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Category: my projects (Page 4 of 7)

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • 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.

Changing point of views, the Commit Digest

I’ve usually contributed to KDE by developing software itself, I’ve done other things from KDE Spain as well, as many presentations but that’s not really my focus.

What I’d like to discuss today is my experience with the commit digest. Since before I even had a KDE svn account, I started following commit digest. For those who don’t know about it, the commit digest is a service that with the help of some editors, it gathers what KDE commits have been interesting during a week and posts them together in a nice web page.

I’ve always liked it. Enthusiasts have few ways of following the KDE development: the Planet KDE, KDE News, some mailing lists. But all those refer mostly refer to things that are quite close to be usable or just discussions but little actual work. Those are great, but some of us like to see how those come together, like in a crystal ball. Here’s where the commit digest helps a lot, because it puts some interesting specific modifications and fixed bugs that have happened in our code base for the reader to see what has been going on. I think it’s fantastic!

In any case, a couple of weeks ago I saw some of the editors asking for help and I decided to contribute to it. Getting started is easy, you just go to the enzyme web and apply for the role you’d like to do and then you’ll receive an e-mail with the mailing list and a wiki page discussing the guidelines.

From there you can start contributing from a nice interface such as this:
enzyme review screenshot

There you just press the cross or the tick if the commit should proceed or not. I recently found out that the keyboard can be used for that as well; you can do so by pressing the Right Arrow key for jumping to the next entry and space whenever you find a commit relevant, this will mark the current commit as good, so that it can be classified afterwards.

All in all, I think that the Commit Digest is a very nice way to contribute to KDE. It’s easy to get started with it and I think it pays off. Also you get to see how most people work inside KDE.

Hope you find this interesting like I did!

Changing wallpapers

The fresh air of the Swiss Alps is good for many things. I came here to work on KDE Edu mostly but I’ll be reporting first about some contribution to Plasma. During the last weeks I’ve been working, during my BlueSystems time, on a new plugin that will let you have a wallpaper written in QtQuick. I think it’s a very interesting step because it will provide a simpler way to draw KDE Plasma Wallpapers that can react to things. For now I created a couple of wallpapers: One that’s really ugly and another one that fetches ASCII animals from the interwebz and makes it move randomly from time to time. The good news is that it just works, that it has not a noticeable performance impact 1, that it’s terribly easy to write one and that it’s incredibly fun to play with them. ๐Ÿ™‚

1 if you don’t make expensive stuff in the script, of course PS: if anybody is interested in having such wallpapers working on KDE 4.9, please tell me and we’ll manage it ๐Ÿ˜‰

Discovering your OS and beyond

Some time ago, I already talked about the project I started along with Blue Systems called Muon Discover. For those who didn’t follow, it’s some software to get to know the resources your OS is providing like applications.

Muon Discover has had quite a good welcome, somebody even recorded some pretty awesome review, but as you will understand we couldn’t stop there.

The first Muon Discover iteration was centered into building a new GUI to figure out your system’s available applications. The second iteration though, was meant to be an engine overhaul. The GUI wouldn’t change much but technically it changed a lot. Muon’s internal library was repurposed into a backend-based system where APT is only a backend, which means basically two things:

  • Now we can have multiple backends
  • Now we don’t depend on QApt

With all these changes, I chose to add another backend too (a backend-based system with 1 backend is sad), so I created some KNS+OCS backend that works well enough. At the moment, it is providing Plasmoids to be added to your KDE Desktop and Comics for your Comics Plasmoid. Here you can see a video of Muon Discover running on my ArchLinux system. ๐Ÿ™‚

Muon Discover, KNS Backend from Aleix Pol on Vimeo.

Now the call for collaboration:
Do you want your OS resources to be available through Muon? Create a backend!
Do you want to support other resources than we’re displaying? Create a backend, or expose those through OCS.

Possibilities are wide and it’s a great moment to explore them. What do we want to offer? Only applications? Maybe also multimedia resources? Books? We have to figure all this out, and now it’s the moment to do so by joining the project :).

If there’s any way I can help, I’ll be glad to, so don’t hesitate to ask if there’s any question!

See you!

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ^^

You’re welcome to KDevelop!

Sometimes it’s hard to get started using a tool, some people call it white page syndrome, in KDevelop we had the gray page syndrome:

kdevelop the gray

I guess you see what I mean.

To solve this problem we discussed many times about creating some way to Kickstart a KDevelop session properly, this is what I came up with. It’s nothing very different from what others do, but it’s ours, so that makes it immensely awesome. I guess you’ll understand about it easy by putting a video, looking forward to your feedback!

Kamoso Sprint

Kamoso sprints are special. There’s no travelling involved, there’s no big deal other than managing to find the correct day to meet with Alex Fiestas and spend some KDE time.

I think that Alex will agree with me that it was quite a productive time, we got quite a lot working and the rest more or less sorted out. I wanted to make a lengthy blog post about how did we spend the night.

Since it’s already late, I’ll leave you with this video and some pictures. I hope you’ll grasp how awesome it is to work on KDE. Again. ๐Ÿ™‚

coffee kdevelop tea

Cheers!! \o/
(say cheeseeee!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

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

Or as they say in Spanish: aรฑo 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 Josรฉ Antonio Sรกnchez, 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 :).

Pairs and ugly applications

Hi!
Some time ago I blogged about a new game for KDE Edu, a memory-enhancing cards game. It was getting dusty in my scratch repository until Marco Calignano had the strength to push some features that it desperately needed and at the same time pushed me into gaining interest in the project again.

A lot has happened since: the name changed to Pairs (can be found in kde:pairs now) and it’s quite awesome already, I’d say. It lets us download themes from the Internet, supports different game types like image->image, image->word and some others, etc.

A couple of weeks ago we discussed about moving it to KDE Edu finally, although we decided not to and port it to QtQuick so that we can make it work in touch screens and we can get to have fancy GUI. In few days we managed to port it to QtQuick (somehow, there are some hacks :D) but now it’s a little ugly. WTH, not a little ugly, very ugly. It makes your eyes hurt and it’s on purpose.

Why would someone make such an ugly beast? Well, because we’re looking forward to find someone who can make it look nice. Now, those of you who have some pride in your artistic skills, please consider it: Could you please dedicate some time in your life to a community of hardcore developers without this sparkle for beauty? We don’t have much to offer other than considering your idea and hopefully it will get to be used by children from all around the world (now that I think of it, maybe it is something!).

What we need is quite simple:

  1. Check the video, when your eyes hurt just stop it.
  2. Think of what you think the GUI should look like.
  3. Here I’d love to say that you should be able to provide a QML file, if you can’t then just a mockup.
  4. Optionally (and preferably) you can check what it looks like by modifying the qml GUI and compiling the program. Here there are some instructions: http://techbase.kde.org/Getting_Started/Build/KDE_Applications
  5. Send it to me at aleixpol@kde.org. You can also send me any questions you have, as well as posting them as comments below, so that we can discuss it all together.

Cheers, for beauty! ๐Ÿ™‚

PS: And elegance ๐Ÿ˜‰

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