Yesterday evening, I added the first animation to the KWin dashboard effect: Saturation and brightness of the background do now change over a configurable time span when the dashboard appears. The smooth fade of the background adds some eye candy without being to obstrusive (hopefully).
I posted the according patch to the KDE review board. If everything works out fine, the patch will be in trunk for KDE SC 4.6 before code freeze.
For everyone that only knows my Twitter account @ademmer: I use to blog with the same account name on the free microblogging service Identi.ca, but here solely in English and only about Linux/KDE related topics. Follow me and end the mess of this account having only three followers until now!
Don’t be afraid having to install new software: Most Twitter-Clients can already deal with Identi.ca. KDE Users may use the excellent Choqok for example!
I just commit my work of the last weeks to KDE SVN trunk: The initial version of the dashboard effect plugin for KWin. This makes the plugin an official part of KDE SC 4.6 which will be released early in 2011. Yay! :) To celebrate this event, I opened myself an ice cold bottle of beer!
What are the next steps? Well, I will enhance the plugin during the next weeks: Implement animations and change the blur effect to resemble the logout effect: The logout effect blurs the screen edges more than the center of the screen which looks pretty nice.
If you would like to test the plugin in its early stage, grab KWin 4.5.60+ from SVN trunk and compile it yourself. If you like to play more on the safe side, just wait until your favorite distro provides beta or RC packages of KDE SC 4.6.
In my last posting, I mentioned that my notebook eats by far more battery when running Linux / KDE than running Windows 7. Even though I identified (and fixed) that this was due to the switchable graphics (both cards were running and sucking power), I was eager to optimize the power consumption. After some research, I came up with the following solution.
Because I travel a lot for my job, I looked for a portable alternative to my DELL XPS M2010. As nice as the huge display was – the 20″ machine was just unsuited as cabin bagge or for mobile usage. Not even to talk of some very special examinations during the security checks on airports.
After very thorough research, my choice fell upon the HP Envy 14, which offers in my opinion the best compromise between portability, power and design. I bought it right away on the release day.
Meanwhile, I have sent my patch of the dashboard effect plugin to the KDE review board. Aaron Seigo and Martin Gräßlin (both KDE core devs) have given me valuable remarks for enhancing my code. Additionally, they proposed changes in what my plugin should actually do: It should come with fancy animations, but skip the configuration options for brightness and contrast. The reason is, that users would most probably not understand why the optical configuration of a Plasma view cannot be done in the Plasma settings but window effect settings. I can fully agree to this.
I recently finished rewriting some parts of my code, so that I can start implementing the animations. Before that, I will – as soon as KDE 4.5 was branched and the trunk opens again for new stuff – commit the current state of my work to SVN. This enables KDE devs to compile my sources and follow my development efforts. It also raises the chances to find problems in time when more people are testing.
I wanted to learn Qt, so I started off by reading some KDE source files and making small cosmetic changes here and there (e.g. GUI improvements for the NetworkManagement plasmoid, adding blur to some plasmoids). I also patched KWin’s change screen OSD, which was missing the blur effect. This was the first time, I got my hands on KWin code.
The KWin people on IRC have been kindly helpful (thx mgraesslin, notmart, sebas and everyone else). When I suggested to patch the Plasma dashboard code in order to have the dashboard blur its background, a discussion started that this should be done by a KWin plugin.
Said, done. I had a look at some other KWin plugins which looked easy enough for me to understand and used them as template for my first own KWin plugin. Needless to say that I ran into a bazillion problems! Not only the KWin infrastructure was the first hurdle to take but also some Plasma internals wanted to be learned. And all this while I had to remember my poor C++ skills, which were almost non-existing so many years after having been to university. Luckily, I managed to dig my way through. I wanted my effect plugin to be configurable, so I learned about the concepts behind Qt GUIs and used Nokias Qt Creator to build a nice looking configuration dialog, where you can adjust brightness, saturation and even can add some fancy blur to the background (who would have thought? *G*).
And without any further words, I present you the result of my work during the last weeks:
There are still some few glitches to fix. Since KDE SC 4.5 is already in feature freeze, there is no need to hurry. As soon as 4.5 is branched and the trunk opens again, I will post my work to the reviewboard for discussion. I am really looking forward to have this plugin included in KDE 4.6.
Finally I managed to get my blog aggregated on Planet KDE! Since I run my private weblog (which covers all kinds of topics) in German, I needed to come up with an english blog solely dedicated to KDE. Therefore I added multi-language support to my private WordPress installation and created a filtered newsfeed. So here I am!
From now on, I plan to frequently blog about my progress in becoming a KDE coder. My first postings will cover my contributions to the NetworkManagement plasmoid and my first KWin plugin. Curious? Stay tuned!
Aller meiner guten Vorsätze zum Trotz – dieses Mal erst mit den Release Candidates auf die neue KDE Version zu wechseln – konnte ich mich nicht länger zurückhalten und habe meine stabile KDE SC 4.4.3 auf Version 4.5 Beta 1 geupdated.