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Building a New KDE - page 3

Starting from Scratch

  • January 31, 2008
  • By Bruce Byfield

KDE 4.0 includes hundreds of new features, so singling out major ones is difficult. Olson suggests, though, that one of the best places to see what KDE 4 is all about are some of the small educational programs and games.

Many of them have been redesigned to take advantage of the scalable vector graphics display and enhanced rendering in KDE 4, making them what Olson calls "a canary in the coal mine"--an indicator of what is about to happen in KDE design. "When you see these smaller applications having these super-sexy graphics and new icons and great performance, and how they are really more usable than their KDE3 counterparts, then that portends well for some of the larger applications that are coming down the pike," he says.

Another place to view the changes in KDE 4 is the standard utilities used by the operating system. When Konqueror, the KDE file manager, was first released in the late 1990s, the fashion was to consider files on the Internet the equivalent of network files, and to browse them in the same way as local files. Now, however, the fashion has shifted, prompting KDE to promote the use of Dolphin, a dedicated file manager, and to use Konqueror chiefly as a web browser.

That said, users can still use Konqueror for file management if they choose. "Konqueror's not going anywhere," Olson says. "It got a lot of love and attention in this release. Just look at the tool box alone, and you'll see that we've worked on usability improvements."

Konsole, the KDE command line window, has also benefited from an interface makeover--to say nothing of new features such as a search history, split views, and enhanced scrolling and general speed. "It's crazy," Olson says, obviously bemused. "The idea of a basic Unix or AIX console has been around for so long, yet something so simple actually got a lot of attention. Obviously, there's still areas for innovation."

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