Labplot on Microsoft Store

LabPlot can now be installed on Windows computers from the Microsoft store. We asked some questions to Stefan Gerlach who got it into the store about how this was done.


LabPlot on Windows from the Microsoft Store

Jonathan Riddell: Can you tell us what LabPlot does?

Stefan Gerlach: LabPlot is a desktop application for interactive visualization and analysis of scientific data. We try to provide an alternative to commercial products like OriginLab Origin, SigmaPlot or IgorPro, but also use modern desktop features. There are some free applications with more or less overlapping goals like SciDAVis and kst and we collaborate with them.

LabPlot is a multi-platform KDE application. The current code base, named LabPlot2, started in 2006 when rewriting the old version LabPlot 1.6. Our main development platform is Linux, but most of our users are on Windows, so we are working hard to make everything work there too.

Jonathan: What about Cantor?

Stefan: Cantor is basically a frontend to several (mathematical) applications like Python, Octave, Sage or Julia with a nice worksheet interface.

Cantor-Worksheets can be used in LabPlot to do calculations and show the results. Two nice examples can be found at the Labplot gallery. I'm not a main developer of Cantor, but mainly work on porting it to Windows and macOS to make it available for LabPlot.

Jonathan: How was the Windows build of LabPlot made?

Stefan: We have been using the Binary Factory to build nightly and release builds for Windows for some time now. Before that we had a virtual machine running Windows with Craft installed to make our own packages. It was not easy to get everything built correctly on the Binary Factory, but, looking back, it was worth the effort.

Jonathan: What sort of QA have you done on the Windows build of LabPlot?

Stefan: Besides several unit tests that we have, most of the QA we do now is using new features on all platforms. We also get user responses from nightly builds when things are not working as expected. This helped a lot to find regressions and problems especially on Windows.

Jonathan: How easy was it to get access to the KDE account on the Microsoft Store?

Stefan: Very easy. I just had to open a sysadmin ticket :-)

I don't think that every application developer needs access to the KDE account. If a Windows package is well prepared and tested, the submit process can be easily done by any developer on the KDE Partner Center.

Jonathan: What sort of process did you have to go through to get it into the Microsoft Store?

Stefan: To get LabPlot in the Microsoft Store I used the excellent submission guide. Before that I followed the corresponding Phabricator ticket for requirements and prepared the Windows package on the Binary Factory. It took some time to do it the first time, but other application developers can surely find help if needed.

Jonathan: LabPlot is available at no cost, did you consider charging for it the same as Krita does?

Stefan: We are happy to provide a free software application for anyone to use. Any donation right now goes to KDE and we think this is well earned for providing such a great framework and infrastructure for developers.

We already talked internally about whether we should collect money for hiring developers but we decided that it probably won't pay off. We know that our target group is rather small and we don't have so many users as more popular KDE applications :-)

Jonathan: Do you have a process to keep the LabPlot version on the store up to date? Have you considered how you would handle security updates for example?

Stefan: Updating all packages is part of our release plan as far as we can support it. It normally takes a few days after the source is published but we are only a small team :-)

Security is normally not an issue for LabPlot. As far as i can remember there were never any security problems in our code. But in case there are any, we would fix it as soon as possible and update all packages.

Jonathan: Have you looked at other platforms and stores for LabPlot?

Stefan: Sure. Our third major platform is macOS, which is not as popular among our users, but it is gaining more and more popularity. Improving LabPlot on macOS with the help of our users is something we constantly work on.

With the latest release we started to look at more ways to make LabPlot available.

Besides for the Microsoft Store, we also created a flatpak with the help of the Binary Factory and added the latest release on Flathub.

There is also a FreeBSD build on build.kde.org so we can make sure that it at least compiles on other Unix-like platforms. Besides that, I'm not aware of anyone using LabPlot on anything else than Linux, Windows or macOS. But this should already be sufficient for most users :-)
We would be happy to use more stores and platforms like for ARM architectures, as well as AppImage or Apple Store when KDE has better support for it.

Jonathan: Thanks Stefan!


Season of KDE 2021 is coming

Since 2013, the KDE Student Programs has been running Season of KDE. Season of KDE is a program similar to, but not quite the same as, Google Summer of Code. It offers an opportunity for everyone (not just students) to participate in both coding and non-coding projects that benefit the KDE ecosystem. In the past few years, SoK participants have not only created new application features, but have also developed the KDE Continuous Integration System, statistical reports for developers, a web framework, ported KDE applications, created documentation, and contributed to KDE with lots and lots of other tasks.





Our friendly KDE mentors will guide you and help you achieve your goals.

The Season of KDE 2021 timeline is now online and the season starts now and you have until January 4 to find a project that interests you. This year the coding period will be longer, as we found that the 3 weeks full-time coding period from earlier editions was too stressful for the students and for the mentors. Season of KDE is meant to be a fun event to participate in, so this year, you will have more time to complete your task and you can have a more flexible timeline.

There is already a list of proposed projects available in the wiki. You have little less than a month to find a project that interests you and your mentor. Your goal is to get noticed by the mentors by, for example, sending Merge Requests to their projects, sending high-quality bug reports, or simply by starting to interact with them. Remember that many KDE developers have a life beyond KDE and won't respond immediately. Also, it is recommended you contact the mentors in the public channel so that if they can't respond, someone else can.

Once you find a project and a mentor, you can submit a proposal for a project at the Season of KDE site. Note that you will need a KDE Identity account to register. We have some guidelines for proposals on the wiki. Your mentor will review your idea and, if nothing goes wrong, your proposal will be accepted on the 11th of January.

If you have any questions, you can ask in the #kde-soc channel.


Educational Software GCompris is 20 Years Old Today

GCompris is a popular collection of educational and fun activities for children from 2 to 10 years old. GCompris has become popular with teachers, parents, and, most importantly, kids from around the world and offers an ever-growing list of activities -- more than 150 at the last count. These activities have been translated to over 20 languages and cover a wide range of topics, from basic numeracy and literacy, to history, art, geography and technology.





GCompris offers children between the ages of 2 and 10 more than 150 fun educational activities.

The newest version of GCompris also incorporates a feature that teachers and parents alike will find useful: GCompris 1.0 lets educators select the level of the activities according to the proficiency of each child. For example, in an activity that lets children practice numbers, you can select what numbers they can learn, leaving higher and more difficult numbers for a later stage. An activity for practicing the time lets you choose whether the child will practice full hours, half hours, quarters of an hour, minutes, and so on. And in an activity where the aim is to figure out the change when buying things for Tux, the penguin, you can choose the maximum amount of money the child will play with.

We have built the activities to follow the principles of "nothing succeeds like success" and that children, when learning, should be challenged, but not made to feel threatened. Thus, GCompris congratulates, but does not reprimand; all the characters the child interacts with are friendly and supportive; activities are brightly colored, contain encouraging voices and play upbeat, but soothing music.





GCompris now lets you select the level of some activities according to the child's proficiency.

The hardware requirements for running GCompris are extremely low and it will run fine on older computers or low-powered machines, like the Raspberry Pi. This saves you and your school from having to invest in new and expensive equipment and it is also eco-friendly, as it reduces the amount of technological waste that is produced when you have to renew computers to adapt to more and more power-hungry software. GCompris works on Windows, Android and GNU/Linux computers, and on desktop machines, laptops, tablets and phones.

GCompris is built, maintained and regularly updated by the KDE Community and is Free and Open Source Software. It is distributed free of charge and requires neither subscriptions nor asks for personal details. GCompris displays no advertising and the creators have no commercial interest whatsoever. Any donations are pooled back into the development of the software.

Seeking to engage more professional educators and parents, we are working on several projects parallel to our software and have recently opened a forum for teachers and parents and a chat room where users and creators can talk live to each other, suggest changes, share tips on how to use GCompris in the classroom or at home, and find out upcoming features and activities being added to GCompris.

Apart from increasing the number and variety of activities, for example, an upcoming feature is a complete dashboard that will provide teachers with better control of how pupils interact with GCompris. We are also working with teachers and contributors from different countries to compile a "Cookbook" of GCompris recipes that will help you use GCompris in different contexts. Another area where we are working with contributors is on translations: if you can help us translate GCompris into your language (with your voice!), we want to hear from you! Your help and ideas are all welcome.

Visit our forum and chat and tell us how you use GCompris and we will share it with the world.


KDE is a community of volunteers that creates a wide range of software products, like the Plasma desktop, the Krita painting program, the Kdenlive video editor, the GCompris educational suite of activities and games, as well as dozens of other high-quality applications and utilities. Among them, KDE develops and maintains several educational programs for children and young adults.

All KDE's products are Free and Open Source Software and can be downloaded, used and shared without charge or limitations.


Akademy 2020 Day 7 - The Last Day

It was a fine day in Onlineland and Akademy attendees were in a festive mood, not least because they were ready to celebrate the successful migration of KDE to GitLab. Although a titanic effort, the move is already paying off, as GitLab offers an easier and more flexible platform for developers and users to get their work done and shared.

Ben Cooksley, sysadmin extraordinaire, Bhushan Shah, Plasma Mobile's main developer, Community veterans like David Edmundson and Lydia Pintscher, and many others shared their experiences of how the migration has improved the way they worked.

GitLab was also represented in the party with Nuritzi Sanchez, Senior Open Source Program Manager at GitLab, attending.

BoFs

Then there were several interesting BoFs throughout the day covering, in typical KDE fashion, a very wide range of topics.

Aniqa Khokhar and Allyson Alexandrou hosted a meeting on The KDE Network, KDE's initiative to start and support grassroots organizations in different parts of the world. Cornelius Schumacher told us about Blue Angel, an official label from the German government that is awarded to eco-friendly products. As KDE has already proven to have a low carbon footprint and helps recycle old machines, Cornelius thinks the Community should work harder to become even greener and get recognized for our efforts. Carl Schwan managed a meeting on what KDE should do to improve the online documentation for developers, and David Edmundson met with community members interested in pushing the development of Qt Wayland forward.

Talks

Kevin Ottens shares advice on how to avoid forgetting things.

Later in the day, we attended the first batch of student presentations. Mentoring students is an essential part of KDE's mission, as they can often receive through events such as Google Summer of Code and Season of KDE, valuable experience and get started in contributing to Free Software.

First up was Kartik Ramesh who worked on facial recognition in digiKam. If you have been following the latest releases of digiKam, KDE's professional photograph management software, you will be aware of how face recognition has changed and improved over the last few versions. Kartik worked on the front end interface to make it friendly and usable.

Deepak Kumar, on the other hand, worked on multiple datasets for GCompris, the activity-packed educational software for children. He added a tutorial screen to the Odd & Even game and also new datasets to (read "made more exercises for") the Clock game, Balance Scales, and more.

Sharaf Zaman SVG worked on mesh gradients for Krita, KDE's application for painters, thus improving Krita's support for SVG images; and Sashmita Raghav improved the timeline clip color palette for Kdenlive, KDE's video editor.

It was then time for Kevin Ottens to warn us about Lost Knowledge in KDE. He explained how it is possible to lose knowledge over time because people leave the Community, advances in technology go undocumented and then forgotten, and software gets deleted. Kevin finished his talk by speaking of ways to avoid losing this information in organizations like KDE.

Kevin's talk was followed by another batch of student presentations in which Sashwat Jolly talked about incorporating an EteSync agent into Akonadi, Kontact's backend for storage indexing and retrieval of users' personal information. EteSync is a free software service you can self-host and that provides an end-to-end encrypted, and privacy-respecting sync for contacts, calendars and tasks.

Then Shivam Balikondwar spoke of how he added file backends for the ROCS IDE and how he added KML files to the list of types of files ROCS could parse.

Meanwhile, Paritosh Sharma worked on bringing 3D to KStars by incorporating Qt3D into the stargazing app.

Finally, Anaj Bansal explained how he worked on improving KDE's web infrastructure and helped port kde.org to Hugo.

After this batch of students' presentations, it was time for another conference talk, and Nate Graham told us about his Visions of the Future. Nate, among other things, wanted us to envision a world in which KDE Plasma gets shipped by default on every PC, phone, and tablet on the planet (and possibly off it too). It is worth pointing out that Nate had already presented a talk called "Konquering the world -- A 7 step plan to KDE world domination" at Akademy 2018. We may be detecting a trend here...

Saurabh Kumar implemented a storyboard editor in Krita.

After a glimpse into tomorrow, quite appropriately the next generation of KDE contributors took again to the stage and shared their work. There was a theme here too, because Saurabh Kumar told us how he implemented a storyboard editor as a docker for Krita; L.E. Segovia spoke of their work with dynamic fill layers using SeExpr, again for Krita; and Ashwin Dhakaita told us how he had managed to integrate MyPaint brushes... into Krita.

The only discordant note came from Kitae Kim, who spoke of how he improved MAVLink integration in Kirogi, KDE's ground control software for drones.

The final presentation of the day and the very last of Akademy 2020 was delivered by KDE veteran Valorie Zimmerman. Valorie told us how to avoid burnout and advised us on how to recognize the signs, gave practical advice on what steps we could take to not let it affect us and then opened the floor to questions and stories from other Community members.

An appropriately heart-warming, feel-good final talk.

Akademy awards

Then it was the moment to celebrate individual achievements with the traditional Akademy Awards.

Presented by last year's winners, Volker Krause, Nate Graham and Marco Martin, the award to Best Application went to Bhushan Shah for creating a new platform, Plasma Mobile, on which new applications could thrive. The prize to Best Non-Application was given to Carl Schwan for his work of revamping KDE's websites; and the special Jury Award went to Luigi Toscano for his work on localization.

Finally, the jury awarded a special Organization Prize to the Akademy Team made up by Kenny Coyle, Kenny Duffus, Allyson Alexandrou and Bhavisha Dhruve, for their work organizing such a very special event.

Aleix Pol, President of KDE e.V., delivered the final words of the event and pronounced closed what has been an amazing edition of Akademy in so many different ways.

Akademy will be back again in 2021! Don't miss it!


Akademy 2020 - Friday BoF Wrap-up

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Friday continued the Akademy 2020 BoFs, meetings, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Friday's wrap-up session for the last BoFs of the week in the video below


Akademy 2020 - Thursday BoF Wrap-up

Thursday continued the Akademy 2020 BoFs, meetings, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Thursday's wrap-up session in the video below


Akademy 2020 - Wedneday BoF Wrap-up

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Wedneday continued the Akademy 2020 BoFs, meetings, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Wedneday's wrap-up session in the video below


Akademy 2020 - Tuesday BoF Wrap-up

Tuesday continued the Akademy 2020 BoFs, meetings, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Tuesday's wrap-up session in the video below


Akademy 2020 - Monday BoF Wrap-up

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Monday was the first day of Akademy 2020 BoFs, group sessions and hacking. There is a wrap-up session at the end of the day so that what happened in the different rooms can be shared with everyone including those not present.

Watch Monday's wrap-up session in the video below


Akademy 2020 Day 3 - Conference

Day 2 of the conference stretch of Akademy (day 3 of the overall event) kicked off with a heavy-duty programming courtesy of Ivan Čukić who talked about C++17 and 20 Goodies. Most KDE applications are developed using C++ so Ivan covered the new features that C++17 and 20 bring and how they could be combined with each other.

Something more user-centric was going on in Room 2, where Marco Martin and Aditya Mehra were Showcasing Plasma Bigscreen, KDE's interface for large smart TVs. Marco and Aditya took attendees through the various features and the technology that powers Bigscreen, such as Plasma, Kirigami, and KDE Frameworks with a touch of Mycroft's open-source voice assistance platform. You can try Bigscreen now by burning it to a micro SD card and loading it into a Raspberry Pi 4 hooked up to your TV.





Plasma Bigscreen melds Plasma, Mycroft and a Raspberry Pi to make any TV a smart TV.

In the next slot, the audience in Room 1 was subject to another talk about programming languages, in this case, Rust from a KDE Perspective. In this talk, Méven Car explained what Rust could offer to the KDE developer community and the features that made it a unique programming language.





Janayugam: The Indian daily newspaper that took the leap to Free Software.

In Room 2, we learned about a success story of KDE in the Real World™: back in October 2019, the staff of Janayugom, a local daily newspaper in Kerala with 100,000 readers, decided to move their publication to Free Software. In his presentation on Free Software, Press Freedom & KDE, Ambady Anand S., a sysadmin involved in the move, told us the story of how the migration went.

Later, back in Room 1, Andreas Cord-Landwehr introduced a different way of developing in his talk Test It! – Unit testing for lazy developers. Andreas proposed developers turn things on its head and prepare tests for the code before actually writing the code. He argued that code written to pass tests was leaner and more focused. Andreas also discussed why automated tests are important for projects and strategies on how to design them.

Meanwhile, in Room 2, Timothée Giet was Celebrating 20 Years of GCompris, as well as the fact that the universally acclaimed classic FLOSS toolset for teachers is nearing version 1.0. It only took two decades! Seriously though, Timothée showed us some of the new activities which are coming to GCompris, such as new counting and arithmetic games, and a fun-looking electric circuits simulator.

Next up in Room 1, David Faure told us about KIO: A Story of Young and Old Jobs. The presentation aimed at application developers and KIO contributors gave an overview of the job mechanism as it is used in KIO, laid out the jobs added in the last two months and explained the concept of "delegates" which are used to solve the inverse dependency problem.

In Room 2, Marta Rybczynska told us about her Year in KDE from Outside. During her year "away," she analyzed media reporting on KDE and tracked what news sites, blogs, and podcasts chose to focus on when they talked about KDE.

Next up in Room 1 Daniel Vrátil talked about Static Code Analysis with Gitlab CI. Daniel showed the benefits of using static analysis tools and linters to automatically check code quality, and explained how to configure GitLab CI to run those tools automatically on each pull request or as a part of regular builds.





GCompris, the world's favorite educational software for children, celebrated its 20th anniversary at Akademy 2020.

In Room 2, Leinir and Andrew Shoben literally couldn't hide their excitement while presenting KDE Wags Your Tail, in which they explained how to control animatronic tails and ears using software based on free software and KDE's Kirigami framework.





The news of the availability of KDE-controlled tails caused sensation among a certain demographic.

The first set of the day's talks wound up with three 10-minute fast track talks in which Bhushan Shah talked about his experience with and gave advice on online sprints; Adriaan de Groot explained the Fiduciary License Agreement, a tool that the KDE community uses to manage licensing in the long-term; and Kai Uwe Broulik revealed some of the less obvious tips and tricks to get the most out of KDE's Plasma desktop.

After a four-hour recess, the KDE Community got together again to listen to the event sponsors.
KDE displayed deep gratitude to Canonical, KDAB, MBition, openSUSE, GitLab, Froglogic, Collabora, CodeThink, FELGO, DorotaC.eu, The Qt Company, Pine64 and Tuxedo for their generosity thanks to which Akademy is made possible.

Next up in Room 1, Dimitris Kardarakos talked about Creating a Convergent Application Following the KDE Human Interface Guidelines. Dimitris introduced attendees to the primary components of Kirigami and showed how an application can look equally good on the desktop and mobile. Using the Calindori calendar app as an example, Dimitris aimed to inspire attendees to create their own Kirigami applications.

Meanwhile, in Room 2, Nicolas Fella explained in Konquering the Droids that, to stay relevant, KDE needed to expand from its traditional desktop space and into the mobile world. He argued the most realistic and quickest way to do that was to create apps for the Android ecosystem, and explained the porting process.

Aleix Pol took to Room 1's virtual stage again in Getting into KWin and Wayland to explain how contributors could get involved with the development of KDE's Wayland experience.





Doctor Luis Falcón explains how they ported GNUHealth to mobile thanks to Python, Qt and KDE.

In Room 2, Doctor Luis Falcón told us about MyGNUHealth: GNU Health Goes Mobile with KDE and Kirigami. GNU Health (GH) is a Libre Health and Hospital Information System which has been deployed in many countries around the globe, from small clinics to very large, national public health implementations. MyGNUHealth is the GH's Personal Health Record application that integrates with the GNU Health Federation and is focused on mobile devices. Dr. Falcón told us about what led him to choose KDE's Kirigami framework to develop MyGNUHealth and the technical insights gained by the community behind the project.

Following these two talks, Neal Gompa presented Fedora KDE in Room 1, explained how it started and what makes it special within Fedora; while at the same time in Room 2, Aniqa Khokhar introduced us to Change Management and helped us learn how to accept changes and newcomers in KDE.

A bit later in Room 1, Volker Krause showed how, by Using Wikidata and OpenStreetMap data, it was possible to make applications smarter. Volker went into depth and explained how those two data sets are structured, how they can be accessed, how to comply with their licenses, and how developers can make use of them for their apps.

In Room 2 Catharina Maracke spoke to attendees about Open Source Compliance. Catharina told us about how in today's complex world of OSS license compliance, it is very important to know the basics of copyright and licensing structures as well as some of the relevant tips and tricks for the most common OSS licenses.





Aniqa Khokhar discusses change and how to overcome the anxiety it generates.

A little later in Room 1, David Edmundson and Henri Chain co-hosted a talk on Next Generation Application Management and explained how using cgroups, developers could contribute to making everything amazing.

And, speaking of amazing, in Room 2, Massimo Stella told us about Kdenlive's Journey to Being a Leading Open Source Video Editor. He showed us a video of Kdenlive's new capabilities and provided a live demo of the new features of KDE's powerful video editing software.

The regular talks wrapped up with two technical talks aimed at developers: In Room 1 Carson Black talked about API Design and QML and in Room 2 Benjamin Port explained how Plasma's System Setting have recently all been ported to KConfigXT and the advantages gained from the move in System Settings: Behind the Scenes.

To finish off the day, we had a star keynote presentation delivered by Nuritzi Sanchez, Senior Open Source Program Manager at GitLab and prior President and Chairperson of the GNOME Foundation. In her presentation, Open Source Resilience and Growth: Creating Communities that Thrive, Nuritizi talked about some of the initiatives that KDE is involved in that help it become a more resilient community, while at the same time pointing out areas of opportunity. She also explored topics around building more diverse and inclusive communities, including collaborative communication, and ideas for outreach.

As usual, YouTube recorded the streams which allows you to enjoy the conference in case you missed anything, albeit in a big blobby, unformatted form:

We will post edited and cut versions of the talks to PeerTube and YouTube soon. Watch this space!

From Monday to Thursday, Akademy attendees will participate in Bird of a Feather (BoF) meetings, private reunions, and hackathons.

We'll be back with more talks on Friday, September 11, when we will hear from students working on KDE projects and some of KDE's most active veteran contributors.