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[Ask-A-Dev] David Edmundson (Plasma Developer)

User avatar jensreuterberg
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Ask-A-Dev is a hopefully recurring weekly event where one developer answers almost any question (now remember, I also promised that everyone should play nice so try to keep it constructive) about design and programming and the work that goes into it. It can be anything from "What do you need more help with from us?" to "What do you think of this?" or technical questions.

This week is David Edmundson and I've started off with some questions here to get us going - but don't be shy ask him about anything and he will check in this week to answer questions.

What have you worked with in the past?
After dabbling in a few small patches throughout KDE, I became the leader of KDE's instant messaging client KDE Telepathy.

What do you work with now?
Now I am lucky enough to be employed by Blue Systems on KDE, all my company time goes on Frameworks or in Plasma shaping the new shell.

What is your current biggest issue in dev work?
Keeping an influx of new developers.
With open source dominating new web and mobile worlds, desktop Linux has lost some of it's sexy appeal, despite our overall audience increasing. Encouraging new developers into a project requires a lot of effort and over time simply becomes tiring.

What is your current biggest issue about design?
Progressive iteration.
Devs love to start from scratch. Why? Because it's easier. The problem is it takes so long to get to a working state that you have no users, lose interest and the project dies. This happens a lot. Somewhat unintuitively it takes a better programmer to build on existing code, than to start anew.
With design we often get the same, I often see mockups that realistically will take 2 or more man-years to implement. In most cases it's so daunting that it will simply go nowhere, which is rather sad for everyone involved.
The missing skill is to have a goal, and to break it down into small iterative changes.

If you where a snack, what would it be?
A melted Mars bar.
Full of grand expectations, yet somewhat disappointing.


KDE Visual Design Group - "Sexy by default - Powerful through cooperation"
User avatar GreatEmerald
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All right, hmm, what is your favourite Plasma Next feature or change?
User avatar david_edmundson
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GreatEmerald wrote:All right, hmm, what is your favourite Plasma Next feature or change?


Good question!
Probably the notifications. They are more like Gnome/Ubuntu/Colibri, we have a floating bubble that stack up and fade away. As a heavy Instant Messenger user I get a lot of notifications (as I'm meant to reply instantly, right?) it's a lot less annoying than the popup.
jasonwert
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Will Kde TeaTime ever comeback?
Sogatori
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How do you view the efforts of the VDG? It would be nice to see what the developers actually think about it. I sometimes can't shake off the feeling that we're maybe a bit too disruptive.
User avatar david_edmundson
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Will Kde TeaTime ever comeback?


I genuinely can't believe anyone watched that rubbish. It was awful.
It's hard to have enough to talk about whilst being focussed on KDE; and it's hard to have the same outside commentary that we see with The Linux Action Show or LugRadio.

Maybe we'll do another one. I had the idea of us trying to write a Plasmoid in under 10 minutes; then recording all of us shouting at each other.
User avatar lazyit
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Hi David , I have a small request first thing to telepathy , I'd love some sistem tray icon by default in telepathy , that I never loved : DNow the question , I have always been a big fan of kde , kde and I used almost always , lately I've wanted to try Gnome 3 with Fedora , one of the things ch emi liked most is their home screen, ch ethical asks the first start to configure the account online for all Gnome programs that need it , I know that Blue System in netrunner has something similar for KDE , i wanted to know if we will have it in KDE Next, and more importantly, what are your thoughts in general with the possibility that in OS like Android or other furniture , there are many useful ideas and bring ch epotrebbero be used on the desktop , of course with the right changes , I speak of Account online, but anch edel social side ch eormai is increasingly at the center dell'esperienz adelgi users, but also to things like , dropbox or gdrive , we owncloud , it would be nice to have a system and applications built around these new concepts
Wht you think about this?
Sorry for english but i use google translate :)
User avatar david_edmundson
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Sogatori wrote:How do you view the efforts of the VDG? It would be nice to see what the developers actually think about it. I sometimes can't shake off the feeling that we're maybe a bit too disruptive.


I think I can speak on behalf of all developers in KDE; we love it.

It's awesome to see such enthusiasm and most importantly collaboration. I think historically it's hard to see designers embrace an open source mentality, as design tends to be quite opinionated. You've helped motivate us to see what we can become rather than getting bogged down in all the problems we see.

Long term, I don't want to see a us and them (i.e VDG vs developers) attitude . I want to see a few design people in each project and staying there. It's really important for designers and developers to be on the same page trying to achieve the same things for the same target audience. This takes some time for designers bonding with the team, and a bit of leeway on both sides.

In KDE Telepathy we've had a good relationship with Thomas Pfieffier for years. , he has just as influence over the design as either me or Martin the maintainers. I think it's taken us a little while to "train" him (or maybe he's trained us...) to communicate in the same ways. Whenever we make a change that changes the UI, we post a screenshot in the review request; Thomas reads our review requests and responds on the UI. He becomes an integral part of the development process.

There are lots of things I hope will improve in the way the two groups interact and I want to see things move closer together; designers from the VDG commenting on bugs and really getting in with our workflows, following release schedules, etc.
I think it will come with time. I know it can work well because I've seen it happen with us and Thomas.

But in general we love you guys; I mostly feel bad that we don't have time to implement everything.
User avatar lazyit
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I just saw Planet kde, and I was referring just to this
Image

that as we see seems a bit out of context and really deserves more love

Obviously though, thanks for the great job for the rest, because I love telepathy kde :)
User avatar david_edmundson
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lazyit wrote:I just saw Planet kde, and I was referring just to this


Ah I understand!
Yes! I dislike them too. I even often run a different theme just to avoid them (KFaenza does these icons quite well)
If only some people from the VDG group were reading....
Sogatori
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david_edmundson wrote:
lazyit wrote:I just saw Planet kde, and I was referring just to this


Ah I understand!
Yes! I dislike them too. I even often run a different theme just to avoid them (KFaenza does these icons quite well)
If only some people from the VDG group were reading....

The problem, at least for me right now, is that the core VDG members have not yet presented their vision for the icon designs, so I don't invest much time in the icon issue right now, because I don't want to redesign them later. Yes I'm a bit lazy o).
It's nice to hear that the devs are just as excited as we are!

Also, is it already too late to fill some design bugs against the telepathy plasmoids presented in today's PlanetKDE blogpost? :)

Something different:
I've heard somewhere that there is/was a plan to drop KDM for for Plasma on Wayland? Is this still the case? and which alternative are you likely going to use?
User avatar david_edmundson
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Sogatori wrote:Also, is it already too late to fill some design bugs against the telepathy plasmoids presented in today's PlanetKDE blogpost? :)


If anything too early, we've only just ported them to Plasma 2.

If you have bugs against the Plasma 1 series, I'm happy to hear them. Please use https://bugs.kde.org/enter_bug.cgi?product=telepathy so they get to the right developer.
User avatar david_edmundson
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Sogatori wrote:I've heard somewhere that there is/was a plan to drop KDM for for Plasma on Wayland? Is this still the case? and which alternative are you likely going to use?


Yes you're right. In fact the KDM repo hasn't been ported it's been deleted.

The issue isn't just about Wayland.
KDM is old. Really old. It's a fork of XDM, XDM is from 1988. In the Qt4->Qt5 transition anything that does low level X stuff needs to be porting from xlib to XCB, KDM has some old low level stuff. This combined with Wayland, and wanting to port the greeter to something QtQuick based so it can follow the Plasma style. At which point we're rewriting so much we may as well use something else.

I started working on LightDM <-> KDE two years ago because I could see this happening, and I wanted to do some interesting things with the greeter. LightDM was going to get Wayland, the maintainer (Robert Ancell) is awesome and really wanted it to be a cross-desktop thing unifying the code that starts X allowing desktops to customise the part on top. It was pretty much perfect.

Then SDDM came along for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Then Canonical announced MIR
And suddenly SDDM which was pointless, starts to be useful
(though Ubuntu have said they'd happily support wayland too, once you have code paths for 2 display servers going to 3 isn't difficult.. but things are maybe more complex than they need to be)

I can't say which I prefer. I have patches in LightDM, I've got patches in SDDM. Netrunner ships SDDM, so I've been working on it for my day job adding support for basic features that LightDM had for years. I have more SDDM tasks lined up for this week.

When I implemented the login screen Andrew designed I happened to use SDDM, but I'd love it if someone could port it to LightDM too, LightDM has some really cool features, the way LightDM does remote sessions is really clever. I wrote the QML with the intention of making it easy to move.

I imagine KDE will officially push for SDDM.

In all I find it quite a depressing story. Some fault lies with Ubuntu for using a Display server for no particular reason, but some parts of KDE hold responsibility for acting as though Canonical had drowned a litter of puppies.
End result is it turned into a politics circus. I got fed up and stopped working on my LightDM code. Years later I'm back putting time and effort into something that does more or less the same thing o/. I feel bad for Robert (the Ubuntu LightDM guy) as he really tried to push this as a X-desktop thing with the best intentions in the world till his company moved things differently.

I think we might see distros vary but with me working on SDDM, it's going to rock.
User avatar Sudhir Khanger
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1. How do you get a Job at Blue Systems? What kind of qualification does one need? What kind of experience and background does one need?

2. What would you say to someone who is learning C++ and QML to contribute to KDE and gain practical experience as a programmer?
User avatar jensreuterberg
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(Sorry to Break in just quickly)
Sagatori: there will be an announcement about icons - my plan is to do one massive PM to all members of this board (like "secret announcement for everyone" :) ) its just that I keep being swamped with work. But the idea is to one day completely remove the VDG and replace it with a public group and community organizers so I'm trying to move things into the open bit by bit.

Sorry... I'm leaving now... carry on


KDE Visual Design Group - "Sexy by default - Powerful through cooperation"

 
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