On January 27th, KDE developer Aurélien Gâteau made an entry on his blog announcing the next version of his Gwenview image viewer. The announcement is the result of extensive discussion on the kde-usability mailing list towards a completely new interface for the KDE 4 release of the popular image viewer. The new release features a refocusing on simplicity which will have interesting consequences for the venerable application, now in its seventh year of development, and for the K Desktop Environment as a whole.
Gâteau designed the new interface to be efficient for, in his words, "two use-cases...: 1: The user wants to see a single image, for example from an image attachment. Maybe rotate it, scale or crop it. 2: The user wants to browse all images of a folder, which he selected from Dolphin or Konqueror. Maybe in fullscreen mode, as a slideshow or not." He summarizes, "...Gwenview [II] strives to be a "simple" image viewer, not a full blown photo management application."
The original Gwenview was made with tasks that were less dependent upon the file manager in mind. Gwenview 1.4 has directory tree and folder view panes for image navigation. For Gwenview II, these have been removed. Gâteau explains, "I simplified the interface by removing the folder view and the use of docked windows..." He explains that these changes were prompted by the evolution of desktop file managers: "...nowadays file managers are capable of providing simple image browsing and cataloging, people won't resort to external image applications until they need the cataloging power of applications such as KPhotoAlbum or Digikam."
Gwenview II's purpose is to augment the features of these file managers. Gâteau writes, "The new goals of Gwenview are to complement the file manager to provide features it does not supply, such as immersive fullscreen support (not just hiding title bars: showing only the image and providing a discreet minimalist user interface to browse), slideshow and basic image editing (rotate, mirror, scale, crop, adjust colors, maybe red eye correction)." To facilitate this simplification, the new interface makes these functions readily available via toolbar buttons. The current interface mockup does not include any menu bars. Gâteau elaborates on the principle: "In the mockups, I ...removed various toolbars and took into consideration the fact that KDE4 will ship with captions below icons by default. To make it easy to perform some editing tasks, I added a new "tools" side bar."
In light of this new direction, Gwenview has found itself with a more prominent position in KDE for the upcoming fourth version of the desktop. Long relegated to the kde-extragear module, Gwenview will be moving to kde-graphics. Extragear is, officially, "a collection of KDE applications that are associated with the KDE project. Those apps are not part of the main KDE distribution for various reasons, but they are still part of the project." The space is generally used for applications that either duplicate the functionality of other applications in the main distribution or are too specialized for mass consumption. The kde-graphics module, as one might expect, is filled with KDE applications designed for image manipulation and viewing. In Gâteau's words, "Yes, Gwenview will play a larger role in KDE4 than it played in KDE3."
The move to kde-graphics is symbolic of higher stature within the KDE project, but has other practical consequences, as well. In order to avoid shipping duplicate functionality within the core of KDE, other applications in the graphics module may have to be forced out. Gâteau writes cautiously, "I would like to see Gwenview replace KView and Kuickshow as well as the photoalbum KPart, but we need to make sure we provide similar features and performance. Please note that this is just my (subjective) personal opinion, I am not the one who makes such a decision." KView and Kuikshow are the current members of kde-graphics responsible for simple image display tasks. KParts are components of KDE applications which can be easily embedded within other applications; for instance, videos played in Konqueror use the Kaffeine KPart.
Furthermore, the move should ease the work of both developers and users. Gâteau explains, "I believe lots of users will simply use what's supplied by the desktop, and won't take the time to install an application such as Gwenview, so it makes sense to move Gwenview to [the main KDE distribution]. It will also save me some time, as I won't have to worry about making tarballs anymore." Previously, users of GNU/Linux distributions which do not distribute the kde-extragear module through their package management system would have to install Gwenview manually using tarballs.
Gâteau had help from KDE Usability in designing Gwenview's new interface. KDE Usability is a community of interface usability experts within the project who assist developers throughout the organization. Gâteau recalls the process: "...after getting confirmation from the kde-devel-core mailing list that Gwenview would move to kdegraphics, I was asked to work with the usability team. I already had some ideas in my mind so I prepared some mockups of them, which I posted on the kde-usability mailing list. They were basically satisfied with the general idea of my first set of mockups, but nevertheless made quite a few suggestions to improve them. Based on this feedback I created a second set of mockups, which are the one I posted on my blog. We mainly discussed the toolbar layout, what should get in the toolbar and what should not, as well as the expected behavior of some elements of the interface." Among the usability experts who assisted him were KDE developers Aaron Seigo, John Tapsell and Celeste Lyn Paul.
Gâteau, also a developer on the open-source VOIP application WengoPhone, only recently decided to see Gwenview through to a second major release. He laments, "I decided to give up mainly because I couldn't find the time to work on it anymore and because I thought I was no longer interested in maintaining Gwenview." His decision to return to the project reflects amusingly ideal behavior for a free software developer: "Taking some days off I realized I was still interested in working on Gwenview, and that it would be better to stop some other non-KDE related activities." Gâteau remarks that he was also influenced by the user comments following his call for a new Gwenview maintainer.
Gwenview II clearly holds some drastic and exciting changes for the classic KDE application, but Gâteau recognizes that they will not be universally well-received. He notes: "Since Gwenview II will be quite different than the present version, it's quite certain that there will be a new [set of] users. I am also aware that, unfortunately, some users of the present version won't like the new interface." Fortunately, the needs of all users should be well addressed in KDE 4, with the Konqueror file manager for the most basic image management, Gwenview II for more intermediate functions, and digiKam for advanced photo management capabilities.
Database Softwareshows how to tune Derby, the Apache DB project, on O'Reilly. "There is a big difference in the behavior of a database when it is populated with a small amount of test inputs and when it holds a large amount of data. Usually, you would not address these database performance issues early in the development process, but when the time comes, you should take some action to ensure that the application is working correctly with large amounts of data. The all-Java open-source database Derby is no exception, so you'll have to make sure it will not be a bottleneck to your application."
Networking Toolshas been announced. "This first release in over a half year has been thoroug[h]ly stress-tested, so it should be more stable. New features include support for named and unnamed pipes, the full POSIX file IO interface, a write-after-read optimization similar to splicing, a method for catching HTTP GET requests and self-resizing (based on load) ringbuffer designs."
Virtualization SoftwareI am happy to annou[n]ce the availability of EasyVZ, an OpenVZ management GUI under the GPL. EasyVZ makes it simple to create, destroy and manage Virtual Private Servers from within a cozy and comfortable graphical user interface. The EasyVZ client can manage the server from anywhere over the network, although, currently there is no authentication available." QEMU processor emulation system. As can be seen in the KQEMU changelog, the 1.3.0pre10 release quietly added a couple of interesting features: full x86_64 virtualization support and a license change to version 2 of the GPL. Since KQEMU had previously been released under a proprietary license, this is a welcome change. (Thanks to Tzvetan Mikov).
Web Site Developmenthas been announced. "Drake CMS v0.3 is the second major release of Drake CMS. All users are strongly encouraged to upgrade to Drake CMS v0.3.0; backward compatibility with Drake CMS v0.2 is granted. We suggest to upgrade because of the new features (you might have already tasted them in Alpha releases 0.2.6-0.2.10) and the improved stability." mnoGoSearch, a web site search engine, is available for Unix platforms. See the change log for release details. Nuxeo ECM solutions are built on the experience accumulated for 5 years by Nuxeo and community members building mission-critical ECM applications (web content management, document management, records management, collaboration, intranet portals and workflow) for major customers, using previously Zope technologies, and now Java EE 5, JBoss Seam and OSGi." Rails web development platform has been announced. "Its time for another minor update to Rails 1.2. This was primarily prompted by a change in the API for SQLite between version 3.3.7 and 3.3.8+, which left the Rails database adapter for dead by the road side. But with this release and Jamis Bucks sqlite3-ruby gem at version 1.2.1, were back in business on all versions of SQLite3. Second, were now depending on RubyGems 0.9.0 and above."
Audio ApplicationsThis is a bugfix release. It include all the fixes and security committed by Hubert Chan from Debian. Both the patch committed at alsaplayer-devel list and for Debian are included. They include patches from him and other peoples, and even a new man page from Debian. Another good news is at the cvs will compile again, inclusive the fftscope plugin." Amarok Weekly Newsletter has been published. Topics include Amarok 1.4.5, Plans for 1.4 series, Amarok 2.0 and Cool tips: running Amarok in fullscreen. Aqualung is an advanced music player originally targeted at GNU/Linux, today also running on other operating systems such as FreeBSD and MS Windows. We are striving to create one of the finest music players available, with respect to sound quality, stability, features and ease of use. This release is the latest in a series of beta releases on our way to the future stable release of Aqualung 1.0. It adds significant new functionality as well as important bugfixes." After almost two years of silence I managed to put together a new release of JackMix. The name explained: Comparing to jackmix:0.1.0 some experimental features are dropped. On the other hand this release is the first to use scons for the buildsystem and qt4 for the toolkit." has been announced. "So January ticks inevitably into Feburary and in sympathy with the weather (or the ice cream in the southern hemisphere!) Jokosher has frozen. Yes thats right, we are now in feature freeze for the next release which will be 0.9 and is due for release mid March In the last week (from the 28th Jan) there have been commits from no less then 7 different people, and a quick bit of maths gives us the shock result that Laszlo is tied with David Corrales to be this weeks most prolific commiter with 17 commits each. Congratulations not only to David and Laszlo but also Johnk, johng, luket, mikes and stuartl for all their hard work across the 47 commits (theres still a few hours to break the 50 barrier so get coding!)" Sweep is an audio editor and live playback tool for GNU/Linux, BSD and compatible systems. It supports many music and voice formats including WAV, AIFF, Ogg Vorbis, Speex and MP3, with multichannel editing and LADSPA effects plugins. Inside lives a pesky little virtual stylus called Scrubby who enjoys mixing around in your files."
Business Applicationshas been announced. New features include a Campaign Wizard, a Campaign Manager with ROI Reports and Automated Lead Capture.
Data VisualizationGmsh, a three-dimensional finite element mesh generator with built-in pre and post-processing facilities, has been announced. See the versions file for change information.
Desktop EnvironmentsAs usual it includes a lot of updates and fixes, together with a host of third-party GNOME packages, Bindings and the Mono(tm) Platform -- this is the last release of the current stable GNOME branch."
Encryption SoftwareThis is maintenance release to fix build problems found after the release of 2.0.1. There are also some minor enhancements."
GamesSnackware has been announced. "Snackware is a project aimed to create a "competition of coders" by making different classes or functions to battle amongst themselves through the rules of a game. It's not a traditional game, anyway, since it work with no human intervention."
GraphicsInkscape, an SVG-based vector drawing package, is out. "Inkscape 0.45 features a new Gaussian Blur SVG filter. Sponsored by Google's Summer of Code program, Gaussian Blur allows you to softly and naturally blur any Inkscape objects, including shapes, text, and images. This enables a wide range of photorealistic effects: arbitrarily shaped shades and lights, depth of field, drop shadows, glows, etc. Also, blurred objects can be used as masks for other objects to achieve the "feathered mask" effect. Numerous other new features, enhancements to existing features, and bug fixes have been included." See the release notes for details.
Interoperabilityhas been announced. "This is a security release which addresses CVE-2007-0452, CVE-2007-0453, and CVE-2007-0454. This is the latest stable release of Samba. This is the version that production Samba servers should be running for all current bug-fixes. Please read the changes in the Release Notes for details on new features and difference in behavior from previous releases."
Multimedialooks at Phonon. "Like the previously featured articles on new KDE 4 technologies for Job Processes or SVG Widgets, today we feature the shiny new multimedia technology Phonon. Phonon is designed to take some of the complications out of writing multimedia applications in KDE 4, and ensure that these applications will work on a multitude of platforms and sound architectures. Unfortunately, writing about a sound technology produces very few snazzy screenshots, so instead this week has a few more technical details."
Music ApplicationsThis release contains a number of new features, notably audio time-stretching support, and many usability improvements particularly in the matrix view. This is also an interesting release from a developer perspective, because the source code has been completely reorganised into a new directory structure with a far more consistent file naming and organisation scheme. Thanks to all involved with the project for their hard work on this tedious business."
Digital PhotographySnapMatcher has been released. "SnapMatcher is an application intended for photographers, artists, or image packrats who have very large collections of digital images, some of which may be duplicates or near duplicates. By identifying images across multiple formats with the ability to filter out minor edits such as changes to contrast, brightness, color balance, resizing, or even the addition of text or borders SnapMatcher can be a valuable tool in organizing culling unwieldy collections."
Web Browserscovers the development plans for the Netscape 9 browser. "The official Netscape Blog has announced that Netscape 9 is under development. Like the current Netscape Browser 8, this release will presumably be based on Mozilla Firefox. According to the announcement, Netscape 9 will be a standalone browser (lacking components like a mail client or Web page editor) and will have tight integration with the Netscape.com website, which was relaunched as a Digg-style user-driven news and current events portal last year. A subsequent post revealed that Netscape 9 will be released simultaneously for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X."
Miscellaneouslcdtest, a monitor test pattern generator that is useful for finding bad pixels, is out. "Release 1.02 has no code changes, but incorporates the manual page, Makefile improvements, and Debian build information from Valerio Felici." Wasabi is new project with the goal of creating a unified, platform independent, specification and api for desktop search engines (and later metadata services). We have worked together with several search-projects and now have a proposal ready for public evaluation. In short: we need feedback from application developers - that means you."
Languages and Tools
CThis release is a minor release, containing bug fixes for regressions relative to earlier releases. It is the final release from the 4.0.x series, and the gcc-4_0-branch is now closed. GCC 4.0.4 is provided for those who require a high degree of binary compatibility with previous 4.0.x releases. For most users, the GCC team recommends that version 4.1.1 or later be used instead." GCC 4.1.2 Status Report for February 4, 2007 is out. "Thanks to all who have helped tested GCC 4.1.2 RC1 over the last week. I've reviewed the list traffic and Bugzilla. Sadly, there are a fair number of bugs. Fortunately, most seem not to be new in 4.1.2, and therefore I don't consider them showstoppers."
PHPPHP Manual has been updated, according to the main PHP site. "The PHP documentation team is proud to present to the PHP community a few fixes and tweaks to the PHP Manual, including: an improved, XSL-based build system that will deliver compiled manuals to mirrors in a more timely manner (goodbye dsssl), manual pages can now contain images (see imagearc() for an example), updated function version information and capture system (fewer "no version information, might be only in CVS" messages) ... and more to come!"
Build Toolshas been announced. "Buildit makes it easier to create a repeatable deployment of software in a particular configuration. With it, you can perform conditional complilation of source code, install software, run scripts, or perform any repeatable sequence of tasks that ends up creating a known set files on your filesystem. On subsequent runs of the same set of tasks, Buildit performs the least amount of work possible to create the same set of files, only performing the work that it detects has not already been performed by earlier runs."
EditorsPDFedit, an editor for manipulating PDF documents, is available. The project description says: "GUI version + commandline interface. Scripting is used to a great extent in editor and almost anything can be scripted, it is possible to create own scripts or plugins. Target platform are operating systems of Unix type (Linux, BSD, ...), we are using C++, XPDF, QT3 and QSA."
Librarieshas been announced. "TA-Lib provides more than 130 technical analysis functions for financial and trading applications. Main feature of this release is a new generated XML file to provide meta information of the interface. This facilitate integration within .NET and Java applications."
MiscellaneousFor the first time, binary versions are available for Mac OSX and AIX. New binaries for Windows, Linux and Solaris have been created as well with versions for Solaris pending. In addition users can download the source code of Open Object Rexx and may freely and readily build the programming language themselves. IBM donated the source code of its Object REXX product to the Rexx Language Association in December 2004 for publication and support as an open source project. With ooRexx 3.1.1 both the Rexx and open source communities can enjoy the numerous enhancements and fixes that have been incorporated into ooRexx under RexxLA stewardship."
Page editor: Forrest Cook
Next page: Linux in the news>>
Copyright © 2007, Eklektix, Inc.
Comments and public postings are copyrighted by their creators.
Linux is a registered trademark of Linus Torvalds