Mobile development sprint in Randa: KDE Connect, and more!

This September a bunch of KDE developers, me included, will gather for a week in Randa, Switzerland, to work on awesome new ideas for KDE. The theme of the sprint is around mobile apps, so KDE Connect will be one of the focus of attention.

The goals for KDE Connect in this sprint are the following:

  • Make a release for Plasma 5
  • Make a release for Android with Material design
  • Add support for answering texts (SMS) from your computer
  • Some more cool stuff :)

But of course it is not only about KDE Connect: we will also help to shape the future of new KDE apps on smartphones: ports of desktop apps, brand new ideas, new tools to improve the development, etc.

To make this possible, there is a fundraiser open that aims to cover the costs of this sprint. If you can contribute with some money, it is a huge  way to help KDE and KDE Connect!

2011 Randa Sprint participants
2011 Randa Sprint participants

Since KDE is a community of people who make free software, and nowadays we use a lot of software in our smartphones, it makes me happy to see this effort to have presence there as well. I hope you share this point of view, and also that you can help the fundraiser with a donation. Thanks a lot!

PS: Aleix Pol and David Edmundson also posted in their blogs about their projects for KDE Connect in Randa, check them out!

KDE Connect on Github

A month ago I created two mirrors for the KDE Connect repositories in Github, and I’m really happy  with it. Projects in Github are more discoverable than in our internal KDE repo (our GIT web interface is not even indexed by search engines!), and makes it easier for new developers to get involved and send contributions, like these pull requests. Of course, I have no plan to drop KDE’s Git repo: Github is not free software and we want to make sure our code is always accessible through our floss-based infrastructure. Also, the KDE repo is nicely integrated with our tools, like the bug tracker and review board, but I still think that having a mirror in Github is a good addition.

Other free software projects already host mirrors in Github (see Gnome), and they even have support just for that use case: Github Mirrors. I think we could greatly benefit from doing something like that KDE-wise, as we would both gain visibility and reduce some load from our servers. As of now, I’ve done it with KDE Connect and I have no regrets :)

Edit: Made clear that we will always allow access to our sources via our free infrastructure.

Releasing KDE Connect ‘Code-in Edition’

Code-in is a program from Google to encourage young people (ages 13-17) to participate in free software projects. This year some Code-in participants worked on improvements for KDE Connect, and today we are releasing all this work condensed into KDE Connect 0.8!

This version comes with lots of bug fixes and a bunch of new features:

  • Added the ability to mute incoming calls from the desktop notification.*
  • Included a way to disable desktop notifications per-app from your phone.
  • Added a seek bar to the Media Controls.*
  • Added a plugin to prevent your PC from sleeping if your phone is in the network.
  • Implemented support for drag’n drop in touchpad.*
  • Added support for special keys and modifier keys to virtual keyboard.
  • Fixed shared Youtube videos not opening in the browser.

*Features made by people under 18 :D

This is a release for the KDE 4 desktop only, and I’m sorry for not having a Plasma 5 version ready. I’ve been holding this update to prepare a super cool stable version for Plasma 5 as well, but I didn’t find time for that and I think it’s better not to hold this version any longer. For those of you who have already jumped to Plasma 5, an official release is coming soon, I promise!

KDE Connect 0.8 for KDE 4 – tarball
KDE Connect 0.8 for Android – app on Google Play
KDE Connect 0.8 for Android – app on F-Droid

Local KDE meetings rock, and you should be in one

I made my first contact with the KDE community about 4 years ago, in a bar in Barcelona. Do you want to know how was it?

A bunch of KDE enthusiasts from the sunny Barcelona (Spain) decided to organize a dinner in a restaurant to celebrate the launch of KDE 4.6. At that time, I was not even using KDE 4 (I was a happy KDE3 user instead!) but I though it would be nice to meet other people and discuss about the problems I had with KDE 4.

They were celebrating this kind of “release dinners” regularly in Barcelona, a casual gathering for all kind of people interested in KDE: users, non-users, developers, artists, translators, writers… very interesting people above all! And I had a very good time in my first experience, so I begun to go to these dinners frequently. They would usually end up in a bar having beers and discussing all kind of interesting (KDE and non-KDE related) topics.

By that time I was studying computer engineering, and I thought it was a good opportunity for me to meet smart developers and learn from them. In one of these dinners, I was talking with Àlex Fiestas (and I bet we both were quite drunk) about how difficult it was to use a smartphone and a computer together, even when both devices run similar OSes… And you may already have realized that the entire KDE Connect project started there!

KDE Dinner in Barcelona
KDE Dinner in Barcelona, 2013

I’m happy to still be in this awesome community today, four years later. The reason is that by myself I can only write code, but in KDE I find artists that will help me make my apps beautiful, translators that will make them available in tens of different languages, writers that will spread the word, and a platform behind it that will give visibility to software distributions, end users, and new contributors. Could I have done this alone? Probably not. And not only that, in KDE I also met great people. People that are now true friends.

Last year I moved to Seattle (WA), so I don’t live in Barcelona anymore. I found that they were also organizing local KDE meetings here, so I decided to go to one right away. And of course there I met another bunch of awesome people! Andrew Lake even let me sleep in their place until I found a permanent apartment in the city, and Valorie Zimmerman offered me an “adoptive family” for my first New Year’s Eve here. Yes, people is that awesome in this free software community :) Really, truly, incredible people.

But the point of this blogpost is not (only) to talk about my KDE story. It is about your KDE story. You should be doing this yourself! If there is a KDE meeting near you, go there, if there are none, recruit some friends and create one! Really, don’t be afraid: the worst thing that can happen if nobody assists is that you end up having a beer with your friends :D And, of course, if you live around Seattle, please join us in our next meeting!

KDE Connect feature brainstorming

In a recent informal meeting of KDE users in Seattle, Andrew Lake from the KDE Visual Design Group gave me some ideas he had for KDE Connect. Since I think that we all have a different vision and different ideas that are possible to implement on top of KDE Connect, I decided to write this post asking for your ideas, in some kind of community brainstorming.

Also, since the last time I made a post about possible features for KDE Connect, a lot of them have been implemented or are work in progress, so I hope this post achieves the same effect :)

Here is my personal list of possible features:

  • Plugin for power management (sleep, shut down, etc).
  • “Find my phone” plugin, that makes your phone ring even if it is silenced.
  • Add media controls from the Android lock screen.
  • Plugin to keep your computer unlocked while phone is reachable.
  • Use the phone as a location provider for the desktop.
  • Akonady resources sync with Android (contacts, calendar…).
  • Plugin to print from your phone to your computer’s printer.
  • Add support for drag’n drop for touchpad plugin.
  • Port to other desktops and platforms: Gnome, Unity, MacOS, Windows…
  • Publish and maintain the iOS port that Yang Qiao begun this GSOC (any iPhone user around?)

And here is some stuff is already being worked on:

  • Answer SMS from the desktop (by David Edmunson).
  • Pair with a specific IP address or hostname (by Achilleas Koutsou).

Now it’s your time to come up with more ideas in the comments! And of course feel free to give your opinion/enhance the ideas on my list.

Update: As Aleix Pol suggested, I created a todo.kde.org for KDE Connect that I will be updating with the ideas that come up in the comments.

Help make Plasma 5 real!

Maybe you already know that the new version of the desktop by the KDE people, that will be called Plasma 5, is in the makings. I totally believe that this forthcoming release will be truly amazing,  and that’s why Aleix Pol and myself have already started porting KDE Connect to this new Desktop Environment.

Porting every application in KDE, though, requires a huge amount of work. This is one of the reasons why some of the best hackers in KDE will meet this summer in Randa, Switzerland: to work hard in the next version of the best desktop environment ever!

If you, like me, also believe that Plasma 5 will be awesome and want to help its development, I encourage you to donate in the crowd-funding campaign they started to cover the expenses of the meeting. You can do it from the following link:

http://www.kde.org/fundraisers/randameetings2014/index.php

Thanks from all the KDE Community!

Awesome contributions to KDE Connect

Today we are releasing a new version of KDE Connect for Android phones and the Plasma desktop. This shiny new release includes some nice features contributed by great people in the KDE Community (and outside it). You guys are awesome!

The first feature I want to show you was contributed by Ahmed Ibrahim, and allows you to use your phone screen as a touchpad for your computer. Do you have a mediacenter or another setup where you don’t want to have a mouse and a keyboard always attached? With KDE Connect we will make you able to use your phone as a wireless input device!

Screenshot of the touchpad plugin in Android

And by the way, do you guess how I sent this screenshot from my phone to my laptop? Of course, I used the “Share to” feature and I sent it over KDE Connect :) In this new release, we made Android able to receive files as well, sent from a computer or another Android phone. You requested this feature for long, and finally here it is! You will be able to send files from Dolphin or from the also new command line interface, all thanks to Aleix Pol!

Screenshot of Dolphin's integration

This version also has several improvements under the hood, has a bunch of bugs fixed and can now run on FreeBSD systems, thanks to Raphael Kubo.

To end this post I just want to thank, once again, everybody who sent patches and specially the awesome translation team of KDE, who made KDE Connect already available in 25 languages (including Catalan, my native tongue :)!

KDE Connect 0.7.2 tarball
KDE Connect 0.7.2 Android app on Google Play
KDE Connect 0.7.2 Android app on F-Droid

Edit 29/06/14: Please note that it might take a while for some distributions to release the new version. If you don’t want to compile it yourself, please be patient (and/or poke your distribution packagers until they update it).

Edit 01/07/14: A new minor version of both Android and Plasma been released today, fixing some problems found in the previous 0.7. The links above have been updated.