All posts by Dominik

Dominik is a PhD student at the Control Theory and Robotics Lab, TU Darmstadt, as part of the Research Training Group GKMM (GRK1362). My research focuses on state estimation in distributed systems. As hobby, I contribute to the KDE project and work on the Kate application and editor component.

The Power of Developer Meetings

Since several years, we have lots of small developer meetings in the KDE project, gratefully supported by the KDE e.V. There, developers of a certain project (e.g. KMail/kdepim, Plasma, you name it) meet to discuss further plans and to push the project further. From experience we can tell that those meetings are really beneficial in several ways:

  • Social aspect: You get to know the other developers involved in the project in real life, which is a great motivation factor. This also happens at KDE’s annual conference Akademy, although there are a lot more people.
  • Productivity: Since you are sitting next to each other discussions about how to do what are very focused. It’s amazing how quickly a project can evolve this way. (I haven’t seen such focused work in companies, yet. I guess the variance in the knowledge of people involved is higher. And the motivation is usually very different).
  • Knowledge Transfer: Since participants are experts in different areas, discussions lead to knowledge transfer. This is essential, as sometimes developers have very few free time to contributes to a project. Spreading the knowledge helps a lot to keep the project alive.
  • Steady Contributions: We are always open for new contributors. Just send a patch, get commit access and join development. Experience shows that participants of a developer meeting usually contribute for years to come.

Enough said, here is what happened the last three days in Kate:

There are even more changes I left out. Most of those changes will be in KDE 4.4.1. If you want to help, join #kate in irc.kde.org!

Developer Meeting: More on scripting Kate

We are 10 people here at the developer meeting in Berlin. Kate, KDevelop as well as Okteta see a lot of commits. I’ll mainly talk about what’s happening in the holy Kate land, though :-)
Yesterday I closed a bug requesting an “unwrap” feature in Kate that works like “Tools > Join Lines” but maintains paragraph separation, i.e., empty lines are not removed. This feature is implemented now in javascript. Further infos:

To run the script simply switch to the command line (F7) and write “unwrap”. If you have further ideas about useful scripts, don’t hesitate to start hacking right away, see also

Fixes with regard to the scripting support in the last days are

Those fixes will be in KDE 4.4.1. More to come in other blog entries :-)

Kate XML Completion Plugin: Help Wanted

In KDE3 Kate had a plugin called “XML Completion Plugin”. It was able to list XML elements, attributes and attribute values and entities in a completion popup menu depending on the currently active DTD. For instance, it was able to complete all your KDE/docbook tags and, thus, was one of the best tools for writing KDE documentation.

Unfortunately, this plugin has not been ported to KDE4, yet. So this is a request for developers: Please someone pick it up and make it available for Kate in KDE4.

The location in svn is: trunk/KDE/kdesdk/kate/plugins/xmltools
Just enable this folder in the kate/plugins/CMakeLists.txt file and start porting it. The code completion interface changed quite a lot, but there are other plugins and good api documentation (KTextEditor interfaces, Kate Application interfaces) where you can have a look at how things work.

Having a working XML Completion plugin for KDE4.5 would be awesome.

Scripting Kate

In my last blog I explained Kate’s scripting features in KDE 4.4. To better understand how scripting can be used let’s look at some use cases.

  • join lines: This feature request wants the action “join lines” to not join different paragraphs, i.e. not remove empty lines. We have not implemented this wish, as there are probably users who prefer the current behaviour. This request can be fixed by writing a small script that joins the lines according to the user’s wishes.
  • reformat paragraph: An intelligent reformatter for paragraphs. Should be rather straight forward to implement.
  • XML tools: In KDE3, Kate once had a xmltools plugin. Unfortunately noone ported it to KDE4. The plugin provided lots of very useful features for xml editing. For example, you could select text and then wrap it with xml elements, e.g. “text” would become “<para>text</para>”. This is a perfect example for a command line script as well. Any volunteers? :)

Scripting also brings us closer to fixing the following reports:

  • macro system: Kate still does not have a macro system. A macro can be interpreted as a group of scripts, executed in a sequence (more or less). The vi input mode already supports pretty complex commands, and the code for scripting is all there. It’s just a matter of putting this together so it’s usable for users.
  • word count: maybe the word count features can be implemented by a script (too slow?). Problem is, that a script cannot show dialogs etc.

To make scripting an even better experience, we still need to implement binding shortcuts to scripts. Again: any volunteers? :)