KOffice has seen a huge surge in exciting feature development in the past year, putting it in the same league as free software giants such as OpenOffice.org and The GIMP, and even surpassing them in places. With version 1.6 due out this Sunday (October 15) it's timely that Krita, KOffice's painting application, is now leading an effort to develop a fairly boring feature, an open graphics file format.
Boring, but potentially very useful. In the first place we currently only have The GIMP's XCF format, which fulfills some of the needs shared by free raster graphics applications but effectively serializes the internal structures of the application in one binary blob. Then there is TIFF, a format so horrendously complicated and unstandardized that nobody seems to want to fully implement it. Having a format that caters for everybody's needs, and that allows raster graphics to be exchanged between applications, is obviously a good thing.
While there was some controversy surrounding the decision to make yet another format, rather than using the XCF2 specification under development, some GIMP developers have begun working on OpenRaster. It is now being drafted within the CREATE initiative, part of freedesktop.org. Inge Wallin, KOffice's marketing lead, told LWN that they also plan to invite Adobe and Corel to collaborate on the specification.
The second major strength of OpenRaster is that it fits nicely into the OpenDocument craze, adding raster graphics to the range of document types already supported. OpenDocument gives developers a lot of their needs for free, such as wrapping up metadata, settings and bitmaps in XML. At aKademy, the KDE community's annual developer conference, the KOffice developers got a chance to discuss lessons they can learn from SVG with a member of the audience who happened, according to Wallin, to be something of an expert on the subject. SVG, of course, already implements similar features in XML and is well-structured. Using OpenDocument as a basis means a lot of the technical work is already done for them.
But more importantly, by piggybacking on the initiative of OpenDocument in government and industry circles, OpenRaster will gain a far wider exposure than any format that was developed primarily within the free software community. The OpenDocument movement also wins in three ways. First it gains a proper raster format. Second, this format demonstrates the flexibility and extensibility of the specifications. Finally, because the effort is being led by KOffice developers, with collaboration from The GIMP developers amongst others, it helps overcome the impression that OpenDocument is basically OpenOffice.org's document format suite, rather than a range of well supported exchange formats.
In fact, OpenDocument has been the default file format for KOffice since the release of version 1.5 in April, 2006. The office suite has been developing much faster than OpenOffice.org, and KFormula sports the most complete implementation of OpenDocument and MathML thanks to a Google Summer of Code project.
It's not just graphics where KOffice is breaking new ground, either. The developers of Kexi, a free competitor for Microsoft Access, Filemaker and Oracle Forms, told LWN that they are in the early stages of developing an OpenDocument specification for databases. The rough plan is to develop an XML exchange format that may be agnostic about the storage layer, or may use a widely supported technology such as SQLite.
So what does the future hold? According to Boudewijn Rempt, who is leading the OpenRaster initiative, the first complete specification should be released in a couple of months. Once that is more or less ready, the Krita developers will start implementing it. If KDE 4 is out in time, and all goes according to plan with KOffice 2, the format may be the default in Krita 2. Otherwise it will remain a reference implementation, awaiting full integration after Krita 2.0 is released.
As for its status as an OpenDocumentFormat, version 1.1 of the ODF specification has just come out. Version 1.2, which will be put through the ISO process again, is expected in early 2008, so it is hoped that OpenRaster and perhaps even the database format can be part of the specification by then. Artists will have good reason to expect developers to implement support in major free applications if it does, and we may even see the industry giants coming on board within that timescale. OpenDocument moves one step closer to format predominance.
Audio ProjectsJACK audio connection kit is out. "Now with experimental MIDI support!" See the release notes for more details.
Database SoftwareThis is a bugfix release for the current production release family." SQLite, a lightweight DBMS, is available. "Version 3.3.8 adds support for full-text search using the FTS1 module. There are also minor bug fixes. Upgrade only if you want to try out the new full-text search capabilities or if you are having problems with 3.3.7."
LDAP Softwareannounced the availability of ApacheDS 1.0, a Java-based embeddable LDAP server. "Aiming to build an enterprise directory server platform, the Apache Directory Project created ApacheDS 1.0 as an LDAPv3 server with the ability to plug in other protocol modules. ApacheDS 1.0 contains other Internet protocol services such as DNS, DHCP, Change Password, and Kerberos, which store their records within a common store and allow access to that data through LDAP. ApacheDS 1.0 enables the pluggable services to back their data within the Apache Directory Server's backing stores without any network latency or going through the LDAP line protocol."
LibrariesThis release includes the Xlib/XCB work, which uses XCB as the Xlib transport layer, and allows a client to use both Xlib and XCB on the same connection. This allows clients to transition from Xlib to XCB incrementally." We have provided this second candidate release to allow for more widespread review and testing before XCB 1.0. As of version 1.0, libxcb will provide a stable API and ABI; future changes will consist only of additions, and applications compiled against XCB 1.0 or newer will work with all future versions of XCB. Barring discovery of serious issues with the API, we do not anticipate any API changes between this release and the 1.0 release. We would greatly appreciate API review in this final release candidate period."
Mail Software3.1.6 includes a large number of bug fixes and documentation updates." 3.1.7 is a "quick-fix" release; it contains only a fix for one bug, introduced accidentally in 3.1.6".
Networking Toolsbartlby is out with minor improvements. "Bartlby is a network and system monitor, completely written in C, to provide a scalable framework with the ability to monitor networks of various sizes. It consists of a core daemon, several plugins, and a Web GUI (PHP extension). The core daemon checks (over active/passive TCP) services/hosts and notifies users in case of critical service conditions (mail, SMS, ICQ, and custom triggers are supported). Bartlby provides an open plugin interface to give every administrator an easy to use option to extend the plugin base, and a fully customizable GUI (written in PHP using a C extension). Nearby everything can be controlled via an XML interface."
PrintingReleased on October 3, 2006, it features server stats, bug corrections and many improvements. Read the release notes."
SecurityWe are pleased to announce the availability of GnuPG 1.9.92 - one of the last steps towards a 2.0 release. The 1.9 branch of GnuPG features the OpenPGP as well as the S/MIME protocol. You should consider using GnuPG 1.9 if you want to use S/MIME. The included GPG-AGENT is also helpful when using the stable GPG version 1.4 or if you want to use its ssh-agent replacement feature (including smart card support). Note, that this version is still in beta state. The final release of GnuPG 2.0 is scheduled for November."
Web Site Developmentis out. "Featured Photo is a module that allows you to display "featured photos" on the homepage of your phpWebSite. This release requires phpWebSite 1.0.x. The new 1.0.0 release was completely rewritten for phpWebSite 1.0.x. Because of this, compatibility with phpWebSite 0.10.x was lost. (0.10.x users can still download Featured Photo 0.4.0). New in this release is the ability to add photo blocks to more than just the homepage. Each page could have its own featured photo. In addition, "click to enlarge" is finally implemented." The Midgard Project has released the second beta release version for the upcoming 1.8 stable branch of the Midgard Open Source Content Management System. Midgard's 1.8 branch focuses on improved stability for Midgard2 technology preview features introduced in 1.7 branch." announced the release of the Struts 2.0.1 development build. "Formerly known as WebWork 2, Struts 2 was created after the independent developer community, WebWork, and the Apache Struts Project joined forces in December 2005. Building on the success of Struts 1, the de-facto Open Source standard framework for creating Java-based Web applications, Struts 2 bridges existing standards to easily create and maintain enterprise-grade applications."
Audio Applicationshas been announced. "This release features a huge number of improvements and fixes since the last beta."
Calendar SoftwareThe Mozilla Calendar Project is please to announce the release of Sunbird and Lightning 0.3. Thanks to the hard work of our localizers, both Sunbird and Lightning are available immediately in 17 different locales."
Desktop EnvironmentsThis is the first release in a series of point releases for the 2.16 branch. Come and see all the bug fixing, all the new translations and all the updated documentation brought to you by the wonderful team of GNOME contributors! While development has started on the GNOME 2.17/2.18 road, work on the stable branch continues to make it even more solid." This release incorporates the GNOME 2.16.1 Desktop and Developer Platform, fine-tuned and updated with love by the GARNOME Team. As usual it includes updates and fixes after the official GNOME freeze, together with a host of third-party GNOME packages, Bindings and the Mono(tm) Platform -- this is the second release of the current stable GNOME branch, ironing out yet-more bugs, hopefully adding yet-more stability and ships with the latest and greatest stable releases."
ElectronicsOpenCollector site lists three new electronic applications: asco 0.4.5 - a SPICE circuit optimizer, OpenPCD 0.4 - a 13,56MHz RFID reader, and eispice 0.4 - a ground-up re-write of the Berkley Spice 3 Simulation engine.
Financial ApplicationsPersonal and small business accounting in GNU/Linux will be easier and better after today's release of GnuCash 2.0.2. This release of the free, open source accounting program improves on the generational advances in the last version. GnuCash 2.0 is based on state-of-the-art gtk2 GUI technology."
GamesMeeting Summary has been posted for the October 7, 2006 WorldForge game project meeting. "We had a meeting again this Saturday, doing a status check and looking at the next steps to take."
Music ApplicationsDino, a a pattern-based MIDI sequencer, is available. "This is only a bugfix release. 0.2.1 did not compile with more recent versions of gtkmm and GCC (I'm not sure which one of them causes it), this release fixes that."
Web Browsershas announced the availability of Mozilla Firefox 2 Release Candidate 2. See the release notes for more information.
MiscellaneousANNA is available. "ANNA: (Artificial Neural Network Architecture) is a Back propagation neural network class developed thinking in a good matching class to the FLTK. The distribution include the source code and a demo which should work on Linux systems. The structure is very flexible and you can change in a simple way the number of inputs, number of hidden layers, number of neurons per layer and the outputs. There is included a nice Structure editor, where you can visualise the neuronal network structure." demexp is an electronic voting system for wide scale direct democracy. demexp is developed mainly to support the democractic experience project, but can be used in other contexts (communities, firms, ...)." Nepomuk project has been announced. "Nepomuk is an european research project which intends to create the "Social Semantic Desktop", a comprehensive solution methods, data structures, and a set of tools for extending the personal computer into a collaborative environment, which improves the state of art in online collaboration and personal data management and augments the intellect of people by providing and organizing information created by single or group efforts. Thus, the Nepomuk project intends to provide the basis for implementations of the idea of the "Social Semantic Desktop"."
Languages and Tools
BASIChas been announced. "KidBASIC is an easy to use version of BASIC designed to teach young children the basics of computer programming. It has a built-in graphics mode which lets them draw pictures on screen in minutes, and a set of detailed, easy-to-follow tutorials that introduce programming concepts through fun exercises. Version 0.3 eliminates the line-numbering syntax of previous versions, replacing it with labels. Performance has also been increased slightly. Linux source tarballs are now available."
HaskellHaskell Weekly News is online. "Developments this week include Lennart Kolmodin's new inotify bindings for Haskell, work begins on Spanish translations of Haskell literature, and new versions of Darcs and Cabal have been tagged."
Javahas been released. "PMD 3.8 has four fine new rules: BrokenNullCheck (by Wouter Zelle), AvoidRethrowingException (by George Thomas), and UnnecessaryWrapperObjectCreation and UselessStringValueOf, both written by Xavier Le Vourch. There are a slew of bugfixes and improvements to various rules". is available. "Beside other major improvements and several bugfixes this version also contain a new macro system and provide furtherly improved plotting techniques." discusses Java content repositories on O'Reilly. "You might have heard of JSR-170, but what is a content repository, and what can you do with it? Well, do you want to manage documents with versioning, search, access control, and more? Content repositories offer these features, and JSR-170 codifies them into a single API. Sunil Patil shows how to use the reference implementation--Apache Jackrabbit--to create a blogging application."
LispThis version provides new configuration and build options, new socket functions, improved debugging information, and the usual bug fixes."
PerlWeekly Perl 6 mailing list summary has been published. Take a look for the latest Perl 6 developments.
PHPhas been announced. "KCAPTCHA provides CAPTCHA (a visual human validation tool) with font distortion. It requires no PHP font libraries (only GD). "
PythonPython Imaging Library, a collection of image processing utilities, is out with new features and bug fixes. See the changes document for details.
Miscellaneoushas been announced. "Cloak (from Comment Locator) is a source code comment extraction and archiving utility. It has many potential uses, but the initial intent was the indexing and searching of comments in code."
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