The Road to KDE 4: SVG Rendering in Applications

Since KDE 4 development is in full swing with plans for a KDE 4.0
release sometime later this year, I thought I'd put together a
weekly piece entitled The Road to KDE 4. The idea is to
have a short overview of one or two of the features that show
progress in KDE 4. For my first issue, the goal is to show off some of the great SVG work that has taken place so far. Read on for the details...

Since many features are covered in personal blogs via the KDE Planet, I'll try to cover those that receive less public coverage, or need more public coverage.

The first thing I'd like to point out is that KDE 4 builds, installs, and runs well enough that I can test many of the ported KDE 3.x applications, and most of them are pretty stable. The real joys come when you look more closely at those improvements that are afforded by the changes in the base technologies. Today, I'll talk about one of the eyecandy features provided by Qt 4: SVG rendering in applications.

There are many other KDE applications reaping the benefits of SVG drawing to make them more pleasing, and more scalable. Check out some of these posts:

  1. Albert Astals Cid renovates blinKen
  2. KDE 4 games SVG status wiki

Today I'm going to focus on a handful of apps, providing before and after screenshots to compare the KDE 4 development version (pre-alpha stuff) to the existing KDE 3.5.5 equivalents.

To begin, I'll look at the KDE System Guard, a useful utility packed into KDE that you can pull up as 'ksysguard'. It does all sorts of neat things like display charts of memory and CPU usage, and a process table (also accessible via the Ctrl-Esc keyboard shortcut).

Here's how it looked in KDE 3.5.5:

And now, in the KDE 4 development series (the lines are antialiased, the graphs are translucent and the backgrounds are SVG):

As you can see, it is visually much improved from its current and very functional form.

Next we'll look at some of the diversions shipped in the kdegames package. KAtomic is a puzzle game. It's fun, semi-educational, and could definitely have used an image overhaul. Here it is in it's spartan KDE 3.5.5 glory:

And now, with much improved oxygen-style graphics in the development series:

KMahjongg ships in the kdegames package, and is a staple of puzzle gaming. Here it is from KDE 3.5.5 looking like a game that escaped from the
Best of Windows Entertainment Pack

And now, with a much-improved SVG-powered tileset in the
development series:

And last but not least, is one of the more frequently used parts of KDE: the "Run Command" dialog (Alt-F2). Previously this:

Now, thanks to desktop interface guru Aaron Seigo, it's a SVG themable, really slick element of the Plasma desktop. Still a work in progress, but you'll get the idea from this screenshot.

Until next time folks, when I reveal yet another KDE 4 feature under development. Cheers.


by Emil Sedgh (not verified)

KDE4 is really faster than 3.x series because of QT4 improvements.

by James Smith (not verified)

Read this and find a cushion for your liar's chair. KDE is becoming slimmer with QT4, not fatter.

by Anon (not verified)

That link would be great if it had anything to do with KDE4's memory usage. At all.

"KDE itself was KDE 3.5.2 with my performance patches"

Why did you even bother to post it?

by J (not verified)

The KDE System Guard background needs to be lighter. Also loose the line or whatever there, it's useless and makes the graph less readable.

I'm generally against using graphics everywhere, they should be used if it makes the application in question easier to use, but not for prettiness sake.

Also, try to make KDE4 not Vista-slow. Just tested Vista today and it was eating around 20% CPU idle on a 1200$ laptop.

Vector graphics are pretty and powerful but eat a lot of cpu, at least before dedicated vector GPUs appear, and thus should be used sparingly.

Also, when using SVG, remember to optimize! There should be a function in every respectable vector graphics package to do that. Better yet, design effective(as in few paths and few points) graphics from the ground up.

Sorry to sound so critical, it's just that I run KDE and want it to be as good as possible.

But, good work and carry on!

ps. If there is a particular area that needs improving graphics-wise, I'm a fairly experienced graphic designer trying to learn SVG

by Daniel Aleksandersen (not verified)

Correct me if I am wrong, but will not using SVG mean increased use of memory?

by Ali (not verified)

It is really amazing this KDE 4 ! I am impressed with new look ! It is great!
Thanks KDE team!