With all the news of mobile and politics and what not, I thought it might be nice to hear about things we're working on related to the desktop that, while maybe not as earth shattering or exciting, are none-the-less part and parcel of what we do each and every day.
One of the things we introduced in recent releases of Plasma Desktop was panel auto-unhiding: if you have a hiding panel and something in it says, "Hey, I need the user to notice me!" then the panel will happily unhide. This was only possible because we have the ability to know things like the attention and input status needs of components such as Plasmoids and Status Notifiers.
Unfortunately we hit a snag: not everything sets the attention status sanely. This would sometimes lead to a panel being "stuck" in the unhidden position, unless you could find out what was "sticking" it and cause that component to become "unstuck". Not very elegant.
After stumbling through a few other random issues yesterday and today, I implemented an approach that tries to balance all needs. This was something that came out of discussions with hiding panel users who are also KDE contributors, particularly Kevin Ottens and Thomas Zander.
In the plasma/panelunhiding branch in kde-workspace, a panel will now auto-unhide and then rehide a few seconds after any user activity. That means that if you walk away from your computer, something happens and you return, the panel will still be there in a visible state to let you know. However, if you are using the system while something goes into "I need attention" state, then the panel will pop up but then mercifully slide back out of view in a few seconds time without you do anything.
I'll be testing it out more over the next few days and welcome others to do so as well, and then if all goes well with this approach then I'll merge it into master and, if it's really solid, maybe even merge it into 4.6.