APR
22
2003

The People Behind Quanta Plus

In this fascinating interview, Eric Laffoon and András Mantia give us a glimpse into the world of the Quanta Plus project. Read on for everything from tantalising references to Kommander, billed by Eric to be part of the foundations for the next generation desktop and user experience, to details of future plans for Quanta VPL (Visual Page Layout). We also launch a call for help from the users, either in the form of Quanta contributions or much-needed donations to help sponsor the work.

This interview was first conducted by the KDE.de team and recently updated for the dot.

1. Please tell us a bit about yourselves.

Eric L. Laffoon:

I'm a 46 year old confirmed tech addict. I began building electronics
projects at 9 years old surprising my dad by implementing a feedback
resister on the output stage of my Heathkit radio. (I got the idea from
his Harmon/Kardon schematic) I first programmed Fortran in Navy schools
in 1975 where I nearly aced the computer section. I have done a number
of things and fell into web work in the late 90s while using OS/2. In
1999 I decided to make the switch to Linux as it seemed to have all the
"mind share". The first thing on my agenda was to find a good web
development package.

András Mantia:

I'm a little boy compared to Eric with my 26 years. :) I'm of Hungarian
nationality, but I live (and was born) in Romania. I work with computers
since the beginning of the '90s, and I really love it. My first PC was
a ZX Spectrum clone, and I already wrote some programs on it (even a full
game). I finished university in 2000 and that same year I went to
Finland, where I worked for Ericsson (mobile systems). For the rest of the
story see below.

2. How was Quanta born? How did you get involved in the project?

Eric:

It was early 2000 when I saw an announcement for Quanta on Freshmeat. I had been looking for
something more advanced that the EPM editor I was using on OS/2. I
looked at Coffee Cup shareware, Visual Slick edit and a bunch of
free software. I had quickly come to prefer KDE to GNOME and was
looking for a good KDE app. The only half decent one was Webmaker
and it lacked a lot. Quanta was version 0.97 or so when I first saw
it and it was basically a stripped KDevelop with a KHTML
preview. It had no tag dialogs and few useful features but it was
cute. I wrote Dima and Alex out of frustration that this program
looked so good but didn't satisfy my needs as a web developer. To
my surprise they asked me for input and I specified a number of
things to make it better. In fact my focus was strictly on what
would get the job done the fastest. They had some good ideas too
like programmable actions but much of the interface and efficiency
was my specification.

Early in the development they mentioned
they would not have access to school computers soon and they lived
in a youth hotel in Kiev. I helped them to get into a house with a
phone line and later to get them a second computer. I don't think a
lot of people realize that despite what we imagine with OSS had I
not stepped up at the time Quanta might well have died an early
death.

András:
All I know is that Quanta was
started by Dmitry Poplavsky, Alexander Yakovlev and Eric. Alex and Dmitry
left the GPL'd Quanta project before 2.0 final came out, and they are
working now on the commercial version at theKompany.com. I was invited to join
the project around November 2001 by Eric. He found me as he had downloaded the
Kallery
application -- my very first application written for KDE. ;-)
At that time GPL'd Quanta was basically abandoned, and I became the only coder,
and the first step was to fix the most annoying bugs and make a stable 2.0 release.

3. Who else is (or was) involved with Quanta?

Eric:
It's only fair to mention Dmitry and Alex, even though it was not the
most fun when we parted ways, because they began the earliest versions.
Clearly I think András is the number one person to mention and I agree
with his other names listed. Marc Britton and Robert Nickel have been
great as have a
number of other people. Too many to name. While converting Quanta from
KDE 1 to KDE 2, Rich Moore helped out a bit. I miss Rich. He is a wealth
of knowledge.

András: First there is
Eric, who is devoted to this project and supports it from his own,
sometimes limited, resources. Alex and Dmitry should be mentioned
as they started the project, and currently some more or less active
developers help us, such as Marc Britton (author of Kommander), Robert Nickel (who wrote a good amount of
documentation for Quanta). Just take a look at the "Thanks
To" list in the About box.

4. How is the project organised? Do you know all developers or
contributors personally?

Eric: Largely I manage the project and leave
András to focus on the internals. I have a loose management
style because I believe that people need to work from their
passions. András and I are very close in our vision and
thinking and while I have input on technical issues I trust him
implicitly. I first coded over 25 years ago and have coded in many
languages but I've only done a little C++ and only since I started
on Quanta. When I was left alone with Quanta I was determined to
learn and code if I had to do it all myself. I can read C++ fairly
well and I keep saying I will spend a few weeks playing some
time. I know that I will, however I'm forced to accept that my
project management and business activity must come first and they
take a lot of time. Many times I wish I could switch places with
András as it would probably be more fun. ;-)

I take input
from users and from my own use of Quanta as a starting point for
what I want to do. I read every day about Linux developments, new
programs and what is happening in high tech. I converse with
developers and then I work to put together a plan. I try to get
other volunteer developers to commit to small pieces of code and
have András be the answer man. Because I've owned businesses
and run crews of independent contractors I think I have a bit of an
edge in the mindset to manage this type of project. It is much
different than having employees dependent on you. You have to be
able to inspire and help people develop confidence in what they are
doing. I like that a lot.

I have met everyone involved with
Quanta through Quanta. I happen to think that is very cool. It's
also quite humbling. You really have to have a degree of success
before you can attract more people to help you succeed. Recently
I've seen more interest and people coming in like Adam Treat and
Nicolas Deschildre who are working on WYSIWYG, or as I like to call
it, VPL (Visual Page Layout). ;-)

András:
I know none of them personally. Some coordination is done by Eric, who usually
defines what should we implement, when should we make a release, he writes
the articles, updates the Quanta site and so. He is the project manager. But
if we are talking about coding, then I'm the one who makes the decisions. :-)
The discussions usually are taking place on our development list. Since the
beginning we have had only one IRC discussion, before the 3.0 release. This is also
because I don't have a permanent internet connection. Before I had a very slow
dial-up one, now it's far better, but still dial-up and not so cheap. I have
to thank to Eric who supports me having this internet connection.

5. What are your future plans for Quanta?

Eric:
Quanta has several key areas I have plans in. For one, having András at
the development helm means that I know he will be constantly looking to
improve the internals and since he has full time exposure he will be
very much on top of it. I have immense trust in him. I know that he is
working on his passion and he always has the right answer so I have a
very collaborative relationship with him.

András and I are focused on having the best markup and script tool anywhere.

My vision for Quanta is to make it the next "killer app" on Linux. Even
though the use of web development tools is currently limited among computer
users I feel there are two key aspects people overlook when they say that
Quanta is not well suited for this mantle. First of all there are a lot of
web developers. These people are generally more technically inclined than
the average user and in marketing terms are called "early adopters". This
is because they each tend to have a number of friends who look up to them
as being knowlegable on computers. Early adopters lead the masses in
coming to any new technology or product. The other reason is that I believe
that web page and document creation in various markups is going to become
more common among users and this means leading here would make Quanta and
KDE a more desirable work environment. I'm very excited and also humbled
be a part of KDE. Whether you look at the desktop, the development
environment or the people you can't help to be impressed.

The key to bringing Quanta to the level of my vision is very simply man
power. Granted KDE is an extremely efficient development platform, but to
reach the heights of application competence in something so diverse as
general markup and scripted web interfaces you need to cover a lot of ground.
The idea I've been working to advance is that we can do this, and this is
very important for people to understand, much better by creating a two
tiered development model. What we are working to do is to make it possible
for users to extend Quanta. Examples of where we are working on this are
templates, scripts (new in 3.2), DTDs (largely just XML), programmable
actions, customizable toolbars and custom Kommander dialogs. We want to
focus our developers on the internals that cannot be done by users like
code optimizations, debugging, universal features, visual page layout and
the like. I believe to date we have not adequately gotten the message out
so I will state it clearly.

We are looking for a few dozen users to step out of "consumption mode"
and into "community mode" and help us flesh out the features we're adding.

My goal is that by the release of 3.2 Quanta will be considered to be a
viable candidate for best in class web development tool on any platform
and not just among free software! I believe it's going to take some of
our userbase stepping up to help us take on new DTDs, add templates
(though we will add some soon) and more to make this a certainty.

I would be remiss not to mention Nicolas Deschildre and Adam Treat helping
us to bring WYSIWYG, or as I prefer to call it Visual Page Layout (VPL), to
Quanta. We have a positive expectation of delivering a fairly complete
implementation for KDE 3.2.

András:
To make Quanta the best SGML/XML/Script tool. ;-) Seriously, my plans are to make Quanta
even more usable, more customizable. The basics are there since the 3.0
version, but there is a lot of things that must be done before I say, that
yes, this is what I wanted. One of the weakest points of Quanta is its
slowness while editing certain kind of documents. 3.1 is a step forward, but now
I'm working on an even faster and better parsing algorithm. Otherwise I don't
want to talk about new features. We have a todo list on our web page, and you
can check out the wishes on the KDE and Sourceforge bug site.
I know, most users would like to see a WYSIWYG editor. This is not a
priority for me, but we have recently had contributions in the area, as Eric mentioned.

Short and middle term plans are bugfixing (as usual), off-page parsing,
improved autocompletion, integrating some new, cool plugins, adding new
DTDs and toolbars to the Quanta tree, so it can be used by another group
of people, not just by those who write HTML/XHTML/WML pages.

6. Why did you choose the GPL for the Quanta project and what
are your thoughts on Open Source in general?

Eric:
Originally I confess I was not too sure about the GPL. We were debating
on license early on and Dmitry and Alex wanted GPL. It looked to me like
with the code we were using from kwrite and other programs we pretty
much were locked in. Most of the original Quanta was just reuse. When we
were presented with the opportunity to produce a commercial application
I was surprised that the idea was that the GPL'd version was to be left
to wither and die. That caused some soul searching for me. Aside from
the fact that I did not believe there was much money to be made in small
retail software I began to feel very strongly about programs being
available via the GPL. I have received a number emails from people
around the world thanking me for making it possible for them to find
work developing web sites and bettering their lives. I could not put a
value on that but I would not part with it for any price.

To me software has been a lottery for many people. Bill Gates was in the
right place at the right time to leverage a shoddy operating system into
a fortune. I don't like lotteries. I don't really want to receive money
unless it is for something I did to add value to someone's life. I don't
believe the lesson of "getting lucky" and raking in money for years to
come for an idea at the expense of all others is a good one, or
realistic. Everyone has the power to bring about positive changes in
their lives, but sometimes they need a little help. Open source software
levels the playing field and allows someone who can barely afford a
computer to learn the skills to compete with those who have all the breaks.
To me tools should always be secondary to products in costs. I
think software that is charged for should be contracted or have some
explicit merit for its cost. Commodity software should be free or cheap.

I am a strong advocate of GPL'd software and I don't really understand
why more businesses haven't recognized the tremendous advantage in
leveraging this development model for superior and inexpensive tools.
Businesses will always compete on factors other than tools as most tools
will be available to all competitors. The GPL offers coop-etition advantages
for all parties except software retailers and fits better with vertical
market uses. The arguments against it offer stagnation, and the inevitable
eventual inaccessibility of too much good work.

András:
I always liked the idea of free software, and never thought that I will
publish my code which was written in my free time under a proprietary
license. If you work for a company, then it's OK to do non-free software, but
if you do it for your own fun, let's share freely with the world. And GPL is
a nice free software license. Right now I don't work on Quanta in my free
time, but I do it full time, and it is even more fun.

7. If publishing free software doesn't make one rich, how do
you earn your living? Is Quanta sponsored in any way?

Eric:
At one time I intended to make my living directly from Quanta, though
now I do indirectly. I own and operate
Kitty Hooch Catnip
and before you say anything I have been really busy so
I hope to finish making my site impressive soon. ;-) We sell a super
premium product, the only one guaranteed cats will love it, to pet
stores, online and at open markets, holiday bazaars and pet shows. In
2001 it was a side business, In 2002 we made a difficult transition and
in 2003 we expect to begin earning what it will take for a major
expansion.

Since the beginning I have sponsored Quanta development out of my
pocket. We have had some donations which we appreciate very much.

I'd like to note that coming into 2003 we had some slow months and now
we are looking at considerable expense to expand. Expansion is not
optional. Demand is through the roof! We need to further expand in 2004
to a new location where we can finally produce on the level we need
to realize our long term goals. This will enable me to look at the
possibility of helping other related projects too. I want KDE to have
everything I need application wise at a level that is second to none.
At this time I would like to be giving András more as he deserves it.
However until I cover our expansion expenses everything spent elsewhere
is costing me many times that down the road.

It should be made clear. Quanta is sponsored, mostly by me, and by
miscellaneous small donations. Making
a small donation
to the project is the best way to keep me in a
good mood instead of thinking about what I could buy with all the
money I'm spending. ;-)

András:
Right now I depend on Eric. He sponsored Quanta in the beginning, and starting
from the middle of year 2002 he was able to sponsor me. There are no big
figures here, all I can afford from this sponsorship is the (dial up)
internet connection, paying my bills, buying some food for us (I have a
wife...) and such. If there are unexpected expenses, then it is not enough,
but I've decided to work full time for Quanta, even for less money than I
could get from a company where I would develop proprietary software under
Windows using MFC...

I would therefore like to mention again that we have a donation
page
which is even accessible from within Quanta itself
(Help->Make a donation). It's easy to donate for those who use
PayPal but we are certainly open to other means and types of
donations. Every small amount helps ease my and Eric's job.

Of course, if there is a company that would like to sponsor Quanta
development, do contact us. I would really like to focus on Quanta
development in the future, but this would mean some secure income
and what is considered a small amount for a company can make the
difference for one man. The other reason why I accepted to work
full time on Quanta is that I've made some savings in the past
(from my former job in Finland at Ericsson) and can therefore
survive one or two months without a job, but I think it's
completely understandable that I would like to use those savings as
little as possible.

8. What are your favourite tools under KDE?

Eric:
Quanta comes to mind. ;-) Beyond that Gideon
is very cool. I really like Cervisia. It's
great for CVS and I like to do web work from a CVS repository.
KFileReplace is very nice for multi directory find and replace with
wildcards. Kompare is very nice too. I suppose I better mention Kallery
so András doesn't get mad. ;-) I'm also a big fan of KSpread and I'd
like to see some improvements there. Actually Kommander is becoming my
favorite tool along with Quanta. I'd really like a great database tool
but knoda looks promising.

András:
I love KDevelop, and I'm really wish to see Gideon becoming more
stable and usable. I'm already using it now, but it still has some annoying
bugs, but they are less and less. I'm proud that I was the one who fixed some
of them. :-) All what I can say is that KDevelop made me forget about Delphi,
which I think was the best IDE under Windows. And of course the Qt/KDE
libraries also helped me in this case. These are the best libraries in the
area so far!

I like also some other tools, some of them appear in Eric's list.
What do I use on daily basis? Gideon, Cervisia, KMail,
Konqueror, Konsole, KwikDisk and Kate. K3b is also nice for burning CDs.

9. What are your dreams for the desktop of the future? How far are we from the ideal desktop?

Eric:
I don't know how much looks matter for me. To me KDE 3.1 Keramik is
already beautiful. In the looks and use department
Slicker
is somewhat impressive.

However my desktop of the future would revolve around Kommander. I'll
explain.

Most people think of software as shrink wrap or commodity software.
however most software is actually in house or vertical market packages.
So if you have an out of the box install you have lots of great tools
but what you don't have is "your" application. You have word processors
and spreadsheets and calendars and email... but until you work with them
they are not configured to do what you want. If you have a system
engineer sit down with you they could take the various programs and
customize them as well as work on basic templates for files, etc... When
the programs are integrated by common dialogs and scripts then it
becomes a far more productive desktop. It becames your application, not
just a bunch of general applications. This integration could be far more
easily managed by the average person if they had a tool that allowed
them to exchange all relevant information, settings and data between
applications using dialogs and scripts to complete the integration. That
is what will be possible with Kommander and fully DCOP enabled
applications.

The desktop of the future allows for all applications to interact
seamlessly, automates regular tasks and enables you to structure your
work flow efficiently to avoid duplication of effort and utilizing the
best tools at hand. I would say that this is becoming available now but
if we take the right direction in the next 1-2 years we could see
dramatic improvements. To my mind, once you "get it" there is nothing
else close. The current desktop star is a monolithic "one size fits all
" approach which is not the best but works because it handles some small
degree of personalization and customization for users. Imagine if we
took these concepts and tied them all together. Kommander should be a
big part of the new seamless desktop.

András:
I usually don't dream about desktops (maybe sometimes about coding...) ;-) The
current desktops fulfill my requirements, what I would like to see are more
good applications. Sometimes the core of an application may be good, but the application itself is not very usable.

10. What kind of hardware do you have and what OS do you use?

Eric:
I just run Linux. I do have several old copies of Windows but I can't
remember the last time I booted one. I have a local network with
currently three systems and a firewall from an older system. I've been
running Mandrake exclusively after trying all the mainstream distros but
I'm switching my system over to Gentoo before January. My system is
loaded with an Athlon XP 1700 overclocked to 1900+, 512 MB RAM, 90 GB disk
space and a 19
inch monitor. I also have an Athlon 700 in my wife's office with a 17
inch monitor and mom's old K6-500 with a 15 inch monitor that will be
moving into our production area or as an entertainment unit. I'm going
to upgrade to an Athlon 2000 soon because I do a fair amount of
compiling... and I can't get over András having a system that much
faster than mine. ;-)

I will probably get a notebook in 2003 and my whole business is being
run off my local net along with a remote server. I intend to work on
enhancing that to be a model of efficiency.

András:
I mostly work on an Athlon XP2000+ with 256MB RAM, 40GB HDD and a
Hansol 17" monitor. I built it from parts, as I don't trust pre-made
systems. And of course, I use Linux (SuSE 8.0, but quite modified, as I
compiled lot of things from source). I have an older Compaq laptop, which has
SuSE 8.0 and Win98 on it, but I almost never boot Windows. KDE is self
compiled on both of them. For developing I use KDE HEAD, as my
current internet connection makes it possible to update from time to time.

11. What do you do in your spare time, apart from working on
Quanta? ;-)

Eric:
Is there such a thing as spare time? I've been checking and I only seem
to get 24 hours a day which is hardly enough. It seems like forever
since I took a day off. Work
for me is diagonally across the hall from my bedroom. I have put in as
much as 20-30 hours a week on Quanta while working seven days a week the
rest of the time from when I get up until I go to bed. So if you want
to push my buttons write and say you'd like to help but you don't have
time... just be sure you can show me 100 hour weeks. ;-)

I do have some things l like to do. I find movies relaxing and I have
been a musician since I was 14. I have set aside my instruments for the
last several years but I plan to set up a new recording studio in 2003
and begin playing again. I have been working on the lyrics for an album
to honor my dear mother who I lost unexpectedly while driving her back
to Oregon on August 31st, 2001. I also enjoy going to the gym and
bodybuilding. Actually for a guy my age (46) it is my primary defense
against getting old and how I keep my energy up. My
goal is to drop to 10% or less body fat this summer and finally
show off great abs at 46. After 20 years you
realize the odds are decreasing if you don't get with it. ;-)

Aside from that I have developed a passion for hand rolled cigars over
the years. They force me to relax for an hour and ponder. I've come to
appreciate that a lot, as well as the fact that they have been made the
same for over 150 years, touched by 100 craftsmen each and aged for
years. You can't even say that about wine. I know András says he
wouldn't smoke and he likes chocolate. I like chocolate too but it
gathers around my waist... and I can't smoke it. ;-)

I hope in 2003 to get my pilot's license and by 2004 to begin assembling
kit aircraft. I am a history buff and would love to have replica
warbirds with laser tag systems because dogfighting with your friends
has to be a blast!

András:
I like to travel in the nature, and I like to climb mountains. The mountains
are one of the reasons why I moved back to Romania.
And another thing is listening to music. It's great that I can do that even
while working. ;-) The first thing I bought in Finland from my first salary
was a Technics receiver and two 100W speakers. Unfortunately the CD prices
are high, and I'm lucky if I can buy one in two months. The selection in Romania
is also very limited.

12. Any final thoughts and comments?

Eric:I'd like to make a special mention of
Kommander,
a DCOP-enabled dialog builder and executor.

Marc Britton
and I were working with Kaptain 0.7 and decided
to build Kommander instead. In simple terms it uses "text
associations" with widgets. So you can create strings by
manipulating widgets and output them. You can create custom
strings to input into an editor like Quanta for PHP functions or
classes or you can launch programs. You can even use internal shell
scripting for logic as well as DCOP communications and running
scripts or programs with the dialog. Kommander dialogs are
essentially Qt
Designer
UI files using standard widgets that have been
modified to work with Kommander. The dialog designer is actually a
stripped and modified Qt Designer run as a KDE application. It is
even possible to create the XML for the dialog on the fly with
scripting languages.

Kommander is what I call "application glue"
because it can stitch KDE applications together into one seamless
desktop application. In my mind that is the next killer
app... being able to make any app interact via user created
dialogs. This little program gives any KDE application its own user
dialog engine, especially useful if it has a solid DCOP
implementation. Look for docs and demos on the Quanta site.

Thanks to everyone who has been so kind in their praise of Quanta. I
would never imagine I would have the priviledge to manage a project like
this. It is a total accident that I arrived here but now I would not
give it up for anything. Most of all I wish I could share with everyone
just how wonderful it feels to be part of something like this. What
we're doing matters to people. Knowing that I am making a positive
impact in so many lives exceeds any financial rewards. I wish everyone
reading this could experience this. In fact you can. I encourage
everyone to realize that being a community requires much more than just
consuming. Someone has to produce, and that is where the real reward is.

It is so obvious and cliche to say "send in your donations" but in fact
for many of us it is so easy it doesn't really cost us anything.
Right now each and every donation I've received has been meaningful and
helpful. Thanks to all who have contributed. Help us
make Quanta a good tool for Zope, Java and XML. Help us with templates. Find some
small but worthwhile thing you can give back... because what I've
learned in this experience is that the old saying really is true... it
is better to give than to receive. What you do that we don't can become your
own little subproject in Quanta... Your own little world.

Thank you everyone for taking the time to read this interview and my
ramblings. ;-) Most of all thank you for helping to make Quanta perhaps
the most popular Open source web development tool and certainly on
Linux and KDE.

See you on the net...

András:
Yes, help is wanted. First we need financial help, as I wrote above. But of
course developers are also welcome -- be sure that we will find a job for you!

And the thank you's: first of all I would like to thank Eric, as he
"discovered" me, and showed me that it's possible to fulfill my dream of making my living doing something I enjoy. I trust him and I think he is a great man for sponsoring GPL software development. More should follow his example -- I would certainly do the same if I could.

There are others to thank, most importantly my wife
and my parents. They have accepted that I've choosen this not so secure way to earn my living, as it's more important to feel good and enjoy life than to grow rich and depressed. Of course, this doesn't mean that I don't want to earn more money.
:-)

To the users: Please try out the latest version of Quanta from KDE CVS, contribute and
report bugs. If you haven't noticed yet, we now have a user mailing list

Thanks for inviting me to this interview.

Special thanks to Andreas C. Diekmann and Klaus Staerk for sending us the English version of this interview.

Comments

Hi all,

I used to maintain the WYSIWYG editor project Kafka, and I just thought I would give a pat on the back to the hackers who are adding this support ot Quanta. I was contacted in the early days about this support to Quanta and decided to approach it in a seperate application as I didnt want to clog Quanta with it.

After some hindsight, WYSIWYG support in Quanta is a good thing. Although many professional coders dont use this, it will open up the application to those people who are less hardcore and just want to put some static pages on the web.

WYSIWYG support in Quanta is going to be a hard task, and I had a hell of a time with it in Kafka. It is certainly not impossible, and some advice from the KWord team may be helpfull in coding the conversion of events to code. I wish the team all the best and maybe one day I will join and get involved again. My time for KDE has been limited somewhat as I have moved onto other projects and commitments.

Good luck chaps and I look forward to running your code. :D

Jono Bacon

PS - One hint. Dont use the acronym VPL. Here in England a lot of people refer to this as a Visible Panty Line; i.e, when you can see a young ladies knickers through her skirt. I would suggest a different acronym or the kind of hilary that was associated with kant might happen again.


By Jono Bacon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

LOL @ VPL.. I vote we keep it. :)


By KDE User at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I have to admit I wanted something besides WYSIWYG for two reasons. One is I was really getting sick of typing it over and over... the other is all the negative connotations in how is has been poorly implemented in the past that I wanted to distance myself from. Having this other meaning brought to my attention... well this sounds like a great opportunity for a risque advertising campaign if we were a commercial project. Now I'm going to laugh every time I save time typing. ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I felt rather fortunate when Andras and I had been talking about visual page layout and Nicolas dropped the Kafka part in our lap. Of course Jono was leading this project some time back and we had discussed if we might have some collaboration. While there is still a fair amount of work to do I certainly want to acknowlege Jono for his efforts. Also he did an amazing job laying out the project. Any project would be fortunate to have his efforts. I think one key here is that the huge amount of work we have put into Quanta in the last two years makes it a vastly enhanced platform that solves a lot of problems on the back end for the kafka part. So it is, after all this time, a perfect marraige. I'd like to say I planned it that way, but I can honestly say at one time I did and it has been in a general sense my plan to round Quanta out with this feature.

I would not say most serious developers will not use it either. We're really working to provide an implementation unlike anything in the past that is compelling and functional in ways that have not been previously available. We've got some very good people on this.

It's really nice to hear from Jono on this. Thanks Jono.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Thanks very much for your kind words Eric.

My work on Kafka was an effort that was essentially limited by time and experience. I had done some development on other applications for KDE, but my lack of knowledge of XML and DOM in Qt and KHTML made the learning curve steep. Although my knowledge has furthered since then, I am glad I did not litter the Quanta tree with my learning curve. ;) Luckily, the developers behind Quanta have got some solid experience in this area, and the likelyhood of adding a WYSIWYG component is far better given the qualified structure and backend of Quanta.

I am really impressed with Quanta and the direction it is taking. I think few people are fully aware of the struggle the Quanta project has faced over tha past years and Eric is one guy that I would truly love to meet and buy him a beer. There are some Open Source developers who *really* make a difference and Eric is one of them.

Quanta has gone from being a basic web editor to one that is making real waves on functionality. I for one use it every day for PHP / HTML / XML / XSL development, and I think the project really is going to be a killer app for Linux when the WYSIWYG component is added.

Jono


By Jono Bacon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Wow! I'm blown away. You're welcome for the kind words Jono. I'm afraid I'm going to have trouble coming up with something as glowing as this. ;) You're on for that beer. For a guy I had a bit of a freindly rivalry with I'm pretty much speechless. I've always felt a bit like an outsider trying to fit in with all these really cool developers like Jono. What can I say... I'll take that beer. It's a ways from Oregon to GB but I hope to be able to manage the trip to Nove Hrady in August. I figure I can be the lost american who looks up to a bunch of guys half his age and tries not to look stupid. ;-)

Whenever I see you Jono you're on for the beer, and I will be looking forward to it at least as much as you. If you ever get an itch to do some coding on a good KDE app drop me a line. ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Well the acronym is international I believe, in France we say LSV : Ligne du Slip Visible, most of the guys love it, as it's rather suggestive, amd make the imagination very active :)


By LSV at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

actually calling it vpl might help encourage people to make donations to the project. *grabs credit card* ;-)


By macewan at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

ROFL
I had no idea... I'll have to order some lacy panties from Victoria's Secret and then print "Quanta with VPL" on them to hang from your car mirror for our next merchandise item. ;-)

(Actually I told my wife I would not order from them any more because all I ever got was lingerie and that's not what the picture showed!)


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

I love Quanta and Cats.

I don't understand too much about HTML, CSS and programing but I did a great site about enviromental education with Quanta. Eric and Adrás, thanks for this great free software.

I had, sometime at the past, 12 black cats, Bombaim. That time I was living at rural area.

But about the catnip, this is a plant that makes the cats get high, go on nuts, hallucinated. Whoooouuu mannnn meowww !! =8-D


By V. B. at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Cats are great! They have a very interesting social structure. They are very smart and contrary to myth can be trained well and are quite loyal. However they abound in personality and individuality. They can tell time without a clock and are great alarm clocks as well as excellent companions. It's funny that I have a business based on those little furry beasts. I love 'em.

When you talk catnip though you have to keep Kitty Hooch seperate. Kitty Hooch is grown in a climate controled environment with as much organic nutrient as is possible to to affect their growth. In fact it's downright freaky! They're only supposed to grow 3 feet tall (1 meter) but I have pictures of me harvesting flower buds from 8 foot (3.7 meter) plants! Kitty Hooch is Catnip++.

Last weekend we sold catnip toys to several visitors from Germany and we have had our toys go as far away as the UK, New Zealand and Isreal. Kitty Hooch, like Quanta, is a lot of fun. It's the other "accidental endeavor" I'm becoming world famous for. I think I must be one lucky guy. ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I don't thing that you are just "lucky" Eric :), I think that you do your job or your hobby and talk about them with a lot of _passion_, and its shows !!, a french philosopher used to say "Nothing great can be achieved without passion"


By Khalid at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

That's what I like about KDE people... they're smart. When I was a top performing sales manager in my region one of my mentors told me that he believed my success was due to my passion. I have seen people who were total failures at everything find one thing they were passionate about and achieve fame and fortune... just for doing what others did with more passion.

I decided long ago to approach whatever I did with passion. My life is not always easy and I think a lot of people could not handle the uncertainty and sacrifice often required to be self employed. I don't really believe in luck. It's just an expression. Still when I reflect that I spend most of my time doing things I love and my work makes a difference to thousands of people... It is pretty amazingly good considering I fell into both Kitty Hooch and Quanta. That's no lack of good fortune.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Well, Eric, I was thinking about helping you out with Quanta for some time. I am not a web developer, nor a quanta user, but I respect what you are doing for free software. Software prices should decline with time, since there are no marginal production cost, but we are seeing unfair prices for software that have not changed a lot in the last ten years.
Don't get me wrong, I am a liberal (in the european laisser faire, laisser passer sense, not in the american sense), small state, etc... I just think the prices are unfair, ando more, that people are unfairly transfering income to market monopolies. So I think this (helping free software) is the right think to do, it is cool, it help the small companies around the world, avoid income transfer from the poor to the rich, it make sense in economical terms (Inovative commercial software will allways have it value. But non inovative commercial software will have trouble with free software. Free software will allways have limited resources. Most of us are here for the free ride.
I could give money for other projets or developers, some of them more useful to me. But i think you and Quanta deserve it most.

Keep the great work.

Carlos


By Carlos Leonhard Woelz at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Hi Carlos,
that's very well put. I think some people might initially get the idea I'm anti-business and then be confused that I'm pro business. I just believe like you in equitable business and against monopolistic wealth transfers. I can tell you what store markups are on products and what reasonable costs are. Unfortunately commercial software seems to never want to get real. If Quanta were sold at $5 a copy (not practical because of the GPL) and we had near our current user base I'd be a millionaire. Go figure!

I would not change things if I could though. I believe in free software. I also believe in people like yourself that will take action to do what they believe is right in their heart without the software being held hostage. There are hundreds of KDE programs alone. Free software is good. The alternative would cost me more than Quanta has. ;-)

Thanks for your kind words.


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

"Just moment ago I finished putting together a 50 page annual report - I decided at the very beginning of the project to give Quanta a shot; I knew I was in for a lot of copy and paste, I've been working with vi for ages and had a feeling that I may be able to save time by taking this on using Quanta."

Its on /. already. I hope you have a steady heart to deal with it. LOL.


By KDE User at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

SlashDot has to have become the cesspool of the internet. I've never seen a bunch of high minded whiners that need to do laps around the video arcade and so bad in my life. Intelligent and civil conversation seems to be frowned on there replaced by schoolyard banter presented as if there were some superior intelligence involved. I guess it's the initial rush of testosterone that sparks all the acne... I just have little use for it since it is now the cool place for teen aged windoze users to preen and pontificate. Perhaps I should change that to deficate because that seems to be the general content.

I couldn't find your post but I now know I'm an idiot for not writing Quanta in GTK2, for writing it to begin with, for not settling for a console app, for not chaning it's name, for introducing Kommander... I did not check below the threshold for eating, talking, breathing or whether the vote was in on whether I should be allowed to procreate.

Thanks for reminding me why I don't go there. ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am


By KDE User at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

> Some of it is good too.

Hmmm... it's like they somehow set those to below the threshhold and focus the annoying ones at me. Well I have to say I may have been overly harsh in my review. I still find the noise annoying but apparently not all the adults have left the building. My apologies. There are some very nice comments here, including one from one of our contributors today. I would certainly not want to insult them most of all.

BTW I do vastly enjoy the sanitized digest you provided. I think you have a real marketable service going there. ;-) dotsanislash.org filtered content... I like it.

Thanks


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

If Quanta were sold at $5 a copy (not practical because of the GPL) and we had near our current user base I'd be a millionaire. Go figure!

If Quanta were sold at $5 a copy you wouldn't have got the current user base by far. There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. Go figure :)


By xxl at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

> If Quanta were sold at $5 a copy you wouldn't have got the current user base by far. There's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path. Go figure :)

True, but forgetting the logistical licensing issues and my personal convictions it does server to illustrate how far afield the commercial model is when competative packages go for $50-$500. Giving away version 1 of a piece of software to get the user base and charging $20 for a lifetime upgrade could yield more revenue than $50 and $35 for each upgrade. The current model is based on small market penetration and hoping to strike it rich with a big hit. It's not just M$ that is promoting free software by broken assumptions.

BTW since Quanta can be updated by XML, any scripting language and Kommander dialogs it essentially would not be able to sell upgrades as it's user extensible. These are other design considerations that commercial software vendors can't afford because it weakens their posture to get more money from their best market, existing customers.


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

Make it shareware. IT is legal, you know ;-)

Ok, it is not legal to say "use it for 30 days or register", but a copyright notice (and donation request) on startup would not be out of line, and would be covered by the GPL as not removeable, IMVHO.

In fact, I have been meaning to do that, just to see if RMS finally blows a fuse ;-)


By Roberto Alsina at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

> Make it shareware. IT is legal, you know ;-)

Oh common... give me a break. I was just trying to illustrate a point about commercial software.

> Ok, it is not legal to say "use it for 30 days or register", but a copyright notice (and donation request) on startup would not be out of line, and would be covered by the GPL as not removeable, IMVHO.

Hmmm... we have a donation menu item in the help menu. I'm betting it's been sanitized in at least Red hat. Including it in the copyright notice and flashing it at startup had not occured to me. ;-)

> In fact, I have been meaning to do that, just to see if RMS finally blows a fuse ;-)

Oh yes... I can see you doing this. ;-) Please make sure I have a seat for the festivities. ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

A large reason I use quanta is because the KDE open dialog has support for SCP with the fish:// protocol. It means you can work with the files of any computer with SCP as if they were on your machine. I've always thought that KDE's Open/Save dialog box was one of KDE strongest points, it is definitedly one of those little things that can make a big difference. I really wish GTK would come up with a better one, as there some GTK programs that I still use.

The other nifty thing about quanta is the code completion for PHP. I wish I had that when I was doing Ada development (its what we learn in our introductory Computer Science courses.) Features like that, where you don't have to figure out some dialog box or use a wizard but our integrated into the editor itself are often the most valuable.


By Ian at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Gtk 2.4 will finally have a new Open/Save dialog (with everything that should be in a modern O/S dialog).


By nac at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Fish does not use scp.


By AC at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Humm... I think it does...
There is no word about scp in their homepage (http://ich.bin.kein.hoschi.de/fish/), but
at apps.kde.com they say it does support scp...


By Iuri Fiedoruk at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I seem to remember that it is SSH/SCP too. I'm not sure how you would transfer the files with SSH alone.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I think programs that just use SSH basically connect then do a cat on a file, ie simple shell manipulation.

Keep up the good work. Quanta looks like the best bet for a GUI web designer :)


By Mike Hearn at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Fish installs a perl script on the host which implements a simple protocol for file operations. No scp involved.


By AC at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Yes, if you want scp, you can use sftp:// (AFAIK) instead, works very well


By Stephan at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

I must be missing something, but in my version of Quanta I can't use PHP code completion. I'm using Quanta Plus 3.1. Maybe someone can tell me where to find it?

Thanx in advance,
McTrex


By McTrex at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Well, it definetely should be there. Try the following(s):
<?
a<--press CTRL-SPACE

$(if you have other variables, they should pop up)

abs(<--press CTRL-SPACE

?>

and similar combinations.

Andras


By Andras Mantia at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Thanx a lot, I didn't search enough, sorry!


By McTrex at Wed, 2003/04/23 - 5:00am

Thanks for all your fantastic work, it really is by far my favorite web development tool for Linux. Dreamweaver MX is still ahead IMO, but the quata team has nowhere near the same resources as Macromedia. In addition, the imrovements made with each Quanta version sem much bigger to me than the ones I see in each new Dreamweaver version.

BTW András I too am from Romania =)! I moved to the US in 3rd grad, but I back to Romania every 2 years. I'm not too good at writting in romanian, but let me try.

Ce may faci? Si, in ce oras traesti? Eu traesc in Iasi, aproape de Bucharest.

Anyway... thanks, both of you =)


By Alex at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I don't know how many people work on Dreamweaver, but I belive at least 10. Well, taking in account Kommander, DTD definitions, documentation and project management, we are 6. There are also some other contributors, with more or less frequent code submitting. By looking at the CVS commit logs, this number drops down.... Anyway, as we stated in lot of places, we don't try to copy Dreamweaver, but go on our own way. Of course good ideas are welcome, but saying that "look at Dreammeaver/Homesite/etc." is wrong, as we usually don't have those applications on our systems.

Andras

PS: And some word in Romanian: Salut, momentan locuiesc in Cluj, dar sunt originar din Sf. Gheorghe, jud. Covasna, si dorim sa-ne mutam inapoi aici. Nici eu nu scriu/vorbesc prea bine romaneste, dar asta se explica destul de usor, romana nefiind limba mea materna. Altfel ma simt bine, numai daca n-ar fi birocratia asta din Romania....


By Andras Mantia at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Taking a look at the screenshots I see multi layered tabs, oh no! Someone should tell them about kjanuswidget!

-Benjamin Meyer


By Benjamin Meyer at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Okay I'll bite. It's not on freshmeat.net or apps.kde.com. Where must one look? fictitiouswidgets.org? ;-)


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am


By Richard Moore at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

As I understood KJanusWidget is designed for configuration dialogs (I heard about it, but never used in code). On which screenshot you saw that the KJanusWidget would be useful?

Andras


By Andras Mantia at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I think he's probably referring to the action configurations dialog which is a bit of a usability nightmare I'm afraid. I'm not 100% certain how KJanusWidget would help here though.

Rich.
ps. You've probably use KJanusDialog alrady via KDialogBase.


By Richard Moore at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Hi Rich!
The actions dialog *was* a bit of a usability nightmare. Have you seen the one in CVS? It's been totally reworked for just that reason. It feels like coming out of a straightjacket on meds to a nice spring day. ;-)

Until you pointed it out I did not realize KJanusWidget was in the offical KDE. To me this looks like a perfect building block for some new Kommander widgets. BTW I thought he was referring to the file tabs but we do have the pop up file listbox.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I almost forgot... here, have a screenshot.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

That's much better!

Rich.


By Richard Moore at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Here's an example of an entire application based around KJanusWidget:
~ravi/cvs.png.

You can find it in kdenonbeta/frontman. I was surprised when I actually learned that KControl does not use KJanusWidget. It could use some developer attention, as its internals have been significantly modified in the last 3 months.


By Ravi at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

I use it all the time now for PHP editing. It's the small things that are realy helpful. Like automatic variable completion. You use a long variable name (like $number_of_records) once and the next time you type $nu... you just have to press enter to get the whole variable name. Pretty cool. Syntax colouring has also been fixed what I'm still missing is the ability to select a different colour for <? and ?> which is important for mixed HTML/PHP documents. Furthermore the file selector is still a mess and "automatically" undocks all of a sudden due to a bug.
Something like in HomeSite (press F9 to open, click one or more files to open, press F9 to close again) would be nice. Currently I mapped Ctrl+Q to "Open" and made the Open dialogue window full screen. The maximized state is fortunately saved. Now I press Ctrl+Q which
is easier to do with the left hand only than Ctrl+O and can select a file. The bad points about
this workaround are: You cannot open various files at once (except clumsily using
Ctrl to select multiple files and this works only in the same folder) and Quanta forgets about the last folder next time and chooses the folder the current file is in. Sometimes not even that.
This is the only real bad point I can say about Quanta. Otherwise everyone who hasn't tried it yet for PHP should definitively give it a spin.


By Michael at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Have you tried project views? You can set your current group of files and loaded toolbars as a view. You can open and close all the files at once from the menu while simultaniously loading and unloading the toolbars. Get the files you want open and define your view. You can add or remove files from a view too. Why muck with all those selections when you can make a group to single click.


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Thanks for your answer but this is not what I need.
I do not want to open a group of files at once that I have
predefined before. I need a better way of opening
various files across folders that I need on that day
all of a sudden.


By Martin at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

Would the file upload tree widget be better suited? We could create a multiple file open from it's selection output listed from project files...


By Eric Laffoon at Tue, 2003/04/22 - 5:00am

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