July 11, 2006

Four Core continues series of KDE 4 meetings

Author: N. Sanders

Last week, members of the KDE project attended the Four Core meeting, one of several events designed to accelerate the development of KDE's next major release. Attendees worked on readying the fundamental kdelibs and kdebase packages for version 4 so that work on overlying applications may continue.

All the KDE 4 meetings, such as the recent Multimedia Meeting, are intended to build team coherence and direction as much as to write code. All attendees seemed to feel that the meeting was successful in removing the hurdles that so often face a development team working together from places scattered throughout every corner of the world. Attendee Aaron Seigo says, "I get the feeling more than ever that KDE 4 really takes off here."

Fair weather in Trysil, Norway, throughout the week aided both spirits and efforts. Seigo writes, "One of the goals for KDE 4's interface is to be more organic, which is to say to behave more like the real world which we are well adapted to. In keeping with that we went for a walk out to a meadow for one of our two group meetings today." Work was done in a rustic Norwegian lodge selected to minimize distraction. Attendees enjoyed beautifulscenery and catered food. Nonetheless, World Cup fever prevailed midweek.

On Wednesday, a reporter for the Hamar Arbeiderblad, a local newspaper, visited the hackers. The paper was apparently responding to an alert made by a local KDE user, who also visited the group. The resulting article, ""Building the Future of Computing in Trysil," can be viewed by paid users of the paper's Web site.

Hacking done at the meeting revolved around outfitting KDE's low-level libraries for use in a new and modern desktop. Tasks involved in such a transition include implementing the cross-desktop standard communication tool DBUS to replace KDE 3's DCOP, porting Qt calls to use the new version 4.2, and, of course, bug-fixing. Attendees also decided to remove a few dozen obsolete classes from within the code of kdelibs. With the libraries more or less functional, the team must decide how to evolve them to suit the needs of KDE 4. Seigo writes, "We had a couple of quite long meetings today about kdelibs: what should go into kdelibs; how should we handle the process of managing the public APIs; what are our goals and practices for binary compatibility ... not trivial topics even if the questions are easily stated."

Though the meeting focused on the fundamentals, the team could not resist working on and discussing some higher-level code. KDE's Human Interface Guidelines and accessibility tools were topics of great discussion. KIO continues to be worked on, particularly its seeking feature, which was first written during the KDE Four Multimedia meeting. A redesign of the KJob class should also benefit KIO, which uses it extensively, as well as emerging technologies such as Akonadi and Solid. Akonadi is a forthcoming personal information management storage solution first proposed during January's KDE PIM meeting.

To aid the switch to DBUS, attendees planned a graphical browser that will work much the same way KDCOP does today, allowing users to see all the information and settings that applications offer to each other. LiveUI looks to replace the GUI development tool XML GUI. A new composition manager is to be built into the KWin window manager to replace the independent kompmgr.

As attendee Kevin Ottens says, "We've still so much to do, but the improvements made in the last few days are really motivating."


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