frameworks Version: 5.86.0
Qt Version: 5.15.2
Kernel Version: 5.14.7-2-MANJARO (64-bit)
Graphics Platform: X11
Processors: 8 × 11th Gen Intel® Core™ i7-1165G7 @ 2.80GHz
Memory: 15.4 GiB of RAM
Graphics Processor: Mesa Intel® Xe Graphics

So I take it there's not going to be a way to have the content (e.g, favorite apps) be positioned above the cursor, and it's still going to require a diagonal movement and/or zig-zag to click on your favorite apps and places?

The "angle" of trajectory seems to determine whether or not the categories will intercept the cursor. Again, this is an awkward balancing act for something that is used to quickly click a frequent/favorite app. If I move the cursor a bit *too* vertical, it will activate the categories. If I use an angle that's *too* horizontal, I always undershoot the target.

What has been streamlined beyond the legacy method?

I see nothing under the options to change the display or panels. I see no option to disable category triggering on hover. I see no option to enable hovering for the bottom panels. I see no difference in behaviour from previous versions of Plasma. I'm on Plasma 5.22.5 (same as the videos.)
Comment 3 flan_suse 2021-09-28 23:13:52 UTC
Reading the "fix" at...

https://invent.kde.org/plasma/plasma-workspace/-/commit/36ca390f56115ae9cbb1423cd00976e8dffec4d9

...only further proves my point.

The new layout *is* the reason that such a "fix" is needed. The "TriangleMouseFilter" introduces more complexities to try and predict the user's intention based on the movement of their cursor.

A launcher with an intuitive and CLEAN layout requires no such intelligent filters to try and mask a design flaw, as good as the intention is.
Comment 4 Nate Graham 2021-09-28 23:19:37 UTC
Your video #2 very clearly shows the exact bug that was fixed in Plasma 5.22, and we have no other reports of it being broken for people on 5.22. So the options are:
- You don't actually have Plasma 5.22
- You have a local copy of an older version of the applet in ~/.local/share/plasma/plasmoids/ that is masking the system-provided applet
- Manjaro has a packaging error that left you with the old applet or applied a faulty downstream patch

Again, I'm sorry that you don't like the new menu. You're welcome to stick with the old one.

It was hoped that the triangle filter would alleviate complaints about unintended category switching, and so far it has done so. I would recommend that you try it out (once you've gotten the fix) and see if you feel better about it. Our experience was that people requested all sorts of changes (Move the category list over to the right! Delete the category list! Let me disable hover and only change categories on click!) and as soon as the triangle filter was implemented, all the complaints disappeared as if by magic.
Comment 5 flan_suse 2021-09-28 23:47:30 UTC
(In reply to Nate Graham from comment #4)
> Again, I'm sorry that you don't like the new menu. You're welcome to stick
> with the old one.

Nate, I don't want to get too psychological or philosophical, but a lot of the time users go quiet is because of fatigue. It's not neccessarily a mandate of the users once they diffuse their complaints. Sometimes it's not worth it to be persistent in reporting bugs (or deliberate designs) and to just get used to the "new normal". Many will just take whatever little improvements they can get and be done with it. It's just not worth to keep making their arguments behind why something breaks the momentum in their PC usage.

I was reluctant to even report this, and I almost did not, since I had a hunch what the response would be.

Will I keep using KDE? Yes!

Will I use the legacy launcher as long as possible? Yes!

Will I switch to the new launcher once the old one breaks due to non-compatibility with a future iteration of Plasma? Yes!

Will I voice another complaint about the new launcher, and implore the devs to incorporate optional settings. Not likely. I'll just have to accept it.

Does that imply I am happier with the new launcher? No, but it can be mistaken as such.

---

Do you see my friends and my cousin complaining about it? They use Linux as a desktop, as a means to an end. They don't even know what a bug report is! ;) (Hence, they don't "exist".) Yet even recently when I re-installed Manjaro for my cousin on his new laptop, one of the first things he said was "Dude what the heck" when he tried using the new launcher. He asked if I could put back "That Windows 7 menu like we had it before" (referring to the previous laptop we installed Manjaro on.)

---

The "pool of users" gets smaller and smaller with every layer:

* Those who use Linux...

* ...of these who use KDE...

* ...of these who have active accounts on bug trackers...

* ...of these who are willing to make bug reports...

* ...of these who are willing to follow through...

---

For example, there were no reports of Smb4K freezing when using it normally. Not even for earlier versions, even up to version 3.1.0; yet this glaring usability bug existed. Finally I said "Oh heck! I'll report it, and I'll record a VIDEO of it happening." Lo' and behold, not long after posting the video, the lead developer of Smb4K pin-pointed the bug and fixed it in the next version.

According to the concept of "I don't really hear many complaints about XYZ" then the bug never was an issue? How can we know that there weren't "silent users" of Smb4K who kept having to restart the app every time it froze and didn't think it was worth it to try to report the bug or capture it on video? What if I never reported the bug, does that mean everyone who uses Smb4K isn't really bothered by the random freezes? After all, they're not complaining about it, let alone not even vocal about it.

---

I don't mean any of this facetiously, and as you might have guessed I *LOVE* KDE. I understand that written text can come off as offensive, so I apologize if you think I'm being aggressive or rude. I just try to word things in a way that highlights the salient points.

Just something to consider when you think about user consensus and satisfaction.
Comment 6 flan_suse 2021-09-28 23:52:49 UTC
(In reply to Nate Graham from comment #4)

> - You don't actually have Plasma 5.22

I definitely do, unless "Info Center" and Pamac are lying about the version. (Latest stable updates from Manjaro)

---


> - You have a local copy of an older version of the applet in
> ~/.local/share/plasma/plasmoids/ that is masking the system-provided applet

There's only one item in that directory, nothing else:
                                                                                                                                                                                       
org.kde.plasma.kickofflegacy

---

> - Manjaro has a packaging error that left you with the old applet or applied
> a faulty downstream patch

That's not something I am familiar with. I assume that Manjaro's packages are mostly vanilla Arch Linux, and only patched if necessary. I don't see why they would patch the launcher specifically. (But who knows!)
Comment 7 Nate Graham 2021-09-29 14:01:51 UTC
Let's try to focus here.  One issue is that the triangle filter isn't working for you. Another issue is that even if the filter was working, you think that the categories sidebar is located in the wrong place. Let's discuss these in different places. We can use this bug report for your design concern, and I'd like to ask you to open another one to track the issue of the triangle filter seemingly not working for you despite using Plasma 5.22.

Please try to avoid too much editorializing in that bug report. :) I know you don't like the design, but let's discuss that in *this* bug report.

It might be worth mentioning that in the Simple Menu widget--which was the inspiration for the new Kickoff design--the categories list was on the right side, not the left side. Probably to address your exact concern. We considered that during the initial design process, but ultimately decided against it because of how it would be inconsistent with other sidebars elsewhere in other user interfaces.
Comment 8 Nate Graham 2021-09-29 14:12:41 UTC
*** Bug 438553 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 9 Nate Graham 2021-10-05 17:41:14 UTC
*** Bug 443332 has been marked as a duplicate of this bug. ***
Comment 10 Max 2021-10-05 18:10:03 UTC
I came here from the duplicate bug.

Triangle filter from 5.22 actually works for me, but it doesn't solve the problem that mouse cursor has to go extra-mile every time to reach the favorites list. In my everyday usage, in 90% of cases I open kickoff launcher only to use favorites list, so being forced to pass categories sidebar steals some time and takes away from usability.

However, I totally understand the point that placing sidebar on the right side may confuse some users, as in all other system applications sidebars are usually located on the left side. 
But why not making sidebar location optional and configurable in one click, with being on the left side by default? I think it's the best solution which should satisfy everyone.
Comment 11 al F 2022-02-12 22:12:45 UTC
Apologies for going slightly off topic, but after reading through many of the reports regarding the new kickoff launcher, comment 5 above sums it up for me: I like and care for Plasma, but I'm not creating a new report. This thread looks like the closest place where someone might listen: 

To me the legacy kickoff is perfect, because there is consistency: right/left/up/down to navigate the menus, enter to activate. There are no dead ends, when you reach the last item next arrow wraps to start.

Thus, to shut down: SUPER > LEFT > UP > ENTER
To last item in favorite list: SUPER > UP > ENTER

Because of this consistency I find the legacy kickoff launcher very intuitive and the best start menu I have ever used, be it Windows, Mac or any Linux. While the new is still good, it is a step down, because now:

To shut down: SUPER > DOWN > RIGHT > RIGHT > SPACE (ENTER for some strange reason highlights  first item in favorite list?)
To last item in favorite list: SUPER > RIGHT > RIGHT > RIGHT > ENTER or SPACE

It gets worse if you want to navigate categories by keyboard: 
To see Help Center: SUPER > LEFT > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > DOWN > SPACE (ENTER does nothing here).

So dear devs: please do also look into keyboard navigation of the (new) launcher.
Comment 12 Max 2022-07-12 22:17:26 UTC
Any update on this bug? It seems that Kickoff launcher still doesn't provide an option to place categories on the right side.
Comment 13 Tobias Leupold 2022-07-14 07:56:58 UTC
Instead of trying to get the new launcher's devs to change it's behavior, layout etc. etc. (they obviously don't want to change anything about it) simply do what I did: Install Legacy Kickoff and you're done ( https://store.kde.org/p/1468103 ) :-P ;-)
Comment 14 Max 2022-07-14 12:39:23 UTC
It's not about requesting to change the launcher itself, it's about requesting new options and settings for it. Customizability is one the main principles behind the KDE software, so what's wrong about requesting more of it for a specific widget? 
I love the new Kickoff widget and it's design, but the sidebar placement causes inconveniences for me – it's not a reason to switch to the old legacy widget like you say, but def. the reason to request a single checkbox in widget settings to eliminate them.
Comment 15 flan_suse 2022-07-14 15:30:44 UTC
(In reply to Tobias Leupold from comment #13)
> Instead of trying to get the new launcher's devs to change it's behavior,
> layout etc. etc. (they obviously don't want to change anything about it)
> simply do what I did: Install Legacy Kickoff and you're done (
> https://store.kde.org/p/1468103 ) :-P ;-)

This is what I did.

Back then they designed a simple, practical, sleek launcher (now referred to as "Legacy" Kickoff), which works great. I still don't understand why they needed to replace it with this new launcher. It appears to be going backwards in usability and practicality, in which they actually need to add even more complexities to try and undo some of the inferior behaviors. (Smaller targets. Poor default presentation. "Triangle" filter to try and predict if the user wants to access her favorites or browse the categories. Etc. Etc. Etc.) Seriously, just watch the video I linked to in my original post.

The only problem in regards to sticking with the Legacy Launcher is that it's no longer maintained, and might break compatibility with a future KDE release.
Comment 16 flan_suse 2022-07-14 15:42:07 UTC
(In reply to Max from comment #14)
> It's not about requesting to change the launcher itself, it's about
> requesting new options and settings for it. Customizability is one the main
> principles behind the KDE software, so what's wrong about requesting more of
> it for a specific widget? 

> I love the new Kickoff widget and it's design, but the sidebar placement
> causes inconveniences for me 

It's not JUST the poor placement of the favorite applications. It's not JUST that you cannot change what view is placed on the left side (i.e, near your mouse cursor's starting position.)

Where is the option to "hover" over the bottom tabs? Even to this day, you must click on the tabs to navigate to the section. No option to hover.

Speaking of the bottom tabs, the Legacy Launcher requires fewer steps and less navigation to get to frequently used actions.

History? Hover over the History tab. I'm there.

Places? Hover over the Computer tab. I'm there.

Yet with this "new and improved" launcher...

History? *Click* on Places. *Then*move up to hover over History. *Then* move (yet again) towards the right to access history entries.

Rather than use all the available space for easily accessible hover tabs, they try to cram in as much as possible into this new launcher, and just leave it to the end-user to do acrobatics with their mouse cursor.

Sorry, but the Legacy Launcher had a cleaner and more practical design.

This same phenomenon is true for Windows as well. Windows 7 introduced one of the best and most practical Start Menus. They botched it in Windows 8, 10, and 11. So much so that there's a third-party open source alternative (named OpenShell) which basically lets you use the Windows 7 launcher on Windows 10.

Developers just can't leave good things alone.
Comment 17 Karl Robillard 2023-02-03 17:53:15 UTC
After a distro update gave me Plasma 5.26.5 yesterday the clunkiness of this new launcher is immediately apparent.
To make it at all usable I placed it on the right side of the panel so that the mouse doesn't move over the categories list.

I've been using KDE because it normally gives the user the ability to customize things easily, but this is a major fail.  Surely implementing a right/left layout swap of the list should be trivial, but this has not been addressed in over a year.

The Legacy Kickoff was a much better design for me as I used Favorites almost exclusively.  The categories list is just wasted space and a navigation hazard.  I truly wish Linux desktop developers took "not breaking things" as seriously as the kernel devs do.
Comment 18 Tobias Leupold 2023-02-03 17:59:27 UTC
Legacy Kickoff still works perfectly: https://store.kde.org/p/1468103