KBFX is an alternative to the classical K-Menu button and it's menu. It improves the user experience by enabling the user to set a bigger (and thus more visible) start button and by finally replacing the Win95-like K-Menu. But if you still want the old menu, because you're used to it, it is still available as an option in KBFX. We recommend, however, that you give the Spinx bar a try.
KBFX was started on June 5th 2005 as a hobbyist project by Siraj Razick, born out of a spontaneous idea. The reason was that Siraj didn't like the old K-Menu, which was quite a clone of the old Win95 Startmenu. So he started coding.
The first step provided merely the possibility to call the K-Menu via a button, that could have a different shape and size than the original K-Menu button, which has always been an icon of a square size. To change the default KBFX button, one still had to copy an image file to a certain location.
After the first post in mid-June 05, KBFX has spread rapidly and it was nice to see that until end of June, there were already a dozen posts on kde-look with buttons and builds.
Mensur Zahirovic (called Nookie) joined Siraj on 5th of august, after Siraj met him on yahoo. Nookie is responsible for the Web-development and the Q&A. He also arranged the site www.kbfx.net, that replaces the previous site www.linuxlots.com/~siraj/plugin/kde.
After that, things began to speed up. The next members were Akhmed Fathonih, who works on the configuration modules, and Ron, who provides distribution packages.
KBFX is no longer just another button design for the K-Menu, but now provides an alternative to it, that is in fact more sophisticated than the XP-Startmenu.
KBFX version 0.4.9 is a four month long prototypical development approach. The release is a complete rewrite eliminating all the negative points of the previous versions.
At the start we had a list of end requirements for version 0.4.9 and we developed each of the feature units, testing each and every class as it was developed.
Apart from unit testing, the quality assurance manager periodically checked the quality of the product and the new releases that were made to the KBFX source repository. The QA always checked the product against the requirements that we had set to maximize quality.
This way of development helped us to discover tons of bugs and fix them instantly, and so we debut with a rather clean and bugfree KBFX.
It was really helpful to see many users around the world checking out the development release of KBFX from CVS, reporting and posting problems encountered and helping to add more stability and compatibility between distributions.
Because of this, we know the supported platforms even before KBFX is 0.4.9 is released. KBFX has been tested to work with all GCC3.x and GCC4.x compilers. It has been tested on systems running the distributions of Gentoo, Debian, Ubuntu, Suse, Slackware, Mango, Mandrake, and Fedora core systems.
Unfortunately, compiling on FreeBSD systems is yet to be tested, but we plan to port KBFX to FreeBSD and PcBSD.
The Spinx Menu does not try to copy the WinXP Startmenu. It is based on a different approach and concept. Following, the concepts of the traditional hierarchical structure and the new, flat indexed menu are described and compared, although the new menu structure is quite intuitive.
(Traditional) hierarchical structure
The KDE K-Menu is a good example of a flat hierarchical menu. It organizes application shortcuts in a tree link structure, where it can expand and open a submenu, with entries displayed based on some logical order. This order may be task oriented, type oriented or just ordered alphabetically. To find and launch an application, the user needs to navigate through the submenus, until he reaches the leaf (leaf node). This approach is a direct adoption of the Microsoft Windows Start Menu. They introduced it with Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000. This was certainly a huge usability advantage compared to the Windows 3.1 System with the program manager, but a lot has changed since these days. The Windows XP Start Menu is still based on this concept, although it is enhanced by the functionalities to pin applications to the left column and the automatically pinned most used applications. But still, a user must move the mouse over the half screen, if his menu has many submenus with other submenus, and the application is not one of his most used or pinned applications.
Flat indexed menu
The KBFX Spinx Menu uses a different approach â?? the flat indexed menu. With this type of menu it's very easy to navigate. On the left hand side, you are given the application categories. They can be task oriented or type oriented. On the right side of the menu, there are all the available applications listed that belong to the activated category. The advantage is evident - the menu reduces the mouse paths, so you can locate your applications very fast. The user sees all the categories at a glance and he can pick it without having to travel along a long list until he finds the end leaf. The speed of use is further enhanced by moving the most used and recently used applications on the top index, so that the most used applications are just one click away.
The KBFX team is small, but very active. The members are:
Siraj Razick: Initiator of KBFX, Maintainer, Developer, Project Admin
Mensur Zahirovic (nookie): Co-Author, Q/A, System Design, Project Admin
Nathanael Gogniat (dracor): Co-Author, Documentation
PhobosK: Developer, Package & Release Manager, Q&A, Project Admin
Johnny Henry SĂˇenz AcuĂ±a (scarebyte): Developer
Pascal Jungblut (Jongking): Development support
We would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to KBFX by using it and sending feedback and bugs and everyone who has contributed button designs or ideas.