In one week the Randa Meetings 2014 will start and this is possible because of you. You supported us (and can still support us 😉 and thanks to you we will be able to improve your beloved KDE software even more. So it’s time to give you something new. Here is another interview with one of the persons who will be participating in this year’s meetings (and participated since the start in 2009). And watch out for some other interviews to come in the next days and weeks.
Here is a glimpse into Myriam Schweingruber’s life and her dedication and love for KDE.
Myriam; could you tell us a bit about yourself and where you live?
I am 55 years old and a trained pharmacist from Switzerland. I currently work as a part-time scientific translator in the fields of pharmacy and medicine. I am also an avid computer user since the very first days of the Commodore 64 and the PC; you could describe me as kind of a nerd! I’ve been living in Germany for the last few years.
How did you first get involved with KDE?
When I first tried my hands on Linux in the late 90’s, KDE was the only sane desktop available. It must have been version 1 something and of course is not comparable to what we see now. Over the years I have tried a lot of other window managers and desktop solutions, but KDE applications and the Plasma desktop remain my solution of choice when I switch on the computer.
Wow. That sounds so interesting. You’ve been with KDE for a very long time. How would you describe the evolution of KDE over the years? Any specific jumps/breakthroughs/changes that have been strongly imprinted in your mind? I’m sure everyone who’s been fairly new to KDE would love to hear about its history!
Well, I have used KDE software since the first versions of it, but I only got involved as a contributor later. I think what we all fell in love with what was KDE 3: it was really a desktop way ahead and left all the freedom to the user who could configure whatever they liked. This was indeed the true spirit of freedom as an indication of what Free Software means. I don’t think there were other desktops around at that time that came up to par with it.
And KDE SC 4 was yet another big step to pave the way onto how a modern computer works; but also a new challenge that was hard to meet and didn’t go without glitches. I remember to have been an early adopter of KDE SC 4 since the 4.0 previews, and I continuously had to remind myself that I was actually testing a technical preview, not a finished product. With the amount of applications that had to be moved to Qt4 it took years to get it polished, something maybe people were not aware of. What I usually reminded them of was to compare what is comparable: proprietary desktops get new releases every 5 or 6 years, at most, and there is a lot of money behind it. KDE SC 4 did it in just 3-4 years, and most of the work was done in our free time while still maintaining the Qt3 branches.
Why is KDE so special to you?
First of all; the community is awesome, as there is a spot for everybody who wants to get involved, regardless of your skills or background. It is probably also the only Free Software community out there who never had problems with integrating people. I am a member of KDE Women, of course. But while it is a stepping stone to attract more women into KDE it is certainly not needed as a hide-out; as women like all other groups have always been an integral part of the community.
It is so amazing to find a lady so passionate about technology and coding which as per the old fashioned norms has largely been viewed as a male’s domain. What is your message to all the girls out there who are budding tech geeks and wish to be involved with coding and FOSS? How would you motivate them to make their space in a male driven area of interest? Any words to get them to try their hand at technology and venture into different spaces?
One word: don’t be shy! We have the same capabilities as men do, and remember: the first computer programmers were almost exclusively women! I would suggest all women making their way into IT to read up the history of computers: both the Zuse as well as the ENIAC and other early computers were programmed by women, as men thought that it was like kitchen recipes, so it couldn’t be that difficult!
Could you talk about how KDE in particular is working for more involvement of women and how gender biases as well as any other forms of discrimination are actually metamorphosed into encouragement and due equality so as to have a community where everyone feels just as welcome and no one is left out?
Well, I don’t think we do anything special in the KDE community, we just consider every contributor as equals, and since we do that, we really don’t need any specific groups. Everybody is welcome to contribute, what we value is the contributor, regardless of their background. Unlike other women groups, KDE Women doesn’t act like a place where women come in and then stay there, it is just another door to the KDE Community. So the activity of KDE Women is rather low, we try to organize something on Ada Lovelace Day to get new contributors, but for the rest of the time it is just an open door and we never lock it!
Which specific area of KDE applications do you contribute to?
I am part of the Amarok team. I also contribute to the Bugsquad and the KDE testing team.
Could you pinpoint any particular role you play in KDE when it comes to contributing?
I don’t think I have a specific role, I just work on what I can contribute to, so currently I triage bugs, mostly for Amarok and Phonon, and also work on other non-coding areas in Amarok (promotion, user support, documentation, etc).
Could you give a brief description of your experience in the past few years at Randa Meetings and your involvement?
The very first Randa Meeting was actually a Plasma sprint and took place in the family chalet of Mario Fux. I and Mark were living in Switzerland at that time and went for a visit. During a walk I remembered the summer camps I spent in Randa as a kid and spotted the old house where I’ve spent many summers. We (Mario, Mark and I) had the idea of checking if the house could actually be used to host other sprints and that is how everything started. I have since then attended every sprint in Randa and those have always been the most productive ones I ever attended.
Wow. So I think that I can very aptly label you as one of the founding fathers errr sorry; founding mother of the Randa Meetings! Any particular funny/memorable/scary incident in particular at any Randa Meet that you’d like to share?
Don’t give too much credit to me, I was only one of the people who were at that particular sprint and Mario already had a similar idea, maybe I was just another push to move the idea forward.
Have you got anything in particular planned for Randa this year?
Randa has always been the place where we got a tremendous amount of work done. The gorgeous surroundings, the good air and the lack of local distractions make working in Randa very productive. So yes, I plan to concentrate on my usual work, namely triaging bugs and updating the current documentation and user handbook to the latest changes, as well as adapting the website theme so that we can make the transition to a newer Drupal instance. We also plan to prepare for the Amarok 2.9 release that will integrate a lot of the work done over the last year.
What will you be looking forward to the most in Randa? Any particular people or projects you are eager to meet and collaborate with?
First of all: meeting all the old friends who gather in Randa that we rarely see in real life, as all of us are from different places around the world and Randa is the perfect place to finally get together again. Unlike Akademy, it is a more intimate gathering, focused on working on our projects, without the distractions of the talks and sightseeing. For me it is also the perfect occasion to meet the team members again, and finally also meet a GSoC student who is working with us since quite some time. Of course collaboration with the other KDE multimedia people is something I am also looking forward to, and of course the great food!
How important has Randa been for you in your journey with KDE and FOSS contribution through the past few years?
I think it is important not only for me, but for all who’ve been in Randa before, and we can all agree that it really is the best place to get a lot of work done. In the last few gatherings we managed to do a lot of work that needed active collaboration, like documentation, just to name one specific field. One of the Randa sprints was probably the week where we fixed more Amarok bugs than we did in the whole year before the meeting, just because we had everybody together in the same place.
Why do you think Meetings such as Randa are very important for KDE and FOSS communities around the globe?
While a lot of the work in Free Software is done over the internet, nothing replaces the real life meetings, as it provides an extra drive in terms of motivation. Modern software development is mostly agile, something even corporate software development is using more and more. Due to the global distribution of our contributors; Free Software development has always been agile to start with, even if we didn’t put a label on it in the early days.
And in agile development; sprints are a very important element to push the project forward. While sprints can be done over the web, they are hindered by time-zones, external distractions, availability of contributors, etc. Having real life sprints, even if those are few, are more productive as all the hindrances of the web meetings are eliminated and the productivity is greatly enhanced.
Why do you think supporting such meetings is of importance and how has the support helped you as a KDE developer?
The support allows us to bring developers together who would not be able to attend the sprints and would then have to be involved with it remotely, with all the downsides of remote work.
Could you give a brief description of what your typical day in Randa was like in the past few years?
Get up early, grab a great breakfast and meet the team members at the breakfast table; plan the day, eventually schedule a meeting for later during the day or attend the meetings scheduled in advance. Then discuss specific problems with the people on site, get some work done, lunch break, short walk to get fresh air, discussions during walks, get work done, grab some fruit, work again, oh, it is already supper time! After supper, continue work, relax with friends and discuss more plans, eventually get aware that time flies and it is already midnight and try to get some sleep.
During the whole day tea and coffee are available, as well as fruits and sweets. Since all teams have specific rooms you always know where to find somebody, and of course we all use IRC to communicate and eventually schedule a meeting within 5 minutes.
Lastly; any particular message to the people of the world?
Support KDE and the Randa Meetings!
Thanks a lot, Myriam, for your time for the interview and dedication to Amarok and the KDE community.
Akademy 2014 will kick off on September 6 in Brno, Czech Republic; our keynote speakers will be opening the first two days. Continuing a tradition, the first keynote speaker is from outside the KDE community, while the second is somebody you all know. On Saturday, Sascha Meinrath will speak about the dangerous waters he sees our society sailing into, and what is being done to help us steer clear of the cliffs. Outgoing KDE e.V. Board President, Cornelius Schumacher, will open Sunday’s sessions with a talk about what it is to be KDE and why it matters.
Sascha Meinrath – photo by Faith Swords
Sascha Meinrath on the Internet of Things
Sascha Meinrath is well-known in the broad FOSS community. Wikipedia describes him as an “Internet culture leader and community Internet pioneer”. He was a leading voice in the successful opposition to the U.S. SOPA and PIPA legislation, and is the founder of the Open Technology Institute (OTI), a public policy think tank advocating policy and regulations that are healthy for open source, open standards and innovation. OTI also works on lowering the barrier to wireless communication (Commotion Wireless) and advancing network research in the Measurement Lab. Recently, Sascha started the X-Lab, which anticipates technology directions and develops public policy for them, rather than reacting afterward with the risk of being caught off guard.
Sascha looks ahead at potential challenges, aware of the ways governments and companies abuse technology or could do so. With the Akademy program committee, he discussed “digital feudalism—the interlocking system of devices and applications that are reducing us to a serf-like state”. Having coined this term, he is in a good position to explain the ways in which private and government forces are undermining the democratic, participatory platform of the Internet. And how this subterfuge has further broad impacts that reduce our freedom.
Resolving this dilemma cannot be solely a technical endeavor. Sascha said, “I see the work with the Commotion Wireless Project or fighting against NSA surveillance or on major spectrum licensure reform as different facets of the same problem, but am most worried about what happens with the so-called ‘Internet of Things’—which I view with extreme skepticism”. The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to transform communication networks massively. Enormous security implications aren’t even the biggest concern. Sascha notes that “there are tremendous opportunities for building open ecosystems and privacy-protecting equivalents to mainstream products—but that has to be combined with strong pushes in governmental/policy circles as well as in outreach/PR”.
In other words, it is Sascha’s intention to ensure that this transition to the Internet of Things—whatever shape it will have—is built on open standards, protocols and strong protection of individual freedom. “And if that disrupts the dominant business model of many major corporations today (who all want to commoditize your private data), so be it”.
Sascha Meinrath is one of Time Magazine’s “Most Influential Minds in Tech” and Newsweek’s “Digital Power Index Top 100 Influencers”. KDE is in a strong position to provide technical innovation and has consistently demonstrated the power of community, freedom and openness. At Akademy 2014 in Brno, there is a strong possibility that this partnership will produce outcomes that will benefit people the world over. Anyone who is committed to having technology make a difference owes it to themselves to be part of Akademy.
Cornelius in the (g)olden days – photo by Helge Heß
Cornelius Schumacher on How KDE Makes You a Better Person
A strikingly related subject will be brought to the Akademy audience on Sunday. Cornelius Schumacher, president of KDE e.V., has been a KDE contributor since 1999. He has seen changes in every direction and has been at the heart of several of them. Cornelius will talk about the tremendous opportunity KDE provides to learn and grow, not only technology, but also people. He will show how the community consistently acts as a breeding ground for software and for personal growth as well. “I joined KDE for the technology, but stayed for the community”, Cornelius says. “I have never stopped being amazed by the people around me in KDE, the talent, the friendship, the passion to do something for the greater good. I learned so much from these people and owe a big part of my career and personal development to the community.”
Over the years Cornelius has seen many people join KDE and grow, and often outgrow the community. Roots for industry-changing technology and for amazing careers can be found in KDE. But what makes this environment so special? What holds it together over the many years where hundreds, even thousands of people contribute and form the KDE community? Cornelius gives a hint: “If the community is the soil, freedom is the fertilizer. The ideals of free software create the foundation that makes KDE possible, and these ideals extend to more than just software. Within KDE, it’s a commonly felt responsibility to give everybody access to great technology, retaining individual freedoms and control about not only your computing, but your life.”
Cornelius’s topic is not just abstract or conceptual; it is something which relates to all of us on a personal level. This is a challenge and a chance. In the end Cornelius will reveal the secret of how KDE makes you a better person.
Akademy 2014 Brno
For most of the year, KDE—one of the largest FOSS communities in the world—works online by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, propose and consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the following year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work to bring those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, or looking to begin using it.
If you are someone who believes that it’s possible for technology to make a difference in the world, Akademy 2014 in Brno, Czech Republic is the place to be.
In May a group of three Okular developers met for four days at the Blue Systems Barcelona office to hack on the KDE universal document viewer.
The first day the team triaged a lot of bugs resulting in …
From the fourth to the sixth of July, the Calligra team got together in sunny Deventer (Netherlands) for the yearly developer sprint at the same location as the last Krita sprint. Apart from seeing the sights and having our group photo in front of one …
KDE has released the third beta of the 4.14 versions of Applications and Development Platform. With API, dependency and feature freezes in place, the focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing. Your assistance is requested!
This week KDE released updates for its Applications and Development Platform, the third and last in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the 4.13 series. This release also includes an updated Plasma Workspaces 4.11.11. Both releases contain …
The first release of Plasma 5 is out now. We have worked long and hard over the last three years to tidy up the internals and move to new technologies to bring a solid foundation for KDE’s Plasma desktop for years to come. The UI has bee…
KDE has released the first beta of the 4.14 versions of Applications and Development Platform. With API, dependency and feature freezes in place, the focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing. Your assistance is requested!
Today, the KDE community has made available the first stable release of Frameworks 5. At the Randa Meetings back in 2011, we started work on porting KDE Platform 4 to Qt 5. But as part of this effort, we also began modularizing our libraries, integrat…
As Michael Bohlender (known to some e.g. for his GSoC project about Kmail Active last year) needed to do some interviews for his anthropology course at the university he decided to reactive the People behind KDE series or, as they are now named, the Pe…
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:
This is one of our first interviews with the excited attendees of the Randa meetings and today you shall get a glimpse into the mind, workings and makings of Cristian Oneț who has been with KDE since quite some time now and has been a prominent contributor.
Could you describe yourself in a few lines and tell us where you’re from?
My name is Cristian Oneț, I’m a software developer. I live in Timișoara, Romania. At my day job I work on developing/maintaining a suite of desktop applications on Windows (using Qt lately). I’m also a member of the KMyMoney development team.
How did you first chance upon KDE? Could you describe your journey in short?
My first contact with KDE was back in the 3.x days (I think it was 3.2). I was just starting to get familiar with Linux (first years at the Computer Science Faculty) and I was looking for a desktop that looked and felt good. KDE’s workspace was my pick then and it stayed that way ever since.
Why is KDE so special to you?
It’s the most visible part of my computer. By using it and contributing to its improvement it allowed me to grow as a developer. It feels good to be able contribute to something you find useful and to do it in a fun way.
Will this be your first time in Randa?
Yes it’s my first time.
When did you first hear about the meetings in Randa and why do you wish to be a part of it?
I’ve heard about previous meetings in Randa from reading Planet KDE. I didn’t really think that I’ll ever participate but this year I was contacted by Mario Fux with the proposal to help port KMyMoney to KF5. After a short exchange of e-mails I decided that it would be nice to be there.
Which specific area of KDE software do you contribute to? Could you give a brief overview?
I’m a part of the team that develops KMyMoney the KDE personal finances manager application. I also had small contributions (mostly small patches) in other parts of KDE software (kdepim, kdelibs), most of these were fixes for problems that I encountered using KDE software or developing KMyMoney. Last but not least, I also contributed with Romanian translations since I believe that software should be properly internationalized.
As a KMyMoney developer one of the biggest task that I contributed to was porting it to KDE Platform 4. This was a great chance to get familiar with Qt’s MVC programming. That period was one of the biggest wave of development on the project lately. After porting the application to KDE Platform 4 the port to Windows followed. That was also fun since I got to know some KDE Windows project members on the way.
How do you manage to balance your job and contribution to KDE?
I try to do both in a way that makes me happy with the work I’m doing. My KDE contribution can keep me happy as a developer which is not always possible at my job. There is also a limit to what I can do when it comes to contribution and if the time’s consumed by my job I can’t really contribute much. I’m usually productive as an Open Source contributor after my summer holiday. Contributions are also influenced by the feedback of the community and the development team. I find that it is usually easier to fix problems that effect a lot of people.
You work on the windows platform during your job and have an in-depth understanding of it. But you prefer to use Linux as your primary OS. Could you give us a few reasons why someone should make the switch to Open Source?
Yes, I always preferred Linux but that preference is pretty influenced by the way I relate to computers. I think that anyone who desires freedom of information should use Open Source, but of course, this is a disputable statement. The counter argument would be that one is only free if he has the knowledge and time to fix stuff that’s broken. It’s nice that the knowledge is out there but that does not really help somebody who just needs things to work.
I came a long way learning about computers by using Linux (Gentoo Linux that is) and I’m thankful for that. Still, I find myself once in a while after an update mumbling about some stuff that just broke because somebody thought it should be re-written from scratch. Not trying to send forth a wrong message, I know that there are problems on other platforms as well but on Linux they tend to be more frequent (probably caused by the faster release cycles). That’s when the freedom to change stuff gets handy.
As a person who has been with KDE since his student days; what would your advice be to the students who are currently contributing to KDE to keep them motivated to continue development when they start working on a fully fledged job?
I would advise them to do what they enjoy doing. If they enjoy contributing to Open Source now then that probably won’t change and they will keep doing it after they have a job. If they really enjoy Open Source they could be looking for a job on an Open Source project if they have the opportunity. Meeting the people they work with in Open Source could be also creating a kind of connection that would keep them contributing even when they have less free time in the future. Last but not least Open Source can be a kind of “escape” where one can really do the things they like when there is no such freedom at a job.
The Randa Meetings organizers use KMyMoney for their finances.
Since you are working on KMyMoney on both Windows and Linux could you describe the particulars of the development process in both and which one you prefer to work on?
I only developed KMyMoney on Linux, on Windows I only work on platform specific issues. But I can compare the two development platforms using the experience I have in C++ development on Windows at my job. My opinion is that except for the debugger; the tools on Linux are much more developer friendly. I use KDevelop, I love it’s syntax highlighting, symbol navigation and documentation features but it still crashes once in a while (mainly while switching branches in Git). It’s great to edit code but the integration with gdb does not seem so smooth as Microsoft Visual Studio’s debugger. Code highlighting and navigation can also be improved on Windows with some add-ons. I have heard a lot about Qt Designer but I really like KDevelop and I can live with the debugger (it works 90 % of the time).
The KDE Platform is still pretty unstable on Windows and this was causing a lot of issues with the deployment once the application was ported. I guess this is caused by the fact that KDE software is mainly developed on Linux. The KDE on Windows team did a great job of trying to patch things to make them work on Windows but it seems it’s hard to keep up with the pace KDE software is being developed. That’s why, once we had our hands on a good KDE Windows release (that was 4.10.5 but it still needed custom patches), we stuck with it in the standalone installer that we provide. I would like KDE to focus on making the platform more stable than always looking at the next big thing in UI design.
I think that on Windows users only care about applications, if they would like to use the whole desktop they would definitely switch to Linux.
So the answer to your question is: I prefer to develop on Linux but I would also like the framework to be cross platform and so I would like to contribute to improve this situation.
Have you got anything in particular planned for Randa?
As I mentioned earlier hopefully I will be able to finish my task of porting KMyMoney to KF5 as well as meet KDE Windows project members, learn how KF5 will improve packaging on Windows and have fun while doing all that.
What will you be looking forward to the most in the Randa Sprint? Any expectations or hopes of what it will be like? Any particular people or projects you are looking to collaborate on/with in Randa? Any targets set on completing with respect to development?
The most interesting will be meeting the people that attend. I would start with some KDE Windows project members since I’ve been working with some of them while we ported KMyMoney to Windows. Packaging on Windows is still pretty hard so I would expect this to be improved. I would like to discuss about this and see if I could contribute since I’m at home in C++ development on Windows (it’s my job).
What does KDE mean to you and what role has it played in shaping you as a contributor/developer?
It’s my desktop of choice which I’ve been using for more than 10 years now. I really enjoy working with KDE/Qt as a developer since I think both have some of the most well designed API in the world of C++ frameworks/libraries. Since we use Qt at my job it was pretty useful to have previously worked with it.
Why do you think Meetings such as Randa are very important for KDE and for Open Source communities around the globe?
I’ve participated only once at a KDE related developer meeting. It was the KDE Finances Sprint in 2010. I felt that it was really nice that I could meet the people I was working with face to face. Such a meeting can create different kind of connections than an acquaintance using the usual (e-mail, irc) communication channels.
Why do you think supporting them is of importance and how has the support helped you as a KDE developer and an Open Source contributor?
Building on my previous answer I think that it’s important to build well knit teams. People who meet in person work better together, at least that is the experience I’ve had while working on KMyMoney. Our meeting gave the team a big boost so if KDE is to move forward at a good pace it needs to encourage and support developer meetings. As for me as a developer it was a real pleasure to get to know my colleagues who came from different parts of the world to see the similarities and the differences between us.
Could you briefly describe a rough outline of what you’d imagine your typical day in Randa this time around to be?
I guess it will be similar to the days we had at the KDE Finances sprint. After breakfast meetings, lunch then meetings again then some socializing over a beer in the evening.
Is this your first time to Switzerland? Are you excited about being in another country?
Yes, I’ve never been to Switzerland before, being able to visit it was one of the reasons I’ve decided to attend the meeting. At first I’ve declined since the period was overlapping with my family holiday but after I found out that it would be OK to spend a few days working at the meeting and the rest I could spend with my wife (we will be there together) I’ve decided to go.
Thanks a lot, Cristian, for your time for the interview and dedication to KMyMoney and the KDE community.
Please support us in the organization of the Randa Meetings 2014.
Five years ago, the Krita team decided raise funds to raise Krita to the level of a professional applications . That fundraiser was successful beyond all expectations and enabled us to release Krita 2.4, the first version of Krita ready for professional artists!
Now, it’s time for another fundraiser, much, much more ambitious in scope! Dmitry Kazakov has worked full-time on Krita 2.8, and now we want him to work full-time on Krita 2.9, too. And it’s not just Dmitry: Sven, who has contributed to Krita for over ten years now, has recently finished university and is available as well.
So, we’ve setup a base goal that would cover Dmitry’s work, a stretch goal that would cover Sven’s work and a super-stretch goal that would cover porting Krita to the last remaining OS we don’t cover: OS X.
Since 2009, the Krita project has had three more sponsored projects, and all of them delivered: the Comics with Krita and Muses training DVD’s and Dmitry’s work on Krita 2.8. With Krita 2.4, Krita could be used by professional artists, with Krita 2.8, artists all over the world started taking notice and with 2.9, well — we’ll make Krita irresistible!
Help us spread the word and make this campaign a big success!
The next generation desktop from KDE is taking shape and the second beta is out now for testing. The developers have settled on a name – Plasma 5, and there is only one month to go until the first release so please test packages from your distro or do…
Today KDE released updates for its Applications and Development Platform, the second in a series of monthly stabilization updates to the 4.13 series. This release also includes an updated Plasma Workspaces 4.11.10. Both releases contain only bugfixes a…
Today KDE makes available the third beta of Frameworks 5. This beta release is part of a series of pre-releases leading up to the final version planned for July 2014.
From January 18th to 25th, Kate, KDevelop and Skanlite developers met in Barcelona. The sprint was focused on the work of the upcoming few months, and covered a wide range of aspects of these projects.
left to right, back row: Kevin Funk, Gregor Mi, Dominik Haumann, Christoph Cullmann, Milian Wolff, Joseph Wenninger
front row: Sven Brauch, Aleix Pol, Heinz Wiesinger, Miquel Sabaté
One of the big initiatives that the developers have been working on recently is the KDE Frameworks 5 migration. During the sprint, Kate’s port to Frameworks 5 matured while KDevelop received its first push towards the adoption of the new Frameworks. This is an important step because it lets the team think ahead about adopting the technologies that will be developed on for the next years.
KDevelop also improved on the supported languages front. The new KDevelop Clang plugin got a big push, and, while it is not going to be released yet, it is expected to supersede the current C++ plugin in the long term. Clang is expected to improve the support for standard C++, and also offers an opportunity to support C projects properly. Eventually, an Objective-C plugin could be built on top of Clang. Clang integration reduces the maintenance burden compared to the self-written C++ parser. During the sprint, we carved out a roadmap for the Clang plugin and also extended what we already have so far. The main focus was on polishing infrastructure inside KDevelop for providing a solid base for integrating Clang’s useful diagnostics and fixits module.
Currently, the kdev-clang plugin consists of only about 4000 lines of code, compared to nearly 55000 in the old plugin. Further good news—there will be a Google Summer of Code 2014 project that will take care of delivering a first releasable version. There’s still *a lot to do* to make this as usable as the previous C++ support plugin. Read more about kdev-clang.
KDevelop’s code assistant popup has gotten a revamp, which will — after some polishing — provide a more flexible and better integrated UI for the assistant features. The useful “blame” feature, which shows who touched each line in the current file as provided by the project’s VCS, was improved as well. It now shows the commiter’s name instead of the commit identifier and also works properly with dark color schemes. KDevelop’s interface is now more customizable, toolviews can be detached (for example, source code documentation can be detached from the main window and moved to another screen). KDevelop’s codebase was cleaned up and quite a few optimizations were added. This and other improvements will give a noticeable performance boost when operating on large projects consisting of thousands of files.
Find out quickly who the writer is
Much internal cleanup was done in Python support and some long-standing bugs were fixed, such as the debugger not working properly. Python 3 support is now finished, and future development will focus on that.
The KDevelop Ruby plugin was also greatly improved during the sprint. Lots of bugs have been fixed and a first stable release is closer now.
The sprint also provided a good opportunity to improve the language support within the PHP plugin. A lot of progress was made on completing syntax support for the new features introduced by PHP 5.4. Most notably there is now full support for PHP’s trait syntax. While catching up with newer syntax features is important, so too is improving support for older features. One of the most requested improvements for the plugin is proper support for PHP’s namespace syntax. During the sprint we worked on making this a lot more usable. However, there are still some kinks to be worked out.
For Kate, the focus was mostly on the Frameworks 5 port. The port already started back in December 2013, resulting in the KF5-ready KTextEditor framework and stable KF5/Qt5 versions of the Kate and KWrite applications. During the sprint, the Kate team worked on a lot of details, polishing the KTextEditor framework.
KTextEditor Interface Cleanup
The KTextEditor interfaces are responsible for all the interaction between the editor component Kate Part and the host application (eg. KDevelop, Kile, Kate, …). So it is important that these interfaces allow good integration of the editor into the host applications. During the sprint, these interfaces were cleaned up and optimized for speed. In addition, the default colors were extended to allow for better color schemas in the future.
New Status Bar
Previously, Kate Part did not provide a status bar. All host applications (KDevelop, Kile, …) had to write their own variant of a status bar, displaying the cursor position and similar information. In the KTextEditor framework, Kate Part will ship a default status bar, showing the cursor position, the edit mode, the modification state, the highlighting, encoding and the indentation settings. Further information can be found in this blogpost.
KTextEditor Plugin Architecture
KTextEditor’s plugin architecture was improved substantially. Plugins written for the KTextEditor framework will be available in all applications embedding Kate Part, making it possible to share a lot of features such as collaborative editing, search & replace in multiple files, and similar tools. This is possible because the plugin interfaces are now much more powerful than the former interface for shared plugins.
As a byproduct, the Kate application interfaces were completely dropped in favor of the KTextEditor plugin architecture. Most of the Kate plugins are already turned into KTextEditor plugins, such as the Documents sidebar, the Filesystem Browser, Search & Replace, the Build Plugin, the Backtrace Browser.
Kate Application Changes
The Kate application saw several changes; among the most visible is the new built-in tab bar. Previously, Kate provided the Documents sidebar to navigate through files. The Documents sidebar has the advantage that it stays usable when working on a large number of files. However, a lot of users want an integrated tab bar for quick file navigation. Therefore, the Frameworks 5 version of Kate will have both—the Documents sidebar as well as the tab bar. Since the number of visible tabs is often limited, only the tabs that were most recently used will be displayed. Users will be able to navigate quickly through the files being worked on. Besides quick navigation, the tab bar also allows the view to be split the view vertically or horizontally, to show the quick-open view, and to maximize the currently active view by hiding all other view spaces. A preliminary version of this tab bar as well as a KF5 version of Kate is described further in this blogpost.
Kate’s vi input mode also gained several improvements and polishing.
All in all, a lot of work was done under the hood in both Kate (detailed sprint wrap up report) and KDevelop. The Kate developers are still improving and extending the KDE 4 version of Kate, KWrite and Kate Part, while the KF 5 port is being finalized. The KDevelop team started porting to KF 5 as well, but continues to improve the KDE 4 version in the meantime. A major effort is being made to rework KDevelop’s C++ language support to be more reliable, powerful and easy to maintain in the future.
Thanks to Blue Systems for hosting the Kate+KDevelop sprint in Barcelona! Your support is greatly appreciated!
Though the Krita team was one of the first to start the tradition of having sprints, with the first Krita Sprint in Deventer, in 2005, Krita sprints are rather infrequent! But, of course, we also meet each other during the more regular Calligra sprints.
Anyhow… Krita developers and artists met again in Deventer in May 2014. It was the most awful weather you can imagine for a sprint—warm, sunny, bright, lovely to be outside! Long and lazy lunches, discussions out on the roof terrace until after midnight, walks through the park. Is it a wonder nothing much got done?
Wait, that’s wrong! Bravely resisting the lure of the fine spring weather, three artists and six developers got down to some serious work! In the week before the Krita sprint, Boud, Dan, Arjen and Stuart already had a week-long sprint working towards the final release of Krita Gemini on Steam, and on Thursday the others started to arrive. And only by Tuesday the house was empty again…
Krita Sprint Team
Let’s see what got done:
The KDE Applications 4.13 announcement highlighted the delightful new capabilities of Palapeli, the KDE jigsaw puzzle application. What the announcement did not mention is that the Palapeli maintainer, Ian Wadham, is celebrating 50 years of software experience. He’s ready to hand off Palapeli and his other KDE software development responsibilities. Albert Astals Cid called attention to Ian’s achievements and suggested a Dot interview.
A Portrait of the Programmer as a Young Man
Ian Wadham’s bio at a glance
What are your thoughts about cutting back on software development?
This is my second retirement. My first, from the workforce, was in 1998. This time I am withdrawing from writing programs for public use. I will continue to present a Science course for seniors at the local U3A (University of the Third Age) .
I seem to be getting involved in moves to make KDE’s portability work better on the Apple Mac OS X platform. And my grandchildren are always a joy.
How did you get started as a coder?
How I started was one of those accidents of fate. My Ph.D. studies were not working out and I was looking for a new career. My girl-friend at the time was a programmer and she told me no qualifications were required, only an aptitude test, and that the job was interesting and the pay excellent. This was 1964 and I was nearly 26.
So I put in some applications and accepted the offer of my first programming job the night before I was interviewed as a Physics Instructor in the Australian Navy. All next morning I was saying that I had already accepted another job, but the military has its own ways of doing things. I went through the full medical check, the eye test, the IQ test, the psychology interview… Finally I entered a room with a long table and wall-to-wall admirals and captains – gold braid everywhere – and was finally allowed to deliver my news. “Oh, thank you for telling us,” they said.
At that time in Australia, very few physicists were using computers. Computer use was more common in the US, UK and Europe, especially in large, well-financed organizations such as NASA, the Atomic Energy Commission and the US Military.
Computers for individual physicists were an exotic and trendy means of avoiding lengthy and tedious calculations, if you could afford the time and money to acquire one and learn how to use it, but were not yet a routine tool as computers became within the following 10 years.
What major technology shifts have you been involved in?
Control Data Corporation, our US parent company, made the largest and fastest computers in the world. Our chief designer was Seymour Cray and for decades he designed the world’s largest and fastest computers: later in Cray Research, his own company. At Control Data he insisted on seclusion and freedom to work in his private laboratory in his home town, Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. There were many legends about him. One of my favorites is that each morning he would walk down to the river near the Falls and an eagle that nested there would fly down and perch on his shoulder.
CDC-160A Personal Computer
My first computer was one of Seymour’s lesser-known designs, a Control Data 160-A. The desk in the foreground is the entire machine. Some say it was the first minicomputer, even the first PC. It was significant too because essentially the same design, shaped as a 20cm cube, went into the ten peripheral processors on the CDC 6600 supercomputer. The 160-A was a wonderful first machine because it was possible for one person to learn everything about it – something that has been impossible with most machines since.
This was your “personal” computer? Wow!
How did you come to KDE? And how long have you been part of KDE?
Among the source code, in the Alpha section, I found the first version of KGoldRunner, by Marco Krüger. I had always liked Loderunner’s unique combination of action, strategy and puzzle solving and had always wanted to do something non-trivial in object-oriented programming, ever since Simula and Smalltalk days. So I set to work to learn C++ and Qt and with Marco’s permission produced a new version of KGoldrunner, committed to kdenonbeta (a precursor of playground and review) in March 2002.
Akademy is being held this year in Brno, Czech Republic. Have you been to Akademy?
You maintain several KDE applications, mostly games. What are they?
KGoldrunner is based on my all-time favorite game: Loderunner. One intriguing thing about it is the way bugs become features. One day I was sitting with my son (grown up) when he found out that it was possible for the hero to dig holes while falling through the air. Before I could fix the bug, he had made up a level that exploited it. Now that “feature” is an important part of many creative new games that people from around the world have contributed.
Kubrick was an effort to branch out into 3-D and OpenGL. It’s fine, but I am no good at cubing and I wonder if others enjoy Kubrick.
KJumpingCube and KSudoku I rescued from unmaintained. In KJC I added features and AI to make it more intelligible and also more challenging. In KSudoku, there was a half-finished re-development which left it so that it would generate mainly easy puzzles – no good at all for a serious player like my wife. I found a Python puzzle-generation algorithm on the net and, with the author’s permission, adapted it to C++ and KSudoku. I like KSudoku because it supports so many variations on the basic puzzle. I do not know of any other Sudoku game that does that.
My favorites games to play are KPat (solitaire card games), KSudoku (X and Aztec variations) and Palapeli.
You’ve gotten the applications into good shape, and are ready to hand them off. What type of person would you like to see take over? What will they get out of working on these applications?
The group could be continually changing. Nobody can stay interested in such work for long. Also the group and its stock of programs would be a good source of Junior Jobs and a place for newbies to start. It would need to have some experienced members, or ready access to such people, because some bugs are too hard for trainees to solve.
This is not a new idea. It is roughly what has been happening everywhere I have worked since about 1967, when the burden of people quitting jobs and leaving behind unmaintainable, half-finished messes became intolerable for most organizations.
What was your experience in the various game transitions from early days to now? Did you play computer games when they were first available?
Even the first supercomputer, the Control Data 6600, in 1966, had a game similar to KSpaceDuel (spaceships orbiting the Sun and shooting missiles). Only the elite and hardware engineers got time late at night to play games on those multi-megadollar machines.
Things became easier with minicomputers. In 1978 I was at a customer’s DEC PDP-11 site presenting a new version of their application system and was asked to finish up early. Why? It was the night the users all got on the computer to play Adventure, the original adventure game. They had made a wall-chart mapping out all the caves.
On our first PC, an Apple IIC, my children and I played a lot of Loderunner and Zork (“You are in a maze of twisty little passages, all of them alike.”). That was in 1983. We wore out several joysticks on Loderunner. We made up levels and challenged each other to solve them. Many of the current KGoldrunner levels come from that time. My Apple IIC still runs and can still play the Loderunner demo, but I used up the last gasp of the last joystick working out design details to be used in KGoldrunner. So I cannot play Loderunner now.
Later I had a Commodore Amiga 500 and became very hooked on Flood and Populous I and II. The Amiga had much better graphics and OS than the IBM PC and Windows, but sadly the Commodore company lost its way. My Amiga also is still in working order.
Later still, on Windows, I worked my way through Myst, Riven and Alpha Centauri. I never liked first person shooters, though.
You’ve added a lot to Palapeli, the jigsaw puzzle application. The new capabilities make it possible to do puzzles with a lot of pieces. It’s fun and challenging. The manual is quite helpful, especially with a lot of pieces. What was the thought process to create the latest version?
The Book by Juan Gris in Palapeli; 320 pieces; main screen, right edge piece-holder, preview
It seemed necessary to resolve the issues with a practical test, so I bought a 1000 piece puzzle and tried to solve it on a small table, no larger than the completed puzzle, using only the table and the box to hold pieces. As I played, I noted difficulties that arose and how they could be overcome. At the same time, I was mentally trying out analogues of what might be feasible on a computer screen. And of course, I had already tried solving large puzzles with Palapeli 1 and had seen what physical difficulties arose there.
Most of the manual was already written by Johannes Löhnert and Stefan Majewsky. I just added the chapter on large puzzles.
When I was growing up, we often had a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table. It was a social event. What about adding a capability for working with others on a puzzle with a lot of pieces?
It’s hard to beat the computer at KJumpingCube. Do you have any strategy tips?
What would you recommend to young programmers?
Can people learn to program when they are older?
Windows, Mac or Linux? Why?
One day my Windows/Linux dual-boot system’s hardware died suddenly. I bought a new machine and installed the latest OpenSuSE. When I booted up KDE, my carefully constructed four-part Plasma desktop had been long gone, and I found myself in some new, empty and quite alien-seeming version of KDE and Plasma. It took me two days just to find out how to get rid of the blue glow around active windows, which was hard on my tired old eyes.
Ian Wadham – older, wiser, still gaming
It was important for me to keep working rather than play with settings, so I turned to the MacBook I had been messing around with, which was also supporting my wife’s iPhone and iPad (pre iCloud). I had some KDE and Qt software already installed, with MacPorts, and I was soon able to set up a KDE development environment. OS X really is quite a lot like Unix and Linux.
I like working on the Macbook. The desktop is quiet, unobtrusive and easy on the eyes. I can work for hours without getting tired or being distracted. Also the battery is long-lived, Time Machine does regular backups and the Spotlight indexer collects everything (even my source code) with no perceptible overhead. I feel I am more productive with Mac OS X than I ever was with Windows or KDE because I do not have to think about what the desktop is doing.
I feel as if I have come home.
The traditional KDE interview question—Richard Stallman or Linus Torvalds?
Thank you for the many years of work you’ve dedicated to the advancement of FOSS, and the KDE games in particular. Thanks also for sharing some of your experiences on the front lines of computer development over the fifty years of your active career.
Many thanks to Albert for the idea of interviewing Ian, and to Bob Potter for bringing in technical perspectives.