Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Weekend Project: Porting Kickoff to QML

Last week I decided to do a small evening and weekend project to improve my QML skills. As I had worked on quite some QML already for the new screen locker and the window switching layouts, I wanted to do something more complex, but still something to work on in the evenings.

Given also Marco’s post we slowly have to transit the Plasma Workspaces to Plasma Components, so it makes sense to look in the Plasma area for a widget which could use a rewrite.

I decided to try to rewrite our application launcher Kickoff in QML. There are various reasons for it. First of all I am somewhat familiar with the source base as I have in the past worked at least a little bit with it. The code is nicely separated in core and ui parts and makes strong use of Qt’s Model/View/Controller Framework, which means it’s very easy to add a QML based interface to it.

But most important I think that Kickoff is an applet which would benefit most from a QML port. As Kickoff uses the Model/View/Controller Framework it is QWidget based and embedded into Plasma’s Graphicsscene through a proxy widget. If you are familiar with the differences you can spot where Kickoff just does not fit with the rest of Plasma. E.g. the white background or the blue highlight which just does not look and feel like Plasma. Given that Kickoff is one of the first visual elements new users will see it is rather important to present the UI in a consistent and elegant way.

While it is still a work in progress and more a draft, you can get a feeling of the differences in this screenshot:
Classic Kickoff vs. QML based Kickoff

Thanks to the possibilities of QML all the data presented in the QML based Kickoff is currently just mock-data and not yet connected to the real C++ based Models. This gives the possibility to concentrate on the UI without caring about the required changes in the underlying Models.

My expectation is that after the QML port Kickoff should also perform much better. Removing those proxy widgets is clearly a plus and QML allows us to lazy load the data and view components much easier. E.g. in the mockup I presented all the data is loaded only when needed. That is if you only use the favorite tab there is no need to load e.g. the data for the applications. So overall a worthwhile project for learning QML.

Overall we still have plenty of Plasmoids which need a QML port, so get your hands dirty.

Before I close this part, I’d like to invite you all to Plasma Bug Days, which will be held this Friday and Saturday (December 2nd and 3rd), more info on Aaron’s blog. Come give us a hand if you want the 4.8 release to really rock!

Source: http://blog.martin-graesslin.com/blog/2011/11/weekend-project-porting-kickoff-to-qml/


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