Share, Like and Connect
An important part of the Plasma Active Contour user interface is the connection between the objects that i can view with my tablet, like images, webpages, and documents with the current activity, to help to organize your work and fun.
I already wrote here about the activity screen: the main Contour workspace will show everything that is related to the activity and is the natural evolution of the Plasma Desktop activities (that will evolve in this direction as well as the integration with applications becomes deeper;)
The screencast below shows the usage in practiche of the concept I'm going to explain in the next paragraphs: Share Like Connect (SLC).
It also shows towards the end the progress of the Active image viewer application, a touch friendly image viewer that deeply integrates with the Contour UI in terms of Look&feel and technology, since uses Nepomuk as metadata storage backend and supports SLC
So we have an interesting UI problem: easily buildthis relationship between objects and activities with just one click (or so;) without having to navigate trough an over complicated user interface.
So, we have a simply search interface right into the workspace, it works well for many use cases and is really simple, but what if I'm browsing a website and want to add exactly that website in my activity? (or a photo I'm viewing, or a document I'm working on Calligra...)
Copy the url of the website, go to the workspace and paste it somewhere? a bit overkill, isn't it?
Have some UI in the web browser that lets me add the current site to the activity? Definitely better, but we would end up with a different implementation, and a slightly different UI for each application.. can we avoid that?
We also noticed how similar this problem was to another one: is very common that while I'm viewing something i want to share it with someone in some way: I could want to upload on flickr a photo that I've just taken, or I may want to send via email to someone a PDF that I'm reading right now.
On the desktop the current workflow is to leave your current application, go to the web broser or email client, search the file again and upload/send it.
On mobile platforms things looks a bit more convenient: many applications have built in the possibility to share the currently open file to some services, but each application has its own implementation, often having a slightly different ui to do the same thing, or support to different web services, maybe because the developers of the application wanted to push their own services (a random example starting with G comes to mind ;)
So, get back to the problem of connecting the current open "thing" to the current activity (avoiding "file" by purpose, since could be something that is not a file at all, like an URL) is similar to wanting to share this same thing with someone, or rate it, or add a tag, tweet it, like on Facebook...
Since we already log what is the currently open object (for how long, how often etc..) to be able to log history and construct recommendations, the external workspace knows this information.
We can provide actions in a global menu in the top panel to perform those tasks, divided under 3 menus: Share (upload on web services, send by email), Like, (rating, bookmarks, "like" on web services), Connect (connect to the current activity, to an event in the calendar, etc).
A first version of this global menu will be available with the first release of Plasma Active, and will eventually make its way to Plasma Desktop as well.
I misread a little. I'm still unclear, but there seem to be inter-app 'contracts' (like android intents) and 'charms' (actions that sound more like share/like).
and now microsoft is doing interesting things in this space
According to the ars technica liveblog of the windows 8 preview, it will have something called 'contracts' between apps - which are described by Ars as like android's Intents.
Historically, inter-app integration has been a strength of kde. Is this as true with plasma? I'm not so sure, I don't think the limited set of plasma apps I use talk to each other all that much. (But then I do only use a limited set so I'm probably missing out on that aspect of plasma).
Share/Like/Connect as described sounds alright but I worry that you're designing for the present rather than the future.
The Share/Link aspect of this made me think of something I'd read recently about Web Activities/Web Intents (Mozilla/Google's efforts to specify actions for web apps and to categorise the morass of +1/twitter/etc action buttons into something more manageable - see http://www.webmonkey.com/2011/08/google-mozilla-team-up-to-create-a-smarter-action-based-web/ for an overview with a set of pertinent links)
This was partly because Plasma Active may want to integrate with this one day, but mostly because of the documentation and categorisation aspect:
http://tantek.com/2011/220/b1/web-actions-a-new-building-block looks at action buttons in the wild and attempts to group them based on what the user is trying to achieve. He comes up with a small list of groups that are more granular than 'share' and 'like' (and others outside their scope).
Maybe Share/Like is enough for Plasma Active but I wanted to point out where people are thinking about the taxonomy of web actions, particularly as they're doing it from the perspective of "user motivations" with a view to designing an appropriate experience.
Nice work, one detail
Very good stuff, only one suggestion, connect sounds s bit like it's going through network, maybe "attach" or "relate" or "associate" would be better.