Three screenshots from the new notification area that is part of the recent Plasma 2 Technology Preview. We've done a few touchups to the workflow there, in order to reduce visually jarring popups.

This new design loads the widgets for battery and brightness, network management, notifications and jobs, storage devices, and others into a single popup. In Plasma 1, these widgets in the notification area would all have their own popup, with different sizes. This means that switching between them involves closing and opening another popup. This process is now integrated into one popup, switching between the expanded views as a stack of pages. This design works, from a mouse interaction point of view almost exactly like the old notification area, but gives a "lighter feeling". The new version also has the active item visually pronounced, so it's easier to spot, dismiss and switch between items. The interaction is not completely smooth yet, but the approach seems very promising, and with a good portion of polish, it's going to be a very nice improvement in the Plasma 2.

One of the things that have been confusing for some people is how dismissing, and keeping open a popup works. In the tech preview, the (integrated) notification popup and the calendar (which is a separate popup), there is a small check mark (for lack of a unicode pin symbol, hints welcome!). By default, the popups slide back into the panel when they lose focus. Clicking that checkmark keeps will keep the popup open even when they lose focus. This allows it to keep the calendar, job displays, network management widgets open in order to monitor a job, or reference the calendar, for example, while working in a different window. This is a bit of an experiment in an early stage, so it might turn out to be a bad idea, but in this early stage of development, we should also use the opportunity to experiment with some concepts to solve problems in new, elegant ways.

Visually, we're aiming at a cleaner interface with more pronounced use of typography. Early signs of this can be seen in the calendar and job displays, but we're far from done doing this kind of visual update to the widgets. Not included in this tech preview (and also not in the screenshots) is a patch to change the translucency and blur effect behind the popups to make them more readable, also on less uniform backgrounds than the one shown in the pictures), so you can expect more improvements in that area.
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