21 November, 2008

talking about Nokia and KDAB

Yesterday I gave a talk at a seminar at Mediaplaza about the cooperation between a community and commercial ventures. To prepare, I conducted an interesting interview with Till Adams from KDAB, contacted Qt Software and read up on some stuff. I must say I enjoyed taking time to really prepare this talk and dive a bit into the subject.

The way KDAB and Nokia/Qt Software work with us is very interesting - they strongly believe in close collaboration, and act accordingly. Great examples of good FOSS citizenship.

I did have a hard time complying to the 30 minutes schedule. I normally talk about KDE for 45 minutes. Now I had to introduce KDE in <15 min to this rather 'green' audience, and then talk about the cooperation between company/community. Interesting challenge, but I think I did a decent job at it.

The amazing pictures created by the KDE India community were incredibly tempting, but I had to resist. Talking about the pillars themselves would take too much time. Would've been too technical as well, I suppose. I did mention Nepomuk and Phonon, but that's because they are cool examples of cooperation of KDE and other organisations. I will use those for my future slides, though, as they're just stunning.

BTW the talk I gave last week at Linuxworld in Utrecht was nice, as I got some intestesting feedback. Still have to think more about that, and integrate it in my future talks. One good point somebody made: yeah, KDE created this great architecture to be able to move faster & incorporate more user input. But currently, many users don't feel KDE is listening. Others agreed with him, so this isn't something we can cast aside. Of course we know why this is - we already KNOW (mostly) where the issues are, and we ARE listening - we're just not always replying to their questions, bugreports and comments...

The distributions shiping stuff we don't think is fully ready for the enduser (everything after KDE 3.5.x and before 4.2) didn't help us much either. They had good reasons for that, of course. Many users wanted to see KDE 4.0, and distributions had to spend a lot of resources on shipping both 3.5 and 4. The unfortunate effect was that many users lost precious features compared to their previous desktop, and the switch didn't go smooth either. But seeing how much time for example the Plasma team has spend on doing what the users requested from them (delaying the cool stuff they'd probably rather be doing) makes clear this is an issue with how we are percieved. Not how we are.

I wouldn't know how to solve this in our communication. Maybe we should just let KDE 4.2 talk for itself...

Anyway. I'll try to get the presentation in KDE SVN as soon as I can. Just in case anybody wants to see it asap, send me an email... firstnamelastname at kde.org should do the trick.

15 November, 2008

Hero of today

I'm sorry for Aaron & the plasma team today. I just read Aaron's blog about the glowing panel. Yeah, it's cool. Really.

But it doesn't cut it right now. Because I just had a good look at KMail and the work done by Szymon Stefanek during his Google summer of code project. He just catapulted KMail into this century ;-)

That stuff ain't cool or wow, as some say.

It's way beyond cool. That piece of work is just so complete, polished - I love it. Yeah, it's so simple, it seems so small to the casual observer - but I think it's wicked ;-)

Everybody on Jeremy's blog is asking for screenshots, so I sat down and made a small walk-through. The tour limited to what I've found in the listview area in like 5 minutes, so there is bound to be more. But you can see that for yourself when 4.2 is out, so here we go.

Let's have a look at KMail and the message pane when you start it up.

Not too ordinary. The look of the header imho doesn't rock, and the layout is rather busy. Notice however how KMail is still grouping the pretty large number of threads from my GMail account. Completely in the background, the interface is incredibly responsive.

So where's the cool stuff? To the right of the search box.

Let's go through the buttons. The first one quickly filters on message status:

Nice, you can quickly find what you're looking for. Not incredibly special, tough. So on to the next one:

Yeah, search. This one is very good. Notice how you can save search folders, and it is also bloody fast (this search felt instant). Now moving on:

That's one heck of a sort choice. Oh my. It might be useful to put some stuff in sub-menu's, but at the very least, you're guaranteed to be able to sort any way you want. Moving on:

So you can choose how the threading works. For example, here's topic starters.

When you change threading, it takes hours to change the view. Of course - I have thousands of emails which have to be re-threaded, right? Nope. It's instantaneously. Sometimes KMail it starts regrouping threads but that's background stuff (16.000 threads takes almost 30 seconds here, and as far as I can tell it does the visible stuff first). And I might be mistaken, but it seems it's even multi-threaded. Yeah, you're reading that one right: KMail properly uses multicores. Oh boy!

Furthermore, it's configurable (notice the nice description!):

Not exactly lacking in fine-tune abilities either:

And as the menu already indicated, this is configurable per folder. So you can have your mailinglist threaded as - well, mailinglists obviously... And conversations as conversations. Lovely.

But you haven't seen the best yet. Oh no... Let's look at the next menu. (I added the last 2 options myself)

Theme? What'd ya mean, theme? Let's see what fancy does:

How's that for cool, huh? Looks much better, imho. And shows more info- efficient. But we're not there yet, of course. A real geek would wonder what configure does:

But the real goodies are in the advanced dialog:

What's so good about it? Each and every one of these items can be configured by drag'n'drop and right mouse clicks! Quick impression (it's hard to describe it or show in screenshots anyway):

So after some playing around, this is what I've made for myself. Good usage of space & lots of info.

It's bloody easy. It's superfast - showing tens of thousands of emails, and changing the view in miliseconds! And I have yet to seen a single crash! There MUST be some Plasma guys thinking now: "What the heck was Szymon thinking, out-witting us with this amazing piece of code?"


For me, Plasma's thunder for today was stolen in almost complete silence, a little over a week ago. KMail is back, and it's steaming hot!

To everybody on the web who complained that KDE was taking the Gnome way, removing features for the sake of usability: take this!
Being able to optimize applications to your personal workflow holds the promise of big efficiency gains, and KDE is offering you those!

My hero of today: Szymon Stefanek!

Of course, the same goes to the whole KDE PIM team, and to Szymon's projectmentor Thomas McGuire. Heroes. Respect guys!

And remember children, this kind'a thing actually happens all over the KDE base - we just don't notice these niceties every day, which is why I dedicate this blog to all the cool but unseen stuff going on in KDE SVN!

I'd like to respond to some of the issues ppl brought up below.

About a coolness scale: Plasma rocks. Period. It's just that this morning, after reading the planet, I started KMail, and decided to play with the new look. I didn't like the defaults. After a while I got so excited I just HAD to write about it... Of course there just IS no coolness factor, most of KDE stuff ranks so high it's hard to compare to anything anyway. OK?

Secondly about the mention in Gnome: I'm not gonna remove it because this is simply what is said to me/asked of me by users again and again when I talk about KDE on tradeshows, seminars and online.

09 November, 2008

KOffice rocks

The KOffice Sprint in Berlin is still going strong. The more sleepy among us just arrived at the KDAB office, while the others already had half a day of work behind them. I really feel we did some incredibly useful marketing work, which will make a difference for KOffice. We should definitely have a marketing meeting to prepare for the upcoming 4.2 release of our software, to define key messages & work on the announcement and other some other promo texts.

The developers also have done great stuff. Instead of writing C++ they spend their time reviewing the gui, with the help of usability guru Ellen. And there was fun. We went out for dinner last night, that was cool. Not just because I like food (I really do) but also because it resulted in some weird photos. You'll probably see them appear on some other blogs soon ;-)

I'm sorry the articles about the meeting aren't online, some "dependencies aren't satisfied yet", but it'll work out, really.

Finally but not least, the best thing about the meeting is excitement. Sure, not everybody is jumping around all the time, but there definitely is cool stuff going on. If we manage to reach our goals and do a decent release, I'm pretty sure the world will see the potential of KOffice. And join us making it really great.

08 November, 2008

KOffice sprint 2008

The KOffice team will have a meeting this weekend in the KDAB offices in Berlin. Last year, I was unable to attend, but this year - I'm there again. And looking forward to it. I'm writing this blog in the train, so forgive occasional spelling mistakes, btw. The German country can be distracting ;-)

There seem to be some big plans. Not just in the technical area, like two years ago when KOffice was busily working on infrastructural tasks. This year, a first release of the 'new stuff' is imminent, so the focus has been moved to polishing the release and discussing the marketing surrounding it. As usual I will spend time on daily reports, but I will also join the marketing discussions and work on them. As there are more Marketing dudes & dudettes attending, we'll also be discussing the marketing for KDE in general - and cool stuff is happening on that front.