{July 10, 2009}   looking to the future

the other day there was a group of KDE people in the hall, waiting for the buy ticket guy to return, and ade started asking us to answer questions… things like “describe kde 4.4 in one sentence”… trying to get us to think about where we’re going with KDE and what our goals were. the results were… sad. really sad. I think eventually after a while a couple of people managed to come up with something for one of the future kde releases each, but it was a real struggle.

this is something I’ve always had a lot of trouble with. I live very much in the present; the future and past don’t quite seem real, except when I’m worrying about them. :P but I care about KDE, and I understand that it’s important to know where we’re going so that we can work together better and end up with a coherent desktop instead of a jumble of useful features. I’m just not really sure *how* to approach this… it doesn’t help that I’m feeling shy and quiet now.

I was somewhat distracted thinking about this yesterday… this morning, when I left my hotel, I sat at the edge of the street and stared at the blue ocean, hoping to find inspiration there. this is what I wrote (plus a few updates from things I learnt today):

There’s so much water here. I’m not used to actually seeing a horizon; in vancouver no matter where you look there’s mountains eventually. Usually all you can see is what’s near you.

With 4.3 we release… Um.. Well, i forget. But aaron made a screencast. I’m already taking for granted everything that was done for 4.3.
For 4.4 we’ll see the social desktop begin to take shape. Sure there’s that one plasmoid in 4.3, but that’s just a teaser. We’ll have applets being shared, we’ll have a shiny new netbook experience, and another huge list of soc projects. oh, and more location-aware stuff, too (right now the weather plasmoid can guess where I am but the clock can’t. anyone looking for an easy feature to write? ;) We’ll also see some apps stabilizing – amarok, koffice, kdepim… When 4.4 is released i expect to use all of those with ease (my requirements for koffice are pretty simple, though). We’ll also have a git migration going on, hopefully. :)

So what of 4.5? Well, we won’t have an army of gsoc students; a lot of us will be in school. But if we’re on git, and the branch layout is what i hope it’ll be, then perhaps i can focus on bugfixing while the rest of kde is doing features, then start my features when they’re in feature freeze – because that’s when i’ll have *time* for features. Of course, that means any feature i write over xmas break will be in 4.5…

For plasma, i’m hoping to see a better zui in 4.5, then. some new window-management concepts in kwin, too. I’m sure the socialdesktop revolution continues. I’m betting konqueror will once again be a browser i want to use (something only kde3’s konq has accomplished so far). The web will be integrated into the desktop and apps, too.

I expect koffice will have a real end-user release by then (their 4.2 in a way). Kdepim will be using akonadi for everything. Nepomuk will start popping up all over the place.

Then 4.6 will come along next summer. Another flood of gsoc proects… The desktop will organize itself for you. Collaborative editing everywhere. Who knows, maybe even plasmoids on your phone ;) QML may be sneaking into things then too; shinier interfaces, less code.

Since we only got up to 3.5 last time, maybe 4.6 will be a good time to start thinking about kde5 too. All the new experiments in kde4 naturally leave behind some api cruft as people learn what works and what doesn’t. I’m not talking about another revolutionary mega-release like 4.0, just a break of binary compatibility in order to clean up API and make some changes that can’t be done in 4.x.

so… that’s what I’m hoping to see in the next year. social/collaborative stuff, the computer paying attention to context, small-formfactor stuff, a better web experience (and that doesn’t just mean the browser), applications becoming stable and taking advantage of the pillars of KDE. I want my computer to *help* me instead of just sitting there waiting for instructions.

what about you?

anon says:

“describe kde 4.4 in one sentence”

“Not yet released” should do the trick :)

xian says:

I was just thinking that clock updating probably would not be very simple. If I hop a plane into a different timezone, it might make sense for the clock to follow local time. But what if I get on a vpn for another time zone? Should kde’s location awareness also change my system’s timezone? Technically, I’d guess none of these are difficult, but the ramifications are a bit greater.

Jon says:

I think KDE should look at where other projects are headed and articulate real common goals and try to colectively work on those.

Like these:

Modern browser
Nepomuk everywhere
Zeitgeist integration
BtrFS snapshot support (Timeslider)
Kwin/Plasma stuff
Language detection
Every app and use case from KDE3 ported
Lots of bug fixes

When those goals are met KDE4 has lived up to its potential.

Only then you should start to think about 5.0. I really hope KDE4 will have a long life of incremental improvements. Planning for 5.0 after 4.6 sounds really bad.

tkjacobsen says:

Please no “btrfs snapshot support” literally, but “arbitrary filesystem snapshot support” (for filesystems supporting snapshots). Abstraction layer anyone. Then the osol and fbsd guys could write a zfs backend!

Otherwise a wonderful idea

Dizzo says:

Please no KDE 5.

KDE4 is a foundation that is just starting to shape us (and nicely I might add). We should be getting a very, very long run with it.

QT5 might be the time for KDE5.

V says:

“I want my computer to *help* me instead of just sitting there waiting for instructions.”

How about Nepomuk picking up on tags in image files from digikam/picasa? (Making Nepomuk easier to use (more accessible, more GUI options) can be taken for granted, I hope.)

Jon says:

If you run out ideas, just look at the forums. Try to make your users super happy and welcome their ideas and you will have a successful project. They will spread the word.

Very related:

PS. And try get more corporate input. Your post makes it sound like KDE are just a bunch of students that might leave tomorrow. I hope not, because major institutions over here in Germany depend on it as a desktop (still KDE3 though).

NoobSaibot says:

full ack with Jon

integrate Nepomuk and Akonadi whereever possible. improve Sonnet so it becomes what it was supposed to be. Mouse gestures would be nice as well :)

Jon says:

One more thing:

A HIG that every KDE app adheres to.

Alejandro Nova says:

You have to concentrate in two goals for 4.4:

1. Social desktop: All content accessable from Kontact, documents, amaroK and else, to the desktop. Make that content, also, publishable in social networks, like Facebook. Extend Kopete to reach full support for MSN Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and Google Talk.

2. Performance. Make this desktop the quickest desktop ever in history. If you can’t make it (and certainly that is a difficult goal), optimize everything and give us the quickest KDE 4.x ever.

Luis says:

And don’t forget printing. It’s a big one for most home users and a complete blocker for enterprises.

Siv says:

I think I will join the “Nepomuk everywhere” sentence :)

Jo Øiongen says:

1. Stability
2. Speed

The rest:

Unified communication. I would like my webcam, microphone and speakers to be an integral part of the desktop. I would like for anyone in my adress book to be able to contact me live with voice and video, no mather their IM client and vice cersa.

Michael Wright says:

I hope nepomuk will use inotify in future. In portable devices, inotify would help improve on battery life… i.e periodic scanning would not be necessary.

L4Linux says:

Thinking about KDE 5 already??? You should chill out a bit:) Wasn’t the philosophy behind KDE4 to rewrite the infrastructure so it can be used for at least 5 years? You have gained incredible momentum since 4.2, please don’t reduce it in order to think about a whole new infrastructure. After a lot more closed bugs in the next few releases, you can concentrate on all Kapplications that haven’t caught up with the rest of KDE or the competition yet.

redm says:

IMHO 4.4 would be a good opportunity to step back, take breath from new features and concentrate on:
1. bugs
2. performance
3. polish

This would be my wish as a user…

Especially (but not exclusively) Plasma has serious performance issues. Which is sad, as I’d love to enjoy the full power of it. But things feel just slow and clumsy here. E.g. Plasma takes in the order of one minute to start up, it takes 5s to show the dashboard or 2s before an applet handle appears on hover. This is a 1.6 GHz machine, which I think should be able to run a fast Plasma. Perhaps with some bling disabled, but perfectly usable.

Troy Unrau says:

Chani: you forget that KDE 2 and 3 were essentially the same series of releases, so there was more than just a .5 on KDE. If I count it from KDE 2.0, there was 8 followup releases. On top of that, we weren’t on a 6-month release cycle yet, so those releases were fewer and farther between. If we’re thinking about KDE 5 in 5 years, that might be a reasonable comparison, but that would put us at KDE 4.12 using our 6 month cycle.


[…] looking to the future the other day there was a group of KDE people in the hall, waiting for the buy ticket guy to return, and ade started […] […]

Diederik van der Boor says:

I have only one wish for KE 4.4:

Clean up all panels in system settings.

Most apps look wonderful nowadays. Feature rich, yet easy to use. One all kcm modules are roughly still in the same shape as they were with KDE 3. (=messy/cluttered). Cleaning up these will give KDE 4 a much better impression imo.

Ok ok.. while thinking about it my wishlist is actually must longer. :-p
things which would be really cool to have:
– semantic desktop / at least achieve feature parity with spotlight.
– akonadi in kmail :)
– bluetooth frameworks
– media center stuff
– the social desktop
– a good web browser
– animations in plasma (for adding/removing applets and reorganizing the panels)
– koffice 2.2
– no more “?” icons
– all apps ported (k3b, basket)

Diederik van der Boor says:

Oh, and:
– kiosk
– printing
– a webcam API spoke with dridk about that)

vespas says:

This is an extremely important issue, the big picture. Apart from the obvious big (Nepomuk/Akonadi ‘everywhere’, big apps becoming mature) and smaller (performance, icons, bugfixes, polish) issues that are already on their way, we need some additional big targets.
I propose targets for 4.5+ to also be ‘cultural’ rather than exclusively technical. We have seen that the increase in contributors (gsoc, ghns, kde forums, hopefully xdg) helps create critical mass and improves our project. Working on the ‘softer’ aspects of kde is an investment in the long term that also strengthens our community.
So, some issues in no particular order: a HIG; Aaron in some blogpost said KDE aims at both ease of use and configurability. Imho, this should be better described/formalised. In conjunction with improved documentation and cross-desktop technologies we should be able to (even further) reduce barriers to entry. Corporate input is another important aspect we could improve on: many linux-on-the-desktop-corporations rely on gnome/kde3 because of the more professional/conservative look and maturity (i.e. printing just works, lgpl libraries). Hopefully the technical aspect will be addressed by then and with qt gaining in acceptance we should help in this respect as well: we can aim at some specific use cases for corporate settings: simple appearance themes that won’t look out of place in a business environment (and work fast over remote connections for LTSP,NX etc), clear documentation (tutorials anyone?), etc.
Something else would be to have a ‘winter of KDE’ bunch of projects: Maybe we can draw on longer term involvement by university students working on projects throughout the academic year. I guess this could be better suited to more technical/larger projects that could exploit the skills of a final year student together with their supervisor? This way we would not solely rely on google and we could even out the burst of activity over the summer.

Just my €0.02


Petros Malaka says:

>in vancouver no matter where you look there’s mountains eventually.

Keep turning until you face west, you will see this little bit of water called the Pacific Ocean. If you can still see mountains, then youre probably looking at Asia on the other side and you have pretty good eyesight.

>maybe 4.6 will be a good time to start thinking about kde5 too.

You better put a smilie face so people know youre joking.
(You are, right?)

>just a break of binary compatibility in order to clean up API and make >some changes that can’t be done in 4.x.

That’s so unsexy… but it has to be done. Just like bug fixes.

4.5 has to be about optimization, performance and speed.

As for where are we going, I think we have to listen to developers AND users on this. Make them feel as if theyre part of the process.
We pride ourselves on making KDE be what the user want it to be so let’s do it.

And no, Apple is NOT the way to look.
They are worse than Gnome in that regard.
Apple is about doing it their way.

I do A LOT of work with senior citizens and wehn I get through setuping Linux for them (mandriva2009.KDE4.2) the way THEY want, design, elegance and lines are thrown out the window because they care usually about one thing: MAKE IT BIG!!! (I talked to Aaron about this. We have to make it easier on people with bad eyesight the way the zoom options do.)
Having some UI princess tell me that the max-min buttons have to be this size or the scroll bar thinner than a model because of how if flows is meaningless. The people I help couldnt care that 10pt fonts are more elegants than the 22pt they are using that throwws everything out of whack.

The desktop has to fit the users needs, NOT the other way around.
Btw, I hate the default widget styles and decoration (Keramik is the only one I care for) and Im not crazy bout the lighter theme were going with now but that’s not a problem because I have choice.
Ask the users what they want to see and give them choice and the ability to change anything they want (lets hope 4.3 brings back what we had with 3.5)

Oh yeah, please, please someone do something about sound.
Its right now where networking was 2-3 years ago: flaky.

Comments are closed.

et cetera
%d bloggers like this: