Week 2 on Kalendar (GSoC 2021)

Last week’s merge request was manually merged by Carl, and now Kalendar has a (kinda) working event editor sheet! Some bits work and others don’t:

Working:

  • Title, location and description addition to event
  • Β Event date and time setting
  • Β Reminder and attendee attachment to event

Super not working right now:

  • Event recurrence

So… mostly there!

New week, new merge request

This week’s MR involved a big refactor of the linkage between the front-end of the reminder and attendee addition UI and the back-end stuff going on.

All this stuff now happens with models, and changes in each of the fields gets added to the models. This means that anything that you see in the UI should directly reflect whatever is present in the actual event — you won’t see a reminder and attendee that isn’t actually in the event. The benefits of having a single source of truth!

The UI for each attendee’s details has also changed, and it now allows you to select the attendee’s status (i.e. have they RSVPed?) and it also lets you request an RSVP from the attendee.

Also, Kalendar’s repo has been moved into the PIM namespace on Invent, so now you can more easily find it πŸ™‚

Up next

Recurrence is going to get figured out, and with that, the event editor should finally be fully functional. That’s number one on my agenda for next week.

Additionally, while an overlay sheet is a good solution for the event editor on mobile, a separate window would let it have some extra breathing room on desktop. So this is something that I will also be working on next week.

If you have any ideas for Kalendar, get in touch! I’m @clau-cambra:kde.org on Matrix.

First week of Google Summer of Code 2021

A year ago I’d just finished my History degree and I had no idea how to code. This year, I’m taking part in Google Summer of Code! I’m super happy to get the chance to learn more about how KDE software works, and to finally contribute to a project I’ve been using for years.

Over the summer, I’ll be working with KDE developers to create productivity-focused components for Plasma Mobile that work with Akonadi, KDE’s personal information management framework. Akonadi is a super useful piece of kit: it allows developers to tap into a user’s synchronised e-mails, contacts, calendars, providing a seamless experience in productivity tools. I’ll be working on this project with my mentor Carl Schwan, who also helped me during my time doing Season of KDE, and Devin Lin.

The state of affairs

Plasma Mobile is quickly shaping up to be a viable alternative to the Android/iOS duopoly, but it’s not quite there yet. KDE developers are hard at work, nailing the basics. KDE’s Plasma provides an incredibly solid foundation, though unfortunately many of the powerful desktop applications that the KDE community are not suitable for use on mobile devices.

This is mainly due to the fact they are built with a GUI framework called KXMLGui, which allows developers to create intricate and capable user interfaces for applications ranging from video editors to word processors to web browsers. Unfortunately, it’s not just made to be convergent — i.e., adaptable to different display sizes and interaction types (touch vs mouse and keyboard).

KDE’s projects are underpinned by Qt, an immensely powerful toolkit for C++ that lets you create UIs. Thanks to efforts by the Qt team, QML (a UI markup language) and Qt Quick (QML’s standard library) provide a new way of designing UIs that are built to adapt well to different device form factors. The big brained developers at KDE then developed Kirigami, a Qt Quick framework that makes it easy for a developer to bang out a pretty and convergent application usable on the desktop and on your phone (yes, this includes Android and iOS!).

However, Kirigami is still young, and the amount of applications that use it is still growing. Currently, there are a lack of productivity applications that take advantage of Akonadi.

Psst. Thinking of building a Kirigami app? Read the tutorials I wrote on KDE Develop.

Kalendar

Fortunately, people at KDE have already got the ball rolling. My mentor Carl Schwan started work on Kalendar, a Kirigami application that lets you display the events present in your Akonadi-synchronised calendars. However, Kalendar remains a proof-of-concept… for now.

My work for GSoC will focus on turning Kalendar into a fully-usable application that will let you view, add, and edit events in all the ways that a normal calendar application would, on both your PC and your phone. This involves figuring out how event ingestion and modification works in Akonadi, how Akonadi stores and retrieves data, and a lot of UI usability testing. By the end of the summer, we should be a lot closer to having a powerful calendar you can use with your fingertips on Plasma Mobile. πŸ™‚

First week’s work: EventEditor merge request

In this first week, some progress has been made!

Kalendar now has an event editor sheet. While still a work-in-progress, once done, it should let you add and edit events, and let you provide dates, descriptions, reminders, attendees, and more.

Here are a bunch of screenshots of the sheet. So far, the combo boxes for the date and time fields are using custom date and time picker widgets. An upstream date picker widget should be coming in a Kirigami Add-ons package soon, and it will replace the current iteration.

This sheet is very much still a work-in-progress, from both a design and functionality perspective. So far, you can add an event through the sheet, and it will be correctly ingested into Akonadi… if you select a valid calendar (the drop-down in the event editor doesn’t make it clear which calendars are editable, yet!). You can provide an event’s name, description, start/end dates and times. The attendee, reminder, and repeat options are currently non-functional, but you can bet I’m figuring those out.

Get in touch

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any feedback, or if you just want to chat – I’m @clau-cambra:kde.org on Matrix. πŸ˜ƒ

See you next week!

On finishing Season of KDE: improving Kirigami docs

I wrote my first Season of KDE blog-post 3 months ago… and have since forgotten to write any updates. It’s time to address that!

Since January, I’ve been working mainly on improving the documentation for Kirigami. Back then, the Develop wiki had some pages teaching newcomers how to create a Kirigami application, but these were a little disjointed and didn’t really lead readers towards any specific goal.

There were also a lot of aspects and components of Kirigami that weren’t properly documented. Some of the existing materials also needed revising in terms of style, structure, and clarity.

Tutorials

Kirigami documentation in the KDE Develop site

Before Season of KDE I’d recently started tinkering with QML and Kirigami. I wanted to create a simple application that would let you count down the days towards a date, like those you can get on your phone, but without all the obnoxious ads. Since I had no real knowledge of these tools, I started following the tutorials on the KDE Develop wiki, which was a great way of finding out what the problems were with these tutorials.

I went with the idea of the date countdown app and used this as the final goal of the tutorial. If you read through the tutorials now, you’ll find that each page builds towards creating such an app. The new tutorials go over all the essentials that you would need to know to create a basic Kirigami application, covering everything from setting up the development environment, to how to use Kirigami components, to how QML signals work, and so on. Care has also been taken to explain concepts that a beginner developer might not know much about, such as the aforementioned signals. I point this out because I, as a beginner, did not know how signals worked. 😬

These new tutorials should make it quite a bit easier for new developers to come in and learn how a chunk of KDE development works. Hopefully we’ll soon have an influx of enthusiastic new developers bringing new applications to KDE, or helping out with our existing apps! πŸ˜€

These new tutorials can be found in the Kirigami section of the KDE Develop site. The project I had initially begun before SoK is now called DayKountdown and is part of the Plasma Mobile namespace!

DayKountdown in its starting view.

Beginners

Also helpful to beginners is a new page placed at the end of the new tutorials. This page has been designed to contain everything a newcomer might need or be interested in after creating their first Kirigami application.

Kirigami-based applications for newcomers

Taking a page out of GNOME’s newcomer guide, we have a dedicated section for new contributors. Provided is a summarised list of contribution guidelines, along with active projects that we recommend new developers can contribute to. These projects are organised in terms of complexity and feature useful links where readers can learn more about them. I hope these will encourage readers to become contributors!

There are now also a number of handy links to resources readers can use to learn more about the various tools used in KDE development. We’ve linked to some of the other tutorials available on the Develop wiki, as well as more general resources available elsewhere tackling C++ and Qt. Whereas before readers would have had to search for their own resources, now they will have an index of handpicked websites where they can go and learn more.

This page can be found here.

Component pages

Another big effort has been to expand the number of component pages in the Kirigami documentation. Previously, there have only been a limited number of components explained in the wiki, and as a result, new developers were never made aware of the breadth of components offered by Kirigami. A large part of the work in this Season of KDE project has been to address this problem.

With my last SoK merge request, we will go from having 3 component pages in the wiki to having 12! A range of cool Kirigami components now have their own pages, from inline messages to overlay sheets to form layouts and more. Carl Schwan and I are still working on polishing the merge request and getting it ready, but once it lands, it will really help the documentation take shape. The wiki should become much more useful for those interested in learning more about what they can create with Kirigami.

That’s not to say Kirigami is fully documented yet. It isn’t! But I think it’s a step in the right direction.

My time as a Season of KDE participant

6 months ago, I really didn’t know how to code at all. I’d written a lot about open source in the software in the past — I’ve advocated for it for a long time — but I never really knew how any of it worked.

I still don’t know how most things work, but I can definitely say I have learned a lot about KDE. Working on the Kirigami docs has been a very fun experience, partly because creating apps is fun in and of itself, but also because I can now grasp at how some of the applications on my computer have been made. That feels like a big-brain moment.

I must also thank my mentor Carl Schwan, who has been super helpful throughout these 3 months. Whether it has been combing over my ungainly merge requests, or reviewing the code for DayKountdown, his advice has been great and it has helped me become a (slightly) better coder.

Finally, it’s extremely fulfilling to have contributed to a software project that I have been using for the longest time. Thank you for merging my MRs!!!! I am sure there will be more of them to come, and I am looking forward refactoring lots and lots of my code πŸ˜€