Hello folks, it’s been a looong time since my last post. Three months ago, during the Christmas holydays, and inspired by Aurelien’s posts about how improve UI’s in KDE-Land, I got inspired and started submitting some small patches to plasma and ksysguard, and then I focused on an application I (and I think all of you) use a lot: the audio applet.
KMix has a fancy monochrome tray icon, which makes it appear homogeneous with the other plasmoids contained in the Notification area. From a non-developer point of view, this is great: the user doesn’t need to know the difference between a regular application and a plasmoid placed in the notification area; he/she simply has to use it. The problem raises exactly when we want to use it: instead of showing to the user a beatiful interface which takes advantage of the Plasma API, the audio applet shows the old and plain slider with a regular pushbutton, destroying the feeling of an homogeneous and polished panel. Moreover, if the notification area is embedded in a vertical panel, when you click the KMix tray icon, the widget partially covers the panel.
For these reasons, I started porting KMix as plasmoid. I encountered some troubles so I contacted the mantainer whom kindly told me that port was already started by an other developer. So I leaved that project, and focused on something else. Why this post then, you may ask?
About one month ago my exams session started and, as usual, I got inspired on some projects (daaaamn :P) and specifically on KMix. I was curious to see how a possible port of KMix to Plasma would look like, so I’ve started this small experiment/proof of concept.
In the video below, you can see what I did, plus a cool feature made possible thanks to Plasma: a minimalistic media panel 🙂
(Sorry for the bad quality of the video, but recordmydesktop is not working on natty, plus I’m having problems with fglrx so I’m using the opensource driver1)
Some screenshots for those that don’t want to download 53 MB of video:
Pretty cool, isn’t it? 😉
However, there are a lot of issues with the current implementation, mostly because I’m using DBus calls to an interface exposed by KMix. Don’t get me wrong: it is awesome, because saved me a lot of headaches like dealing with alsa/oss and whatever but, on the other hand, the interface exposed to DBus is outdated and far from complete. For example, you can retrieve only the ID of the master device and set/get/mute/unmute only that device, there is no signal exposed for notifying changes of the volume level, so you cannot be notified of the volume level if an other app is modifying it unless you repeatedly poll the result of the masterVolume() call2. Sometimes, when adding/removing multiple instances of the applet3, plasma crashes (this is my fault). Since I rely on DBus calls to get/set the volume, this means that you can’t quit the old KMix application; however, you can open KMix main window, click on “Configure KMix”, uncheck the “Dock in system tray” option, and then close the KMix window. In this way KMix will run in the background, wihtout showing himself in the notification area, and you can enjoy the plasmoid version 🙂
If I didn’t scared you enough and you still want to give it a try (until the official version will be released) you can grab the code from my personal repo, and then compile and install it as usual.
1: By the way KWin’s “Magic Lamp” effect works way better with the opensource driver rather than the closed one, so much win 😀 ↑
2: The mantainer told me that the developer in charge of porting KMix to plasma is also writing a better and efficient DBus interface, to allow a fine-grained control of the Mixer object, so the official release will really kick ass! ↑
3: I know that it does not makes sense with the current implementation, since I can only modify the master channel, but I like to test all the possiblities 😛↑