Tuesday, July 19, 2005

KDE's checkboxes for toggleable menu items

There's a problem with KDE's menus that's been bugging me for a while now, but only recently was I directly confronted with it because it prevented a usability improvement from being made. I just did a usability review of Digikam's tagging functionality in version 0.8 and made the suggestion to put checkmarks in front of the tags which are already assigned to an image (when managing image tags through the image context-menu). It was supposed to look like this:

I already expected it, but lippel told me today that doing it this way is probably not possible in KDE, because the icon and the checkbox of a menu item are drawn together -- on top of each other instead of side by side like in my mockup. This makes for bad visibility in almost every case it is used. Do you have to look twice if you have tree view or something else actived in Konqueror's view menu (view -> view modes)? I already had a chat with annma about the same thing happening in Kalzium, where it's barely visible when the legend is activated:
And it also strikes in the development version of Basket, where the tags assigned to an item are indeed checked, but because the "checkmark" is on top of the icon, you can still barely see it:

The problem doesn't seem to be a style specific thing, because I checked all the styles on my system -- keramic, plastik, light 2nd and kde classic all have it. Trolltech obviously knows that having a separate icon and checkmark is better, because QT Designer on the Mac does them that way, but strangely they implemented this differently from platform to platform. Designer on Windows, for example, does not have room for checkmarks to the left of menu item icons, although Windows itself supports this. (Note that "Edit Widgets" is toggled in both of these last screenshots!)
Sadly, I'm not a KDE hacker, so maybe I can convince anybody to do something about this this way ;). It would be a great addition to all the other cool things that are coming for KDE 4.

P.S.: holehan recently also blogged about another similar problem with toggleable menu items -- I bet he would also love to have this solved for KDE 4 :)


  • At 9:42 PM, Anonymous sgiessl said…

    I think the problem you are describing is indeed a style specific thing. It's just that most styles are using a similar code for menu item painting or simply make use the QCommonStyle/QWindowsStyle implementation.
    Your example of the MacOS X style shows that it should be technically possible, so I will keep this in mind when I'm working on Plastik for KDE 4 again...

  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I never _said_ that it is not possible, I was just wondering if it was in the Qt or KDE domain.
    But if it is a style-specific thing as Sandro says, there is hope :-)

  • At 10:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As the author of Kalzium I can tell you that this is indeed a problem. I now switched back to the "Show Foo" and "Hide Foo" notation. But I dislike changing GUI-elements.


  • At 11:21 AM, Blogger Vardhman said…

    Indeed a great suggestion. I was just thinking if Digikam had some Usability reviewers, Your mail to mailing list clarified my doubts.

    Really appreciate such great work, Without users review our APP would just be peice of UI usable only by geeks.

  • At 9:10 AM, Blogger davidjackson6495 said…

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  • At 12:30 PM, Blogger edgardo95christie said…

    damn good blog, check out mine http://juicyfruiter.blogspot.com, comments always welcome!

  • At 3:05 PM, Blogger Linux Unix said…

    Informative blog. Check out my download kde blog.

  • At 11:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I suggested something like this ages ago but it was rejected.

    I think it is better to just forgo the icons and use a check mark, with View->[X] Layers Dialog type menus.


Post a Comment

<< Home