The motto of our space at QtWS this year has been "Power up!". We put it into practice in more than one way and in the most literal of senses.
First we designed our allocated space so that attendees could come, sit and relax, and recover their energies. We made sure there was ample sitting space with comfy cushions in an open and informal atmosphere.
We also wanted to make it easy for visitors to power up their devices, so we placed plugs and USB charging stations all over our booth. Our visitors came, sat, chatted, re-charged their bodies, minds and devices, while at the same time finding out why KDE is the driving force behind many a software project. This turned out to be winning idea. A lot of people came by the "Power up!" space, and the buzz gave us the chance to demonstrate exactly how KDE could also power up their software and hardware projects. Many still perceive KDE exclusively as the creator of a desktop, but, at the ripe age of twenty, KDE is much more than that.
Twenty years of development means that KDE has made many different kinds of software. Primary device UI, end-user apps, communication apps, business apps, content creation apps, mobile apps, and on and on. This means we have had to solve many problems and create many libraries in the process. Our libraries complement Qt and are very easy to use by any Qt-based application. Many have few or no dependencies aside from Qt itself. These libraries are free to use and licensed in a way that is compatible even with commercial apps. They also run on many different platforms.
To leverage all the libraries and frameworks we have created, we have also built many development tools, including a full IDE that supports both static and dynamic languages (KDevelop), an advanced editor especially designed for developers (Kate), debugging tools (Kdbg, Massif Visualizer), etc. They all support Qt and C++ and again run on a variety of platforms.
Our most valuable asset is our community. The KDE community is the real power behind KDE's projects. The community fosters personal and professional development, helping programmers become better Qt developers in a welcoming environment. Also, just by contributing to KDE, you get to help us decide where we should take our projects next and help us keep KDE code up-to-date and secure.
To prove our point, we had on display two examples of how KDE powers much more than desktop devices. We showed off the Pinebook running Plasma Desktop. The Pinebook is a low-cost ultra-netbook (only $99 for the 14'' version) built around the Pine, an ARM-based 64 bit single board computer -- similar to a the Raspberry Pi, but more powerful. The Pinebook is not only a good example of a cheap machine you can take anywhere, but also of how KDE technologies can provide a full-fledged working environment on all sorts of devices.
To drive the matter home even more, visitors were also able to play with Plasma Mobile, our environment for smartphones. Plasma Mobile has been in the news recently thanks to the fact that Purism, manufacturers of high-end laptops that come with Linux pre-installed, and KDE have agreed to work together on the Librem 5, an open and privacy-respecting smartphone. As the Librem 5 hasn't been built yet, at QtWS 2017 we showed how Plasma Mobile works fine on an off-the-shelf device; in this case, a Nexus 5x. Plasma Mobile running on an actual device is living and breathing proof of the power KDE delivers to developers.
Thanks to Halium, for example, you can sit different graphical environments (including Plasma Mobile) on top of an Android base, and Halium will manage communication between the graphical environment and the kernel. Then we have Kirigami, a framework that helps developers create apps that will work within all sorts of environments, not only on the Plasma Desktop. With Kirigami, you can deliver apps to the two Plasmas, Desktop and Mobile, Windows, MacOS X, Android, and iOS.
These powerful technologies are developed and maintained by KDE, and are examples of how KDE can power up your projects.
The 2017 edition of Akademy was held in Almería, Spain. Starting officially on the 22nd of July and ending on the 27th, the weekend was dedicated to talks, as is customary. The rest of the following week, from Monday to Thursday, was dedicated to workshops and BoFs — Birds of a Feather — sessions in which community members interested in the same things meet and work together.
This year's event attracted over 110 attendees. Attendees traveled mainly from Europe, but also from North and South America, and Asia. Over the weekend, visitors were able to attend over 40 different talks on all kinds of topics, ranging from developing applications for mobile phones to best ways for collaboration between communities.
From Monday to Thursday, Akademy was dedicated to BoFs and workshops where a specific topic or area is focused on. For most participants, this part is a primary motivation for attending Akademy, since it gives them the chance to sit down with their colleagues in the flesh. They can discuss and code together without having to relay messages over email or IRC. Each day attendees met, discussed, and worked side by side, pushing KDE forward.
One of the hottest topics was Plasma. Plasma is KDE's graphical desktop and mobile environment. Dedicating a large chunk of the meetings to Plasma makes perfect sense. Although most KDE apps work on a wide range of platforms (including Windows, MacOS and Android), the first platform KDE developers would want to target is their own. With as much time dedicated to mobile frameworks, such as Kirigami and Halium, as to Plasma on desktop computers, it is clear the developers are very seriously committed to the effort of taking over smartphones and breaking the Android/iOS duopoly.
KDE developers know very well that a rich software catalogue is essential to attract end users, hence many of the talks and BoFs where dedicated to app development. There were slots on how to port applications to the upcoming Wayland display server protocol which, like winter, is definitely coming someday. Aleix Pol dedicated time to explaining how developers could package apps for Flatpak, a universal packaging system for all GNU/Linux distributions. Scattered throughout the week were also several sessions and talks about QML, Qt 3D, and other KDE-related technologies.
As for the steps the applications should actually go through — from concept to working utility on the desktop or your phone's screen — during Akademy 2017 the community reached an agreement on the new Applications Lifecycle Policy. The overhaul of this policy had already been discussed at some length on KDE's Community mailing list, but the conversation hadn't reached a satisfactory conclusion. However, a few hours of face-to-face negotiation led to an acceptable solution which Jonathan Riddell announced on Wednesday in the half-day wrap-up session.
According to Jonathan, the new policy...
"[D]efines how projects enter KDE, which is either through Incubator for projects which started outside KDE, or just starting it in Playground. It defines the sort of things that get reviewed in KDEReview and it explains how to choose where to put the application, (Frameworks, self released, Applications, Plasma) which in turn defines how and when it gets released. Finally, it defines options when a project is no longer useful: either ask the Gardening team to update it or move it to unmaintained."
On the non-technical front, there were all-important discussion on how to make KDE technologies more accessible to end users, and how to make the community more open to potential contributors. Improving communication aimed at non-technical users, reaching out and cooperating with other communities, and implementing policies that promote inclusiveness were some of the areas participants pledged to work on.
This was another solid Akademy. Knowledge was shared, agreements reached, and code got written. Even though the KDE community discussed a wide variety of topics, there was clearly a common underlying theme of how members of KDE want to shape the world of tech to their vision — the vision of a world in which everyone has control over their digital life and enjoys freedom and privacy.
After this year's hot Andalusian sun, Akademy will be moving next year to the heart of Europe: Vienna. See you there in 2018!
For most of the year, KDE — one of the largest free and open software communities in the world—works on-line by email, IRC, forums and mailing lists. Akademy provides all KDE contributors the opportunity to meet in person to foster social bonds, work on concrete technology issues, consider new ideas, and reinforce the innovative, dynamic culture of KDE. Akademy brings together artists, designers, developers, translators, users, writers, sponsors and many other types of KDE contributors to celebrate the achievements of the past year and help determine the direction for the next year. Hands-on sessions offer the opportunity for intense work bringing those plans to reality. The KDE Community welcomes companies building on KDE technology, and those that are looking for opportunities.
The second day of Akademy BoFs, group sessions and hacking has just finished. There is a wrapup session at the end so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.
Every year at Akademy we celebrate some of our hardest working achievers in the community. The prizes are selected and awarded by the previous year's winners. The winners this year are:
Kai Uwe Broulik for their valuable work on Plasma.
Non-Application Contribution Award
Cornelius Schumacher for their long term contributions to KDE.
Martin Konold & Olaf Schmidt-Wischhöfer for their work on the KDE Free Qt Foundation.
Honourable mentions also go to Lars Knoll and Tuukka Turunen for their work on the Qt side of the foundation which controls Qt's licensing.
The organising team were also given a certificate and thanked for their hard work. The organisation has been led by Kenny Duffus who has helped for over a decade making the events appear to run smoothly. The local team have worked hard this year led by Rubén Gómez and Ismael Olea to bring us a fabulous event.
Akademy continues for another four days with meetings, workshops and hacking from teams within KDE to discuss their work over the forthcoming year.
One final announcement was made at the end of the talks. The location for next year's Akademy was announced to be in Vienna, Lukas Hetzenecker introduced what he assured us was a beautiful and welcoming city.
Akademy opens on Saturday, July 22 at 10 am with Robert Kaye, the brains behind Musicbrainz. We talked with Robert a few days ago, and he will tell us all about his projects and how he managed to marry FLOSS activism with the pragmatism of having to make money in order to keep them alive.
At 11:50, Mirko Boehm will review the governance norms applied in FSFE, KDE and Wikimedia in his talk Why we Fight. He will examine how the norms developed over time and how current debates reflect their evolution.
At the same time, Volker Krause will present the UserFeedback framework, which provides ways to engage users from inside the application itself, including the collection of system or usage statistics, as well as asking an interested set of users that match a specific set of criteria to participate in an online survey.
From there, we will move onto the light entertainment, which is movies. Or more like movie-editing. In Kdenlive, rewriting the timeline, Jean-Baptiste Mardelle will show us the new, polished Kdenlive 17.08, which now uses QML for many parts of the UI.
After lunch, at 15:30, we'll have a bunch of lightning talks. The first one will be about Mycroft, the Alexa-like AI, and Aditya Mehra will explain how you can turn it into a Plasma widget and really enhance your life by having something you can boss about.
Finally, Vasudha Mathur will talk about Ruqola, the first generic chat application based on Rocket.Chat. Ruqola is a Qt/QML/C++ app and provides multi-platform portability. Ruqola will currently run on both desktop and mobile (Android) platforms.
At the same time and next door, Camilo Higuita will be introducing Babe, a contextual multimedia desktop app. Babe uses online resources and AI to find relationships between the music metadata and its context in order to generate personalized queries and suggestions.
Lydia Pintscher and the rest of the KDE e.V. Board will then sit down for an Ask Us Anything session with the audience at 17:10. If you want to find out what the board really gets up to and hear the plans for KDE as a community moving forward, here's your chance.
At 17:55, John Samuel will be talking about Wikidata and how it can play an important role for the visibility of KDE applications. He will show how developers can build tools to integrate their applications with Wikidata to present an up-to-date view of their applications and their cool features.
At the same time, Arnav Dhamija will introduce you to the KIO (KDE Input Output) library. KIO is what allows your KDE apps to access data from a number of different protocols, such as local file systems, ssh, https, samba shares, ftp, and network file systems. Arnav will explain the need for KIO, how KIO works, KIO slaves, and how to develop for the same.
At 19:15 we'll have the last three Lightning talks of the day. First up will be Agustín Benito with his Opening new doors presentation, in which Agustín will explain why he thinks KDE should jump into the embedded-for-automotive fray. Should he have called his talk Opening car doors? Definitely.
Akademy is the KDE Community conference. If you are working on topics relevant to KDE or Qt, this is your chance to present your work and ideas at the Conference from 22nd-27th July in Almería, Spain. The days for talks are Saturday and Sunday, 22nd and 23rd July. The rest of the week will be BoFs, unconference sessions and workshops.
The conference is expected to draw hundreds of attendees from the global KDE Community to discuss and plan the future of the Community and its technology. Many participants from the broad free and open source software community, local organizations and software companies will also attend.
Carrying on the successful tradition of conf.kde.in since 2011, we are moving to the north-east region of India for this year's conf.kde.in. Join us for conf.kde.in 2017 on 10, 11, and 12 March at Guwahati in Assam, India. conf.kde.in 2017 will focus on the promoting Free and Open source including but not limited to Qt and KDE software.
The team behind The Randa Meetings is pleased to announce a community partnership with the KDE e.V. The Randa Meetings is the largest sprint organized by KDE, where roughly fifty KDE contributors meet yearly in the Swiss Alps to enjoy seven days of intense team work, pushing KDE technologies forward.
For the past years the sprints were organized by a core Swiss team and supported by the KDE community. Organizing sprints was challenging, but the result always justified the efforts. To keep the yearly sprints going and make easier the work for the Swiss core team, the Randa Meetings have now become an official KDE e.V. community partner.
This decision allows the Randa Meeting to simplify their workflows like organizing fundraising and traveling reimbursements. It removes pressure from the organizers and allows them to spend more time on the sprint and their own personal affairs like family or the building of a new house.
The Randa Meetings will continue with a yearly meeting. For 2017, the date is already set to 10 September to 16 September. This year the meetings will be focused on accessibility and personal information management (PIM). We want to make our software accessible for people with visual disabilities and also to make our software accessible from different operating systems, different devices and with different user interfaces, such as graphical with keyboard and mouse, or touch or speech and other senses.
We look forward to greeting you in 2017 and wish you all a good new year!