The Quanta development team is pleased to announce our Hot New Stuff server implementation is now running. This means that Quanta Plus users can now begin taking advantage of KNewStuff. We are also preparing for exciting new developments we want to work on during the upcoming Akademy in Ireland. We will have at least four developers there and we very much appreciate any help rasing funds for travel, accommodation and other expenses. Two of our developers have notebooks running 500 MHz or slower and I would like to get them new notebooks for the conference. You can contributed to the project at the kdewebdev site. Finally development has resumed on Kommander, read on for full details.
Web Dev's Hot New Stuff is Online
First of all what is Hot New Stuff? Glad you asked. Josef Spillner had a very cool idea and it's sort of the idea we all should have gotten looking at the promise of the internet and applications and especially the open source/free software community. Why not connect from within an application to share resources across the global user community? In fact one difference between our software and a $500 professional web development package, aside from the fact that ours works better and is more productive, is that the professional package has all kinds of nice polished scripts, snippets and such-like packaged with it. Maybe we could bloat up Quanta+ with some effort, but on the other hand what is essential and what is a waste of bandwidth? It is too hard to say. With KNewStuff we can resolve that question while also engaging our huge user base to enable a lot more useful additions than we could ever consider packaging. The idea is that if you have something good and want to share it, put it into our global repository. You can upload or download it right from Quanta as you work. You only need to be online to use it.
Maybe you want to beautify your PHP? Werner Joss has a Kommander dialogue you can download and use. In addition to this it is possible to set up and use other repositories. If you have a team of developers working on a large project you can use this feature to manage shared resources which are only exposed to your group.
What else should you know? Well as we begin using this we will no doubt find things we want to improve. We already have a list of feature enhancements for the next version of Quanta including the ability to interface with user accounts to make it easier for users to upload and for administrators to process large amounts of data. I have not covered everything here, but you can ask questions here and developers will be reading this. There are a few quirks and we want to do some enhancements on the server side too. However we want to get this in use and gathering resources for the community. We also welcome people interested in helping to admin resource submissions which need to be looked at. Obviously security is a concern and it is possible to set up digital signatures and sign upload packages. You will get a warning when downloading unsigned packages, though we try to make sure everything is safe.
Help Our Developers Meet at This Year's Conference
Every year KDE developers meet at Akademy and it is fun and educational. For the last two years Akademy was held right at release time and it was difficult to focus on brainstorming. This year it falls right in the early stages of development for KDE 4. So it will be tremendously valuable for getting information, feeding back to core developers and working on substantial improvements. We will have a long list including improvements to our KNewStuff implementation, finishing the functionality for Team Projects and annotation and messaging features as well as switching over to using the KDevelop framework and gaining selected additional functionality. I also have some rather large goals for creating a framework to do object oriented development based on templates. This would be based on a framework that is interactively developed by users during regular development and the ability of a parent file to manage mediation requests from child objects. The idea being that it could be a very simple aid, yet could transform into a complex framework over several months of use, but it would not front load the user. You would simply shift from repeatedly fixing errors in your pages to fixing your framework and directives. Eventually you eliminate the amount of drudge work you are comfortable with the design trade offs for. In addition to this I want to have new interfaces for dealing with user defined groups of design elements in holistic views of your project. This would enable powerful manipulations of multiple areas of work in single operations. In my opinion the static page/file editing model for web sites is lacking, sort of like building databases with flat file data management when SQL is so much more elegant. We want to realise the potential of visual development more too. This is just part of our dream list which we may finally be able to have time for in this release.
While we're working on this at the conference we have to compile and test, and this can take long enough to take a walk if using a slower system. Doing this dozens of times a day is a waste of a lot of that day. We do get some help from KDE e.V. on travel, but that leaves a portion to cover and two of our developers are sponsored. There are additional costs to traveling too. I mentioned notebooks. It would take probably less than 40 average donations to buy two decent notebooks. I am sure we have thousands of active web developers and probably millions of people who at least play at it. We have had good response from the community and perhaps with a little more we could have another developer sponsored for other areas we want to cover. Your help is appreciated!
Kommander Development is Active Again
If youa re not familiar with Kommander you probably should be. If you look at kde-apps.org you will regularly see Kommander programs appearing and there is even a section for them there. Kommander is a visual development tool based on Qt Designer and an executor for Kommander files. It uses DCOP to manipulate data and exchange with other KDE applications and is very powerful. Even if you've never developed a program you can visually draw a dialogue and then create functionality using the point and click function bowser similar to the function tool in KSpread. Imagine creating an extention for a program as easy as making a spreadsheet! We use Kommander for the HTML Quick Start dialog in Quanta, which means you can edit and change it if you like.
Michal Rudolf has been our primary developer on Kommander and he has done a lot. For reasons relating both to his schedule and the level of support we received last year he had to take some time off. Now he is back. We are fixing bugs in the wizard implementation and he will be working on a database plugin. We have a list of things we want to do to improve development which will be released shortly for KDE 3.x. We are looking at how to enhance Kommander as much as possible, but also some new development features and some executor features. Those would include a project facility, an installer for distributing programs, the ability to create and load KParts, an improved plugin system, improvements to internal scripting, a real text editor, including MainWindow development in the editor (you can create it in Designer and then rename it and change the version tag and open it in Kommander) and facilitating the large scripting requirements of MainWindow development better. We're also going to work on parameters for functions and signal/slot relationships. We want to get a more vital user community and look at how to include the executor in the base KDE packages.
Look for news here when we have the database plugin available and a richer feature set. If you want to help with Kommander but are not a C++ coder you can start by joining our user mailing list and you can give us feedback, test new versions and get involved in the creation of Kommander dialogues for development of Kommander applications. You can also donate to the project.
Before I go I want to express my thanks to you in the community for all your support over the years of our project. Between work and this project I have pushed myself a lot and became ill. I am only now getting more active again. I still get great emails from people just discovering Quanta and Kommander who love it. After being on this project for six years it is still one of the best parts of my life. Knowing just how precious life is makes all of my friends who are users and developers that much more special. Thanks to everyone, especially those who sent me their best wishes this year.