(or: “KDE Frameworks 6 Planning Sprint in Berlin”)
Only two weeks after my previous Berlin visit I came back for the KDE Frameworks 6 planning sprint, kindly hosted by MBition in their posh offices near Spree river and Landwehrkanal.
Already during this year’s Akademy we started discussing our strategies for a Qt 6 transition and created a giant work board of tasks for our next major release of Frameworks. Overall our goal is to keep API breakages to a minimum while still cleaning up some cruft that might have built up over the years. We kicked off the sprint Friday morning with discussions mostly around policies and guidelines.
This year we set up a lounge area upstairs for people to chat, see our hardware and software offerings, as well as charge their phones between talks. At the center of our booth we had a large KDE-branded table with various bits of swag and a KDE Slimbook on display which we used as our main device for demoing our extensive KDE Applications and Frameworks offerings.
KDE Itinerary is a project to get your travel itinerary presented to you in a unified, well structured and always up to date fashion, by extracting structured data from emails, boarding passes, and other sources. I successfully traveled the world with it!
Step 1: The crazy idea, is it viable?
Since I’m always looking for new innovative features to add to Plasma Browser Integration, having KItinerary not only look at your emails but also websites seemed like a natural evolution. During the Nürnberg Megasprint™ in June I pitched the idea to Volker Krause and he talked me through how all of this structured data and boarding pass magic worked. I then wrote a quick and dirty browser extension that scanned your open tabs for any such annotations, so we got a sense of how common they actually are in the open web.
Last month I attended KDE’s annual gathering Akademy, which took place at the University of Bicocca in Milan, Italy. Never before had I been to an Akademy where I was interested in so many workshops and discussions that I hardly wrote any actual code.
Plasma Browser Integration bridges the gap between your browser and the Plasma desktop. It lets you share links, find browser tabs in KRunner, monitor download progress in the notification center, and control music and video playback anytime from within Plasma, or even from your phone using KDE Connect!
Last month the Plasma team met in Spain for their annual developer sprint. It was kindly hosted by Slimbook in their offices on the outskirts of Valencia. This time it was co-located with the Usability sprint and it was great to meet so many new faces there.
Our three main goals for the general direction we want to take KDE in the next couple of years are: Top-notch Usability and Productivity for Basic Software, Streamlined Onboarding of New Contributors, as well as Privacy Software. The first sprint dedicated to one of our goals, Privacy Software, took place in March in the City of Leipzig. It took place in the former “Fernsprechamt” (telephone exchange), quite a fitting location when it comes to privacy, isn’t it?
One of the features I worked on was a microphone tray icon indicating when the microphone is in use with an easy way to mute/unmute it by middle clicking as well as change the recording volume using the mouse wheel, just like you can with the volume icon.
Two months ago a small group of KDE enthusiasts, namely Adriaan, Roman, and me traveled to Berlin to attend Qt World Summit 2018.
At our little booth we showcased Plasma running on a variety of devices, ranging from a Nexus 5X running Plasma Mobile through two ARM laptops to the powerful KDE Slimbook. Plasma was praised for its performance and reliability and since the focus of the event was mostly on embedded systems, we could easily demonstrate with our selection of devices that Plasma and the KDE Frameworks are a viable option for an endeavor in this area, too.
It was very interesting to see the diverse set of people presenting their products and roaming the stalls, to see where Qt is in use today without you even realizing. We were approached by several companies evaluating using KDE Frameworks in their products and also tried to lay a foundation for an eventual partnership. And then there was Daimler who just parked an A-Class in the hallway, whose MBUX infotainment system is also powered by Qt.
The star of our stand, however, was the MNT Reform DIY Laptop which is a retro-style ARM laptop running Plasma with a mechanical keyboard and even a real trackball! Its case was 3D-printed just the day before, including a rubber band to hold the screen shut, and for educational purposes sported a transparent bottom cover so you could look inside. What got us very excited was the fact that it ran mainline Debian and a super recent kernel version, something that’s quite uncommon when it comes to ARM devices. Even better: its i.MX 6 SoC let Plasma fly and we didn’t even do any adjustments for the device. It really shows that our hard performance work and focus on polishing the stack over the past years is paying off.
Earlier this month I had the chance to give a keynote speech at QtCon Brasil in São Paulo, Brazil. It was the second leg of a three weeks long trip across the Americas that began with a company meeting in the US.
After a ten hour flight on the Airbus A330 pictured, I arrived at Guarulhos airport in the morning. I was lucky to have found myself on a half-empty plane with an entire row of seats for me alone. The conference lasted Thursday to Sunday with the first two days reserved for embedded programming and 3D development trainings. Not having signed up for any of these, I took the opportunity to explore the city on Friday. I visited the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) and walked over to the district of Liberdade which is home to the largest Japanese community outside Japan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t visit the Museum of the Japanese Immigration as they didn’t accept credit cards.
Saturday and Sunday is when the main talks happened. With my rudimentary Latin and Spanish knowledge I tried to make the most of them, since they were all held in Portugese. Nonetheless, I quite enjoyed the talks about Qt for Python, a live demo of a setup using Boot to Qt, and Qt “for Robots”.
My speech was Sunday morning, entitled “Plasma for Device Creation” where I explained to the audience what Plasma is, how flexible it is, and that it can be virtually anything you want it to be. An important part of the presentation was to present ways to get in touch with the KDE Community and who to approach when you want to realize this amazing product vision you might have. While there was no recording of my talk, you can download the slides as a PDF.
Many thanks to the organizers of QtCon Brasil for hosting the event, spreading the word about Qt down there, and inviting me over to my first trip to the South American continent!