Quo vadis, Dolphin? Preparation of the developer study.

Together with the developers of Dolphin we are planning to improve the sidebars in Dolphin with a special focus on the concept of ‘recents’. Dolphin, the default KDE file browser, targets to be efficient and intuitive. It is designed to be most beneficial for two types of users, represented by the Personas Lisa and Simon, who are at least a bit familiar to the concept of files and folders, but not necessarily with the file structure of Linux itself. For quick access, Dolphin contains a couple of sidebars allowing to reach different places, devices or recently used files. Recently, on some mailing lists the ‘recent sidebar’ has been the target of some discussions. The point has been made that the ‘recent sidebar’ is rarely used and it hence should be improved. Now this is where we want to step in and find out how developers and users can contribute in finding a new and better approach for the problem of accessing files that have been used in the past. With this article, we want to outline our idea how to address this question and we would like to discuss our approach with you. Step 1 – collecting developers ideas First we want to conduct a survey to learn about the current ideas and feelings of the developers. Questions we want to rise are for instance:

  • Is the vision and are the Personas still the target for the development of Dolphin?
  • What feature ideas do the developers have?
  • What purpose should be served by sidebars in general?
  • Where do the developers want Dolphin to go?

Step 2 – gathering users feedback Next we are going to do an end user survey. We would like to know things like:

  • Which file browser do users prefer and for what reason?
  • What do users expect of a ‘perfect’ Dolphin? Does it match with developers ideas?
  • In what situation do users need more support by Dolphin?
  • Do they make use of the ‘recents sidebar’? And in which situations do they need to access recent files at all?

Food for thought With this examination we would like to find out whether the envisioned improvements are valid. We want to anonymously collect a pool of the different goals developers have for Dolphin. These results are then compared to the expectations, needs and wishes of the users towards Dolphin. An analysis of the strengths and weaknesses (SWOT analysis) will then be used to determine which aspects need improvement. What do you think of our procedure? Anything we can enhance? Please share your experience and opinion.