New plugin user interface in Picard development version

development
Tags: #<Tag:0x00007fe3d3ae5c18>

#1

When I open Options> Plugins, the plugins don’t have a checkbox in front of them anymore.
Does that mean that you can only install (=activate) or remove (=deactivate) a plugin?

It was quite handy to be able to quickly activate or de-activate an installed plugin.

edit,
I see now, it was moved to the right and now displays as an icon.
To me that looked confusing, since ‘deactivated’ displays as a red cross, which I associate with ‘delete’.
So I thought you would delete the plugin when pressing the red cross.
I preferred having the activate/de-activate indicator on the left, right in front of the plugin name better to be honest.


Please test new Picard Windows builds
#2

I moved this into a separate topic, because this really is not something Windows specific and should be discussed separately.

One of the problems we tried to solve was that people just did not understand that this checkbox is used to enable / disable plugins. Some thought this to be a selection mechanism to perform mass operations on multiple plugins. Maybe this was also caused by the fact that this checkbox is visible for uninstalled plugins as well.

To address this we changed plugins to be enabled automatically upon installation (because that’s what users expect) and we also made the status indicator an actual icon combined with the “action” icons (which we introduced to work around some shortcomings of the single button approach we had before).

One advantage of the latter is that we can hide that icon if it does not apply.

But of course if this change has the same problems of being hard to understand we maybe should look for another solution. Two ideas we had during discussions:

  1. Keep the checkbox, but add it to a separate column with the heading “Active”. This probably could work, but takes more space for the column which we wanted to avoid (more space for the name was another goal of the changes)
  2. Use a text button with labels “Activate”, “Deactivate”. Makes it clear what is happening, but harder to sport all active or inactive plugins

Any other ideas?


#3

Without (me having to) worrying about the programming challenges:

What would seem clear (to me), is if there were icons (something) like these in the left column:

Then in the middle column the plugin name (perhaps bold type when active, standard type when deactivated, and slightly greyed-out when not installed,

and in the right column buttons for ‘install’ and ‘de-install’
(text is probably better than icons for that)

With all the wide-screen monitors these days I can’t image that something like this would pose much of a problem?


#4

And something else but related comes to mind:

I can remember myself having slight problems in finding out where (or even that) you could change settings for a plugin. (and I believe some other users have mentioned this too)
I think that currently there will appear some expandable entry in the far left of the options panel, just below ‘plugins’.

Would it perhaps be possible instead to have some configuration icon in the main plugins panel next to the name of the plugin?


#5

I’m ok with the new buttons for enabled/disabled because the tooltip explains it (and I really like the fact that enabled plugins are bold), although hiccup’s suggestion is good, too. But I can’t tell what the “uninstall” icon is supposed to be. A trash can? It looks kinda like an elevator to me, lol. Also, shouldn’t the “download and install” icon be in the same column as the “uninstall” icon, rather than under “activate/deactivate”?

The version number column takes up WAY too much room. It’s just a big as the Name column. Maybe they should be re sizable? That would could even be fixed width, really, it’s gonna have at most maybe 5 characters.


#6

If you add a plugin that has a configuration page it does not reload the tree on the side of the options page.
On a new install I added the fanart.tv plugin.
This has a configuration page linked under plugins > fanart.tv but that entry does not show up until you click the make it so button and go back to the configuration page.

If you activate the plugins on install you may need to reload parts of the ui.


#7

Can you show a screenshot? This actually was changed, and the version column is supposed to use only exactly the amount of the longest content. Keep in mind that in case of an update it says something like “1.2.3 -> 1.3.0”, so maybe check if there is an updatable plugin in your list.


#8

Ha, they were staying the same size for me. But when I went to get a screenshot, now it’s behaving as you describe. :man_shrugging:t3:

One minor thing that turned up, though: it looks like if you uninstall a plugin while it’s enabled, the text remains bold until you close and reopen settings.


#9

This is a known issue that was not yet addressed. But I saw we had no ticket for this, now we have: PICARD-1372


#10

This is not some bug report, but just describing how the installation of a new plugin might not be a smooth and pleasant experience for a new user.
(installing rdswifts new plugin was a perfect candidate for this)

When you select ‘Install plugin…’, you’ll navigate to the new plugin file.
When you then double-click it, the navigation panel closes, and you’re back to te plugins panel where you would then expect to see the plugin added to the list.
But it’s not. So you’ll think something went wrong.

Only after you have closed the options panel and reopen it later you’ll see the new plugin.
Great. Now I am looking for ‘the options’ page that this plugin advertises to have available.
But, that’s nowhere to be found.
Oh, I learn that the plugin hasn’t been activated.
I’ll click the activate button. But nothing much seems to happen.
Still no options panel available.
Damn. I press ‘Make It So!’ (though I was actually looking for a ‘WTF!’ button)
And, the panel is gone again…

Back to open the options panel (for the third time now)
Now I still see the plugin, but where is the options panel for it to be found?
Ah, after searching the forum I learn that there now should be a little arrow in front of ‘Plugins’ at the far left.
Ah yes, when I click that little arrow, I now see what plugins have optional settings.


O.K.
I wrote this in an exaggerating style, and I am repeating a few issues that have already been identified and have tickets.
But I thought it could be useful to summerise an experience that a not so experienced user could have.

And I have a new suggestion:

It would be nice if the panel had two separate buttons, one for ‘apply’ and one for ‘save and close’.
‘Apply’ should save and activate all changes made, such as activate/deactivate the plugin, immediately display the option for the plugins’ option panel when the plugin is activated, immediately remove the plugin from the list after you have clicked ‘delete plugin’ for it, etc. etc.

With the current ‘make it so’ button the panel always closes, and you will need to reopen the options panel if you want confirmation that all’s good now, or if you weren’t done making changes yet.


#11

Thanks a lot. We are aware of all the issues you mentioned, and this is exactly the reason why @zas started to rework the plugins user interface. We just haven’t addressed the issues of plugin list reloading (PICARD-1244) and option pages refreshing (PICARD-1372). I think solving those two will make the process you described to work as expected.


#12

lol, that icon on Windows is really hilarious. We actually don’t package one but use the default Qt provides us. But we should ship a custom icon at least for the “delete” icon, if I hadn’t known I likely could not make sense of this one myself. But @zas, who implemented this, already said that the icons are not necessarily final, the focus until now was more on getting the functionality finished. So hopefully we can replace the problematic icons with something nicer before the next release :slight_smile:


#13

Keep in mind that the ticket tracker (Jira) is not just for bug reports, but also for feature/enhancement requests etc. Your issue here, while not a bug, is perfectly acceptable to add as a ticket in the ticket tracker.


#14

I think it is going be very hard to find icons for ‘install’ and ‘de-install’ that are easily and universally recognisable for those functions.
That’s why I would suggest keeping those two as text.
Iconising interface options is not always an improvement.