Last time in the KDE contributor interview series, we talked with the KDE developer Stephen Kelly from KDE PIM. We've been digging around in the KDE interview vaults and found this interesting discussion we had with Albert Astals Cid on 12 May 2010. Albert is well known in KDE from his work with KDE España, as maintainer of Okular and the KDE Edu applications. The original interview in Italian is also available.
Hello Albert, can you present yourself to our readers?
Hi, my name is Albert Astals Cid, I was born in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona in 1982 and lived in Barcelona for most of my live, though recently I moved to Dublin. I have a Computer Science degree by the Technical University of Catalonia and I am single at the moment. (Hi girls!)
When did you first hear about KDE?
Don't really remember, probably some time around 1999, the first time I remember using KDE software though is in the Mandrake 7.0 release around 2000.
How do you contribute to KDE?
I help in lots of places in KDE, I am the coordinator of the KDE localization project, also maintain Okular, Blinken and KGeography, keep an eye on programs going to kdereview and do some occasional kdelibs patches. Not strictly related to KDE software, I also maintain Poppler, the free PDF rendering library.
Can you talk to us about Okular?
Okular is KDE's multiformat document reader. It brought KPDF code into a Platform 4 app by adding a host of new supported formats. Sadly, lately we have been getting quite some abuse from a few very vocal users and that has resulted in some of our developers quitting.
That is sad to hear. Is it without a maintainer now?
No, I currently maintain Okular. Of course, as with every project out there it needs people helping so if you want to help in a very interesting project, you are more than welcome to join :-)
Does it need new features?
Well, all programs need new features, though probably what it really needs more is a bit of polishing to finish some features and fix some corner case bugs and crashes that are hitting some of our users.
How is the support for the Open Document Format in it?
The OpenDocument support is limited to some features of ODT files, if you want a full blown ODT program you should use KWord or the other solutions out there. Some time ago it was said that KOffice would provide a library we could use to render ODT more correctly but that has not happened yet.
What can you tell us about your involvement with the KDE-Edu team?
The KDE-Edu team develops a set of applications for educational purposes targeting very small kids to grown-ups. The applications range from simple vocabulary learning games to physics simulation applications. In the next release the KDE-Edu project will focus in adding features and polish to our current application set.
How much of your time do you dedicate programming for KDE?
Sadly I do not program much lately and spent most of the 2 or 3 hours I dedicate daily to KDE doing coordination, helping others and answering mails.
What application do you use to develop your KDE applications?
I use Kate and Konsole, not forgetting KMail, Konversation and some vim.
What are the most prominent features and capabilities you miss in KDE applications?
KDE already provides a robust workspace you can use daily, in fact, there are lots of people that do use it daily. Of course there are always things to improve, I would sincerely appreciate someone doing a serious job on profiling KDE software so we have real figures on whether the KDE apps use more or less memory than other apps on other platforms and the same for CPU usage. There are lots of so called benchmarks over the internet but sadly they mostly do a poor job.
What’s your favourite KDE application?
What are your plans for the next set of KDE software releases?
I don't really have much plans for the next release. I do want to help Luigi Toscano remove the embedded docbook XML and XSL copies from kdelibs. Another is automating the generation of translated documentation, but I am not sure if I will really have time to finish this as it seems some other things (like this interview) keep getting on my way ;-)
Are you paid to work on KDE software?
Not in money, but I get appreciation by some users and fellow developers and also my KDE coding skills helped me find a good job, so you can think that's somehow a way of getting money from being part of KDE :D
What motivates/keeps you motivated to work on KDE software?
The community is real fun to work with and it also helps me improve my skills.
What is Akademy?
Akademy is the yearly meeting for KDE users and developers. It has historically always been in political Europe (the Canary islands are physically Africa) and usually is somewhere in July/August/September. This year it is at Tampere, Finland from the 3rd to 10th of July. I suggest everyone to attend this kind of event because is a cool experience. You can meet a lot of people, you can give a face to the one you met on IRC and on KDE mailing lists, you can visit a lot of wonderful cities in Europe. Try to be at (at least) one Akademy in you life ;) .
What is it like to organize Akademy? How many people are required? How does it work with the proposal?
I can't really answer this because never organized one, but talking to some people that organized Akademy in the past I can tell that is both a very stressful and rewarding experience :D .
How is the location of Akademy chosen?
The KDE e.V. board has the final say on the Akademy location but it accepts input from KDE e.V. members.
What is Akademy-es?
Akademy-es is the Spanish sister of the Akademy. It is also shorter, usually only running for a weekend instead a whole week like the general Akademy.
How many KDE contributors are in KDE España?
KDE España has currently around 20 members of which around 10 are or have been contributing code to KDE programs, the rest are translators and promotion people.
Do you prefer coding or giving talks into at Akademy or another Free Software event?
I am more of a coder but I also enjoy talking about what I'm passionate about so I think the answer is both :-)
What Linux distribution do you use? Have you ever suggested your friends or family to use Linux and KDE software?
At the moment I am using Kubuntu, and no, I do not do much proselytism about KDE software, of course I talk and give some guidance to people I know but I prefer them to freely choose what they like and not install KDE software or Linux because I told them.
If you could choose where you can live what place would you choose and why?
My favorite place for living is Barcelona, which is quite ironic if you realize I recently moved from Barcelona to Dublin :D I really like Barcelona because it has everything you would want, both beach and mountains are close and there is a relatively good transportation system for those of us that don't like driving and the weather is quite good too!
Have you ever stayed in Italy? If so, where?
I went into Venice when I was 5, but I don't really remember much of it. Two years ago I did a two week cycling tour with some friends in the north of Sardinia and I have to say that it is a really beautiful island to visit and the fact that the Italian language is very similar to Catalan helps a lot too ;-)
Do you like reading? What was the last book you read?
I love reading, the last book I read was “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman and I'm currently reading “The Folklore of Discworld” by Terry Pratchett and Jacqueline Simpson.
Albert, thank you for your time and good luck for your projects!