our three level desktop zooming is now working in plasma. wee! the-other-aaron-in-plasma has been working on it the last couple days with some help and consultation and it's now in place and working. we've got a few features to add to it before it all makes sense, but the important bit is that the concept is now there in code in svn.
the idea is this: plasmoids (launchers, icons, widgets, games, mini-apps, etc) exist in groups. a group can be displayed to take up the full area of the screen. this is what one would most likely recognize as "the desktop" today. you are not, however, limited to just one full screen group. you can have several.
when you zoom out, you see these various groups and the plasmoids within them shrink to mere icons. this lets you pan around and rearrange plasmoids or pick another group (and little else).
zoom out once more and the groups become little iconified versions of themselves and the plasmoids themselves disappear. this view lets you see all your groups at once even if you have a lot of them. pick one and you zoom in on it.
the idea is to allow one to manage collections of items by grouping them and then quickly switching between them using zoom-and-pan where zoom provides overview (lowering detail), pan provides navigation and unzoom increases detail again (implying selection of another group to use).
the use cases are something like this:
aaron works at home. you can tell he's a happening fellow by his name. as such he does a lot of things with his computer, not just work. he separates his work from his family from his play "lives" on his computer by arranging different desktop sets. aaron uses the zoom-and-pan to quickly switch between "work" and "family" groups during the day.
lisa is a graphic designer. at any given time she is working on projects for 2-4 clients. she keeps the work files for each client project in a separate group, each labeled according to the project title. she also keeps the contact list for the other people she's working on the project with (copy writers, the client contact, the project manager, etc), the schedule calendar and current todo list (sync'd to the company's groupware/calendaring server) with each group. as she moves from one project to another, she zooms-and-pans to the appropriate group.
josh is a 16 year old lay-about. he should be working on his chem homework but instead is playing on facebook and myspace. he has the plasmoids for different sets of friends in different groups according to clique and a grouping for his class work. when he hears his mom approaching he quickly zoom-and-pans to the work grouping.
ok, the last one is a bit tongue-in-cheek ;)
note that desktop zooming is different from resizing individual plasmoids to show more or less detail in them. and yeah, i'll try and get this into a future screencast.