Skip to content

What’s going on with Activities in Plasma 6?

Tuesday, 6 February 2024 | Nate Graham

Nothing! That’s the end of the blog post! Go back to what you were doing!

Well, sort of. 🙂 Some of you may be aware that a year or so ago, there was a lot of chatter about what to do with the Activities feature in Plasma 6: change how it works, remove the feature, or leave it be.

There’s broad consensus within the KDE developer community that the Activities feature doesn’t work the way we want it to. Its scope is conceptually unclear, it’s a frequent source of bugs, and it isn’t really maintained. As a result adoption in even our own apps has been low. It was for these reasons that over time we removed many of the entry points for Activities in the UI, and why I eventually proposed removing it entirely.

However the best way to to find out how many people are using something is to remove it! And the second best may be to propose removing it. 🙂 Many people showed up to offer their passionate pleas to keep the feature, explaining what they were using it for. Interestingly, many admitted that the feature didn’t really work very well out of the box and that they had done custom work to bend it to their use cases.

For this reason, several people stepped up to propose an overhaul of how Activities works, taking into account how the feature’s users actually use it. A lot of discussion ensued, and a few changes were merged. One was that Activities migrated from Frameworks to Plasma, which stripped it of its API guarantee and opens the door to us making major changes within the Plasma 6 lifecycle. Another change was to remove the per-Activity power management setting.

Unfortunately not much happened beyond that. As a result the status quo remains largely in effect for Plasma 6: the Activities feature has not been removed, overhauled, or even substantially bug-fixed. It remains a quirky and somewhat buggy DIY feature for adventurous users to build custom workflows around, and today it’s more hidden-away than ever if you don’t want to use it.

However, I don’t expect this to continue in the long term. Once Plasma 6 stabilizes and development resources are pulled off constant bug-fixing, attention will inevitably turn to Activities once again. So consider this blog post notice that the feature is at risk of being eventually removed if people don’t step up to contribute technical work to either fix existing bugs, or else overhauling the feature to work differently.

Personally, I’d like to see Activities morph into a feature whereby each activity has a separate set of settings and config data, but access to all the same user files. On top of that, you would be able to configure individual apps you use in multiple activities (like music players) to use shared settings and config data.This way it would basically be the “profiles” feature that many web browsers have now, but applied automatically to any and all apps you want.

But, like all desires and ideas, that personal idea of mine means nothing without work to transform it into an implementation! So if you use and enjoy Activities, or think you’d like to if they worked differently, please get involved. We’ll need your help if this feature is to remain!