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» Quanta GSOC midterm evaluation

Thu, 07/08/2010 - 22:24

Hey there!

Midterm evaluations for GSOC are coming up and Andris Mantia, my mentor I finally met at Akademy, asked be to blog about what we already have in Quanta. Because there is a lot and most of you are not aware of that. And to be honest it’s actually too much to put into a single blog post, so I hope to do more of a series of blog posts showing off some features.

Quanta 4 is not Quanta 3

Anyhow, I fear that a disclaimer is in place, for all of you who are desperately looking forward a KDE4 version of Quanta. The thing is, I cannot, nor do I want to, port Quanta from KDE3 times as-is to KDE4. Instead I build on top of the KDevplatform that is also used for KDevelop and KTechlab. By sharing the basic code it gets much easier to maintain Quanta in the future. This decision brings two things with it:

  1. We get an awesome library to built new stuff on top, making things like the new PHP which is already much more advanced than anything from KDE3, actually plugin possible.
  2. We don’t have all features from Quanta 3 or if we have, they might look and work differently. This also means that you won’t be able to take your Quanta 3 workflow without changes over to Quanta 4.

Some examples for the last part, that also sheds some light on our (== KDevelop team) preferred way of designing the IDE:

First and foremost, dialogs are evil. There, I said it. I doubt I’m the only one here and there are actually many other KDE applications following this mantra. Afaik Aurelien from Gwenview is trying to make it the first app in KDE without any modal dialogs. Go for it dude! What does that mean for Quanta? You might remember that Quanta 3 had lots and lots of dialogs. You could change attributes of HTML tags via dialogs, you could insert code via dialogs. In Quanta 4 this wont be the case, at least I won’t write these dialogs. Instead I concentrate on kickass code completion, which should make these dialogs obsolete.

  • offer context sensitive code completion, e.g. only tags that are valid at the given cursor position or attributes that fit into the given tag under the cursor
  • directly insert tags with all required attributes
  • make it possible to trigger a file-selection dialog in e.g. src="..." or similar attributes from within code completion (there’d be a ‘select file…’ code completion item)

In my opinion every dialog that created or changed code can be replaced by code completion. And if you use it, it’s much faster to write and change code. You don’t have to grasp a new magic modal dialog and find the attribute you want to change. Instead you simple select it, CTRL + Space for code completion and insert the stuff you want.

existing Quanta 4 features

So much for the design ideas in Quanta4, now lets talk about what we already have now in Quanta4. For the uninitiated, you can find the source code at http://gitorious.org/kdevelop/quanta. You will need KDevplatform, KDevelop-PG-Qt and QJSON to get all plugins built.

Also another note is in place here: Even though I have the GSOC and spent lots of time on Quanta, the features I describe below wouldn’t exist if not for the help and work of others. Most notably Niko Sams (PHP, CSS, Execute Browser, Execute Script, XDebug, Crossfire, …), Ruan Strydom (XML/SGML, PHP formatter) and all the other guys happily hacking away at KDevplatform and it’s core plugins and libraries.

PHP

For those that never heard about the work Niko and me put into the PHP language support plugin for KDevelop, you have quite a lot of catching up to do :) I’m too lazy to reiterate everything, if you are interested, read my blog posts: http://milianw.de/tag/php

But frankly, you should instead just try it out. We released PHP together with KDevelop 4.0 and most distros should package it. I still actively work on it and e.g. just brought in some PHP 5.3 features (namespaces) the other day.

To list just a few things we have:

  • state of the art code completion
  • inline syntax checking and error reports
  • context browsing
  • inline documentation and PHP.net integration

If you thought Quanta 3 was good for PHP development, try this, really :)

Ah and before I forget that: Niko also wrote a plugin that integrates XDebug: http://nikosams.blogspot.com/2010/02/kdevelop-xdebug-php-debugger.html

CSS

Here I think I can simply link to Nikos blog posts explaining and showing off his CSS language support plugin:

http://nikosams.blogspot.com/2010/01/kdevelopquanta4-css-language-support.html
http://nikosams.blogspot.com/2010/02/css-language-support-update.html

As you can see once again: When using and implementing the tools in KDevelop properly for a language you get insanely good code completion and context sensitive help plus some browsing utilities. Very handy indeed, and once again (imo) better than what we had in Quanta 3.

Once we have proper multi language support in a single file, expect more goodness from my side, I only added more inline previewing, e.g. for colors.

XML

This is by far the largest surprise for me. Ruan Strydom, a South African, announced at one day - out of the blue - that he is working on a XML language support plugin for KDevelop. And he did a quite good job at it. I’ve been helping out there the last weeks and fixed bugs and added a few features, but it’s still mostly his work. It is already quite useful, as it parses the XSD or DTD that is used in your document and based on that offers you context sensitive code completion and context browsing. It also works somewhat for SGML, e.g. HTML and is quite handy.

There is still quite a few things to do here, e.g. report errors about invalid attributes, tags, etc. pp (currently only real XML syntax parse errors are reported).

Snippets and External Scripts

In Quanta 3, custom toolbars and the actions in them where apparently quite popular. In KDevelop and hence Quanta as well, this is currently handled differently, yet the features should be the same, if maybe with a different workflow. See e.g. http://milianw.de/blog/snippets-in-kdevelop-kate on how snippets work, and http://milianw.de/blog/kdevelop-externalscript-plugin for external scripts.

These should (hopefully, if not please report) give you all the features you had with user actions in Quanta 3. Putting these actions into toolbars is not there and I frankly don’t see the huge need for it that would make up for the huge time I’d had to spent on it to get that working again.

The future and call for feedback

So as you can see, Quanta is not dead, but got very much revived. I hope to get our beloved webdevelopment IDE up and running next year at latest, if possible with a few first test releases this year. Anyhow, back to GSOC:

It’s currently midterm and I already achieved a lot, in the next weeks I will definitely spent my time in getting proper multi language support in a single file up and running. That would then finally make it possible to have proper context browsing and code completion in e.g. a template that includes CSS, PHP and HTML. Also the inline HTML preview from Quanta 3 is needed to be ported / reimplemented. But I might be missing things, which makes me conclude this overlong blog post with a call to old Quanta 3 users:

What features are you missing above from Quanta 3?

Please write one comment per feature and then do “+1” kind of comments to get a basic vote here. That way I can see on what features I have to concentrate on to get Quanta 4 up and running.

Bye

» KDevelop 4 talk at 12:15 today!

Sun, 07/04/2010 - 08:43

Hey everyone!

Apparently “Application Integration from KDE Finance Group” is not taking place, instead Aleix and me will fill the gap and talk about KDevelop 4. We haven’t got any slides and only prepared roughly yesterday, but we decided just to show KDevelop 4 in action. Lets hope that there will be something in there for any interested KDE developer.

I’ll definitely show some assistants again, since apparently many people still ignore them even though they are imo one of the best features we have.

So come to room I at 12:15 :)

PS: Short note regarding KDevelop at Akademy: I’m pleasantly surprised again to see so many KDevelop users around. You all rock!

» KDevelop PHP Advancements: Namespaces and Error Recovery

Thu, 06/24/2010 - 02:08

Hi there,

just a quicky before I head off to bed and go on a short vacation the next few days:

PHP support in KDevelop now has support for the first PHP 5.3 feature, namely namespaces. I’m still convinced that the syntax sucks pretty bad in PHP’s implementation of namespaces but well, my hands are tight and I had to support it. Anyhow, with PHP master you shouldn’t get syntax errors anymore when using namespaces, but instead proper code completion, syntax highlighting and context information… Well, full blown DUChain integration :)

Furthermore I just introduced the first few error recoveries in PHP that should make the situation a bit better when you work on a broken file. Up until now any parse error resulted in a file with no advanced PHP features at all until you fixed that parse error. Now it should at least skip parse errors in code segments between braces (classes, functions, conditionals, namespaces, …). It can be much improved of course, and I’ll do just that next week.

Bye!

» KDevelop - ExternalScript plugin

Wed, 06/16/2010 - 14:06

Heyho, me again :)

Seems like I have quite the urge to write blog posts recently… Anyhow:

The last two days I reimplemented / ported two features from Quanta 3 times to KDevelop (if you still didn’t get it: everything is a plugin, hece it will be reused in Quanta 4). What I’m talking about is most importantly the revival of a “execute external script” plugin. It’s currently still in a feature branch, but will hopefully be merged into master soon. But what can you do with it? Well, think about the following usecases and see how they can be solved with this plugin:

I want to compile and run a simple helloworld.cpp-like file without setting up a build environment nor do I want to setup a project for it.
Use an external script: quick compile. It just runs this command: g++ -o %b %f && ./%f
In this code %f gets replaced with the path to the currently active file and%b is it’s basename (i.e. without extension).
I want to sort / uniq / … the selection in the current document.
Here you can either use Kate Scripts, which gives you the same features. But to show you the capabilities of the external script plugin, this is a good example:
Setup an external script, that gets the current selection (or the whole file if nothing is selected) piped into it’s STDIN and let the selection (or, again, the whole file if nothing was selected) in the active document get replaced by the STDOUT of the external script. I’ve added an example doing just that.
I want to google for the selection in the active document.
I got this example from the External Tools plugin for Kate, and made it possible to do that with the new plugin in KDevelop. Simply use the following script: xdg-open "http://google.com/search?q=%s"
Note: %s gets replaced by the shell-escaped version of the selected text in the document.
I want to run an external syntax checker on my file / folder / …
Simply use an external script for it :) With the various %... placeholders it should be easy enough to do.

Here are a few screenshots showing the tool in action:

Second feature that I pushed in, which you can also see in action for the external scripts, is the possibility to assign shortcuts to snippets and external scripts. Eventually I’ll also try to bring back the “user toolbars” from Quanta 3 times, but I hope to do that properly inside KDELibs for reuse by other applications.

Another thing: In Quanta 3 times it was easier to create external scripts that showed some UI and asked for more user input. This is not possible since Kommander (which was used back then) is not available nowadays. If someone polishes the afaik halfway working port, I’m willing to implement it again. Anyhow I think nowadays one should use Qt Designer and Ruby or Python bindings to create UIs. Sure, a bit harder but much more powerful.

But well, now it’s your turn to write cool external scripts :) And to give me feedback: What kind of scripts would you write? What %... placeholders do you need?

PS: Even though I booked flights and accommodation ages ago, I haven’t yet announced it in proper KDE-style yet:

I'm going to Akademy 2010

» KDevelop Webdev plugins merged into Quanta GIT

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 17:18

Quick note:

I’ve just merged all webdevelopment related plugins except PHP & PHP-Docs into Quanta git. You can get them all in one place now by cloning Quanta: http://gitorious.org/kdevelop/quanta

Since I also moved all halfworking plugins to UNPORTED (they don’t get installed), you should be fine by just installing all of Quanta to get the plugins. If you only want one of them, going into it’s subfolder and building it standalone should hopefully still work though.

In other notes: Thanks to Ruan Styrdom for starting work on a PHP formatter plugin for KDevelop. It uses phpStylist and it’s already somewhat working. Awesome :)

/me is off to more GSOC hacking, bye

» LinuxTag 2010 WrapUp

Sun, 06/13/2010 - 01:49

Hello everyone,

I have the urge to write a quick wrap up over the just finished LinuxTag 2010: All in all, I had a good time. Really, imo it was better than last time (granted though, last LinuxTag sucked pretty badly).

Anyhow, this time was my first shot at being a speaker. Boy was I nervous… I trembled quite badly at the beginning but got confident after a few minutes. Too many “ähm“‘s and “äh“‘s though ;-) Anyhow, I apparently did my job well enough: My talk was about KDevelop 4 - Faster C++ Programming. But yeah, I did it in German (it was my first talk on such a convention, and I was already nervous enough :P), but still - since I did a live presentation I was apparently able to impress even non-German speaking attendees by the sheer amount of visual coolness I could present :)

Really, the C++ features in KDevelop I showed are so nuts and awesome, I have to thank David and friends for implementing them in KDevelop. Great job everyone! It made my life as a speaker quite easy :)

If anyone is interested in the German talk (audio is good, visuals not really…), you can download a 23min part of the talk on rapidshare: http://rapidshare.com/files/397758262/Milian-LT2010.M4V.html (Thanks to Adrian for recording and uploading it!)

What this talk showed me in retrospect, esp. combined with the feedback I got afterwards and the recurring nags in #kdevelop on freenode, is that we are in dire need of writing documentation for KDevelop. Since we devels don’t have much time for that (and it’s boring…) I think/hope to write at least a short blog series about “hidden” features, i.e. the stuff I showed in my talk. Starting with that, I hope that one of you, dear readers, steps up and creates a proper Docbook documentation out of that :)

Oh and yeah, I had quite a few chats with the friends from QtCreator developers over at the Qt/Nokia booth. They do a quite good job at catching up with us apparently :P Well, that’s what they have their payed developers for after all ;-) One real “advantage” KDevelop has though, is that it’s inherently language agnostic. The Qt guys have of course no intention to support e.g. PHP. We otoh want that - and already do so. I had a few chats with (sometimes future) users of our PHP plugin and got quite good feedback, which I want to implement eventually. Even so, I actually started implementing the first features for PHP 5.3 support: Namespaces. If someone wants a good laugh, look at how that is designed for PHP 5.3, it must have been a drunken Windows guy that never used Namespaces in any other language before… sigh.

Anyways, back to LinuxTag in general: It was of course nice again to see so many fellow KDE developers and supporters. Also seeing the good old Ubuntu Berlin and LinuxTag crowd I “know” now after four years here, was a good thing. What I have to say is that attending a conference and actually taking the time to visit a few talks is much nicer than staying at the booth all time. Yes, sorry Eckhart for even doing some hacking on the booth, but we should all take that time for ourselves. We’ve been a large crowd at the booth nevertheless, esp. since we had the combined manpower (and women!) of Amarok, Kubuntu and KDE! And attending conferences and having some quiet time makes booth-work much more bearable. It’s not like I didn’t talk to people though, quite the contrary. But as always (esp. at events like LinuxTag), you get to talk to at least one insane person every day ;-) And after the second you kind of start to loose your faith in humanity… :P

Nice as always were the social events surrounding the fair-hours, most notably of course the “friends of Qt/Nokia” dinner that served us awesome food once again. The social event of the LinuxTag at Thursday was much better than last year (even though / because?) it was sponsored by Microsoft this year. Good job that we == KDE rocked the dance floor of course ;-) Tonight we wrapped it up with the usual Ubuntu BBQ at cbase, a nice end to an imo good event. If they can improve it some more next year by pushing the community aspect more once again, I’m confident that LinuxTag in Berlin could become as good as it was a few years ago!

Anyhow, now I really have to do some more catch-up for Quanta GSOC ;-) Good night!

» First Days of Quanta+ GSOC 2010

Fri, 06/04/2010 - 22:16

Ok, finally I take the time to blog again.

The last two weeks have been a busy time for me and I couldn’t find as much time for GSOC as I would have wanted. I had to finish up some things at KDAB where I spent the last three months doing an internship (maybe I should write another blog about that eventually…). Afterwards I took five days of vacation, visiting a friend in Lisboa, Portugal - a very good decision to clear my head :) Esp. considering that I directly dropped back into my old job at the IT administration here at my university, where I had to quickly finish another project that I delayed until the last days possible ;-)

But… Even before GSOC officially started I already committed a few small things. But yesterday and today I finally started for good. Thanks to the discussion with Andris (my mentor) I actually think to know what I have to do ;-) Porting Quanta+ is not an easy task, even though there is already a Quanta binary that links against KDE4 and “works”. There are tons of files and hundres of lines of code commented out that are left to be ported. And I have to wager: What can I port in the few weeks left for GSOC and what should I drop for now? What is superseded, or should be eventually superseded, by a proper KDevplatform integrated plugin?

But well, I think I know what to do for the next few days:

  • make Quanta specific code specific to Quanta (yeah, cool eh :P)
    currently QuantaCore is a plugin and hence also shows up in KDevelop showing Quanta specific stuff there, not nice
  • spruce up Ruan Strydom’s XML plugin for KDevplatform and purge the DTEP stuff in Quanta while merging as much as possible
  • make the ‘insert tag’ etc. pp. related actions, toolbars from Quanta3 work again
  • polish Niko Sams upload, css, xdebug, execute script, execute browser plugins

If I manage most of these, I’m confident to say that I reached an important step towards a once again useful Quanta. Lets see how it works out.

» KDevelop 4 - Looking at the feedback

Mon, 05/03/2010 - 23:46

Hey everyone,

I spent some time today browsing teh interwebz to look at the responses our first KDevelop 4.0 release triggered so far. Quite fun I have to admit, given this is the first release of something I actively helped to develop that actually gets a response on the net ;-) What I noticed among the ‘I use VS’, ‘I use vi’, ‘I use ed’ comments (besides ‘I use emacs’):

  • sadly we didn’t update the screenshots everywhere yet, making some people believe we actually look like kdev 3 still ;-) this is not true, take a look here: http://apaku.wordpress.com/2010/04/25/kdevelop-4-0-screenshots/
  • yes we have support for PHP and everyone knows PHP sucks but still everyone uses it ;-) But few seem to notice that C++ is actually “just another plugin”. And we already have support for Ruby, Java and Css somewhat working in the pipelines. And very experimental stuff for C#, python and XML is also there. Imo what we said in the release announcement is true: KDev 4 is much more open for new languages than anything before. It does take some effort, true, but the result is much more pleasing.
  • we’d really welcome new blood in our dev team, esp. for new language support plugins or things like automake, qmake and qt-designer support. there are outdated plugins available, someone just has to polish them…

But all in all I’m amazed by the trolling/feedback ratio. It’s a really good feeling to see so many positive comments on various websites and $random-stranger defending KDevelop against the forces of the trolls :)

I’ll definitely continue working on KDevelop and make sure we’ll continue to improve over the time. This is just the beginning evil laughter :)

Btw. funniest comment on heise.de (German): KDevelop 4.0.0 is a released intended for developers. Of course, it’s an IDE, duh :P

» GSOC: Revive Quanta+ Brand for KDE 4

Wed, 04/28/2010 - 19:19

Yay I got a GSOC slot :)

So I hope I don’t have to introduce myself anymore to you guys. Instead I’ll show you what I’ve planned to do over the summer:

Motivation for Proposal / Goal:

Back in KDE 3 times, Quanta+ was one of the reasons for me to use KDE. In my eyes it was the IDE for web development out there, and I loved to use it. Sadly it’s bitrotting nowadays without a finished KDE 4 port. That, combined with the fact that more and more distributions drop all KDE 3 packages, makes the need for a port more urgent than ever.

Implementation Details:

Thankfully, KDevelop 4 is nearing it’s first release and the KDevplatform is mature enough nowadays. This means that during summer I shall finish the port of Quanta+ to KDevplatform and supply it with all the plugins required for a proper webdevelopment IDE. My goal is it to provide a proper IDE for PHP webdevelopment. In more detail:

  • make Quanta+ 4 compile
  • remove obsolete plugins or code parts in Quanta+
  • port required plugins to KDevplatform structure
  • polish PHP plugin, including XDebug support
  • polish Script Execute plugin
  • polish CSS plugin
  • get a first working version of a XHTML/XML plugin, if time allows even with HTML (SGML) support
    • support autocompletion
    • support inline validation
    • support documents that use multiple languages (XML, PHP, CSS, JavaScript) at the same time
  • polish the UI/Workflow for Webdevelopment
    • hide KDevelop/C++ specific actions
    • add templates for common PHP frameworks
  • if time allows, get a rough support for JavaScript (at least Outline for functions)

Put these all together with the existing features in KDevplatform we can reuse, we’ll end up with a hopefully useable IDE for webdevelopment. Hence my final goal is it to release a first Beta version of Quanta+ for KDE4.

Tentative Timeline:
  1. getting rough first shell of Quanta+ 4 up and running, removing old cruft, cleaning up old code and porting required things
    ~ 3 weeks
  2. polish existing plugins (PHP, XDebug, Execute Script, CSS, Upload)
    ~ 2 weeks
  3. create XHTML/XML plugin
    ~ 3 weeks
  4. polish UI/workflow
    ~ 2 weeks
  5. bug hunting etc., ending in a first beta release of Quanta+ for KDE 4:
    ~ 2 weeks

Lets see whether it works out as planned. But I think this commit shows you that I’m on the right track:

http://websvn.kde.org/trunk/extragear/sdk/quanta/data/pics/quanta-splash…

» You gotta watch this: RIP: A remix Manifesto

Sun, 04/25/2010 - 18:15

Hey all!

I’m now abusing the fact that my blog is aggregated on the planet to bring this diamond of a documentary some more coverage it deserves so greatly. I’m speaking about Rip: A remix Manifesto. Go and watch it. Now!

I bet every single FOSS user, developer, advocate thrives in watching it. I’m totally blown away and hope that as many people as possible watch it.

And gosh - open source cinema, how cool is that :)