Category Archives: Users

KDE at its very best!

Recently, there were some thoughts on where KDE is going, and  related to that what’s the driving force behind it in terms of the pillars of KDE. Albeit it is true our development model changed significantly, I’m not convinced that it’s all about git.

No, I rather believe that it is the excitement about the KDE that makes it stand out – KDE as a community if you wish, but also KDE as a software project.

Going back to the late nineties, I was developing small games for DOS (Turpo Pascal, anyone? Snake and Gorillas in QBasic? :-) ) and also for Windows. At around that time, Linux got also a bit more popular so that I finally had a SuSE 6.0 in my hands. I installed it and was able to run KDE 2, iirc (?). It certainly was interesting, but then I also wasn’t involved in any free software projects, so it also wasn’t that a big deal.

Still, I started to look into how to develop GUI applications for Linux. Since under Windows I used MFC (oh well, now it’s out, but you know, I quickly got back on the right track) I found Qt quite nice (for CPoint you had QPoint, for CDialog a QDialog, and so on). As I used KDE in Linux, I started to change small things like an Emoticon preview in Kopete (one of my first contributions?), or some wizards for KDevelop in 2003. These were projects that were fairly easy to compile and run. Still, what might seem so little was a huge success for the following reason:

More or less still being child, getting in touch with C++, KDE, and all the tools around it was completely new. CVS? Never heard about it before, and anyways, what was a version control system? How it worked with the mailing lists. With entering a bug. Compiling kdelibs: It took me more than 2 weeks to succeed (Which btw. to myself proves that even at that time it was really hard for a newbe to compile KDE, just like today). All in all, these were times where I learned a lot. I started to read the cvs-commit mailing list (around 400 mails a day, I read them almost all, more than 5 years long).

But that was not yet it. It continued like that for years. For instance, understanding how KIO slaves worked was just amazing. How all KDE components integrate into and interact with each other. There were a lot of parts where KDE was simply the best in terms of the software technology it provided and created.

To me, this was KDE at its best.

In my opinion, KDE followed this route for a long time, also with KDE4. I even say KDE still follows this way today.

But it’s much harder to get excited about it. Why? Think of yourself as seeing snow for the first time. It’s just awesome, you’re excited and can’t believe how awesome this is. Or maybe also New Years eve with nicely looking fireworks coming. It’s something you simply can’t wait for enough. Kind of like a small child… This is the excitement KDE raised in lots of us. Getting a new KDE release was totally something I wanted. I saw the improvements everywhere. What also helped a lot was the detailed commit digest Derek Kite worked on so hard each week, showing what was going on even with detailed discussions and screenshots (today the KDE commit digest is mostly an auto-generated list of commits, which I already have through the KDE commit filter).

Today, I know all the details. All the KDE technology. Of course, it got even better over time, and certainly still is an immensely powerful technology. But I’m not that much excited about it anymore.

I believe this in itself is not an issue. For exactly this reason, developers come and go, leaving room for other developers to implement their ideas. It helps the project to stay young and agile.

It is often said, the KDE has grown up. This is certainly a good thing for instance in terms of the KDE e.V. supporting the KDE project as much as possible, or the KDE Free Qt Foundation that helps us to make sure Qt will always be freely available to us, or a strong background in legal issues.

At the same time, it is a very bad thing in terms of getting people excited about KDE. We need developers with freaky ideas who just sit down and implement new features (btw., this is very much true for all free software projects). For instance, why has no one come up with a better KXmlGui concept? I’m sure it can be done better!

Where does that put us? Is there really no cool stuff in KDE?

Well, the reason for this post is to show that we did not loose what once was cool. In fact, we see it every day. For instance, yesterday I was using Dolphin and had to change a lot between subfolders in the same level (e.g. from some_folder/foo to some_folder/bar and so on). I accidentally used the mouse wheel over “foo”, and whohooo! You can switch to the next folder just by scrolling with the mouse wheel over the navigation bar. This is immensely useful, and in fact, this is why KDE shines also today, it’s just not so visible to users and maybe also to developers. You now may say that it’s just some little detail. But this is exactly it: Yesterday I was totally amazed by how cool this is, just like 10 years back from now… Therefore, I say, this still is

KDE at its very Best!

Getting people excited about KDE is what defines KDE’s future, not git.

Edit (imho): I would like to add something here. When reading these kind of blogs, you may get the impression that KDE is getting a less and less attractive platform, or that KDE is kind of dying. This is absolutely not the case. Quite contrary: With KDE’s foundation libraries, and applications being about to released on top of the KDE Frameworks 5 libraries, KDE can certainly make the statement that the project and its software will definitely be available and certainly just as strong in 10 years from now. I have absolutely no doubt that you can count on that. And that is a really cool thing only few free software projects can claim! Let’s talk about it again in 2024 :-)

PS: On a unrelated note, KDE currently runs the End of Year 2014 Fundraiser. Support is very much welcome!

Kate5 on Windows

Here it goes, Kate5 running on Windows:Kate5 on Windows with Missing Icons and Bad FontThis is an early version of Kate5 on Windows. It runs just fine but has some glitches, such as the white lines between selected text lines, or wrong margins in the search&replace bar, or showing a ‘+1′ in the top right corner, although all documents are visible.

Update: After installing oxygen-icons and switching the font to Consolas (what Visual Studio uses), the glitches above are gone. Here is an updated screenshot:

Kate5 on Windows With Icons and Better Font

So essentially it works, and if all goes well, we hope to provide a good text editor experience with Kate5 on Windows in the next year(s). To this end, we are currently discussing having a joint Kate/KDevelop/Windows developer sprint early next year.

You can support this also by donating to the End of Year 2014 fundraiser. Thanks!

Support Kate and KDE by Donating Money

Since some weeks, the Kate homepage features a way to support Kate and KDE by donating money to the KDE e.V., see this screenshot:

Donating Money to Kate

The reason for showing a donation pane might not be obvious, since the KDE project is open source and mostly developed by lots of contributors in their free time. So why do we need money?

The KDE project, and thus also the Kate project, highly depends on getting financial support. For instance, our IT infrastructure running the KDE websites and all sorts of services such as mailing lists or hosting KDE’s source code along with the version control systems rely on it. All these services need money. And here is where the KDE e.V., KDE’s non-profit organization comes into play. KDE e.V.’s purpose is the promotion and distribution of free desktop software in terms of free software, and KDE in particular, to promote the free exchange of knowledge and equality of opportunity in accessing software as well as education, science and research.

For instance, the KDE e.V. supports developers through travel reimbursement, such that contributors that could otherwise not attend developer meetings are still able to take part. These developer meetings have proven to be immensely useful to the success of KDE, and typically a developer sprint moves a project forward by magnitues, as you can see in the list of past developer meetings. Next to that, there is also the annual KDE conference where all KDE contributors and users are invited to discuss and shape the future of KDE. Next to other events, KDE is usually also present at fairs such as the CeBit or LinuxTag. There, we also need material and support to make a good presentation of KDE. Another significant job of KDE e.V. is to support KDE legally. For instance, the KDE e.V. is maintaining an agreement with the owners of Qt in terms of the KDE Free Qt Foundation, which potentially is also of high interest for companies using Qt.

Several days ago we also started the KDE End of Year 2014 Fundraiser, through which we hope to get a significant amount of money that we can plan with in the next year.

Please, if you use KDE at home or in your company, please make a donation. And if you are a company, please consider being generous! Your support is much more needed and appreciated than you might think! Thanks you!

Kate’s Mascot: Kate the Woodpecker

After the first KF 5 release, I contacted the creator of the Krita mascot Kiki and the KF 5  dragons artwork, Tyson Tan, if he would be interested in design a Kate mascot, too. He immediately agreed to help out and after some months of roundtrips, here we go!

Kate has a mascot: Kate the Woodpecker

The short design summary (by Tyson Tan):

Why a woodpecker? I said I was going to draw a humming bird, but she turned out to look more like a woodpecker, and the sound a woodpecker makes knocking on a tree is coincidentally similar to the sound of keyboard strokes).

Kate is female because of her name. I thought about other names like Klicky and Katherine, but I would rather save them for other future KDE projects to pick up as their names.

Design elements:
“{}” on the chest, “/” of the feathers, and “*” in the eyes.
The wing feathers also resembles multiple document tabs.
Color scheme inspired by doxygen source code highlighting.

And how does the first version of the mascot look like? Here is the mandatory version 1.0 mascot picture:

Kate Mascot: Kate the Woodpecker

Tyson Tan allows that artwork to be  Creative Commons BY-SA and/or GPL and/or GFDL licensed and donates it to the KDE Kate project.

This is version 1.0, changes might be made and more variants are possible in the future.

Thanks to Tyson Tan for this contribution, he rocks (more of his artwork can be found on his homepage).  We will see the mascot soon a lot more on the Kate homepage and other Kate material.

This once more shows: the community shall never underestimate any non-code contributions. You designers, translators, documentation writers, …., that help us all out, you all rock!