When I did my last blog post, there were some comments that said that the folder previews didn’t look as nice as they could. I agree, luckily, one day later Fredrik Höglund came up with a patch to do some more complex and nicer painting on the items. Now the previews are layed out like a bunch of physical photos, with some random rotations, a white border, and drop shadows:
In my opinion, this looks very nice. The fact that the items are rotated randomly takes away some of the regularity that tends to be annoying, and the borders and shadows make it look like “real” objects.
I had some more ideas how the folder-previews, and previews in general, could be made even more useful.
Typically the problem with automatically generated previews for “sequence items”(Like folders, videos, etc., as opposed to simple images) is that you can never be sure that you pick a part of the sequence that is really useful to describe the content.
For example a video thumbnail taken right at the beginning of a movie, will most probably just show an empty black surface. A folder preview may show pictures that are not useful for describing the folder content. Now on several places on the internet, they have found a simple solution: When moving the cursor over the item, jump through different thumbnails from alternative locations in the sequence, to get a better description of the item.
This seems very reasonable, since the probability that one of the sequence items shows something “interesting” is a lot higher than it is for the part chosen automatically for the initial thumbnail, so I’ve spent some of the evenings this week bringing this functionality to KDE.
When an file/directory is hovered, the sequence of thumbnails generated for that item is alternated, showing another thumbnail every second, using a fast fade animation that is friendly to the eye. Currently the only thumb-creator that supports this feature is the one that creates thumbnails for directories, but once there is thumbnailers for videos again, I hope the developers will also implement the interface to support this feature. Since I’m too lazy to do a screencast, I will just attach another screenshot:
Actually all you can see here, is that the icon under the cursor shows different preview pictures than the unhovered version above. You get the Idea.