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KDE 4 job notifications issues when using removable medias

One of the most useful KDE 4 feature sometimes annoy me a lot : KDE 4 job notifications.

One of the new feature of the KDE 4 desktop is the new job framework thanks to the new Kuiserver which allow to display and group all KJobs in one place. This is useful to have a central place for notification or job progress ( notably file copy, … ). By default a job dialog will be displayed during a short period, and then it will be automatically hidden in the systray.I do really appreciate this.

With KDE 4.3, we will have even further improvements like the ability to disable auto-hiding, animated job icon the systray, better grouping, etc … Please read Jobs and notifications in the plasma systray. by Scheepmaker. However i still have one issue : the handling of copies to removable devices. Let me explain.

IMHO the application should be able to tell if it the job should be auto-hidden or not. This is pretty important when copying files to removable medias ( USB keys, USB or Firewire HD, USB mass storage mucic players, … ). Indeed, when copying a file to a removable media, a user should most of the time :

  1. open dolphin on the removable media
  2. copy the files to the removable media ( normally from dolphin )
  3. when the copy is completed, select “remove safely” to ensure that files are correctly copied on the media
    then remove the media. This is equivalent to doing umount in the CLI.

This means that you need to know precisely when the copy is finished, but also you should be proposed to select the “safely remove” option if needed as you may screw your USB key/datas. Last but not least, a new user, not knowing how things are working, should not be tempted to removed unplugged the removable media before the end of the copy and without having select « safely remove ».
New users, or at least those not comfortable when using a computer, tend to have a very limited “view”. What I mean is the fact they only clearly see a tiny portion of the screen at a time, and have a bad peripheral broader view. Because of this, if you display the job window, and then hide it, then won’t be able to see where it have been hidden, and may not even noticed the icon in the notification area at the left bottom, and eventually understand its meaning. That’s why also the animation when hiding the job dialog should clearly show that the dialog is being reduced in the systray and where. Aaron Seigo already talked about these magical effects when things tend to appear or disappear suddenly as if it was a magical object. In short : you should have clear and proper transitions between the two states/locations of a dialog or widget.

Concerning our case with Kuiserver and files operations on a removable device, I think that :

  • when someone copy files from dolphin to a removable device, Dolphin should told to no hide the job by default. Now smart/advanced users could still click on “hide this job” and fall back to present default behavior ( job is hidden, progress is shown in notification area ). This will allow new users to know what’s going.
  • If not, a proper transition should be done explaining and showing that the job is not finished ad that the window is being hidden in the systray. However the issue with this is the fact that only composited environments will be able to handle this.
  • At the end of the job, we should even have the ability to “remove safely” ( umount ) the removable device directly from the job dialog. It means that applications should be able to defined customs actions to do when a job is finished and allow users to do the action or not. Of course, i guess that this can’t be some applications specific actions, except if this can be handle by DBUS calls. Most of the time it could be phonon or solid ones. This way, when the job is finished, the dialog will propose to « safely remove » to ensure data integrity. Something like :
    If you have finished copying your files to this media, don't forget to click on "safely remove" to ensure that your data have been
    correctly transfered. After this you will be able to unplugged your media safely.
    [close]                                     [safely remove]
    

IMHO this feature will be very welcomed notably for users not knowing Linux or computers. How many times do we have to explain to a user under Windows that he needs to click on the tiny icon in the bottom right before unplugging the USB key ? At first they don’t see the icon, then they have complicated thing to do : right click -> safely remove -> select the device ( with some duplicated entries ) -> stop -> at the end they can unplugged the media. At least they know when the copy is finished as the dialog stay on the screen, which allow to reduce the risks of data corruption as they will not normally remove the media while the copy is still running. Under KDE 4, the auto-hide feature increase the risk that the user will just remove the media whereas the copy is still not finished. Please be aware that some USB keys don’t provide a LED showing that the key is being used, or if the user hurried/rushed, he won’t noticed this ( or the Kuiserver icon in the systray ) and will just unplugged the device thinking that the copy is finished and that Linux is marvelous as the transfer/copy was so fast … In the end he ends up with corrupted data or partitions.

References :
More on kuiserver and extenders by rscheepmaker
Extender grouping and notification images by rscheepmaker
fewer magical appearances by Aaron Seigo
Jobs and notifications in the plasma systray. by rscheepmaker
Easy, Beautiful Progress Notification in the Task Bar on forum.kde.org

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