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Porting your project to Qt5/KF5

One of the things I’ve been asked recently quite often is about where’s the information regaring the needed port to KF5. I’ll use this blog post as reference.

Documentation

We have quite some documentation set up already to find your stuff. The ones I use the most are:

  1. api.kde.org: The API documentation, the frameworks section. There you can find most classes documented, within its own module.
  2. Porting notes: Whenever developing KF5, each not obvious decision we took was documented either here or in the api documentation. It’s especially interesting to look at this when hitting a deprecated class. If it’s not here, check the API documentation, if it’s still not there tell us and we’ll fix it.
  3. Already ported code: We have a good set of ported projects, it can be interesting to look at them and see how things have been resolved. Look for a frameworks branch.
  4. People: As a last resource, there’s always the community to give you a hand, notably in the #kde-devel IRC channel in freenode and the kde-frameworks-devel@kde.org mailing list.

How to get started

When it comes to porting, we can have a bit of a stress at start, I recommend to take it quietly and to take any step forward as a success. 🙂

For frameworks and libraries, look here, a template for creating KDE Frameworks.
For applications, what works the best is to port first the root CMakeLists.txt file, it should look like this:

find_package(ECM 0.0.11 REQUIRED NO_MODULE)
set(CMAKE_MODULE_PATH ${ECM_MODULE_PATH} ${ECM_KDE_MODULE_DIR})

include(KDEInstallDirs)
include(KDECMakeSettings)
include(KDECompilerSettings)
include(FeatureSummary)

find_package(Qt5 REQUIRED COMPONENTS Widgets)
find_package(KF5 REQUIRED COMPONENTS CoreAddons Solid)

add_subdirectory(src)

feature_summary(WHAT ALL FATAL_ON_MISSING_REQUIRED_PACKAGES)

There’s not much more to change further than that. To make it a bit faster, you can use the spartan script, to port some simple and tedious changes to the new cmake names used in KF5. Note that it’s not perfect and we don’t ensure it’s going to work, but so far it has been of good help to me.

A good way to figure out if the porting is acceptable, is to run the unit tests of your application. If you don’t have, then remember that making unit tests is fun.

Things to look into

CMake
  • Adopted the cmake idioms: We don’t use anymore kde4_* macros to create targets, but the cmake macros, e.g. kde4_add_executable -> add_executable.
  • Dependencies: Where we used to have ${KDE4_KDEUI_LIBS}, now we have KF5::WidgetsAddons. Note it’s not a variable anymore and if you use cmake 3.0 you’ll get a warning if it wasn’t found. Furthermore, now each target already pulls the include directories. We don’t need to keep adding include_directories() with each of the dependencies.
  • Extra-cmake-modules: Look at what’s in there, there’s interesting things you’ll have to use at some point, also it’s targetted as a cmake extension, you might want to use it even though Qt or C++ isn’t used in your project.
C++

In reality, this is probably the easiest part. You need to keep trying to make it compile, and when it doesn’t then you look at the API and porting notes until it does, then goto “C++”.

To get the port started, it’s usually best to rely on KDELibs4Support framework in the beginning. It’s a framework with all the modules we decided to deprecate, because we moved the functionality to Qt5 mostly. It will help get to a point where everything is building then you can start removing deprecated dependencies 1 by 1. It’s also good to use it when there’s development still in the Qt4 branch of the project, because merging back will be easier.

If you’re planning to keep developing in Qt4 for a while, some porting beforehand can be useful, like KIcon -> QIcon::fromTheme, this way you also reduce the divergence between branches. Another idea to do before porting is to do unit testing, so you don’t need to test by hand every feature while porting.

QML

Porting QML is not trivial, but then there were only few projects actually using it seriously. All the underlying technology changed, so it can get tricky. At the moment, in Qt5 there are 2 QML implementations, QtQuick 1, which is the one we used in Qt4 and QtQuick 2 which is the one you want to be on, which uses Qt Scene Graph and does voodoo with the GPU.

One thing you get to decide is to stay in QtQuick 1. That is, only if everything it depends on is ported to QtQuick 1. For that matter, the PlasmaComponents were ported directly to QtQuick 2, so you’ll have to make the full change.

If you need to port to QtQuick 2, there’s also some scripts you can use to ease the change. You’ll want to basically change all the classes starting with QDeclarative* to QQml* and QQuick*, they usually keep the same name. If you were using QGraphicsView features, then you’re screwed.

In the actual qml/js side, when porting to QtQuick 2, you’ll want to update all imports. All Qt imports versions were bumped, so now you’ll have to change “import QtQuick 1.1” to “import QtQuick 2.2”. In the same direction, “import org.kde.plasma.components 0.1” now becomes “import org.kde.plasma.components 2.0”

Final considerations

I recommend people to do their porting, I think it’s a solid step forward for the project and will help you clean up parts of it and start thinking future.
Qt 5 provides many interesting new concepts. I’m thinking of QtWebSockets, QtWayland, QtWebEngine and I hear Qt3D is getting really interesting. Additionally, it enables your project from letting the Qt code integrate properly in the new C++11 concepts.
Porting to KF5 will also help your project become more portable and reach out to different platforms.

Finally, if you think this is interesting for KDE but you can’t find time or energy to dedicate it, please take a look at the Randa pledge, where we will push together to get KDE to embrace fully the KDE Frameworks 5.

New git repositories structure: The KDE workspaces

I know most of you have been following the upcoming Plasma Next release with interest, there’s lots of work being done, and as usual, most of it happens under the surface.

I would like to talk today about the new repository structure we have been working on during the last weeks: Splitting the kde-workspace and kde-runtime repositories.

What did we use to have, so far?

What we have now is mostly an evolution of what KDE ever was, only that after many iterations, especially given the long history we’ve been through, since the Kool Desktop environment days, in CVS back then. Since then, concepts have changed, the community has progressed and ultimately, the projects we’re offering have evolved a great deal.
Nowadays our workspaces are built around the kde-workspace repository which is a subset of what kdebase once was. It contains the code relative to the shell, System Settings, kinfocenter, KWin and other components, even some libraries.

Note that some of these are big components, some are small, some are part of Plasma Active, some aren’t. This had different implications, for example: Plasma Active depends on having the desktop environment installed, repository-wise, so does KWin need to have systemsettings installed, etc.

What will we have now?

We chopped kde-workspace into several chunks. We separated what’s specific to our desktop users and what can be independent components, trying to make sure that we end up with manageable projects rather than a bag of surprises. This leaves us a clean outline of what projects we are working on, while still letting us figure out what is part of a project and what isn’t.

This is all glued together by the dependency-data files, where we specify what project depends on what project within KDE. This means both and compile-time and runtime. The dependency-data files will start gaining relevance as it suggests, what does it mean to have a full Plasma Desktop installed or, for example, a full KDevelop. *

What does this mean?

Depending on how you look at it, nothing changes. I would like to highlight some points though, of what I think will have the most impact.

  • Simpler to modify and deploy the components. Some of our components are more complex than others. Now you can modify System Settings without pulling a full KWin.
  • Easily follow your favorite projects. Now you’ll be able to follow the commits in a specific project (See the “Follow this project” check in a project page). This should increase peer review for people interested in a project but concerned about receiving noise on the inbox.
  • Simpler to reach the components. Now it’s easier to figure out where the System Settings are, given that you can find them in projects.kde.org right away.

I hope you’ll be as excited as I am, hopefully by joining the development team and helping us create a wonderfully awesome Plasma Next release.

* This opens the possibility to review what’s extragear and what’s KDE SC roles, it will be an interesting discussion.

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.

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