Bye Bye 2011

Jan 8, 2012 | 8 minutes read

Tags: KDE, Zanshin, Frameworks, Akademy-fr, Toulouse

Didn’t blog in a while… Indeed the end of 2011 was hectic lots happening (both at work and in the community) so almost no time to write about it. Despite Christmas and the New Year I didn’t take vacations in December, I admit I’m now a bit tired.

Anyway, the last few months were awesome, as I said: lots happening. So let’s take a look in this post at the latest endeavours I participated in be it technical or community work.

Akademy-fr / Capitole du Libre

The path leading to end of November has seen Benjamin Port putting quite some work in the organization of the very first Akademy-fr. It’s been a very important event for the french KDE community.

This event was grouped inside the Capitole du Libre with an Ubuntu Party, a DrupalCamp and two tracks of conferences on Free Culture. As usual, the whole Toulibre LUG was a great support to organize such activities.

The first day, we managed to fit two tracks of talks in Akademy-fr itself, one oriented toward contributors, the other meant for users. It was a nice success overall even though we maybe suffered a bit from the user track of the Capitole du Libre for our own track. That’s understandable and something to fix for later. We also had a booth where we demoed the different productions of KDE. Using one of the Exo-PC with Plasma Active on it was just great to attract people, it is also great to show such a device next to a Plasma Desktop powered computer as it helps illustrating how coherent thoses workspaces are together (activites being pervasive concepts, same widgets to operate the devices, etc.).

The second (and last) day of Akademy-fr and Capitole du Libre was dedicated to workshops and labs. I think it was a really nice idea and we should keep it for the next edition. There was a bit less attendance, such workshops are more involving and requires to engage more with the community so it’s understandable they can be a bit more frightening. Still, it was just great to get people trained on how to make a proper bug report, how to make their own Calligra plugins and such.

Of course, the real plus of this event is that most of the french KDE contributors showed up, we also got “pure-Qt” french contributors around. Funnily, all of KDAB France showed up in the end. Anyway, it was really nice to gang with already known faces again, but also to finally meet some people we only heard of so far.

Thanks to the sponsors who made this event possible. Also, thanks to everyone who helped, held a talk, or simply attended: you made the event a success! Finally, I’d like to give a special thanks to Aleix Pol who traveled from Spain to talk about Akademy-es and KDE España (which are both nice inspiration for us).

PS: I finally uploaded the handful of pictures I took during Akademy-fr 2011

Zanshin 0.2.0

Lot’s happened around Zanshin which led to its first proper release. Most notably it got its own website now, and we fixed bugs like crazies leading to the release of 0.2.0 the day before Akademy-fr (although the public announcement was done only the week after).

It’s also interesting to see it picked up by packagers, and now it is available on most of the major Linux distributions and on Windows. Hopefully it will sooner or later reach Mac OS as well, it has been reported to build and run by a couple of users but there’s no official packaging for it yet.

The community around Zanshin also grew a bit, with a couple of contributors gettings in. I’m looking forward to see their influence inside the project. Nice ideas floating around at the moment. We’ll have to implement those ideas incrementally of course otherwise the next release will be one of those long cycles again but I’d love to see shorter cycles for Zanshin now.

KDE Frameworks

After a period of some slow down, the KDE Frameworks is picking up again. I volunteered to help with the stewardship of that effort which led to some discussions and the creation of a wiki to track KDE Frameworks state.

It’s obviously still on-going so the wiki needs to be improved, but it helped quite a bit already in decision making and figuring out where we are headed and where we want to be.

On the people side, we’re getting contributions in but more importantly as we make kdelibs more modular we’re finding volunteers to maintain the newly created library. It think that beyond the technical side of KDE Frameworks this trend is a very important one to nurture.

Indeed, the number of maintainers in kdelibs has been only a few for a very long time, and even though we have people interested in it they don’t necessarily commit to be maintainers. With the modularization it is apparently less scary to step up to take care of one of the modules created, they’re well identified, have a given scope and so on. Less unknowns then leads to less fear.

I find interesting how the motivation for KDE Frameworks was mainly technical, but is apparently changing the structure of the community. My take is that it will lead to a somewhat similar organization to the Qt Project. Only time will tell anyway, but it’s fascinating to be a direct witness of the on-going evolution.

KDE Toulouse & Monthly Hacking Sessions

The KDE Monthly Hacking Sessions are just running as usual, we keep having this monthly get together on saturdays people carrying on their work, but also having a talk or a workshop in the morning. Thanks to Benjamin Port and Jean-Nicolas Artaud strong involvement, this activity is more secure than ever not being completely dependent on me being available and relaxing constraints on my own schedule. Thanks for that guys! It helps the whole group having enough energy to undertake other activities (like the Akademy-fr above). Say no to burn-out, distribute work! :-)

We had less people attending the sessions at the end of 2011, probably in part because of Akademy-fr being around the corner by then. There was also some other factors but we have plan to fix that. January’s session, held yesterday was the proof of the continuing interest in those monthly events, we had another of those high attendance rate of the good old days. It was even further improved thanks to Akademy-fr. Indeed, we met Romain Perier who attended the conference in November and we were delighted to have him motivated enough to volunteer for holding the workshop part yesterday, travelling just for the day to do it! Thanks a lot Romain! It was really nice to have you around, hope to see you soon again.

Toulouse University Involvement

Bad news there… this activity came to a halt. We saw it coming for a while, but last year was the last time our projects and teaching to run with the IUP ISI (the course of study whose director, Henri Massié, trusted us to do a good job there). Indeed, after a few years of political games (mostly driven from the ministry as far as I can tell), all the “IUP” type of courses of studies disappeared. The IUP ISI was one of the last to carry the torch…

I thought I’d just carry on with another course of study this year. But I have to admit this abrupt ending and the way it happened (nasty details I’ll spare you) just hit my motivation more than I expected. So somehow I still have to recover from it, but I have some leads and potential contacts to maybe setup something again for 2012-2013. Let’s see if I manage to revive that activity. Apparently, after seven years of efforts to nurture that collaboration, I’m back to square one. Challenge accepted!

On the brighter side though, I got invited to a whole day seminar in Paris early February to discuss and share with people on the topic of University/Free Software Communities collaboration for student projects and teaching. Nice opportunity to meet with people having similar aims and share on alternative setups to the one we had in Toulouse. Really looking forward to this event.

What’s coming next?

Well, I don’t plan much ahead and I’m not the type of guy taking “good resolutions” in january every year (I just try to improve as I go). Still… from the waves around me, my own motivation at the moment and some other factors I think I can forecast a bit of what’s coming.

Obviously I expect new Zanshin releases, at least two. Zanshin 0.2.1 should appear soonish as mentionned earlier. And then we’ll roll toward Zanshin 0.3 which will be the release where Zanshin gets more of the missing basic features making it really useful.

I also expect the first KDE Frameworks release. Quite some work needed still, but I have a target date in mind that I think we can reach… No, I won’t share it yet. :-)

Maybe I’ll also get through the necessary mourning and administrative steps to setup a new University/KDE collaboration in Toulouse.

And last but not least I expect our monthly sessions to go on as usual. It’s just great to have a small team of people helping with the local promotion, I’d like to see it grow more to spread even more love. Despite the current team size it’s very likely we’ll pull another Akademy-fr, but this time truely focused on the contributors needs, while the end-user aspects would be completely provided by talks and workshops of the upcoming Capitole du Libre 2012.

And so that concludes my last look back at 2011. Time to look forward again, lots to tackle still. :-)