Resurrecting Yakuake

No use in beating around the bush: Yakuake is currently not in great shape. While the codebase made the jump to KDE Frameworks 5 quite early, it took a long time to get releases out, and the latest still suffers from some annoying, if minor, regressions and bugs. The same is also true for outside code Yakuake heavily relies on - namely Konsole, which unfortunately broke some APIs used by Yakuake, including the one used to invoke the "Manage Profiles" dialog. Meh.

Alongside this there's a more fundamental problem, which is that Yakuake's basic UI code has not aged well. There's some nice things to say about Yakuake's theming system, including a stable file format with unbroken backwards compatibility for more than a decade. But that also hints at the fact that it was designed for systems of that era, and for example can't handle scaling to hi-dpi displays at all.

Fortunately I've been able to secure some honest-to-goodness time over the next couple of months address these problems and thoroughly refurbish the Yakuake codebase, dragging it kicking and screaming into the present day. Here's the cliff notes of the todo:

  • New UI/theming system. This is the big one. The new themes will make extensive use of Qt Quick, adopting some familiar patterns from Plasma theming, and using the KPackage framework for packaging and distribution. This will get us scaling support, allow for more flexible UI arrangements (finally single-bar themes that aren't a gross hack, for one), window shadows, and more. Support for legacy themes will be retained via an internal compatibility theme; they will show up in the config dialog as per usual.
  • Fix Konsole breakage. Konsole's embeddable terminal component has been making Yakuake's life harder with bitrot and broken APIs. I'll go in and fix it.
  • Bugfixes. I'll look into addressing the highest-priority bugs that have been reported against the Frameworks 5 version, including the infamous terminal split focus issue.
  • Wayland. Yakuake mostly works on Wayland, but there's some X11-specific code that yet needs to be cleaned up.

Unfortunately out-of-scope for now will be the often-desired support for session restore; this will need a seperate campaign. But the above will ensure that Yakuake stays with us long enough to enable one.

Watch out for a Yakuake 4.0 deserving of the version bump some time later this year. :)


KDE neon Korean Developer Edition (... and future CJK Edition?)

While not being advertised on the KDE neon main page just yet (and it won't be for a while), we've recently begun doing regular builds of a special Korean Edition of neon's Developer Edition tracking the stable branch of KDE's code repositories. The Korean Edition pre-selects the Korean language and locale at boot, packs all the Korean translations we have and comes with a Korean input method pre-setup.

Hangeul metal type from the Joseon era
Joseon-era Hangeul metal type

Why a Korean Edition?

Among many other locations around the planet, the local community in Korea is planning to put on a KDE 20th Anniversary birthday party in Seoul on October 14th. The KDE neon Korean Developer Edition was directly created on request for this event, to be made available to attendees.

That said - this is actually something we've been wanting to do for a while, and it's not just about Korean.

None of the bits that make up the new image are new per-se; KDE has supported Korean for a long time, both with foundational localization engineering and regular maintenance activity. And as of the Plasma 5.6 release, our Input Method Panel is finally bundled with the core desktop code and gets automatically added to the panel on first logon in a locale that typically requires an input method.

Yet it's pretty hard to keep all of this working well, as it requires tight integration and testing across an entire stack, with some parts of the whole living upstream or downstream of KDE.org. For example: After we attempted to make the Plasma panel smarter by making it auto-add the Input Method Panel depending on locale, we couldn't actually be sure it was working as desired by our users, as it takes time for distros to get around to tuning their dependency profiles and for feedback from their users to loop back up to us. It's a very long cycle, with too many opportunities to lose focus or domain knowledge to turnover along the way.

This is where KDE neon comes in: As a fully-integrated product, we can now prove out and demo the intended distro experience there. We can make sure thing stay in working order, even before additional work hits our other distro partners.

Right now, we're kicking things off with Korean Edition, but based on time, interest and testers (please get in touch!), we'd like to build it out into a full CJK Edition, with translations and input support for our Chinese and Japanese users pre-installed as well (as another precursor to this, the decision to switch to Noto Sans CJK as Plasma's default typeface last year was very much made with the global audience in mind as well).

Ok, but where do I get it?

Here! Do keep in mind it's alpha. ☺


Kexi 3 Beta 1 + libs

Cool, Kexi 3.0.0 Beta 1 and related libraries have landed, ready for testing and packaging. Please find downloads and change logs at https://community.kde.org/Kexi/Releases/3#3.0.0_Beta_1

As usual report bug and wishes are welcome, details at https://community.kde.org/Calligra/File_a_bug_or_wish.


Plasma 5.8: Per-screen Pagers

The other day I wrote about the Pager improvements awaiting in Plasma 5.8. In the comments user btin re-raised the issue of limiting the Pager's display to the screen it's currently on, instead of being all-exclusive.

At the time I wasn't sure we could still sneak this in before feature freeze, but thanks to the screen-awareness of the new backend (which, to recap, is shared with the Task Manager and already needs to determine what screen a given window resides on), it turned out to be easy enough to do!

The default remains the screen-spanning behavior for now, but in the Pager's "Display" settings you can now tick a new "Only the current screen" checkbox. If enabled, Pagers in panels on different screens will now nicely be limited to showing their respective screen's windows on each desktop.


Plasma 5.8: More efficient Pager and Activity Pager widgets

On the heels of the Plasma 5.7's new Task Manager backend, the upcoming Plasma 5.8 LTS release will sport substantially rewritten Pager and Activity Pager widgets, aimed at improving efficiency and conserving resources in a typical Plasma Desktop setup.

Plasma Pager widget
Enemy located

Two birds with one stone

Both the Task Manager and Pager widgets report on the windowing system. (If you didn't know: The Pager is the little game-like minimap to the left of the Task Manager, showing the windows on each virtual desktop.) To do so they need to know about the windows that exist and various things about them, such as their location (screen, desktop) and state (active, minimized). Up until now, the two would collect all of that data independently, sharing no code, and doing much of the same processing in response to changes. Plasma 5.8's Pager now shares a backend with the Task Manager (no matter how many instances of each applet you have), consolidating all the window information processing in the Plasma shell process in just one spot. This saves a whole bunch of CPU and memory, along with being less code to maintain!

Doing less is doing fast

The old Pager backend would toss out everything it knew about the current state of the windowing system every time any window changed in any way, causing everything the widget was showing to be torn apart and recreated from scratch - even when most of it didn't need to be touched at all. That's of course terribly inefficient, and the Task Manager's backend is fortunately much smarter. No more needless busywork.

Dropping weight

The way the Pager is actually drawn was cleaned up along the way, now using less CPU and memory, especially with the bare-bones default settings. Dragging a window on the Pager is now also much more efficient internally.

(Re-)joining forces

All of the above also applies to the Activity Pager widget - which used to be a lightly modified copy of the Pager's code, and now instead shares all of its code with its sibling. The two pagers remain separate entries in the Widget Explorer, but all further maintenance and development can now happen on a unified codebase.


KDb 3, KProperty 3, KReport 3, Kexi 3 and special offer during Akademy

We're pretty close to "beta" releases of the KDb 3, KProperty 3, KReport 3 frameworks as well as Kexi 3, the data-oriented app creator. So while I am not in person @ Akademy I though a "special offer" during this special time would be in order: if anyone has questions or needs assistance in planning port to one of the APIs offered, ping me on IRC or mail me. And also later :)

What's in the box and when to use the toys:


Icon theme deployment on Windows, Mac OS and mobile platforms

During the Randa meeting I implemented some magic in KIconThemes to generalize a design initially made by Christoph Cullmann for Kate.

On platforms other than Linux/BSD, icon themes are not available as part of the system, and installing 6235 files takes forever. The deployment strategy for applications on those operations systems is now the following:


Unlocking wallet during startup

While setting up plasma5 I found a solution for something that had been bothering me forever. Basically, while session management is restoring all windows, the wallet isn't open yet, so if the wallet is needed to get online (wifi password), all the apps being restored (in my case, about 20 konqueror windows) have no networking yet and just show error pages.
I had to be there during startup and type fast to unlock the wallet before the apps needed it.



Two pictures worth thousands of SLOCs^w words.

All the modernization KEXI 3 receives these months may be enough to start using upper case letters for the name :)

Spolier: 0% of mockups here, top picture: kexi.git master, bottom picture: to-be-published GUI.


New Plasma Task Manager backend: Faster, better, Wayland

During the last several months, I've been rewriting the backend for Plasma's Task Manager, the strip of launchers and windows embedded into the panel at the bottom of the screen.