Monthly Archives: July 2012

How to get started with Dolphin development

First of all, I would like to say thanks to everyone who provided help and support since I took over Dolphin’s maintainership. Two patches have been contributed already (1, 2 – the first one will be in 4.9.0, but the second one not due to string freeze issues), and some people helped to handle the incoming bug reports. I would like to mention Christoph Feck and Jekyll Wu here because they have triaged lots of bugs over a long period – thank you very much for that!

I am also quite happy about those who have expressed interest in getting involved with Dolphin development and have asked for some guidance about how to get started. As I said in my last post, I’m a bit busy at the moment, and from now on I will be away for a couple of weeks and cannot do any Dolphin-related work at all (I might be able to check mails from time to time though), but I would like to provide a few ideas about possible first steps at least.

How to keep in contact with other people working on Dolphin and how to find something to work on

  • Bugs are reported at bugs.kde.org. Here are some example queries: bugs (not wishes) reported in the last two months, all open Dolphin bugs.
  • The mailing list where Dolphin development is discussed is kfm-devel. Feel free to ask there if you have any questions concerning the code. Please do not use this list to report bugs.
  • Patches are submitted for review at Review Board. Use the ‘dolphin’ product, this makes sure that a notification email is sent to the kfm-devel list. You will need a KDE identity account to use Review Board and many more KDE-related services. If you want to work on something larger or if you are unsure if the approach you have in mind to fix a problem is the right one, please ask on the mailing list before you invest a lot of time.
  • We have a forum which can be used for support requests and Dolphin-related questions. If it turns out that something which is discussed at the forum is a bug, please make sure that it is reported at bugs.kde.org.

Building Dolphin from source

This is the first and maybe most important step that anyone willing to help out with development has to take. There is some information about building the entire KDE source at TechBase, including links to tools like kdesrc-build and build-tool which can be used to perform most of the steps automatically.

But it is also possible to build just kde-baseapps, which is the repository where Dolphin is located, provided the kdelibs development package provided by your distribution are installed. Finding the easiest way to do it and publishing it has been on my TODO list fore quite some time, but because I never got round to do it, I’ll just provide ideas how it can be done. Maybe you will find even better ways. If you find a way to build just Dolphin and think it is easy enough for others as well, please post a description as a comment or provide a link to a script, pastebin, etc. We can put the easiest way to build Dolphin on a wiki then.

Dolphin 2.1 and beyond

You have probably heard last week that Peter stepped down as Dolphin maintainer. I would like to thank him for the good collaboration that we had during the last years. It was a great pleasure to work with him, and I think that his departure is a big loss for KDE.

He entrusted the future maintenance of Dolphin to me, so I will do my best to keep it in good shape. I think that ease of use and stability are what users appreciate most about Dolphin, and I want to make sure that it stays that way.

My most important medium-term goal is to attract new developers. I think that this is of vital importance for a number of reasons:

  • Any software project with a low bus number is in great danger.
  • I am the maintainer now, but that does not mean that the amount of time that I can spend on Dolphin development will suddenly increase. I will try to read all incoming bug reports (note that it can take a while until I look at a newly reported bug – even maintainers have a real life and go on holiday sometimes) and try to reproduce them, at least those that can be reproduced using my hardware and software setup. I will also try to fix a couple of bugs for each release. But I cannot implement any major new features if I have to do it all alone.
  • I do not like to work alone. I have always enjoyed discussions about code with Peter and other developers, and I quite like the idea that all commits should be reviewed. Obviously, discussing patches and review for everyone is only possible if the number of people who contribute to the project on a regular basis is greater than one.

To make it easier for potential new contributors to find something to work on, I would like to start a joint effort to go through all Dolphin bug reports, close obsolete ones and assign useful keywords to those that can be reproduced easily.  Real life will keep me busy for the next couple of weeks, but then I will get in touch with the Bugsquad and get something organised. Any help will be welcome 🙂 I think that participating in a joint bug triaging session is a nice way to start contributing to a free software project – as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my involvement in KDE started with two Konqueror bug days a couple of years ago.

Not only code contributions, but also help in other areas is appreciated, of course. Those include:

  • Triaging bug reports at bugs.kde.org. It really helps a lot if triagers add useful information to bug reports, point out duplicates, ask the reporter for more information, and thus reduce the number of bug reports that need the maintainer’s attention. It’s also nice for users that their reports can get quick replies even when the maintainer is busy with other things.
  • User support at the forum. It’s amazing to see how fast a group of dedicated forum members replies to most user questions and resolves many of them. I think that this improves the user experience considerably.
  • Documentation and translation. Especially Burkhard LĂĽck does a great job keeping the documentation of Dolphin (and other applications) in good shape.

If you would like to contribute to Dolphin or KDE in general, but you do not want to write code, getting involved in one of these areas is a great way to help the project to move forward.

Summary: If you want to get involved with Dolphin development, you are more than welcome! If you don’t know a good place to start, stay tuned and wait a couple of weeks for my next posts.