Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Jan 2009 13:46 UTC
Editorial With Windows 7 having made its grand debut, and with KDE4's vision making leaps and bounds forward with every release, we have two major software projects that have decided to implement some fairly drastic interface changes. Such changes are bound to receive some harsh criticisms - but the funny thing is, these criticisms usually come from people you least expect it from.
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RE: Aack!!
by setec_astronomy on Tue 27th Jan 2009 16:51 UTC in reply to "Aack!!"
setec_astronomy
Member since:
2007-11-17

It is this negative feedback cycle that worries me most. Not that KDE 4.0 was not ready for end-user consumption and nevertheless included as default in some distros (serious question to those who say that the KDE devs did not tell the distro maintainers what to expect from KDE 4.0: When did testing releases prior to including them in feature plans went out of style? Low and behold, even if I was only a mere XFCE user with a passing interest in KDE4 back in November 2007, I knew what to expect of KDE 4.0 and what not to expect prior to 4.2, because I build the damn thing from SVN and tested it.), not that after years and years of development, the KDE4 devs went a bit over the top and wrote an overly enthusiastic release note without warnings. And certainly not that a group of developers chose to
increase the competetiveness of their framework by some quite fundamental rewritings in certain parts.

No, what worries me is that several people seemingly ignore the repeated "we will add most features of 3.x once the new framework is in shape" messages from the developers (exhibit A: The "no more icons on the desktop" tempest in a teapot), and once the features arrive claim that this is because finally the programmers have come to senses, seen the point of the users (and their failings, respectively) and implemented what always should have been done in the first place.

It worries me, because we as recipients of the F/OSS ecosystem seemingly have learned nothing of past experiences (e.g. GNOME gained most of their features back after the foundations of the desktop was sound, even though I'm confident that it will not take as long in the case of KDE4). And it worries me, because the line between a passionate user base and one that reaches for their lynch mob gear and makes the job of the devs none the easier seems to be a rather fine one.

The current UI of KDE4 is implemented using libplasma, with the very-same basic building-block functionality that any revolutionary, UI-from-outer-space may use now or in the future (e.g. logic for sorting/grouping of tasks in a taskbar, menus, the concept of runners and activities, data-engines, etc. ).

There are many valid reasons not to use KDE4 over KDE3, because (for example) multi-monitor setup seems to be still a sore point as has been mentioned above, not all graphic setups offer statisfactionary performance, etc. . But this "if it weren't for the peer pressure, those crazy KDE4 devs would have completly screwed up" is a bit frightening.

And yes, the distress a lot of KDE users vented during the 4.0 and 4.1 cycle led to a different appoach in the roadmap, especially for plasma (so that reimplementing the missing parts of the "old school" desktop was given a higher priority compared to implementing the promised, revolutionary stuff on top of the very same framework).

Yet I fail to see how the "Come and see the violence inherent in the system. Help! Help! I'm being repressed!" bashings/lamentings of KDE4 in the past year have helped anybody, safe for those who did it to lower their blood pressure, which may be acceptable as a measure of emergency medical relief.

Reply Parent Score: 9

RE[2]: Aack!!
by Kokopelli on Tue 27th Jan 2009 18:46 in reply to "RE: Aack!!"
Kokopelli Member since:
2005-07-06

The corollary is let's not heap praise and make excuses where there is not merit. KDE 4.X has potential and the code is pretty darn clean. But if it has issues then criticism is warranted. Too often advocates (usually not the developers) try and hide behind the shield of "it is free software either take it as is or fix it yourself." This flew 8 years ago but we hold released products to a higher standard now. The KDE team themselves are not completely to blame, the distros and users share some of the blame. But they are not with clean hands either.

I am glad to be patient and minimize my comments on KDE 4 as long as something vaguely close to reality is kept involving the past and current releases. About the only time I comment about 4.X is when the apology brigade comes out. Similarly I am troubled by comments that dwell on 4.0 without giving credit to progress made. 4.2 is not all wine and roses and I am not sure I can come up with polite terms for 4.0. To try and sweep problems under the rug by blaming "aversion to change" is quite simply a load of crap.

4.X is a branch with a lot of potential. Say what you like about it. Say what you dislike about it too. But do not lessen the value of valid criticisms by blaming the user. Not all the criticisms of 4.X are valid but if Thom can make sweeping statements then so can I. ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Aack!!
by setec_astronomy on Tue 27th Jan 2009 19:32 in reply to "RE[2]: Aack!!"
setec_astronomy Member since:
2007-11-17

The corollary is let's not heap praise and make excuses where there is not merit. KDE 4.X has potential and the code is pretty darn clean. But if it has issues then criticism is warranted.

Fully agreed.
Too often advocates (usually not the developers) try and hide behind the shield of "it is free software either take it as is or fix it yourself."

My personal pet theory (attention, you are leaving the rational/scientific area now and are entering the armchair-psychologists lair!) is, that the whole discussion is so emotional, because non-developing users (e.g. the vast majority) feel helpless, one way or the other. Those who feel left behind by the changes pretty much by definition and those on the side lines appreciating the changes (that would be the "appologist brigade") who tend to engage in I-can-scream-even-louder-than-you discussions, probably because they feel this is one way to contribute, e.g. defending the developers.

I know. I tend to do so, too.

The KDE team themselves are not completely to blame, the distros and users share some of the blame. But they are not with clean hands either.


True. I'm probably more sympathethic towards the developers pov because I understand the mechanisms behind it due to first hand experience (never underestimate the motivating effects and the willingness to go an extra mile/code an extra hour because of a rapidly approaching deadline), but I hope that we (e.g. users, developers, distrobutors/packages, etc.) are able to learn from this experience to avoid similar destructive situations in the future.

I know that just because KDE 4.2 works for me does not mean that it will work for everybody, this should go without saying. Positive feedback cycles without filtering and constructive critisism are probably as counter-productive and dangerous in the long term as negative feedback cycles with a selective memory component and without the ability to reach an understanding between developer and user (although the former cycles are a lot more motivating for developers :-) ). I would probably have not responded to the OP had I not heard this "finally, the devs are starting to listen to their users" meme increasingly often in the last weeks.

I considered the negative cycle to be dangerous, because it tends to be memorised as a pattern e.g. disgruntled user complains and bashes a project -> project changes direction -> user concludes change happened beacuse of his reaction. It may be that I'm a bit hypersensitive in this area due to personal experiences, though

Please feel free to correct me whenever I march with the appologist brigade.

Edited 2009-01-27 19:37 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 3