While chatting with a friend, I noticed a really nice touch in Kopete when they sent me a bunch of files:
I remember back when Kopete would pop up a dialog somewhere randomly asking me if I'd like to accept the file transfer. This is so much nicer; kudos to the Kopete developers.
There is a running joke in KDE circles that goes like this: "* marble". It came about due to Marble's mastermind, Torsten, and his constant (but consistent!) reminding of people about the mapping application. He would often do so with great brevity, however: often it would take the form of an email reply to a list of examples or features with that one additional line: "* marble", and now any time we end up with a list (regardless of what it is a list of) chances are someone will pop off a "* marble" for old times sake.
Torsten's continued work, along with the great and ongoing support Marble receives from its team of dedicated developers, has paid off. Marble has begun to get noticed far and wide. Torsten has sent me links to several articles on various websites that mention Marble testifying to this. Why the interest? Easy: it stands in a category of its own in the F/OSS landscape, and when you are a crowd of one competing against the likes of Google Earth and cooperating with one of the biggest Free information projects in the world (Open Street Map) you get people's attention.
Even the Free Software Foundation has taken notice, listing Marble as part of its High Priority Software Projects. Free Software Magazine is also carrying a nice article on Open Street Map that covers Marble as well. It's really encouraging to see some of the KDE apps get more and more of the positive attention they deserve.
It isn't just individual applications like Marble, though, that are catching people's attention. I somehow ended up being listed on silicon.com's 2008 Agenda Setters list at position 40. They claim their list contains "the top 50 most influential individuals in the worldwide technology and IT industries – business leaders, CEOs, CIOs, techies, open source gurus, security experts, visionaries, entrepreneurs and politicos". Scratching my head as how I ended up on this list, it all made sense once I read this summary they put together. Really, they didn't put me on that list ... they put KDE on that list.
They called us "exciting", commended us "for the backbone it has provided for other popular applications" and noted both our application development platform as well as KOffice (though not by name, unfortunately).
So it is obvious that everyone who has been involved in making KDE what it is deserves part of that nod from silicon.com, and that we are catching the imagination of the industry. In fact, KDE is only one of three FOSS projects on that list (the others being Samba and Ubuntu) and there are not that many other FOSS faces to be seen either (Wales, Stallman, Shuttleworth, Allison). It's a pretty cool achievement that we've been able to push awareness of our work that far. Congratulations to everyone in our community of creative minds and hearts!
In more nuts-and-bolts news, Plasma continues to shape up for 4.2 nicely. Thanks to work spearheaded by Christian Mollekopf we now have a taskbar that can group and sort tasks and display them in multiple rows. It's all configurable of course, and right now there are two grouping and two sorting strategies that let you group by program or manually (drag and drop tasks around to form groups) and sort by program name or manually (again, by drag and drop). The manual sorting and grouping is a feature that Kicker never got, but now we have it in Plasma.
Following our "visualization should be separated data management" philosophy, Christian implemented all the sorting and grouping inside of libtaskmanager. This means that other approaches to visualizing the windows running on your system can also take advantage of these same features if they should wish to do so. It also keeps the default tasks widget itself a bit simpler than it would otherwise be: it can concentrate just on getting display right, which is already complex enough for a task bar. =)
We also have a new system tray that's about to migrate into the KDE default workspace. Jason Stubbs implemented it in a way that not only works better than the existing one with the current system tray widgets we have to put with, but wrote it so that we can plugin multiple "protocols" into it. This opens the way for new approaches to the system tray, which we will continue to explore, without having to lose support for or coherency with existing system tray solutions. Frederik-of-folderview-fame also added support for the _NET_SYSTEM_TRAY_VISUAL hint and handling of argb windows correctly. It also support hiding icons, showing desktop and system notifications and more. It's a new widget, and still has lots of room for improvement over time, but we finally have a system tray widget that is designed to be extensible behind the scenes so we can explore and implement a truly unified notification area and start moving away from some of the limitations of the existing system tray protocol on X11.
Will Stephenson was online today discussing the new network manager Plasmoid, something the OpenSuse team is working on. This isn't strictly for 4.2, however: they will be shipping it with their 4.1 based desktops as well, though we'll be working on making it a bit sexier for 4.2. Even the clocks are getting their due helping attention: tooltips, time zone configuration and wheel scrolling were both recently improved by Anne-Marie and Rafał Miłecki. In fact, there isn't much in Plasma that isn't getting nice improvements for 4.2.
On my hitlist for this week is working on a new Add Widgets dialog that hopefully will both look a bit more "Plasma" and allow for things like removing packages and hooking into third party widget shops (e.g. Google's online gadgets listings), finishing up the last bits of Plasma::Service (Montesi and I have been working through what bits were necessary in the Jolie Metaservice and he's finished up his side of the work, so now the pressure is on me ;) and hooking up both Plasma (for controlling the active context) and the KDE file dialog to Nepomuk (for searching). That probably sounds like a hell of a lot of work, and while it isn't a small amount of work, a lot of it is really just icing on the cake that has been a long time in the oven. The work for being able to use Nepomuk in the file dialog for search, for instance, has largely been done by Sebastian Trueg in his working on the Nepomuk ioslave which just made it into the KDE runtime for 4.2.
In non-KDE life, yesterday the P-man went to a farm with his class where he helped build a staircase for a barn, fed horses (he returned with some of their hoof clippings, too), rode a donkey and led cows out to the pasture. He loved it, which is great as not enough city kids get exposure to these things in my opinion.
Ok, that's probably enough for one entry. ;) I really need to be more consistent in my blogging intervals so that they don't all end up as long and scattered as this one...