Last weekend, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting took place in Brussels. KDE was present there with a lot of developers, a devroom and several interesting talks. Among the speakers were Jonathan Riddell from the Kubuntu Distribution, Sebastian Kügler from the KDE's Marketing Working Group, Bart Coppens from the Krita development team and Raphael Langerhorst & Sander Koning from the KOffice teams.
Bart's Krita talk
FOSDEM's first day was a fruitful and busy time for the KDE developers. Not only did we give out 800 Kubuntu CDs, we also spoke with many enthusiastic users and developers who are interested in the development of KDE.
The day kicked off with a lengthy keynote from Richard Stallman about software patents. He made some interesting points countering the propaganda coming from the pro-patents lobby and warned us of the new European Patent Consultation which is very likely to include allowing software patents in Europe. He also described the changes made in the GPL 3 licence.
The Kubuntu talk by Jonathan Riddell (Slides) filled the KDE devroom to the top. One of the topics the talk covered was the usability improvements and simplifications Kubuntu made to the KDE desktop. Work is also being done on several KDE based tools from Guidance for installing and configuring the underlying OS. Another exciting development is the Rosetta support added to KDE. Rosetta will make the translation of KDE easier by offering a web based interface for translators to work with. The package manager tool Adept will soon feature a simplified application installer and a notification applet for updates. Lastly, a live CD installer is being developed, which will allow for a single-CD distribution, live CD and installation to hard disk all on one disk.
The marketing KDE talk, Roadmap to World Domination (slides, notes), given by Sebastian Kügler described how KDE is working on marketing related issues in a methodical and structured way. SpreadKDE is the guerrilla-marketing platform which will enable the community to evangelise KDE to the world. Coordination has been missing in the past, and the Marketing Team is working to change that. The talk received a lot of positive feedback and questions, showing the importance of and interest in the work being done in that area.
Sunday, KOffice day on FOSDEM.
The first talk about KOffice in the Enterprise (slides, notes) resulted in some questions about migrating from MS Office to KOffice. There are already tools available, for example Kexi can now import many Microsoft Access database files directly. The many components in KOffice deliver everything one needs in a much more integrated fashion compared to other office suites and using a fifth the amount of code compared to OpenOffice. This tight integration and small footprint, combined with excellent scripting capabilities, are the key advantages KOffice has to offer to its users.
News also came in from the localisation front. Originally thought of last year at Akademy, a working screenshot-automation script was presented by Sander Koning(slides, notes). This amazing piece of work will save translators and documentation writers hours of work by automatically creating screenshots of applications in all of the languages that KDE supports.
Relaxing after the first day
Bart Coppens presented the new features in Krita 1.5 (slides, notes) to a full room of developers. Krita 1.4 was a technology preview, great in itself, and generated much renewed interest in Krita. But the really impressive features will be available to the world in KOffice 1.5, due to be released next month. It will include industry-strength tablet support, powerful independent colourspaces, full colour profile support, OpenGL acceleration and experimental scripting support.
The bug fixing frenzy for the layer support code resulted in much better and more flexible layer support, with features like previews, grouping, tooltips and drag 'n' drop. Krita can also embed any kind of KPart in a picture, like a KWord document or a chart from KChart. This will work even better in KOffice 2.0 using the improved functionality in Qt4.
One very cool new feature is Adjustment layers. Using these you can apply effects without changing the underlying picture. Using the group layer function you can adjust part of a layer, a whole layer or even several grouped layers at a time.
Another exciting new feature is watercolour support - painting with virtual watercolour paint on textured paper. This feature will most likely be disabled in the 1.5.0 release, as it is still not entirely stable - but 1.5.1 should bring this to the masses. Clearly the work on Krita and KOffice in general,
is going so fast that the developers have had a hard time slowing down enough to concentrate on stabilising it for normal use. The presentation ended with a long preview of a recent snapshot of Krita.
Sander Koning concluded the day with a quick presentation Better Looks for KOffice (slides, notes) about the visual consistency coming to the different KOffice components for the 1.5 release in about one month.
The KDE team would like to thank everybody who paid us a visit at FOSDEM 2006 and most of all, the FOSDEM organisers themselves who make this event possible each year. We hope to see everyone again next year in Brussels!