Reprise of Akademy 2014: KCM for network manager

Based on a BoF workshop and discussions during the Akademy 2014, we present a proposal for discussion how to integrate the network manager settings into KDE's system setting.

In the last time, we did a lot of effort to improve the network manager. Finally it has emerged to a highly elaborated plasmoid that intends to be easy to use, at least for users with simple setups. Advanced settings are available in another dialog where any kind of connection can be added or changed. What we need now is a control module (KCM) for the KDE system settings.

Proposal for the new KCM

Network settings can be very complex. Basically, it includes device, security, and access related features, depending on the kind of connection. Most settings are entered in dialogs with tabs but, for instance, in case of a mobile broadband connection you have to go through a wizard. However, all these configurations are established and well know to users. (And the code should be reusable as well.)

Edit connections

Figure 1: Existing dialog to edit connections.

So the idea is to evolve the KCM from the current connection editor. It provides the list of known connections and has options to add new or edit existing connections. To improve usability we added a checkbox that shows only the currently available plus the self-defined connections. If necessary, more features to filter the list content should be integrated.

For some users it might be a good idea to see more than just the type of connection (by means of an icon) and the ‘last used’ information. For instance, the device might be interesting for someone. So it would be nice to have a simple way to personalize the shown columns.

Another change to the existing connection editor is the way a connection is shared. In the mockup it can be done via ‘advanced mode’ for every connection.

Interactive mockup

According the voting how system settings should be designed in future, the mockup is based on the proposal with one large scrollarea. Click on the image to open the mockup. Select ‘Network’ from the sidebar or start screen and try to ‘Add’ a new connection. Click on ‘Advanced’ to show the sharing stuff, or the small icon at the rightmost column for settings of the list view.

KCM network manager

Figure 2: Integration of network manager KCM into system settings.

Discussion

This first layout idea is just a simple integration of what we have into the new system settings. It aims to replace the connection editor but not the NM plasmoid. That means if you have set-up a connection you need to go to the plasmoid to enter the password or pin in order to start it.

Furthermore, we introduced some new ideas. As laymen we might have oversimplified the sharing as advanced feature for every connections. But maybe it’s a good idea, and experts will consider to integrate connection specific proxy in the advanced section.

So finally our questions are:

  • As a normal user,
    • Would you be comfortable with the solution?
  • And as an expert,
    • Do you miss something?
    • Would you rather like to dissemble the tabbed dialog and have it directly available in the KCM?
    • Otherwise, is there any general setting that could be moved from the tabbed dialogs to the advanced section, e.g. the privacy stuff?

We are curious about you comments.