A Quick Archeological Diversion
old church to look at its foundations, bumping my head a few times on the low ceiling while trying not to get dirt on my clothes as I leaned around various corners and edges.
Five different phases and eight centuries of construction were visible. Besides a few graves and some interesting stone work, there are also two "Findling": large natural stones that were left behind by glaciers during the last ice age, marooned on a small island in the Limmat river. Over time and with some applied imagination, these stones had become wrapped in a myth about Christianity, a pair of Roman soldiers, their slave and a post-beheading zombie walk up the banks of the river. It's a story that, much like the building itself, evolved over the centuries: while the story appears in the 8th century, the slave was added to the story in the 13th century. It also planted the seeds for a festival which lives on today as the annual shooting festival, or Knabenschiessen, in Zürich.
Today, the church is no longer on an island. The Limmat river, as is common for rivers flowing through cities, has been significantly narrowed over the centuries due to urban development. However, I can well imagine that when the stones were naked on that small island, one breaking the flow of the river and the other one behind it, they could very easily have held mystical significance even for the resident bronze age population. Elsewhere in Europe, similar peoples loved to venerate their islands, stones and valleys so putting the three together could well have been quite moving for them. There seems to be some disagreement on the relation of the stones and the prehistory peoples, but one can always imagine. :)
.. aaaand we're back (to people)
Whether in the evidence found in centuries of stone structures piled one atop the other or in the more contemporary form of digital creations communities such as KDE generate over the span of mere years and decades, the paths we take together and the histories we lay down are endlessly interesting.
KDE's libraries have their own "archeology" buried within the code: some of it is older, some is newer and it is all laid down in strata. (Too bad there is no "git log" for physical objects! ;) As with the land beneath any living, thriving settlement, the KDE Platform is not yet settled into stasis never to be changed or altered again. It grows, it changes, it gets refined.
With Platform 4, we added a number of frameworks each with its own purpose. We often refer to these as "the pillars of KDE Platform 4" and they include familiar names like Solid, Phonon, Nepomuk, ThreadWeaver, Sonnet, Plasma, etc. They are all still growing and improving, which is a good sign, but it does beg the question: where are we going?
Find answers to that broad question is the purpose for the upcoming Platform 11 event this June in Randa, Switzerland. Topics will include desktop, mobile, extending the Pillars of KDE upwards as well as outwards into our applications, modularization, increased interface with the Qt ecosystem and more.
It's going to be a huge event in terms of importance, scope and the number of people who will be participating. Platform 11 will have some 25 participants on its own, but it won't be alone: we will have the company of three other KDE development sprints happening at the same time in the same small village! This will be the biggest library focused event since Trysil, Norway five years ago.
We will busy ourselves with mapping new phases of construction for the KDE Platform, and so the importance simply can not be understated. kdelibs may have been around for less than 15 years, nothing compared to the old buildings here in Zürich, but the construction of layer over layer as we modernize all while keeping the spirit of what went before alive, is much the same.
If you are on the attendee list and haven't yet put in your registration with travel cost estimates, please do so ASAP so that I can finalize the budget and move on to other logistics.
If you won't be able to attend, we'll be making sure that we keep everyone up to date with what happens at the event as it happens. We'll do this through a combination of live blogging, daily blogging, irc channels, email list communication as appropriate and overview reports on dot.kde.org. I'm hoping we'll even have a presentation at the Berlin Desktop Summit on the results, but that remains to be seen. This is our platform, not just for the 25 or so people who will be physically be there participating, but for all of us. We will have that in mind as we work towards our common goals, much as we have at the past "big" kdelibs events.
The expected agenda and format of the event will be announced in the coming weeks. Cornelius and I will be working on a process for that together and will be asking for input and participation once we've got some initial logistics worked out.
We also have some new organizational tools for sprints that we're using for the first time. It's all part of the "standardizing around smoother, leaner processes" path that we've been on for a number of years now.
This time we're improving sprint organization, starting with the new sprints.kde.org website where events can be proposed, approved for funding by KDE e.V. and organized. It's still a "beta" site, but it already has a number of features that will make sprint organizing and reporting much easier for us all. KDE e.V.'s board of directors will have a nicer tool to gain an overview of present and past sprints, sprint organizers will have more guidance and less "by hand" work to do and sprint attendees will have a standard, simpler method of discovering and participating in sprints.
Naturally, it ties into identity.kde.org so your existing KDE account is your key to future sprints. It also has OpenStreetMap integration, standardized forms for sprint attendees, etc. This has been a remarkable experience in which KDE's sys admin heros, our growing web development community (in this particular case, Emil Sedgh) and sprint guru Mario Fux all coming together to make something we've probably needed for a while now.
If you are organizing a sprint, please use sprints.kde.org if you can. At the moment, starting that process still means getting in touch with the KDE e.V. board to get it posted on the site, but the proposal process will eventually be done on sprints.kde.org itself, open to anyone with an identity.kde.org account. The goal is to also standardize and streamline the sprint proposal process so it is more predictable and carries less administration overhead.
Of course, the website itself is also Free open source software. If you'd like to help improve the website (so many possibilities: RSS feeds, calendars, post-sprint reporting improvements, accounting views, sprint proposal workflows, auto-created countdowns, Plasmoids, ...), git clone the sprint-kde-org repository, coordinate with Emil (aka emilsedgh on irc) and start cranking out those patches!
This is the kind of thing that comes to mind when I think "KDE": people coming together and tackling exciting, big issues from multiple angles, doing the hard work with enthusiasm. Just look at what's going on here: Web development and KDE? Check. Mobile? Check. Improving the Pillars of KDE? Check. Planning for current and future Platform needs? Check. Organizational process improvements? Check. Sprints galore? Check. Amazing minds and the wonderful people who own them coming together for a momentous week in a beautiful location? You bet.
I can't help but feel excitement when I think about it. The anticipation of positive movement, positive energy and important, challenging questions ahead of us ... The future is open and there for us to explore with open minds and arms. I wish it were June already!
On that note .. if you, like me, feel these kinds of events are critical to the future of KDE and the Free(dom) software our community creates and you haven't done so yet, please consider Joining the Game with a small financial commitment. Your support helps make these events possible. :)