TheBlindCow

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Category: me (page 2 of 3)

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.

KDE 4.12, KDE Frameworks 5 and Barcelona

Summer is almost over, so it’s time to get our things together. A new release is always a good opportunity to get together and getting some things done.

Last Friday we gathered, some had some good food, we had some beer, and we even got to discuss about the future of KDE, free software and, of course, some politics.

Dinner picture

We didn’t have enough with having food, we wanted some hacker fun, so the next morning (well, alright, it was more noon than morning) we met again. This time to work together on KF5, in our Blue Systems’ office.

KF5 mini-sprint

Thanks everybody who came, and for those who didn’t we’re waiting for you next time, or if you can’t come to Barcelona consider organizing one!

\o/

KDE, the present and present+1

Usually I don’t blog because there’s not much going on. Lately it’s been because there’s been too much things going on.

As always in communities, it’s not something somebody is doing in his corner, but some synergy coming together in a beautiful and convoluted way. Let me try to sort what I’m talking about.

  • The Akademy 2013 is happening soon. It’s going to be a very interesting event, KDE is evolving in a fast pace, more than most of us realize. This year’s Akademy will be crucial to the future of the project, I wouldn’t miss it.

    I'm going to the Akademy 2013

  • This year, Akademy comes with a small present in it. The Akademy-es 2013 will happen in Bilbao as well, the two days before the Akademy. It’s our biggest opportunity to help people from Spain join the KDE awesomeness. If you are around and understand Spanish, don’t hesitate to join!
    We’ll have talks, we’ll have discussions and we’ll tell you that you must go to Akademy. 🙂

  • Qt5 is gaining traction and we’re getting up to speed to adopt it through the KDE Frameworks 5 Project. The Qt contributors will be meeting in Bilbao as well, discussing what features we’ll be finding in Qt 5.2 and further. That means that they’ll be deciding what things we’ll have available for future releases by KDE!

Ok, so I’m saying that we’ll be gathering a bunch of people talking about what we do. What’s so special about that?
Well, first of all it’s not just people. It’s people who are passionate about what they do, the people who have created the KDE we all know and the one we don’t know about yet.

Personally, these are the topics I’d like to discuss about this year:

  • I want to talk to distributions. I want to remind them that Muon Discover will be working on their platform soon. I want to work together with them to make sure they are on board and that it will go smoothly.
  • I want to get in touch with the KDE Edu fellows, see what they’re up to (I hear that there’s some new awesome application coming together). I want to discuss about Khipu with them, it’s seeing some very interesting progress recently, I’m hoping to see it released soon!
  • The KDevelop team will be having their meeting there as well. I foresee a closer and closer KDevelop 4.6 release, and we want to make this one the best ever. Also I’d like to discuss some otherwise interesting stuff as well such as some changes in the C++ support that we’ve been discussing.
  • I’m quite excited about the KPeople project, as well. It’s coming together very well, getting ready for applications to adopt it. KDE Telepathy has already started worked on supporting it on some parts. Also KDE PIM should be adopting it soon, so will other projects. I want to easily interact with my friends from our applications. Awesomeness.
  • And last but not least, the KDE Frameworks 5 project, that I already talked about before. It’s probably the most important initiative in KDE, at the moment. Let’s push it all together, at Akademy!

I know it’s been a huge blog post, but also I think that it displays where we are. Lots of people, a big community, with smaller communities in it, coming together for a greater purpose, having beer and exchanging ideas.

\o/

See you in Bilbao!

GSoC proposals, from both sides

So Google Summer of Code 2013 has been presented already and there’s many people asking about it. From my perspective, GSoC has changed quite a bit over the years, so I have. When it started I was starting university, since then I’ve been a student in 3 occasions and a mentor in 3 other occasions. I figured that given I’ve been at both sides, I could give some advises to incoming people that can be useful.

The student side

The first year I applied for GSoC in KDE I wasn’t accepted. I guess that this fact alone made me respect GSoC a little more (sometimes I feel like people see it like an easy way to get money during summer). The first time I applied for something, I proposed for something that I figured that I missed from KHTML that I missed while developing KAlgebra (MathML support). I didn’t love the project but I wanted the outcome. I didn’t talk to anyone from the community about it, not before, not after. I guess this was my biggest problem, this and that I was (and still am) clueless about KHTML internals. That couldn’t be well received by the mentors.

The next year I took a different approach. This time I went for KDevelop, it was a project that I used in a daily basis back then already and I already had sent a couple of patches to fix some usability problems there. I thought about what could I do there to improve it. I was following KDE development closely, and cmake was starting to be adopted by then so I guessed KDevelop could use some support for it. Before doing so, I remember talking about it with apaku and adymo, who gave me some suggestions for my proposal, telling me that there even was some work started on that area. Being accepted there was huge for me, not only I would be doing something that I wanted during a whole summer, but also something that I needed and I would join a team that I respected a lot.

The next two times got easier, and I don’t think it was mentors preferring me over other students, but I got to understand KDevelop as a project, our user base and their complaints. That gave me a good advantage when writing proposals.

The mentor side

GSoC is great for KDE. We get yearly handwork for working on our projects. Nevertheless, I think that almost any mentor can tell about bad stories. It’s one of those cases where we’d really like to focus on the positive, but it gets really hard.

Before the students are selected, mentors have 2 major challenges in my opinion: they need to select both a good project and a good person behind it.

  • To get good project one of the things we usually do is to create an idea page with things to be done on our projects. We try these ideas to be something that has enough charge for someone to spend 3 months working full-time, we put features that are not really pushing since there’s probably someone else doing them and something that can be appealing enough to a student to pick. The ideas page is the channel that ends up attracting more students in the end, but it has a number of problems for us, the first being that this list is where someone not caring that much would go. Try to stay away from this profile, please care.
  • To get good people, the first thing I do is to take into account how the proposal was written.
    Does it take into account all features? Does it explain how the project will change the bigger picture? Why is he doing the project? Does he believe in the project? Is there any possibility he’d stay after the GSoC? Does he even know how to write properly?
    And who is this person?

I know it’s not very scientific, but keep in mind GSoC is not about getting a new feature for us, but about getting a good contribution so we are thorough. In the end, we’re going to spend many hours mentoring this person and project, we don’t want that work to be for nothing.

My suggestions

  • Read the mailing list, show up on IRC, figure out what’s the project interest and if you’d fit with those people.
  • Don’t compromise about the project idea, make sure you pick an awesome idea that you like. If you don’t find one, make it up.
  • Make sure that you know what you’re doing and why.
  • The proposal is not about choosing a project within the ideas page. It’s about saying how you’ll make it a reality.
  • Sending a patch beforehand helps a lot. Much more than saying how you rock. Also if you’ve contributed to other projects, make sure the proposal points to it. The important thing for us is to know that you can code and work with a community
  • Follow the Planet KDE

And please, note that’s my very own opinion. Not KDE, not KDevelop or KDE Edu, although I’m sure that other people will agree with (some of) my points.

Muon Discover, new version, new features, new look

A new Muon release is approaching and I wanted to use this occasion for sum up a little what happened in the Muon area, in view of the forthcoming 2.0 version.

The first thing you’ll notice is the version bump from 1.5 to 2.0. This is because the whole suite had 2 big changes. Firstly, Jonathan reworked libqapt which will be seeing a 2.0 version as well, and I refactored Muon’s internals so that we could have different back-ends in it.

I’m excited about this last change; not only for the features it’s already providing, like the KNS and Bodega backends, but for where I’d like it to go in the near future. We’ll know more about it soon though. 🙂

Another important change, was that we moved some of the Discover UI from QML to better integrate with the rest of KDE applications, specially by using a native scroll bar and prefer the main window’s toolbar to our custom buttons. I’m not much of a graphical person, but I’m quite happy about the result. I hope you are as well.

Here there’s a small video I made for you to see what’s going on in Muon Discover 2.0. I hope you like it and I hope you want it. 🙂

Cheers! \o/

My first year at BlueSystems

About one year ago, the 1st December 2012 I graduated, and by the same dates I started working for BlueSystems. Since we usually consider year periods like achievements, I thought it was a good occasion for a flashback, so there we go!

blue systems logo

  • The KDE GTK Config KCM was my first assignment. It was something new for me but still interesting otherwise. I was more used to work into making applications, there I worked right into helping integrate an important part of the software we have available to KDE. I think it was successful in the sense that many people are starting to take advantage of it and hopefully enjoying the possibility to fully customize the look of all applications, haven’t you tried it already?
  • The second project I worked on was Muon Discover. There I spent most of my time this year, by bringing to KDE a new way to see what you have available for enjoying on your system. I think it’s a very interesting project and I’d like to keep working on it regularly since I think there’s much we can offer there. Of course my work on Muon hasn’t been limited to creating Discover, but I’ve also pushed many different internal changes in order to get different backends. Backends for OCS/KNS and Bodega, will be available from the next Muon version.
  • Furthermore, I’ve tried most of all to help KDE wherever I could. We organized the Pineda sprint, I’ve worked on bringing life to Plasma wallpapers, I’ve committed many fixes in the lower stack of KDE and Plasma Components to make sure everything worked and I put my grain of sand to push the People Framework.

All in all, I’m happy of what we’ve been doing from BlueSystems. I think it’s just starting, we’re doing great work, so keep tuned!

**sigh** When you have fun, time flies!

Cheers, and have happy holidays if you’re having them!

PS: … and this was only what I worked on while sponsored, it’s been a great year indeed. 🙂

Pairs is finally in KDE Edu

It’s been a long way, it’s made us struggle with ugliness at some point, but now we have Pairs in place to be released with the next KDE 4.9 Beta.

Also it will come with a great new UI drawn by Abhash Bikram Thapa featuring some lovely colorful people, yay! 🙂

Pairs is full of green people

If anybody is interested in the project, please get in touch with us or with the kde-edu mailing list! There’s plenty to be done: new games (sets of images and concepts), the game editor, improving the adaption in touch systems, and anything you’d like.

Thanks to everyone who has been involved in the making, especially Marco Calignano for helping and pushing me to do the work when needed, and Anne Marie for caring about the project. ^^

Next KDE Workspace Iteration

As it has already been said in the Plasma mailing list, we’re planning the next iteration of the KDE Workspaces.

For this project, we’d like to start with gathering a group of people to figure out a vision for this next iteration. If you know you have good ideas and you want to be part of this group, please send me an e-mail to aleixpol@kde.org and we will condider your application.

Anyhow, if vision is not what you want to work on and you still want to help, also there’s plenty you can do, just read through the e-mail and you should already start to get some ideas.

New year, new life (or KDE and GTK integration)

Or as they say in Spanish: año nuevo, vida nueva. Well, or not. My new year started the 1st December actually, when I got my engineering degree, but I’ll talk about the project some other day.

Today I’d like to talk about my new job at Netrunner, where I started some days after my graduation.

There I have been working on a KCM module to configure your GTK2/3. To do so, I took Chakra’s kcm and reworked it a little to behave like I wanted to. Now that we’re here, big thanks to the Chakra crowd, specially Manuel Tortosa and José Antonio Sánchez, who let me fiddle with their project.

After the cleanup part, I ported the project to our git.kde.org infrastructure, so now it’s a KDE project. It’s in playground for the moment, we’ll see where it will go from now on.

kde-gtk-config kcm screenshot

The KCM itself is quite stable at the moment. Feature-wise, it lets you select the GTK styles, the font and the icon themes to be used. Furthermore, it lets you tweak some more specific settings like the icon placing on the menu and so. Also there’s the possibility to download GTK and icon themes for fun and profit. I hope you’ll enjoy it :).

For Netrunner/debian/*ubuntu users, you can install the package using this package. (Please, use this package for testing purposes only).
On other distro’s, please ask your packagers to package it :).

Road to a better KDevelop newcomer experience

Hi fellow KDE!

Today I would like to talk a little about some work I’ve been doing recently in KDevelop in order to assure we have a good path for the new KDevelop user and KDE or free software Developer.

I think that KDevelop has been quite good at being adopted by people who know their way in the development process: in few words, people who already know the language they’re using and usually they can fill any lacking feature KDevelop might have, by doing some old-style terminal hacking :). No problem with that, but apparently not everyone is born with some wizard skills, so I’d like to improve this situation.

There are many aspects that can be improved and some have been lately. One of the most annoying things that we found (mostly in Randa, in the KDevelop team and some random spontaneous meeting) to be more annoying, was our “New Project” wizard, specially when it comes to start new technology based in KDE.

This is what it looked like before starting working on it:

There are some things I don’t like here: The tree view looks clumsy and doesn’t lead the user anywhere, so whenever I have considered to create a new project from this dialog, I’ve felt violated somehow. What I’m going to show here has to be taken as a first step towards where I want future KDE Developers experience to start (if they are starting a new project).

The idea here is that the user will select, first of all, what kind of application is going to be created, roughly: KDE Application, just a standard application, a web service or whatever it’s needed. Using KDE as an example, we’ll select if we want to create a console application, GUI application, Plasmoid, etc. Finally, we’ll select the language we want to use be C++, Python or whatever it’s available.

That last step change is important, because we’re adding more importance at what we are doing (a Plasmoid for example) than if we are going to do it in C++ or Python.

From this point there’s many things to be done:

  • Make it possible to create new applications from the KDE Examples
  • Add some category information, categories are not translatable right now and they can’t have an icon. I’d like to see this improved.
  • KNewStuff support to download new templates?
  • Make sure the KDE GUI application templates are equivalent for C++ or Python.
  • Improve the template’s description. Add links to techbase!
  • Think about the templates you always wanted as a kid and contribute them!
  • … many other things in your imagination 🙂

If someone is interested in helping, just ping me in IRC at #kdevelop in freenode, comment here or send me an e-mail, your call! 🙂

Oh! And last but not least, Big thanks to Àlex Fiestas for helping me sorting the templates and discussing the ideas, and Aurélien Gâteau for giving me a hand at making the GUI more usable.
After all this lonely KDE hacking, it feels great to sit down with someone else and try to take the best out of you on what you’re doing!

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