New Plasma HowTo version is up

It’s a bit late, but the 4.5 version of Plasma HowTo is now available on UserBase. This is a page for people who wonder how to do things in Plasma Desktop but don’t want to read too much text. It’s also useful to direct someone to a specific animation, for example in a forum, if he/she doesn’t know how to perform a common task in Plasma Desktop. It can look like this:

Plasma HowTo - Resize Widget

The program I used to record these (read more about it here), byzanz, has also been updated. The new version improves the quality in some parts, but unfortunately some other things end up looking horrible. There seems to be a problem with colors regardless if I have composite enabled or not (example here). If you have any ideas how to fix this, please drop a message in the comments section. When the problem is solved I’ll probably redo some of the animations.

Another problem I ran into is that UserBase didn’t create any thumbnails for the GIF files, so if you land on a page looking like this you just need to click on the link under “No higher resolution available.” Again, we’re looking for a solution to this.

Anything else? Feel free to leave a comment about Plasma HowTo – feedback is much appreciated!

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5 Responses to “New Plasma HowTo version is up”

  1. Diederik van der Boor Says:

    > There seems to be a problem with colors regardless if I have composite enabled or not.
    > If you have any ideas how to fix this, please drop a message in the comments section.

    The problem is likely the export to GIF files. They only support 256 unique colors.

    For this reason, I think it’s very valuable to have the movies in .ogg format which Free Software browsers also support natively. For other browsers, a flash applet can be provided as workarround.

  2. Gobnuts Says:

    What about animated png files? You could still keep the .gifs as a fallback solution for browsers that don’t support them.

  3. Hans Says:

    @Diederik van der Boor:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing though – if you take a look at the example in this post, it looks mostly okish but a little “grainy” because of the limit to 256 colors. Now look at this animation (added it to the main post as well). It seems like it limits itself to less than 256 colors, possibly to make the file size smaller? I tried to manually copy the background to the last frame in GIMP but it ended up looking the same.

    The strange thing is that it looks fine if I start with that particular background.

    Regarding .ogg that’s something I’ve thought about, but I see some problems:

    • I need somewhere to upload the files since UserBase doesn’t support OGG files (blip.tv?)
    • GIF feels more accessible to me – personally I would hate to use Flash for a simple animation like these, and many still have outdated web browsers that don’t support ogg (think universities etc.)
    • More troublesome for me to edit. Yes I edit all files to make it start after 1 second and then pause for 3 seconds before looping. I also remove unnecessary mouse movements etc. Now I just have to open it in GIMP and rename and delete some layers

    To summarize, I see little benefit of ogg compared to gif, even if the latter feels like stone age. It would look a little prettier, but that’s not the most important thing about these screencasts.

    @Gobnuts:

    I’ve thought about that as well (and would love it), but again there are problems:

    • No official supported animated PNG format as far as I know. According to Wikipedia, APNG is only supported by Firefox, SeaMonkey and Opera
    • I don’t know how to record to animation png

    Also, recording everything twice is a bit too much work for me, unless I can find a way to convert it to both.

  4. Orestes Mas Says:

    May I suggest you to use recordmydesktop to create an ogg clip, and then convert it to animated gif via mplayer and gimp.

    Doing so you end with 2 useful formats.

    A working proof of concept can be found here:

    http://blog.ahfr.org/2008/03/making-animated-gifs-with-free-software.html

    Good luck.

  5. Hans Says:

    @Orestes Mas:

    I will give it a try, thanks for the suggestion and link.


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