The KDE development team is working hard on the KDE 4 platform. KDE 4 will include many exciting new technologies which will greatly enhance the functionality of KDE. One of these new technologies is Decibel. We would like to give you an idea of what Decibel is all about.
In putting this article together, the KDE promotional community was able to get most of the information from the lead developer of Decibel, Tobias Hunger. Tobias lives in Germany and studied Computer Engineering at the University of Kaiserslautern. Upon graduating, he found a job as a consultant for a small company specializing in systems management. Currently, he is employed as a software developer for basysKom GmbH.
This article is part one of a four part series about Decibel. In part one, we would like to provide a general overview of Decibel. Part two will define several terms related to Decibel. Benefits for developers will be covered in part three. Finally, part four will discuss benefits for users.
People use their computers to communicate with others. Usually, they want to communicate as close to real-time as possible. Email, instant messaging, and Voice over IP (VoIP), are some of the different ways people communicate using their computers. Each of these has its strengths and weaknesses. Ironically, each of these means of communication do not talk very well with other means of communication.
This is where Decibel comes in. Decibel is a service, not an application. The goal of Decibel is to create a bridge between different communication technologies. Decibel will make it easy to integrate real-time communication technologies into applications, Tobias says. Decibel provides a central storage place for settings of real-time communications. This will allow one communication application (say, email) to talk to another communication application (say, instant messaging) without having to learn a new language.
However, Decibel is not going to become yet another isolated box dealing only with communication. There are at least two ways Decibel will be able to connect to technologies and applications not normally associated with communication. Because Decibel allows programs in general to talk to each other in a more streamlined manner, programs that are not related to communication can also take advantage of this technology. For instance, document editors (such as word processors or graphics editors) could use this technology to allow better collaborative editing.
Also, Decibel is being developed to integrate with other KDE technologies. For instance, Phonon is a KDE technology that deals with integrating multimedia programs and services. It is possible for Decibel to work with Phonon in situations such as encoding and decoding voice data during a VoIP conversation.
In part two of this series on Decibel, we will define some terms to help further enhance your understanding of Decibel. In the final two sections, we describe potential benefits for both users and developers, and provide information on how to get involved with the Decibel project. The goals of the Decibel team are wide-ranging and forward-thinking. They have done an excellent job of specifying their vision. However, they are still in the beginning stages of reaching their goals. Much work needs to be done. The Decibel team would appreciate any help they can get.