Tales of software craftsmanship

Tales of software craftsmanship

Announcing Season of KDE 2012

This year KDE has accepted 60 Google Summer of Code students. We are happy with this number, it is more than last year, and I’m sure these 60 students will make a great contribution to KDE as a whole.

But this number is still a hard limit: we had to say no to many brilliant proposals. The selection process has not been easy, and we had to make a lot of tough choices. KDE definitely has the mentoring capacity for more than 60 students at a time. So while we cannot come up with more Google Summer of Code slots, we can still make our mentors available through a similar scheme: Season of KDE.

What is Season of KDE?

Season of KDE is a community outreach program, much like Google Summer of Code, hosted by the KDE community. It is meant for people who could not get into Google Summer of Code for various reasons, or people who simply prefer a differently structured, somewhat less constrained program. Season of KDE is managed by the same team of admins and mentors that take care of Google Summer of Code and Google Code-in matters for KDE, with the same level of quality and care.

Who can take part?

Everyone can apply for Season of KDE. We give preference to those who have applied for Google Summer of Code and to students, but we will gladly consider applications from anyone.

What do I get out of this?

A great summer working on a really cool KDE project and gaining valuable experience. If you complete your project successfully you also get a T-shirt, a certificate, and maybe a few other goodies.

How do I apply?

If you are serious about it and have already contacted the relevant KDE subproject to discuss your proposal, fill out the Season of KDE application form and we will get back to you.

What is the timeline?

The timeline is up to you and your mentor. We advise you to stay as close to the Google Summer of Code timeline as possible. The only hard constraint is the application deadline: you apply through the application form before May 7, 2012 at 19:00 UTC in order to be eligible for participation.

Do I need to have a mentor before applying?

It is preferred. Ideally, you should contact a KDE subproject well before applying, ask for feedback on your idea if you have one, and request a mentor directly. A list of KDE subproject contacts is available on the Google Summer of Code 2012 ideas page. You can also apply without a mentor and we will try to find one for you.

Do I need to have a project idea before applying?

It is preferred. If you do not have one we will try to find one for you. Keep in mind that the KDE community is pretty big, so you should at least have an idea of which KDE subproject you wish to work on.

Do I need to write a proposal like in Google Summer of Code?

No, but we would like to see a brief project plan describing what you will be working on.

Is it only for coders like Google Summer of Code?

We are willing to consider non-coding projects as well, but you should definitely get in touch to figure out the details beforehand. The KDE Community Wiki describes ways to get involved with KDE that do not require coding.

I applied for a project in Google Summer of Code but another student got selected for it. Can I still work on it?

Maybe, but likely not. You should ask the mentor that was assigned to your idea. We can try to find something related for you if you want, or something completely different. Let us know what you wish and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

Is this an extension of Google Summer of Code or connected to Google?

No. While Season of KDE is in many ways modeled after Google Summer of Code and administered by the same members of the KDE community, it is completely independent from Google Summer of Code and has no connection to Google whatsoever.

For further questions feel free to join our IRC channel #kde-soc on Freenode or email the admin team at kde-soc-mentor-owner@kde.org.

In the past four years we had in order 1, 4, 8 and 20 successful Season of KDE students. We like to think this says something about how welcoming, helpful and fun the KDE community is. Our goal for this year is at least 30 🙂

Are you going to be one of them? You should be!

Google Summer of Code accepted students announced

Google has just published the list of student proposals that have been accepted for Google Summer of Code 2012.

This year KDE received more than 200 proposals. 192 of those are valid and have not been withdrawn. The general quality level is very high, and most of those 192 proposals are very good. Google has allocated 60 student slots to KDE, which means that this year we are able to accept 60 Google Summer of Code students. The trouble is that we got a lot more than 60 good proposals! During the past few weeks the GSoC admins and mentors of KDE had to make some really tough choices.

If you are a student, you should have received a notification about the state of your proposals via email. Either way, you can check the status of your proposals on Google Melange.

Accepted into Google Summer of Code?

Has your proposal been accepted by an organization? Congratulations!

Has your proposal been accepted by none other than KDE? Awesome! This means that you will be spending your summer hacking with us. On behalf of the KDE community, I wish you a warm welcome! The selection process was hard and competitive, but if your proposal has been accepted it already means that we think you are the very best. Feel free to brag about it a bit, you’ve earned it! 🙂

I will write another blog article shortly on the next steps for accepted Google Summer of Code students.

Not accepted into Google Summer of Code?

If on the other hand your proposal has not been accepted, you are still very welcome to hack on KDE! Note that I never used the word “rejected” because I do not consider a proposal that has not be accepted for Google Summer of Code as something that’s unwelcome or unworthy for KDE. Many factors come into play in proposal selection which do not depend on the skill set of a student, including slot availability and mentor availability. We had to say no to quite a few brilliant proposals.

For those students whose proposals have not been accepted for Google Summer of Code who still wish to contribute to KDE in a guided, mentored way this summer, KDE hosts the Season of KDE program. Season of KDE is much like Google Summer of Code: while the student doesn’t get paid, he does get a mentor and a T-shirt, and he gets to hack on KDE for the summer and beyond. My first summer with KDE was as a Season of KDE student, and it was a very rewarding and enlightening experience. Season of KDE will be officially announced shortly, stay tuned 🙂

Some other organizations also host programs similar to Season of KDE for students who did not find a place in Google Summer of Code or simply prefer a differently structured program. Such programs include Haiku Code Drive (not confirmed yet for this year), illumos Students (not confirmed yet for this year), Umit Summer of Code (not confirmed yet for this year), X.Org Endless Vacation of Code, Ruby Summer of Code and possibly others. All of these programs allow you to work on really cool software with a mentor over a longer period and create something you can be proud of. Other communities will likely also be willing to provide guidance if you contact them directly, so don’t be shy 😉

Google Summer of Code students: time to submit those proposals!

Attention prospective Google Summer of Code students: the student proposal submission window has begun.

This means that if you haven’t contacted the relevant KDE subproject and/or mentor and submitted your proposal for review, it’s high time to do so. If you have already gotten feedback and you think your proposal is in good shape, you’re encouraged to officially submit it to Google Melange.

Submitting early means your proposal might get more attention 😉

Mentors: interest from prospective students has been high, and we’ll need to match those students with mentors. Offering more mentors might increase the number of student slots we get from Google, so if you’re an established KDE developer and you’re interested in giving a helping hand during Google Summer of Code, please sign up to be a mentor on Google Melange as soon as possible.

KDE accepted for Google Summer of Code 2012

I’m happy to announce that KDE has been accepted as a mentoring organization in Google Summer of Code 2012. This is our 8th consecutive year. Congrats to all accepted organizations, and a big thanks to everyone who helped to make this happen for KDE!

Students. Now that you have a list of accepted organizations, it’s time to start working on your proposal. KDE maintains an ideas page which is an excellent starting point, and don’t forget to check our student guidelines. I’ve also prepared an article a while ago with a few tips on how to structure your proposal.

You can come up with your own idea or base your proposal on something from the ideas page, but either way it’s very important that you get feedback from the team you wish to work with well before the submissions deadline. If you have general questions about getting involved with KDE as a Google Summer of Code student you’re welcome to ask on our IRC channel #kde-soc on Freenode, or join the mailing list kde-soc@kde.org. For questions about a specific idea please contact the relevant team (subproject) directly.

Finally, make sure to keep an eye on the official Google Summer of Code timeline – those deadlines are always closer than they seem 😉

Mentors. Now that we know that KDE has been accepted, it’s time to get ready to mentor some students. If you wish to be a mentor your next steps should be:

  1. subscribe to kde-soc-mentor@kde.org,
  2. sign up on http://www.google-melange.com and apply as a mentor for KDE,
  3. contact one of the admins to approve your requests.

For questions you can reach the admin team on #kde-soc or at kde-soc-mentor-owner@kde.org.

And most importantly, in the following weeks you’ll be contacted by prospective students with questions and feedback requests for their proposals. It might take a bit of time and you might get questions with very obvious answers. Please be patient and keep an eye on the timeline 😉

To help you through the process I’ve updated last year’s KDE GSoC process flowchart, courtesy of Lydia Pintscher.

 

Amarok 2.4.3 “Berlin”

So fine, we skipped a number! 😉

As you may remember, the last beta release was 2.4.2 beta 1. After that, we did roll a 2.4.2 (final) tarball, but because of some issues which were fixed right after the tag we decided to make another tarball and call it 2.4.3.

That being said, I’m happy to announce the immediate availability of Amarok 2.4.3 codename “Berlin”.

So, what’s new in this release?

There’s a whole bunch of UI tweaks with the aim of making the main window less crowded. The 90s called and they wanted their status bar back, so we ditched it and replaced it with relevant notifications where necessary, recovering a bit of vertical space. Also, the Dynamic Playlists feature has undergone an overhaul which should make it easier to use. A bit of work has been done on Internet Services and Podcasts. Moreover, we have accepted quite a few patches from external contributors, and we have squashed lots of bugs, both during the Randa sprint and after.

Read the full announcement here.

Amarok 2.4.2 Beta 1 “Nightshade”

Summer in the northern hemisphere is not an easy time for the Amarok team, 35°C in the shade is definitely not the ideal operating temperature for most hackers. Nevertheless, work on our Google Summer of Code projects and regular Amarok development is proceeding at a frantic pace.

GSoC projects won’t be merged and released until later, so what we are releasing right now is a beta release of what we have cooked up during the spring, including the Amarok sprint in Randa, Switzerland.

Prominent changes include several redesigned user interface elements and dynamic playlists, and a significant number of bug fixes.

Read the full announcement here and don’t forget that to make Amarok 2.4.2 even better, bugs.kde.org is the place to be 🙂

GSoC: Beginning Amarok Mobile

When the Google Summer of Code program was announced again this year I decided to submit a proposal for a project that would hopefully take Amarok in a new and interesting direction.

My proposal was accepted, so this year I’m a GSoC student again, for my third time, working on an Amarok port for mobile devices, primarily tablets.

Why mobile? In the past few years some profound changes have been set in motion in the computing market. What we still call “desktops” might soon become mostly workstations and gamer rigs. We’re not there yet, but computers are already becoming increasingly mobile, invisible and wearable, and computing is becoming ubiquitous. In this changing environment, complex desktop apps like Amarok 2.x will have a harder time staying relevant, and are being challenged by leaner, simpler and flashier mobile counterparts.

Amarok has a strong brand and a good reputation as the ultimate music player for GNU/Linux systems, prominent features where Amarok innovates and excels are web services integration and smart context-sensitive information. I believe the Amarok team can take advantage of that and make a successful entry into mobile markets.

There is certainly a lot of work involved: the existing GUI simply would not work well on touch screen devices, and a lot of the underlying stuff is also not so well suited for a mobile app because it provides a very extensive feature set and requires a lot of dependencies.

The foundations for a mobile version were laid down about a year ago, when Amarok developer (and my GSoC mentor) Jeff Mitchell made some deep changes to separate Amarok’s core logic from “everything else”, including collections, the user interface, etc. However, not much happened after that besides maintaining this separation, so I simply figured that if we indeed want to see Amarok running on tablets and handsets the actual porting work had to begin.

So what am I aiming for? At this point, a platform that is accessible almost immediately is MeeGo (and Maemo 6), represented by the upcoming Nokia N900 successor and Intel x86 based tablets, as well as devices which come with other operating systems out of the box but have a MeeGo port. While during this GSoC project I’m focusing on MeeGo, when making technical decisions I will be taking into account their impact on possible future ports to other platforms.

This port will require a completely new GUI, but since I’m not a QML GUI designer (yet), so far I’m only promising to deliver the underlying stuff.

Until now, I’ve done a bit of work on yanking out Amarok’s core and building it with a minimal set of dependencies, and setting up a MeeGo development environment. The next step will be porting this core to MeeGo, and then building the required functionality on top of it while keeping the whole app light but smart 🙂

Amarok 2.4.1 “Resolution”

Building on the foundations of a fun and innovating 2.4 release, the Amarok team is proud to announce the immediate availability of Amarok 2.4.1, codename “Resolution”, the first maintenance release of the 2.4.x branch.

Many bugs have been fixed, and we even managed to sneak in a few new features, including remote NFS/CIFS collections and a gpodder.net service.

Check out the full release announcement here to see what’s new in this release.

Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1 “Ringscape”

Hot on the heels of a great 2.4.0 release, the Amarok team is proud to announce the immediate availability of Amarok 2.4.1 Beta 1, codename “Ringscape”.

Aside from the usual load of bug fixes, this beta release brings several new features, such as a new preview mode for the Organize Collection dialog, integration with the gpodder.net web service and remote NFS and SMB collections.

This is a beta release, which means that although it’s quite usable for daily use, it might still contain serious issues, eat your chocolate brownies, melt your ice cream or set your microwave on fire. Read the full announcement here and if you wish to help us make Amarok 2.4.1 even better, please report any new bugs you encounter at bugs.kde.org.

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