Category Archives: Android

KDevelop runtimes: Docker and Flatpak integration

On my last blog post I discussed about how some assumptions such as the platform developed on can affect our development. We need to minimize it by empowering the developers with good tools so that they can develop properly. To that end, I introduced runtimes in our IDE to abstract platforms (much like on Gnome’s Builder or Qt Creator).

There are different platforms that we’ll be developing for and they need to be easily reachable when coding and testing. Both switching and interacting transparently with the different platforms.

To that end I implemented 4 approaches that integrate different runtimes:

  • Docker, allows you to develop directly against virtually any system. This is especially interesting because it enables to reproduce the environment our users are having: behavior on execution and project information (i.e. the imports are the ones from the target rather the ones on our local system). Docker is a wide-spread technology in the cloud, I hope many developers will see the value in integrating the deployed environment into the IDE while they are coding.
  • Flatpak, is a solution that targets specifically desktop Linux applications. We are talking about distributing bundled applications to users, there we have the opportunity to integrate the tooling specifically to that end: from fetching dependencies to testing on other devices (see videos below).
  • Android, as you know it’s something I’ve been pushing for years. Finally we are getting to a space where the IDE can help get some set up troubles out of the way.
  • The local host, i.e. what we have now.

And remember KDevelop is extensible. Do you want snapcraft?, vagrant?, mock? Contributions are very welcome!

If there’s something better than a list of technologies and buzzwords, that’s videos. Let’s see why this could change how you develop your software.

One development, any platform

We get to develop an application and switch back and forth the target platform we are developing for.

Here I put together a short video that tests Blinken on different platforms:

One development, any device

Using the right SDK is not enough proof that the application will work as expected on every device, especially those our users will be using. Being able to easily send our application to another device to test and play around with is something I had needed for longtime. Especially important when we need to test different form factors or input devices.

In this video we can see how we can easily test an application locally and when it works just switch to Android and send to the device for proper test on the smaller touch screen.

Here we can see how we can just test an application by executing it remotely on another device. This is done by creating a bundle of the application, sending it to the device where we want to test it and executing it there.

Hassle-free contributions

You can’t deny it. You’ve wanted to fix things in the past, but you couldn’t be bothered with setting up the development environment. Both Flatpak and Docker offer the possibility to maintainers to distribute recipes to set up development platforms that can and should be integrated so that we can dedicate this 1 hour in the week-end to fixing that bug that’s been annoying us rather than reading a couple of wikis and – oh, well, never mind, gotta make dinner.

We can do this either by providing the flatpak-builder json manifest (disclaimer: the video is quite slow).

Or a Dockerfile.

You can try this today by building kdevelop git master branch, feedback is welcome. Or wait for KDevelop 5.2 later this year. 🙂

Happy hacking!

Sprinting KDE Connect

What will happen?

KDE Connect is nowadays on a sweet moment where many things can happen. This is an interesting moment to sprint, because it will allow all of us to work together on interesting features that can then be merged at once with greater impact.

The things that are the most important to me are:

  • The Plasma Phone port. See more below.
  • Improvements on the Plasma Desktop integration. Currently it’s a bit weird. It mostly works, but then it’s currently lacking any interaction with the remote devices. We should review what it does and what can we do to offer what the user actually needs.
  • Using the phone (or any other device) to transparently provide data to the desktop system. We have many interesting listed ideas. Use the phone to provide location, the phone’s microphone and camera, etc.
  • File system synchronization

What will I do?

One of the things I’ve been working on lately is a new KDE Connect client. Initially with the Plasma Phone in mind, this new application opens a new window of opportunity also on other platforms. First of all, it should be right away usable on Jolla (when they adopt a saner set of dependencies) and the Ubuntu Phone.

From our point of view, one of the biggest problems of KDE Connect is that we have a hard time to pivot over to other deskop-based platforms, mostly because our desktop approach so far is a plasmoid, which isn’t very portable. Having a standalone application will help as well to reach such platforms as well.

Another thing I’d like to work on further is KDE software integration on Android. Things should be set by now, but we need work to shape the path further. Things like setting up the KDE Frameworks 5 CI for Android for example will be a huge step forward. Also building some other application for Android, will help us get a better overview of the current state.

Support us!

All of this will happen in the next KDE Connect sprint within the Randa Meetings. If you like KDE Connect and wish it to bloom into the tool we’re all looking forward to, consider donating!

Support KDE Sprints 2015!

KDE Software on Android

Despite my involvement in KDE and free software operating systems, one of the features I’ve always loved from Qt is how we can use it to develop an application that can be used on any platform. Since I got my first /programmable/ phone, I’ve wanted to get my projects to work there, especially through all Nokia approaches to the issue, and I’ve managed to do so with relative success.

At some point last year I got to the conclusion that, if I wanted to remain somewhat sane, the best approach was to start focusing Android by caring about the CMake side of the issue and let QtQuick get into place, which is not in place yet, but admittedly in a much better state than a couples of years ago.

My KDE on Android approach is that any KDE project should be able to be built and bundled for Android from the sources, that is with an apk file as a result, without having to change the project sources: c++ or cmake.

I started working on this longtime ago on Qt4, but the fact that kdelibs was about to change and the poor direction of the port drove me away from bothering. Also if we want portable interfaces we want QtQuick Controls. I don’t think there’s much doubt there.

I restarted the project last November. I compiled a full Qt5 installation and started to get it to build, my intention was to use android.toolchain.cmake again, but I then decided that it would be better to create a new cmake toolchain file to have all the control I needed over how it’s being compiled. Some things need to be treated with special love like how executables are built and especially being able to create apks.

At the moment it seems to be working reasonably well, I’ve been using KAlgebra as a test. I get to easily deploy the Analitza framework which is a dependency and then consume it from KAlgebra which bundles all dependencies into a nice publishable APK.

Enough back-story, let’s see how we’d build KAlgebra (or any traditional KDE project for that matter).

To get all the features going we need:
* Qt 5.4 built for Android (currently in dev branch)
* CMake 3.0
* Android NDK
* Android Development Kit
* the ToolChain file I created (still to find a proper place, can be found here)
* Extra-CMake-Modules
* The project’s source code, because the power is in the source!

Here’s an example on how to get it done [1], but that’s the expanded version. As an attempt not to scare you here I used a simplified version, by having a cmakeandroid macro defined, passing cmake all the needed information.

mkdir build-analitza build-kalgebra
cd build-analitza && cmakeandroid ~/src/analitza && make && make install
cd build-kalgebra && cmakeandroid ~/src/kalgebra -DQTANDROID_EXPORTED_TARGET=kalgebramobile && make && make create-apk-kalgebramobile

Which I think it’s readable enough.

To conclude, we are able to consider Android as a candidate for KDE projects to adopt. There’s much more to do both on KDE, Qt and cmake sides, but we can get to discuss it when you’ve ported your application.

For the moment, I’d like to know if there’s any application that is interested in being built for Android, I’d like to give it a try, especially if it’s already been ported to QtQuick and Qt5/KF5.
Furthermore, in case anybody is interested, I’ll open a wiki page with this information, in case anybody wants to use it, for the moment my cmake toolchain and manifest can be found here:
http://quickgit.kde.org/?p=scratch%2Fapol%2Fkalgebraandroid.git

Continue reading KDE Software on Android

KDE SDK Next, how will we develop in a year?

Since the beginning of my involvement in KDE and, more specifically, my involvement with KDevelop, many people have come to me and said that what we “actually need” is an SDK. So far, I never gave this much thought. Especially given that for me, the SDK was the system I’m running on and, by extension, the packaging system of my GNU/Linux distribution.

After all this time and given one of KDE Frameworks goals is to broaden our portability, I started wondering about the subject again. Some of the pieces are starting to come together already, but I still think we need to actually glue them together in a clear and pragmatic approach.

Premise: we want to build an SDK on top of the tools we generally use:
CMake, Qt, KDE Frameworks 5, Plasma, QML and C++.

For starters, we have two different major scopes: Integration with Plasma and Cross-platform facilities.

KDE Applications should be as distributable and portable as possible. On the other hand, we should be providing the tools to specifically integrate to the Plasma Workspaces.

Applications have different use-cases than the Plasma Workspaces. While applications need to be as easily distributable as possible, Plasma will want to have as much control on the system as needed to work accurately. Therefore, we want applications interacting with Qt5+KF5 and integrating through Qt abstractions, while Plasma will want to interact random components in the system regardless without fear.

What I propose:

  • Figure out which frameworks are portable and which are Plasma Platform integration frameworks. (e.g. KDED modules, KNotifications, Solid: are they portable? do we want to support the different platforms?)
  • Figure out what do we mean by supported platform (both in the case of Plasma and Applications).

Once we get there, we will be able to think about developers and:

  • Offer a sensible set of tools to support the development and ease testing.
  • Figure out a packaging plan for the libraries and tools for developers, so they can start using them for their development.
  • Figure out a deployment plan for the frameworks on the different platforms, so that deployed applications know how to rely on the needed dependencies.

So this are mostly thoughts, I would like to know if you’d be interested in the project. I think it makes a lot of sense to figure this out and then gather this year’s Randa meeting to make sure we’re coming up with a coherent next development platform.

KAlgebra on Android

Since I started blogging I’ve talked many times about KAlgebra. Usually it’s not to display it’s awesome features but to discuss its portability. I’ve always considered that it’s important for KDE not to lock down its applications to a platform. That’s why I’ve put my efforts into ensuring KAlgebra will work properly on different platforms so far, like the N9 and Plasma Active.

— TL;DR: you can jump to the video 🙂 —

I think we’ve done a great job so far. It hasn’t been easy and we are not there yet, but I think that being able to do things like this is an awesome opportunity for projects like KDE Edu where we want to target the widest audience possible.

Android offers this, a widespread audience where we will be able to put our things. That’s why I put my interest in it, anyway.

Regarding the actual implementation, it’s far from perfect. It’s using KAlgebra Mobile, which has different backends. I created a new one that doesn’t require any components present. QtQuick components are lacking for Android at the moment, so I came up with this UI that besides not being properly integrated it works good enough and keeps me from frustration. Things are looking good on that regard, apparently I’m not the only one needing those, so I hope we’ll get some proper UX eventually.

A lot is left to be done still: Integration with the system, integration in the Market, etc. Ideas welcome.

Oh, and last but not least, big thank you for Marijn Kruisselbrink who put up with my questions and opened the path by adapting kdelibs.

And now, the video.

Almost forgot, if anybody wants to try it, you can download the installer here. Remember, it eats easter bunnies.