Goodbye Okular

The Okular team has never been all that big. Recently we lost Pino as the maintainer. His reasons are his reasons, but I can't say I blame him. I can personally no longer tolerate the level of abuse that we're seeing on bug reports. The latest example is Wishlist item 157284

I'm unsubscribed from the okular-devel mailing list. I'm not going to be in #okular. I'll still look at XPS bugs if I notice them.

It is difficult to leave. I really do care about Okular - I gave quite a lot of my time to improve it. It is a really nice application. However every time I looked at some bug comment insisting on a change (in something like the GUI that is subjective in the absence of actual usability study), I get disheartened. Even when I'm supposed to be working on something else, it gets to me. I've got better things to work on, where I'm not seeing that level of criticism of volunteer efforts.

I'd like to thank everyone involved in Okular, especially Albert and Pino for their maintainership, Piotr for the initial work, and Tobias for some inspirational work on the generator side.

Best wishes to Okular and its happy users.


Hey Brad ...

That really sucks to hear. I understand where you're coming from and I hope that if you can find yourself some distance from it all for a while that you'll bounce back and not feel so frustrated about things.

If you ever get the desire to scratch some itches on the code base, I wouldn't mind chatting with you on IRC beforehand about some possible ways to deal with the abusive users issue so that it doesn't become a repeat situation.

In the meantime, I'm sure you'll find lots of useful things to do with the time that's been freed up, and I hope you find the space and support you need. We'll miss you in the meantime :)


By Aaron J. Seigo at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 01:17

Hi Brad,
I am very sorry to hear that, okular is one of my most used tools, it pops up many times everyday and provides excellent functionality! It is part of what makes me proud of KDE.

So a big thank you for working on it for a long time.

By sredna at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 08:22

Brad, really sorry to hear that. Lemme tell you, we get a lot of that taste too, and it's not a nice taste.

What sometimes helps is to enjoy the good things, and trying to ignore the crap. I know, it's harder to actually do it than to say it, I've been there too :(

Best wishes for whatever you're planning to do now. And if you want to talk about it, just ping some of us fellow KDE guys on IRC sometime, it sometimes helps to talk a bit, imho.

Best wishes,

By Mark Kretschmann at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 09:46

Hey Brad,

I'm sorry to hear this has gotten to you so badly. But I can understand why. I hope some time away from all this will help you and maybe you can come back again when it is more fun again.

What I want you and everyone else who feels like giving up to know however is that you do not have to go trough this alone. Aaron already offered his help. There is the Community Working Group (members, including me, can be found here http://ev.kde.org/workinggroups/cwg.php) who is here exactly to help with this kinds of problems. And last but not least your other fellow contributors in Okular (who I assume you talked to lots already).


By nightrose at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 10:45

Hi there Brad!

I was googling around for some pdf tools and bumped into your post.

I just had to register because I felt I needed to thank you for your hard work. It's very much appreciated. I use Okular every day at home and I love it.

Although I use Adobe Professional CS4 Suite on a Mac at work for everything involving viewing, creating and managing documents, I've never felt that Okular was inferior when it comes to opening and viewing documents!

So you should be proud, man! There are people around the world who appreciate what you and the other KDE people are doing/have done!

Greetings from Serbia!

By nenadsuperzmaj at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 14:00

Thanks for all your work on Okular. I use it every day and love it! It's sad to see that some people (in the bug report) aren't as polite as they should. It's also understandable that you guys get fed up when criticism is all you get.

But nevertheless, I can't help that I also agree with kamikazow in his comments. I've read the bug report and even though it's not a big issue for me at the moment (don't have any netbook yet), I would love to have this feature implemented. I'm no user interface expert, but nonetheless, I have a good feeling of what works and what doesn't for me in some applications.

Even if not as bad as some of the other comments in the bug report, your comment isn't in any way polite either. "Opinions don't really count for much." Why write something like that? Just to get the report submitters angry? Just to indicate that you don't care what the users think?

"Do you have any usability research that evaluates this issue?" Yeah right, that's the right way to answer people who come with suggestions.

You could have written something like "I really don't feel this is something we should implement. We have done lots of usability research, and making it possible to hide the bottom bar doesn't fit into our current approach." It would still be quite controversial but it doesn't say "why did you even care to suggest anything, we know best, and we don't need any input".

In the end I would just want to point out that it usually is because someone loves or cares much about an application that they go through the trouble of submitting a bug report. A bug report's nature is that it point at something wrong or missing in the application. Therefore many bug reports can sound a bit harsh, and I don't think it's the right media to give credit to the developers? Keep also in mind that when pointing out something you don't like, it's easy to be harsher then intended. (I'm not defending those using indecent language, just trying to say you should interpret the comments in a positive way. :)

By kalle at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 17:24

I was probably wrong to use an example. Its the pattern, not a single report, that did it to me.

By brad hards at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 21:46

"I'm not defending those using indecent language, just trying to say you should interpret the comments in a positive way."

There are limits, and they can be reached over time through a continued abrasive contact with people. When added to the weight of a project that has other struggles to deal with (in this case Qt Printing being a huge one), people will reach their limits.

That's why it is important that we watch out for each other a bit more, I think. To catch it before such limits are reached. To ensure that there is civility on bug.kde.org (right now there is far too little of that).

I'd also suggest lecturing someone on how to be Good when they are feeling frustrated enough to leave is really poor timing. Let them get to a point where they aren't so frustrated _first_, and then maybe we can work on improving the interactions they are responsible for with them. Otherwise, the risk is that it just adds to the frustration already felt and the person hardens even more to the idea of ever being involved again with the project.

By Aaron J. Seigo at Mon, 01/11/2010 - 19:13

I love Okular, and I'm really sorry to hear about this loss (and I wasn't even aware of Pino's one). I left the development of okular many years ago but I'm still in strong love with it.

As a side note: CUT the Bugzilla <-> development-list link! It's noisy, it breaks the flow of development comments. I read the archives of the past months.. everybody can feel Brad's pain by looking at that, please separate the development mailing list from the bugzilla's rants.

Best Regards

By Enrico Ros at Sat, 01/09/2010 - 23:57

First I do feel for the developers who are frustrated. As a developer albeit on a different platform I can understand the feeling of not being appreciated for the effort put in especially when that time was donated free of charge. My question though is, what IS normal implementation time for a fix? If someone is asking for feature changes and then complaining the code isn't being written fast enough I can see the developer being upset but in this case the original requester DID provide code. Isn't that what we always tell them? "If you don't like it the way it is then how about getting involved and finding a solution yourself.".....ok so they did that.....and 2 years later the patch is still not included and no alternatives are suggested. It's a given that in a commercial environment this would NOT fly but what processes are in place to get patches in that don't come from the "core developers".....at what point do enough people get frustrated and fork the project suddenly causing "okular-SSV" (Small Screen Version) to appear that DOES incorporate all these patches? Is it really ok for a obviously highly desired USER feature to sit for two years when the code was handed to you day 1?

I'll be honest and say I would have probably patched the codebase myself (it's not hard to apply a diff even for non coders) and uploaded it somewhere like "swiftfox" did to firefox......why did swiftfox come about? Because folks wanted architecture specific compiled versions of firefox....could firefox have provided them? Of course....opensuse build service will generate whatever versions you tell it to generate among other options.

In the end I have understanding of BOTH sides and my question is simply this....if this request was handled improperly (and I mean the original request...not all the followup posts) how SHOULD it have been handled to get it implemented and not ignored for so long? If the developers did not have time to implement the small patch what path did OUTSIDE developers have to do the work themselves and then have a code review? It looks to me like providing the patch WAS asking for a code review but maybe I missed something.

By famewolf at Sun, 01/10/2010 - 01:31