Since KDE4.0 has been released, there where many users complaining about the new zooming user interface, although it is far away from being complete.
Most of those people do not understand the difference between Virtual Desktops and thos new Activities.
Virtual Desktops have been utilized for different activities over the years.
One Desktop with private stuff, one with Web, one with work…. a real static solution. The new Zooming User Interface is more dynamic.
The user will be able to create different activities. Each activity contains plasmoids, applications, dialogs, notifications,… You can have an activity for working and collaborating, one for your multimedia, ….
Think of … while you are working on your thesis, you want to listen to some cool Last FM songs. So you just take one step (zoom out once) and have a small plasmoid to control your media or you zoom into your multimedia activity and have a full blown media center.
Thar really sounds great… but stop… once the KDE community achieved this, they willl push the limits further…..
There will be another step to zoom out from your activities. There you will get informations from other pcs in your house, remote control other pcs, copy data between them or even work together with friends ofer the internet… who knows….
This is far away, but think of this:
You are sitting in front of your PC in your bureau, writing some mails. At a certain time, your desktop calendar pops up an tells you about a movie you wanted to watch. So you will have two choices:
* lift yourself up and move on to the living room
* zoom two steps out, look for plasmoids to remote control your multimedia center pc in the living room and start the digital video recorder or watch streamed live television right in your bureau until you have finished writing your mails.
There are so many use-cases I could think of, like: Controlling lights from your PC or plasma based mobile device via Zeroconf/ZWave/etc., share Media All over the place, collaborate with colleagues over the local net or internet…..
The concept of Zooming User Interfaces (ZUI) was developed by Jeff Raskin. Microsoft used the concept in its lab projects Seadragon , Photosynth and Surface.
Another prominent user of the concept is apples’ iphone, which makes extensiv use of the zooming user interface in its browser and photoviewer applications.
A real good piece of Software which shows what a ZUI means is the Java based ZoomDesktop project. Visist there project page and give it a try.