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Exclusive Interview With KDE Developer

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We spoke with KDE developer Shantanu Tushar to understand the plans for mobile devices.

Muktware: What is the statues of Qt post Nokia’s deal with Microsoft? What is the sentiment within the Qt/KDE community?
Shantanu:
I’d like to say that first of all, Nokia is still contributing heavily to Qt’s development. Secondly, Qt has been moving to a fully community driven development process under the Qt Open Governance initiative, so it has a very bright future, irrespective of whether there is official support from a company or not. About the second question, the KDE community is not affected much with what happened, we are working with the same enthusiasm to make KDE even more better each day.

Muktware: What are Qt’s plans for mobile devices? Which platform are you targeting?
Shantanu:
As far as I know, Qt already runs on all major mobile platforms (except obviously, WP7) and there is a community project called Necessitas ( http://sourceforge.net/p/necessitas/ ) which has been successful in porting Qt so that Qt apps can be now run on Android too. Further, when we’re talking specifically about KDE, we are primarily targeting MeeGo phones and tablets.
 
Muktware: How is Calligra developing and how do you see it compared to LibreOffice which came into popularity so quickly?
Shantanu:
Calligra has seen lot of improvements since the beginning of this year. Our base platform is improved, the community has grown stronger and bigger with lots of new contributors joining in, which by the way, includes a lot of Indians. Then, we have added two new applications – Flow which is a flowcharting application and Braindump, a notes taking application which uses the Open Document standard and Calligra’s core. With help of our contributors, Calligra has undergone usability tests, and we have improved our UI according to the test findings.

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And as far as LibreOffice is concerned, Calligra has a better foundation codebase and structure. Coupled with the flexibility Qt provides us, we are sure Calligra is not just an Office Suite, its also a framework for others to build related applications. A simple example would be the Calligra Active project which I will describe shortly. If it wasn’t for the flexible and modular Calligra code, it wouldn’t have been possible to get Calligra Active up and running in just couple of months.

Muktware: There is a huge gap when it comes to office suite on Mobile devices (and platforms like MeeGo), how with Qt/Calligra fill this gap?
Shantanu:
Well with the current trends moving more towards mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, Calligra is definitely aiming to fill the gap. We’ve already been having a mobile version of Calligra called FreOffice since a few years now. It runs on Maemo powered devices such as the Nokia N900 and is a fully functional office solution for mobile with superb viewing and editing capabilities.

Recently we launched Calligra Active – which is our attempt to create a more engaging and lively interface for our mobile UI. It is a part of KDE’s Plasma Active project which aims to provide KDE user interfaces ready on non-desktop form factor and devices. Given all these developments, we are really excited to give the mobile user access to Calligra and enjoy the power of Free Software.

Muktware: Can you tell more about your involvement with KDE/Qt?
Shantanu:
I have been using KDE SC since the time I started to use GNU/Linux (KDE 4.1 then) . My contributions to KDE software started in early 2009 with bug fixes and feature requests. Starting from contributions to Plasma, KDE’s desktop shell, these days I am an active contributor to Gluon – KDE’s cross platform game distribution engine and Calligra Active – Calligra’s new mobile interface. All this time, KDE has never failed to engage me in the community, I must say that it is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Other than code, I’ve conducted various KDE/Qt workshops in my own college, and other colleges with the help of the KDE community. I have co-ordinated the KDE Project of The Day at FOSS.IN 2009 and helped organize conf.kde.in 2011 – the first Qt/KDE event in India. The event was a huge success, and we got lots of new contributors from it, an example being 17 students from India selected for Google Summer of Code 2011 to work for KDE.

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