Posts Tagged ‘planetkde’

Sembrowser 0.3

Sembrowser 0.3

Hi everyone!

I have just released Sembrowser version 0.3 (sources here, Ubuntu packages here); not much changes since 0.2, time is always a problem, but it was worth publishing it because of the two most important features added:

  • text filtering for tags: thanks for all the facilities provided by kdelibs, in few lines of code I have added an edit box for narrowing the tag list by searching through some text;
  • the facet-term underlying structure is changed, with its classes trying to follow the Model-View-Controller architectural pattern; in this way, it should be easier to add new facets or new views, with less code involved. Please notice that this may not be the final structure: some discussions are happening right now about this, so things may change soon.

Just a reminder: Sembrowser is a (very poor) clone of Dolphin, and it is not meant to substitute the default KDE file browser: it is being developed for testing faceted browsing of Nepomuk metadata applied directly to file browsing; the side panel offering this new functionality may (hopefully) someday be ported to Dolphin itself (or to some other Nepomuk apps). So, do not complain about missing functionalities (for the manager part), because I have just added the most important ones, but they are not the main goal here.

Here in Politecnico the exam session is starting right now, so the next month will be a little busy for me; fortunately, by the end of july I should have finished all of my exams, so I should have some more time to dedicate to KDE (especially if some things will get realized as I wish, but more on this later).

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Sembrowser 0.2

Sembrowser 0.2 is out for testing!

Several weeks are passed from the 0.1 version, so it was time to release the new version; before getting into a few details, let me remind you that this is not a substitute for Dolphin, but simply a prototype for checking the capabilities of having a faceted browsing in a file manager; thus, it has not all the functionalities of Dolphin itself, but only those that I think are needed in a very simple manager.

Now, the new features:

  • new queries under the hood: this should speed up the tags loading (and the file refreshing, too)
  • resizability: the facets panel was quite blocked in the first release, now it can be resized along all directions
  • configuration of the facets to be shown: a settings page can be used for choosing which of the three possible facets (document type, time, tags) are shown in the panel; this may be useful especially on smaller screen (those scroll bars are not the best thing to use, I have to admit it)
  • added some file manager functionalities, in particular cut-copy-paste
  • some minor improvements here and there…

So, go to the KDE-Apps page and check it out, and then tell me what’s good and bad with it (only constructive comments, please, no rants!).

P.S.: you can also get the source from Gitorious, or install it on Ubuntu (Karmic for now, Lucid in the weekend) from my PPA.

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The exam session is almost over, so I’m getting back to development, after more than a month without any activity…

I already have a TODO list for Sembrowser, so expect some new features soon; in the meantime I have added a small utility, which you can find in the misc/ subdirectory on Git, useful for testing the application itself: if you are like me, and you create detailed directory trees for your files, then with the Python script that I have added (which, by the way, has been also an interesting experiment with KDE bindings under Python) you can specify a directory (say: /home/user/Documents/University/Some course name) and all the files found under that directory will be tagged with each fragment of their path (or part of it, for example Documents, University and Some course name will be tags applied to all files under that path). Check the script options for a more precise usage example.

This can be useful for having a bunch of tags automatically associated to some files, so you can then try Sembrowser itself having something to browse, if you don’t usually use tags.

See you soon!

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If you are using Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic) and the Kubuntu Beta repository, you may have noticed that the release of 4.4 RC2 broke the PyKDE bindings, which were left at version 4.3.x; for (temporarily) solving the issue, I have rebuilt the 4.3.95 packages from Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid) to Karmic, without any modifications, and you can find them on my PPA. I don’t know if the Beta PPA will provide the final 4.4.0 bindings, mine are just for the RC2 release.

Please notice that they are absolutely not to be considered as stable or widely tested or any of this; they just Work For Me, and they may work for someone else, but I cannot guarantee anything on that.

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Just a brief update: for those who follow the development of Sembrowser, I did not write a single line of code after the release of 0.1, and that’s because I have been a little busy during the Christmas holidays, for a university homework with today as the deadline. Also, the winter exam session will start in a couple of weeks, so don’t expect big surprises for a while.

In the meantime, if you use Ubuntu, finally the RC1 landed in the beta repository, so now Sembrowser can be packaged, and it is: the 0.1 can be found in my personal PPA (for Karmic, of course); I don’t know how often I will update it, I mean if I will create debs only when I will do an official release or more often. I’ll let you know when I will decide 🙂

P.S.: as a side note, I use(d) my PPA for personal experiments, so I suggest you to install Sembrowser only; any other package may mess up everything 😀

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Sembrowser 0.1

Ladies and gentlemen, Sembrowser 0.1 is out for testing!

Have you noticed the version number? It is not that low for nothing: the application (which is a prototype for a faceted side panel) is far from finished and not guaranteed to be stable/scalable/with good performance; anyway, the main feature, that is the faceted panel itself (with basic functionality) is ready for some comments. I want to add that this app is not and will not be a replacement for Dolphin: the idea was and is to create a testing file manager for faceted browsing; Sembrowser has way less features than Dolphin (and I don’t want to copy all of them or port all of them), even if some things are similar (like the places side panel). The new panel itself may be, at some point, taken and ported to Dolphin, but it is too early to talk about this…

So, get the sources and give it a try: you will need KDE 4.4 from trunk (no, beta2 is not enough) and a working Nepomuk installation (with Virtuoso); the facet at the bottom is about tags, so if you don’t use them, well it may be the right time for you to start 🙂

Side notice: when you select some tags, only files (and not directories) are shown; comment below if you think that it may make sense in your opinion to show them, too, but for now it is not a bug, it is a feature 😛

Side notice 2: if you want to stay on the “bleeding edge”, you can get the sources from Gitorious.

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I am not here to talk about the little semantic browser thing, which I know all of you are expecting (and I promise a first test version of the app in the next few days, Christmas holidays should help in giving me some time to prepare it right); I’m here to discuss some impressions on the Microsoft Semantic Engine presentation.

Yes, I said “Microsoft”, and I’d like to survive to that phrase, and no, I did not change to the dark side of computer science; it happened that, a couple of weeks ago, I was browsing the sessions of this year’s Professional Developers Conference, when I found this one, about a so-called “Microsoft Semantic Engine”: as a semantic maniac, I had to download the video and see what the “enemy” is preparing in this field, especially because I think that KDE is the first desktop environment to introduce semantics for its apps, and if a new player is coming into the field, then it’s good to see what he is doing. So, finally today I found some time to take a look at it, and here are some impressions.

In general

It looks like a technology introduced especially for business users, which is a good place to start: if the semantic desktop works (and here I’m talking about Nepomuk itself: Microsoft never used the term “semantic desktop”), it could really help Linux itself in becoming a business player heavier than how it is now.

For evidencing even more the business aspect, they built their engine on a relational database, which is pretty shocking IMHO: yes, in this way you can integrate with data warehouses, but the underlying code is a hell if you do not use any of the semantic languages/engines/technologies and their facilities (RDF(S), OWL, Jena, Virtuoso, Pellet). Triples, anyone?


This engine also uses clustering and data mining techniques, together with (un)supervised learning algorithms, to deal with all the metadata that various crawlers pick up from documents (more on this later), and this reminded me of a discussion we had in Freiburg, about clustering for obtaining meaningful facets and terms for the semantic browser: for now, that prototype application will work with just three facets, but when that number will grow, things will surely become interesting…

File crawler

The crawling part is quite straightforward: each document is analyzed many times, at different levels, for getting keywords or other meaningful informations; there is an OCR part for images, as Scribo does, and a really interesting audio analyzer, which tries to extract also the tempo and the key from the music (if it is a music audio file, of course), and that’s really interesting from a technical point of view, at least for a musician like me.


In the end it has been an interesting video, with some really interesting informations on how other software vendors are dealing with the semantic technologies; I think we (as KDE) have a great advantage on these “competitors” in this field, and we need to keep up the good work and integrate Nepomuk more and more into all the applications: the future is coming, and we are right on the bleeding edge.

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As you may remember from my last post, I was talking about faceted browsing panels for Dolphin. As Peter wrote a few days ago, we had some discussions, and from that on I started working on a simple file manager application, in which I wanted to test the faceted panel that was included in the last screenshot, or actually a better version of that panel.

The application is far from finished, but now I need some opinions on three different UIs that I’m trying for the faceted browsing; so, here is the screenshot.

Different panels

Different panels

It is a collage of the UIs, please forgive any white space left in the corners…

Anyway, the leftmost is quite a standard faceted browsing system: you have three (for now, maybe more later) list views, all equal to each other, in which you can select only one value (the first two boxes) or more than one (the last one). I have put the numbers only in those facets for which I thought it made sense, in particular when multi-selection is permitted.

The central panel has been suggested by Sebastian Trüg during that discussion, I don’t know why my window theme gives the same style both to the tool buttons and to the group box title, anyway the idea is to substitute the single selection lists with a button group.

The rightmost panel tries to use the most intuitive widgets for each facet, so there are buttons for the document type, a calendar widget for the date section, and a tag cloud for selecting tags (its code has been adapted from the Semnotes program by Laura Dragan). The idea of making it started during some discussions at the Nepomuk Sprint, and it tries to be more intuitive than the other two, but of course it loses the UI similarity between the different facets.

So, in the end: what do you think? What would you find more usable/intuitive/useful/whatever? I won’t tell you what I like the most, I’d prefer some fresh opinions on it… You can find all the three panels in the project repository (I have a branch for each of them), but their actions are not connected to anything, so you cannot actually browse any file 🙂

I want to decide the definitive one, before finishing its implementation.

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So, my first Nepomuk meeting is over (as you will probably get to know from other sources), and here there are my impressions.

First of all, it has been a real pleasure knowing Sebastian Trueg and all the other guys (and the only woman, of course!) who met in Freiburg the last weekend; the place was quite cool (especially the fact that the conference room was just below the bedroom floor), and the surroundings were really beautiful.

Three devel days

Well, actually for me they were two and a half, because I arrived on friday noon, but anyway they have been surely interesting: I have to admit that I got a little lost in the first day discussion about some ontologies details; at least now I can say that I know something more about the Nepomuk internals.

On saturday the use cases discussion about social desktop and how to integrate it with the semantic one continued from the evening before, but we also started developing some things, about which I will tell in a few lines; I especially liked the sunday: we took one of the case studies, and each of us took a piece of the necessay libraries and tools that were missing from current Nepomuk release, with the aim to be able to make that use case real; we didn’t finish it, but it has been interesting and even fun to collaborate with the others with one common target.

My place in the world

So what was my part in all this? Well, I will start with the last day’s work: the use case was about allowing users to share metadata about files from a computer to another computer, so the user of the latter would be able to see those files in his searches, and to open them (downloading them on the fly) and add more metadata; anyway, I’m sure other people from the meeting will explain all this with more details.

My task was to add a popup menu for Dolphin, so a user can right-click a document and decide to share it with friends; then a little dialog searches all the user’s contacts, allowing him to choose whom to share with and if he wants to be informed about any changes.

Konqueror plugin

Konqueror plugin

For now, I have been able to create a popup menu for Konqueror, in the form of a Konqueror plugin library, and later I will add it to Dolphin too (why Dolphin does not read also library plugins? It would be so useful…); what is missing in the plugin is just the final call to the Nepomuk service, of course through DBus, and this will be done in the next few days (and maybe I will blog about it later).

In this workshop I also wanted to share ideas about the smartsave dialog and its current status; for now, we decided to rethink about the filters UI, and put this new UI also in a Dolphin side panel, so users will start to see it and use it, and realize how useful it can be; this side panel may also be able to get into a KDE release easily.

Faceted panel - early preview

Faceted panel - early preview

So what I did on saturday was to bring the filters panel, as it is now in the semantic open dialog, into Dolphin itself: the integration is still in an early stage, there are still some bugs to be solved, but it basically works; the next step will be to change the way in which filters are shown, and this even deserves a new paragraph.


The filter panel will become a complete faceted browsing system, and we decided to reduce filter types to three categories (at least for now): time (today, yesterday, this week, last week, this month…), “rough” document types (documents, images, media…) and tags; probably contacts/people will be the next category to make its way into the panel, but at the current status it is not a priority.

I will prepare soon two different UI layouts, because there have been some debate in how to show these facets, and I think some screenshots will be better than lots of words trying to explain it, so for this you’ll have to wait 🙂

Final words

In the end, there have been three wonderful days, lots of fun and code and chatting and pizza and things; I really liked the whole meeting, and I hope I will be able to participate to the next one, too.

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I’m pretty excited, because my first Nepomuk meeting (and in general my first KDE meeting) is coming!

The next weekend I will be in Freiburg (my first trip in Germany) to meet with my Summer of Code mentor, Sebastian Trueg, and a bunch of Nepomuk developers: the program is quite rich and interesting, and my first purpose is to absorb all the informations that I can about the Nepomuk framework and infrastructure, and of course to be useful, if I can, in planning the next semantic desktop steps.

I also hope to plan the next steps for Smartsave: I have to admit that I haven’t worked on it since september, so I have to look at Sebastian’s modifications, to be able to resume my development in the next few days.

Last but not least, I would like to have a look at the city: for what I have read on the net, it looks like Freiburg is a nice city, so I think it will be worth going a little around… well, we’ll see what is going to happen!

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