In a nutshell, Plasma Active is about getting the KDE Platform with Plasma providing a compelling user interface ready for and available on hardware devices outside the usual laptop and desktop form factors. While we continue to do a pretty good job on our traditional turf, we have work ahead of us if we wish to realize the dream of covering as much of the device spectrum as possible.
Plasma Netbook was one important step in that direction, and it helped us understand how much further we needed to go. Projects such as Kontact Touch, Marble To Go, Caligra Touch, KDE Games for mobile (among others) are raising facing many of the same challenges. We need a reference, from top to bottom, that provides an installable image with a common build of the KDE Platform, great integration between selected applications and a primary user interface that is relevant to the hardware (e.g. touch centric) and great to use. Ultimately, we aim to create an active, open, non-exclusive ecosystem around KDE software for consumer devices and work on getting those devices into your hands.
Our immediate goal is to lay the foundation for an open, active and inclusive initiative with as many participants as possible to work towards this common end. With the help of community members like the Sebastians (Trug and Kügler :) and Marco as well as companies such as Basyskom and Open SLX we have made a start on working towards this vision.
We have divided the current work up into five concurrent tracks, each of which represents a different aspect of what is needed to meet our goal. We are working to coordinate all of these paths and make sure they are working together. Over time, we may add more tracks, but for now we have our plates full.
During the first meetings where we discussed this set of ideas, I was reminded of a train system, with different tracks carrying different trains with various cargo on a sharp time schedule to arrive at a common destination. This became my personal internal visualization of what we were setting out to do, and so I eventually sat down a drew it out:
Those "stops" on the lines aren't arbitrary, either. They each represent a specific interim goal or an announcement we plan on making. Some of these stops will be well advertised in advance, such as the September release date for Contour, others we'll reveal over time. We're trying not to overwhelm with information on the one hand, and we have details to work out for some of the other milestones before we can commit publicly to the details. We should have new information and progress to show every single week and there will be lots of opportunities for others to join in as well.
Over the next five blog entries, I'll cover each of the five current tracks, what the plans are, how you can get involved and how it fits in with the Plasma Active vision.
- Plasma Quick (Monday)
- Contour (Tuesday)
- Active Apps (Wednesday)
- Operating Systems (Thursday)
- Vendor Support (Friday)
p.s. I'm not an artist, so the image looks fairly .. er .. lack luster in the artistic accomplishment category. ;) If you'd like to help bring it to life, the source SVG is right here.
p.p.s. I've whipped up a little Plasmoid that shows the latest Plasma Active related news and the progress of each track as we go. It fetches the data from plasma.kde.org and is still a work in progress. In fact, it even revealed a small bug in libplasma I fixed and which will be in the next 4.6.x release as well. I'll continue to refine it and will do a proper release of it in coming weeks. It will, however, allow those who wish to follow us in to do so in a fun and convenient way. :)