Nepomuk – What Comes Next

After a very generous start to my fundraiser (thank you so much for your support) it is time I get into more detail about what you are actually supporting. Originally I wanted to do that by updating nepomuk.kde.org. I will still do that but it will take a little more time than anticipated. Thus, I will simply start with another blog post.

Well then, apart from cleaning out the bug database at bugs.kde.org (this will be a hard one), continuing to support app developers with Nepomuk integration, maintaining the whole Nepomuk stack, Soprano, the Shared-desktop-ontologies, and some smaller Nepomuk-based applications there are some very specific tasks I want to work on in the near future (In this case the near-future roughly spans the next half year).

Semantic Saving and Loading of Documents

Pretty much forever we have managed documents in a very nerdy manner: the way they are stored on the local file system. We navigate physical folders, create complex hierarchies, get lost in them, recreate parts of them, never find our files again, and still keep on doing it.

The vision I have is that we do not think about folders at all any more since for me they are a restriction of the 3-dimensional world that has no place in a computer. A document on the real world can only be archived in a single folder. On the computer there is no such restriction. We can do whatever we want. Thus, the idea is to organize documents closer to the way our brain organizes information: based on context and familiar topics and relations.

This vision, however, is not feasible in the near future. There is simply too much legacy data and too many applications relying on the classical folder structure. Thus, the idea would be a hybrid approach which combines classical local folders with advanced semantic relations and meta-data. This is a development which I already started with fantastic input from the community.

The next steps include finishing the prototype and creating its counterpart, the file open dialog. This will be a very tough one for which I will ask your support again since that works out so great with the save dialog.

Excerpts

A typical use case is bookmarking pages or copying specific parts of a document into some collage of snippets. However, as always we loose the relation to the source. This is were Nepomuk will shine: instead of copying the part of the document we simply define the excerpt (the portion the user is interested in. This can be a section which is marked, it can be a specific position in the document ranging up to its end, or it can be part of an image.) as a resource in Nepomuk which we can annotate like any other resource. This means that we relate it to topics, people, projects, files, other snippets, web pages, comment on it, and so on – all the while we keep the relation to the original document

This allows for nice things like automatic collages (think of selecting all snippets which mention a certain topic or relate to a certain project and were created before some date and merging them all into one view), simpler quoting of things you read before (since the relation to the original document is in tact you have easy access to the details required for the quote – very interesting for academic workers), and a simple listing of all interesting quotes from documents by some person you like (an example query).

Sharing Nepomuk Data – Step 1

Whenever we create information we want to share it with others. Vishesh Handa already started a very ambitious project to support several types of data sharing through a plugin system. What I want to do first is much less but nonetheless interesting: sharing bits of Nepomuk data manually.

This means that you define the information you want to share and then simply export it into a file which you can then send to someone else. They in turn can import this information into their own Nepomuk system. For starters there will be tracking of origin of the data or anything like keeping two ratings at the same time. That is for later.

This is a very simple first step to sharing which should be fairly easy to implement, the GUI being the only actually hard part. The Data Management Service already takes care of export and import for us.

Once this works adding the same to EMail sending or Telepathy communications ill be very simple. In fact the Telepathy-KDE guys (namely Daniele E. Domenichell aka Dr. Danz) have been interesting in that for a long time. (I wish I were with you guys at Cambridge now!)

To this end I will probably finally get to work on Ginkgo, the generic Nepomuk resource management tool developed by Mandriva’s Stephane Lauriere.

For App Developers: Resource Watcher

For the longest time the only way of getting notified of changes in the Nepomuk database were the very generic Soprano signals Model::statementsAdded and Model::statementsRemoved. Checking for specific changes meant to check each statement which was added or removed or doing a pull each time one of those signals was emitted. An ugly and not very fast solution.

With the introduction of the Data Management Service this will finally change. We already have a draft API for the Nepomuk::ResourceWatcher which allows to opt in for change notifications of different kinds: changes on specific resources, new resource of specific types, changes to specific properties.

The initial API is there and partially integrated with the Data Management Service already. However, I would like to add some more nice features like only watching for non-indexed data or excluding changes done by a specific application (useful for an app which does changes itself and does not want to bother with that data). Also integration into the DMS needs to be finished as not all features exposed in the API are supported yet.

The technical aspect: KDE frameworks

With KDE 5.0 kdelibs and kde-runtime will be split into smaller parts to make it simpler for application developers to depend our powerful technologies. This also means a split for Nepomuk. I already started this split but a lot more work needs to be done to make Nepomuk an independent part in the KDE frameworks family.

Part of this also involves getting rid of deprecated legacy API and improving API where we were previously restricted by binary-compatibility issues.

So this is it for now. Reading over it again I get the feeling that it might be too much already – especially since I am fairly certain that new things will pop up all over the place. Nonetheless I will try to stay the course for once. ;)

Thanks again for your support.

Click here to lend your support to: Nepomuk - The semantic desktop on KDE and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Advertisements

Nepomuk Frameworks – kdelibs 5.0: What To Do

Development of kdelibs 5.0 has begun in the framework branch of its git repository. The main goal for kdelibs 5.0 is that there will be no more kdelibs as it is now. kdelibs (and kde-runtime) will be split up into smaller pieces to lower the barrier for non-KDE developers to use part of the power we as a KDE development community provide. The rough idea is that there will be three groups of libraries/frameworks:

  1. Tier 1: components which only depend on Qt and no other lib/component from KDE.
  2. Tier 2: components which depend on Qt and other libraries from Tier 1.
  3. Tier 3: components which depend on anything.

This of course includes Nepomuk and is a great opportunity for us to reorganize code and get rid of deprecated junk we needed to keep around for binary compatibility.

To this end we had two meetings on IRC this week to discuss how we want to proceed for KDE frameworks. It was a lot of fun (at least for me), mostly because it was rather easy to reach good decisions and fun to radically kick stuff that has been bugging us for a long time. The result is documented in a wiki page but let me summarize the basics again:

We will have four new git repositories:

  1. nepomuk-core – The main Nepomuk repository which is required in any case and provides the basic Nepomuk functionality including storage, query, and the like. I already began work on this in a nepomuk-core scratch repo. This repository will contain:

    • Nepomukserver
    • nepomukservicestub
    • Extension ontologies
    • Core services: Storage/DMS, Query service, Filewatch service, File indexer
    • Core library: the current libnepomuk including Nepomuk::Resource and Nepomuk::Types, libnepomukquery, and libnepomukdatamanagement
  2. nepomuk-ui – A repository containing Nepomuk UI extensions. For starters this will contain:

    • SearchLineEdit and SearchWidget
    • KFileMetaDataWidget which is currently living in KIO
  3. nepomuk-kde-kio – A KIO Nepomuk extension repository which contains the KIO slaves we currently provide in kde-runtime:

    • nepomuksearch – General purpose queries
    • timeline – browse files by date
    • nepomuk – a simple kio slave which allows browsing of Nepomuk resources via HTML pages
  4. nepomuk-kde-config-ui – The repository for Nepomuk configuration extensions based on KDE technology. It contains:
    • nepomukcontroller
    • Nepomuk KCM

We feel this gives a clean separation and will actually urge packagers to not split those repositories up any further.

Apart from that we decided a few more things – which API to drop, some internals, how to get rid of Soprano::Model in the Nepomuk API altogether, and so on. Actually I am very happy to soon have dedicated Nepomuk repositories as that will make development easier.

And BTW: kde-runtime/nepomuk master is frozen for commits. Development already moved to the new nepomuk-core repository.