Saturday, May 5, 2007

New Konsole lands & kdegames/edu fun

I have moved the new Konsole front-end back to trunk. It wasn't quite ready for the tagging of the first KDE 4 alpha release, and there are a few notable items still to implement ( eg. key bindings editor, composite transparency ) but if you are building KDE 4 from sources, please test.

The past two weeks saw some handy additions, the most useful of which are probably the live tab titles. This allows tab titles to contain a mixture of normal text and dynamic elements which update as you navigate around directories, run different programs or connect to remote computers in the shell. The tab title defaults to a combination of the last part of the path and the running program name, but can be customised either for a specific terminal session or for a particular profile. You can specify separate formats for local activities and remote activities (ie. SSH), and Konsole will switch between them automatically.

I finally got into sorting out Konsole's profile management as well. In KDE 3 times, these were referred to as "Sessions". A profile is a saved terminal setup which can be used as the basis for new tabs or windows. One of the profiles is set as the default and is used when you start a new Konsole. In KDE 3, some terminal options were global and others could be changed in each "session" - and this distinction was slightly arbitrary. In KDE 4, every setting is handled on a per-Profile basis. In addition to the default profile, there are a number of favorite profiles, for which a menu item is displayed in the file menu which creates a new tab with that profile when clicked. In KDE 3, every "session" type had a menu item, which caused problems for sysadmins who had 30 different types for connections to various machines - so the profiles shown on the File menu can now be specified by marking them with a star in the "Manage Profiles" dialog.
One often-requested feature is the ability to preview color schemes. This is implemented in the color scheme page of the dialog used to edit profiles. As you move the mouse over a color scheme, all open terminal displays using the edited profile will be redrawn in that color scheme. Fonts can also be previewed in a similar fashion.
In addition to profiles, a select number of options can be changed for a particular tab as before - such as character encoding, text size, history options, and in the future color scheme as well. Users who need to change the character encoding should now find it easier as Konsole now uses KDE 4's new character encoding menu which divides the encodings up nicely into groups instead of the loooong list which was there before.

The problem with all these dialogs however is that they require use of the mouse, which is really not the point of a terminal, so next on my list of things to do is the ability to control profile options in a completely keyboard orientated fashion.

In non-Konsole news, I saw the complaining about excess frames etc. in kdegames and went round and fixed each of the games. This fit and finish work is really pretty easy, so it makes a great way to contribute to KDE if you have not done so before, even if you know little in the way of C++. Along the way I got round to playing quite a few of the games. They are good fun and look great thanks to the new artwork. I also played around with the latest and greatest in the kdeedu module - some of the applications ( kmplot and kalzium to name two ) have changed quite radically from KDE 3 to 4. So even though there is no new desktop shell to be seen in KDE 4.0, much has happened elsewhere.

Cheers to the kdeedu and kdegames teams :)