Kontact Progress: New Summary View

Kontact, the KDE personal
information management
application evolves from day to day. The
integration of KMail,
KAddressBook and
KNotes is nearly finished now and over the weekend the summary
view -- which can display current weather information and upcoming events such as birthdays -- was added.
It is planned to get the groupware functionality working in time for the
LinuxTag in Karlsruhe and
present a replacement for Outlook/Exchange.
If you are interested in current screenshots, take a look
. I would like to personally thank all the KDE PIM developers, especially those who worked so hard on the new summary view!


Excellent work so far!!!

Can't wait for the groupware functionality to be added so that we can kick out this Exchange stuff. :)

By Adriaan Putter at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am


I was previously against the integration because I thought It might make the programs run slower when integrated and opposed to when each program runs individually. But I must assert, I'm impressed. Those who said Microsoft Outlook has no rival, should think again. Thanks the KDE PIM developers for a great work. I can only hope it's fast and it works flawlessly.



By Mystilleef at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Those who said Microsoft Outlook has no rival obviously haven't heard of Evolution.

Will be waiting for Kontact.

By Maynard at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

Kontact is a great piece of work, thanks for this ueber-flexible thingy !
Last time I checked out Kontact from cvs I was hoping the most desired feature (by me) for KOrganizer got implemented already ...hmpf.., ok... not yet...

The feature list says "pinning of any mime type to an appointment or TODO Mark"

When I add an object (e.g. a pdf-file) to an appointment, is the actual pdf-file going to be stored in the calender? Or does KOrganizer only stores the URL to the file?
Adding the URL of a file to an appointment would totally suit my needs, it may even be the easier option to implement... But, what happens if you'd like to publish an appointment with attached pdf-file to somebody else? An URL pointing to a pdf-file on your local harddisc is not sufficient.

By thomas at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Will it still block the UI when fetching mail, or will it use a separate thread?

Will there be an integration with the news reader knode?

By joe at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Yes, i think knode is missing :-(

By Manu at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

It is currently, however, I think the plan currently is that when knode's GUI is cleaned up, it'll be ready to put into kontact. Hopefully this will happen by the time Kontact is released in KDE 3.2. Perhaps some people can work on it in the kdedevelcon @ Nove Hardy.

By lit at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I agree, this is the biggest problem with most kde programs.

In itself, everything goes fast enough, but more things should run in their own threads.
I have a dual cpu in my desktop, but it doesn't make knode feel any bit faster when it is fetching the new headers than my old rusty laptop (the ui still blocks).
Kmail and Konqueror suffer from the exact same problem.
For example, I have a personal website, wich has a giant (750+ nodes) javascript tree in it (don't ask :), wich takes about 8 seconds to fill. During that time, konqueror is fully blocked, the UI doesn't update at all, I can't switch to another tab, ...

It's a shame that many programs can't actually use the dual cpu's (fortunately I can just switch to another program when konqueror/kmail/knode is blocking, and still run that one at full speed :)

By cxvx at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

I think most KDE programmers were waiting for a decent thread implementation coming out for KDE's main platform: Linux. This comes in the form of NPTL.

Unlike KDE 2.x, KDE 3.x has been thread-aware (and also relies on qt-mt), so apps can use it when they chose to.

In Konqueror, in the case you mentioned, I think a few calls to QApplication::processEvents would do the trick (http://doc.trolltech.com/3.2/qapplication.html#processEvents)

It's a lightweight method to give the GUI more reponsiveness during long tasks. I'm sure many KDE programmers are already aware of it.

By reflux at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

NPTL is mostly for high end server applications where very large numbers of threads are needed. It has minimal impact on the desktop.

If a network app isn't multithreaded properly then that's just a bug unfortunately. KHTML/Gecko are kind of special exceptions, writing a multithreaded rendering engine is *really* hard. OTOH, in Konqueror I was under the impression that KHTML was mostly a separate plugin part, unlike in Moz where the same rendering engine instance renders both the GUI and the web page (which is why moz can sometimes lock up when chewing large pages). So, it should be possible for KHTML to run in its own thread easily enough.

Making software more interruptable is another way of doing it, as you said....

By Mike Hearn at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

Though I realize that you're referring to a more general problem -- here this isn't really a good example. First, all of the apps that you listed use IOSlaves for their communication, which is out of process and asyncrynous. Second multithreaded programming is much more complicated; making all of your logic ayncrynous is a lot of work. Hopefully as our tool threading will be more of an option for some circumstances, but for most applications it's overkill.

By Scott Wheeler at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

It's great what these developers are putting together. Integration is a good thing, if you can keep the program startup time just as fast as before.

I was looking at the interface and wondering one thing, though. It seems nowadays that users are used to tab interfaces in web browsers and IRC clients. Could this been a good place to expand on that and use it to switch between the integrated components of Kontact?

Keramik is a pretty bulky GUI style already, but when they had the sidebars (kinda like the mozilla sidebar I guess), it *really* makes it bulky. The sidebars really take up a lot of real estate.

Anyone else agree with me, or am I smokin some good stuff?


By Jeff P. at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I like the sidebar interface.

> The sidebars really take up a lot of real estate.

True, i also noticed. But there is something overdone, IMHO, namely the title (the black bar below the toolbar). If the sidebar-button that is clicked jumps to the top it can serve as title too (a bit more like moz's sidebar behaves). This way the left part of the black title bar can be removed (saves some space).

Some more bullshit:
The now empty Contacts sidebar tab can contain the search and search options wigets.

All so nice and integrated... And with the kolab-server (kolab.org) for the inter-client connectivity. >:-) Can't wait to happily use a stable vesion of this on daily basis.

This whole freedom of PIM thing will surely help to get freesoftware on lot of corporate desktops!

By cies at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

is that this is not tied to any single server... all you really need is imap.

If you configure your client to use a mail server to store your PIM information then you get the same thing basicly. Since KOLab uses Imap to export the data, you are not even locked into clients.

You are now free!

-ian reinhart geiser

By Ian Reinhart Geiser at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

It is always great to see the progress done by the KDE-developers, but out of duty I must just point out for the millionth time that you really should choose names that doesn't depend on the k naming convention. It consistently results in ugly and clumsy names. First impressions matters disproportionatly much in relation to function, although I have a strong suspicion that you really haven't got an inkeling about what I am talking about here. To use an analogy, you might not use a lawyer who is showing up in a Hawaii shirt to your divorce meeting, even though he actually is quite capable.

Knowing what you people think about this, writing this feels like trolling. But I though I am tired of belaboring this issue, it needs to be done.

By will at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I'm not sure a name like "outlook" does any better at stating the functionality as "contact" or "kontact." We won't even try to figure out how "evolution" fits in.

Once an application is used and becomes know for what it does, the name really doesn't matter that much.

By Paul Seamons at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Evolution is a good name - it implies that in a few million years it'll be really good. ;-)


By Richard Moore at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I think instead of changing binary names (which dont matter for many users), we should make "show application description instead of name" in the k-menu.

Using k-names is nothing new. I have 62 apps on my box starting with 'x'-- nearly all of them work on X11 someway (and most are packaged with Xfree86.)

I have 43 starting with 'g'. 11 of these start with 'gtk' or 'gtk-'. 26 start with 'gnome-' or 'gnome'.

I have 76 starting with 'k'. I think nearly all of them are KDE apps.

This kind of things exist in the commercial world. Microsoft Windows(tm)(c)(r), Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft .NET, Microsoft Visual Studio, Microsoft Bob (=)), etc..

By reflux at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Start Control Center, go to 'Desktop' > 'Panels' > 'Menus' and change 'Menu item format' to 'Description (Name)' (don't ask for removing the name completely since there are many apps having similar descriptions, especially games).

By Datschge at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

It's a start, but it isn't perfect. The ideal thing would be to have a user-friendly name, that could contain spaces, as well as a description. The reason is that, as you stated, many apps have similar descriptions. It would be good to have a way for users to identify each app uniquely, without needing to use rather counter-intuitive names... but this really belongs on usability@kde.org, where I hope to be back soon.


By David Hugh-Jones at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

What are "user-friendly" names? You mean eg. I should change my nick since barely anyone can speak it out correctly and thus it's user-unfriendly? =P

Improving descriptions: yes. Changing names: please don't.

By Datschge at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

I wasn't suggesting changing the actual names of the programs. That would be difficult in any case, since (AFAIK) it is not easy to run a program from the command line if its name contains a space.

I was thinking of having names which were easier to understand, stored in the same way to the program descriptions. The underlying idea of this is that name != description and sometimes we want an easy way for people to talk about a particular program. (Mozilla and Konqueror are both "web browsers", but quite different in lots of ways.)

We already do this to some extent - e.g. konqueror is really launched by "kfmclient", at least on my system.

I appreciate that programmers and users get attached to the program and know it by an existing name. I agree that it would be better to get the name right in the first place. But I also think that some program names are cryptic and confusing. (E.g., why is "knode" anything to do with news?) Furthermore, by their nature, program names can't be internationalized. This would not be the case for the "user-friendly names" I am suggesting.


By rogue at Thu, 2003/06/12 - 5:00am

Is it possible to have the notes shown as small yellow papers (with the text on them) instead of icons?

Looks like a great app.

By Kde User at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

A patch went in today or yesterday that displays the icon with the text of the note.


By Derek Kite at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

So is the text big enough to read then?
Just curious...

By KDE User at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

Please correct me if I'm wrong ;-)

Kontact intergrates kmail, korganiser, knotes, etc. as kparts, right? So all programs can still be run individually.

Will this continue to be this way? Or will kontact eventually eat all the apps (and become a fat bastard)?


By cies at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

You can run them together/separate any way you slice it :)

The only issue imho is htat you can only run kmail either in kontact or stand alone, you cannot run two kmails at once.

Remember this is KDE, KParts rock!

-ian reinhart geiser

By Ian Reinhart Geiser at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

> The only issue imho is htat you can only run kmail either in kontact or stand alone, you cannot run two kmails at once.

Are you sure about this? it works here. KUniqueApplications should not interfere with kparts, should they?

> Remember this is KDE, KParts rock


By lit at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Cool they fixed that, I must note I have not tried to run both at the same time here in a while. Granted IMAP may get cross with me, it would still be cool.

-ian reinhart geiser

By Ian Reinhart Geiser at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Well, I'm quite sure that running KMail and Kontact _with active KMail part_ won't work, because
of a unique lock file, created by the KMail part (which is used by Kontact an the stand alone KMail).

And this is the correct behaviour IMHO.
The integration could be a bit better, so that when you try starting KMail via kicker and you have
already a running Kontact, the mail part inside Kontact raises automatically, but I'm quite sure
such things will get fixed until KDE 3.2.

By Tobias Koenig at Thu, 2003/06/19 - 5:00am

So why does Kontact work when Aethera/Magellan/Pick fork this week fail?

Someone tell me the codebase sucked, but kmail isnt any diamond either.

By Androgynous Howard at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Kontact uses stable code that already exists, and has been worked on for nearly five years--- (i.e, kmail, korganizer, etc..)

Aethera/Magellan decided to make a outlook-like app from scratch, instead of using well maintained, already established code. To their defense, kmail, korganizer, and knotes were not kparts when Magellan started, and thus, it would have been impossible to use things like kmail without the developers of those apps helping them. The kmail and other developers were not interested in making an outlook-like app back then-- they wanted seperate clients as had always been done in UNIX.

I think the success of Evolution got it rolling, and the announcment of kroupware and kollab really made it have guarenteed success.

By lit at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Anybody else feeling not comfortable with the layout shown in the screenshots? What disturbs me is that the buttons to switch between the applications or tasks are actually integrated and look as being part of the current task (they are stacked together in a non-prominent way on the bottom left corner of the window. Compare this to e.g. evolution (http://www.ximian.com/products/evolution/screenshots.html), where the task switcher bar is placed to the very left and going from buttom to top. I feel that this is more intuitive.
Actually, I would even go as far as having the switcher bar going from the bottom to the very top so as to separate task better from each other, see the attached modified screenshot of evolution.

By tuxo at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Another suggestion of a modified (gimped) version of Kontact attached.

By tuxo at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I posted the following in this discussion yesterday:

> I like the sidebar interface.

> > The sidebars really take up a lot of real estate.

> True, i also noticed. But there is something overdone, IMHO, namely the title
> (the black bar below the toolbar). If the sidebar-button that is clicked jumps to
> the top it can serve as title too (a bit more like moz's sidebar behaves). This
> way the left part of the black title bar can be removed (saves some space).

Now everyone comes-up with mock-ups... So i want to show what i mean in a mock-up too!

Here you go!


By cies at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

The attachment thingy didn't worked out...

Next try...

By cies at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

I like your mockup! Your proposition certainely goes in the right direction.

By tuxo at Wed, 2003/06/11 - 5:00am

How to bring this to the attention of the coders then?
(or did i got attention allready by posting here)
Is is possible to file a bug/wish on a CVS version (with link to this mockup)?


By cies at Wed, 2003/06/11 - 5:00am

> How to bring this to the attention of the coders then?
Well, I see two posibilites:

1) Write to the KDE application developer list http://lists.kde.org/?l=kde-devel&r=1&w=2

2) As you say, try to file a bug report. However, I don't know if that is possible with an application only availble in CVS.
Maybe it is a good idea to ask Datschge (datschge () gmx ! de) about it, I think he is involved with the bug database. Maybe it would be a good idea to open a new discussion entry into the bug database that could provide input to the developers by providing ideas/mockups/patches/ui-code etc?

By tuxo at Wed, 2003/06/11 - 5:00am

Oups, the first attachement of a modified Evolution-version (gimped) didn't make it, sorry.

By tuxo at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

I agree completely.

I like the mockup that is posted as well.

By TomL at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

> What disturbs me is that the buttons to switch between the applications or tasks are actually integrated and look as being part of the current task (they are stacked together in a non-prominent way on the bottom left corner of the window

I think that's one of the points. It does save some screen-estate for what it's worth.

By fault at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

Can't wait to use it - photo contacts are really nice and it's nice to put faces to the names of those we thank. will Kontact synch with my Palm Pilot?
btw - I like the K names - it makes it easy to identify a KDE program.

By J Taber at Mon, 2003/06/09 - 5:00am

Kontact is starting to become a worthy competitior to Evolution on the Linux platform.

By MArio at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

Hi All,
I want to get the latest cvs version of kontact and run it with my existing kde3.1.2. Is this possible, any pointers on how to do it would be highly appreciated.

By Raj at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

No, sorry. It does not work with KDE 3.1.x. Current kontact needs the CVS version (HEAD) of kdelibs, kdepim and maybe even kdebase (imap-slave).


By Guenter Schwann at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

I'm staring at these screenshots and still scratching my head. I honestly don't understand why grouping these very seperate applications into one window with a huge chunk set aside for tabs makes this better. I guess I just don't see any relationship between an application for calendaring/scheduling and E-Mail. I really don't understand how KNotes fits into any of this.

I do appreciate the fact that the end game is an Outlook replacement. I never did understand the relationship of these apps in there either. I understand that at times you may want to send an appointment out through E-Mail, but I also send web links via Konqueror without having it all embedded into one application window.

This isn't just me trolling the site here. I honestly don't get it. All these apps getting rolled in here work beautifully as stand alone programs with pipes to eachother. I can see the need for better conversing between them, but do they have to all go in one window to accomplish this?

I am pretty slow on the uptake sometimes. I recall reading tech reviews raving about how IE was going to be used as the file manager. At the time I couldn't being to understand why someone would want that. I've never wanted to manage files while web browsing, or vice versa. Years later I still have never wanted to do this, nor have I run across users who wanted this either.

Perhaps this is a poor comparison, but from here it sure feels similar.

By Metrol at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

I agree with you, though my boss switched from kmail to evolution just because of the integration. Now he'd like to switch back when kontact is done, but doesn't look forward to moving his data. I don't *think* he'll have an issue because I believe both use standard formats for contacts and mail, which is all he needs, I think. I don't know why he wants it all integrated, but I didn't use to believe that a GUI email client would be useful. I used mh and thought it was the be all and end all of mail handling. Now, while I still like it I don't want to go back to it. I loved exmh so that I could do both gui and command line munging of my email. But these days exmh seems very clunky. But I also can't really stand evolution. But that's not because of it's all-in-one approach, I just think it's clunky and somewhat ugly, except for the icons. I'm am VERY sure (judging from the rest of KDE) that kontact will be a much better application for me than evolution could ever be. Partly because the KDE guys are so good that I think kontact (and I do like the name) will be great, but also because I believe that one of the winning factors of KDE is that it's so well integrated. So kontact will be a better part of my desktop in general than evolution could ever be. Ditto for Konqueror vs. mozilla or galeon. But all that's just me. I realize that others disagree and love evolution. My boss doesn't and would rather use a KDE app.

I am not sure that knode needs to be part of it, though I'm glad to see the summary page. It doesn't look quite as good as evolution's, but it's a neat start.

By TomL at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

It's the 'activity center' principle. You bundle functions that you use together in order to do stuff with fewer clicks. (Another one is listening to music, see RealOne or Windows Media)

By AC at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am

The point is that a lot of people do expect things to work this way. What's so great about this solution is that it allows you to use the same applications in a non-integrated way or to choose to use them as a group. It's all up to you. :-)

By Scott Wheeler at Tue, 2003/06/10 - 5:00am