Friday, January 20, 2012
KDE SC 4.8 Upcoming Features
Later this month we will see the release of the KDE SC 4.8 series, another one of the typical six-month cycles that KDE relentlesly goes through. As we have seen since SC 4.4, probably the first truly stable and fast release cycle since KDE SC 4.x series started, KDE SC 4.8 will continue the tradition of building over the previous release cycle strengths. Given how much has happened in the last six months, I thought it was a good idea to review what's coming in the next few months. Most people will probably be aware of the highlights, but I think there is a lot of work that may have gone unnoticed that we should keep an eye on. SEMANTIC DESKTOP KDE SC 4.7 series witnessed massive improvements in the Semantic Desktop. Led by Sebastian Trueg, efforts concentrated on improving stability through bug fixing, but also on improving performance, optimizing resource use, as well as including some cool features. As a result, KDE SC 4.8 will be the first release with a powerful, stable and fully functional Semantic Desktop. KMIX REDESIGNED Kmix will receive a much needed facelift in KDE SC 4.8. New features and a better looking outfit are part of what users will enjoy. More details HERE. QML, QTQUICK AND PLASMA From the official KDE SC 4.8 Beta announcement: "Qt Quick is making its way into the Plasma Workspaces. The new Plasma Components provide a standardized API implementation of widgets with native Plasma Look and Feel. The device notifier widget has been ported using these components and is now written in pure QML. KWin's window switcher is now also QML-based, paving the way for newly designed window switchers." DOLPHIN 2.0 The changes to Dolphin, the default KDE file manager, are among the highlights in this release. I have already covered them in a couple of articles, which you can read HERE and HERE. GWENVIEW Just like Dolphin 2.0 will meet icon animations, Gwenview will get some animations and transitions of its own. The following video demonstrates both Gwenview's and Dolphin's. This video also demonstrates the new QML based device notifier. KSECRETSERVICE A password storage service, KSecretService will enhance the integration of non-KDE apps inside the KDE Desktop, as well as KDE apps outside of KDE. DESKTOP EFFECTS We did see lots of improvement in this area thanks to Martin Gräßlin's efforts, specially after KDE SC 4.7.2. Martin did mention in an ARTICLE of his back then that things would get even better in SC 4.8: "But the real optimization by only calling the active effects will hit only 4.8". This is cool news because the improvement in Kwin effects was very significant during SC 4.7, so even smoother effects in KDE SC 4.8 surely is exciting news. KATE Probably my favorite text editor (along Geany, but certainly a favorite in KDE) out there, Kate is in for some more changes and improvements. More details HERE. NEW FONT: OXYGEN I recently POSTED about this, and while it is not necessarily an SC 4.8 feature, it is likely that we will see the final release of Oxygen fonts during this release cycle. NEW WALLPAPERS After a few releases enjoying the awesome work of Nuno Pinheiro in the wallpaper department, it seems it is time for a change. Nuno himself conducted a contest to gather some new talent and eventually, the new official wallpapers for KDE SC 4.8. I have seen some information out there about the winners, but I am not 100% sure it is legitimate, so we will have to wait and see what the default wallpapers look like this time around. POWER MANAGEMENT AND ACTIVITIES A very interesting set of new features will land in power management land come this new release. I am particularly interested in isolated power management settings for each activity, something that I truly think adds value to the whole activity concept. Here's a video explaining more on the subject: POWER INHIBITION Dario Freddi posted the following in PlanetKDE: "I wanted to blog about some improvements towards flawless power management inhibition. A GCI student, George Stephanos, took the task of testing and fixing inhibition in 4.8: the results were two bugs fixed, and dragon player being able to successfully prevent any power management action. But it does not stop here: yesterday I also added inhibition support in Okular – if you are giving a presentation with it, you don’t have to worry about your screen or your system going down anymore." CALLIGRA 2.4 Not necessarily part of KDE SC 4.8, but it is during this release cycle that KDE users will be able to enjoy the final release of Calligra 2.4, a very interesting and promising take on KOffice that already works pretty well in its Beta state. OVERALL IMPROVEMENTS As usual, we can expect stability and performance improvements to come along with KDE SC 4.8. Aaron Seigo recently posted about bug fixing sessions that had gone particularly well, which made him feel very positive about this upcoming release stability. Having said so, I would recommend waiting until the usual April releases, which should allow enough time for distro builders to pack SC 4.8.1, 4.8.2, or even 4.8.3 along... unless you want to help bug fixing, that is! So there you have it, I am sure I am missing things here and there, but even so, this short list should make it clear that there is plenty to be excited about as we sail into KDE SC 4.8 waters!