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KDE-Telepathy – A Vision for Integration

Posted by grundleborg on April 26, 2011

The first preview release for KDE-Telepathy is getting closer. Our release-tracker bug now only has 9 bugs blocking it and many of these already have patches on reviewboard. Our first release will be made separately from the KDE Software Compilation, and should be compatible with installs of 4.6.x or trunk. It will be suitable only for people who like to try out new technologies before they are ready for the mainstream. It will not be feature complete (although we hope many of the basic features will be implemented). It will not be polished (although we do want to know about any bugs or issues you find – that’s why we’re making this release). It will also not be especially deeply integrated with the rest of the KDE S.C. or the Plasma workspaces. There will be a plasma applet for bringing accounts on and offline, but the rest of it is much like a traditional Instant Messaging application.

With expectation management out of the way, let’s take a look at how KDE-Telepathy is going to be in a few releases time. The biggest change from traditional IM clients is that Telepathy is all about Integration. Why should you have a standalone IM client? Real-time Communication and Collaboration features should be available where you want them regardless of the artificial boundaries between applications. Telepathy’s modular architecture of components communicating over DBus enables this to an extent never before possible.

Let’s take a look at the typical uses of Telepathy’s features and how they will work with KDE-Telepathy (not all of what you see below is being implemented presently):

  • Bringing Accounts on/offline, setting presence and status messages: this will by default be handled by a Plasma applet, although integration with other parts of the workspace could be carried out as appropriate (I’m thinking of that “me menu” concept from Ubuntu as an example).
  • “Currently Listening To: Foo” in the status message: this would be set by a plugin for the music player being used which updates the Telepathy presence message.
  • Configuring your Jabber/MSN/SIP/etc accounts: handled centrally in some kind of “My Identity” SystemSettings KCM.
  • Starting a chat/call: can be done anywhere that knows about people – plasma applets/KAddressBook/Tradtional “Buddy List” app/etc. There is a Summer of Code project to do some work on this stuff in Plasma and another one to make it possible in KAddressBook.
  • Collaborating on a Text Document: inside Calligra, or any other document editing software.

The key point of all this is that there will be no KDE-Telepathy Application as a single point of interaction for users. In reality, the features of KDE-Telepathy will be integrated with the rest of the KDE experience. The end result – features in more natural and useful places and a more seemless experience for our users.

Once our users stop knowing the name of KDE-Telepathy and start to see it as simply some communication/collaboration features that are always there, that’s when I’ll consider the KDE-Telepathy project to be a success.

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17 Responses to “KDE-Telepathy – A Vision for Integration”

  1. Eric Mesa said

    Soudns pretty awesome. Can’t wait for it to finally come out. Right now I can have user IM accounts in KAddressbook, but it doesn’t enable anything.

    • Will Stephenson said

      I wrote the IM address storage for KAddressBook in 2004, when in KDE 3 it was used to show IM status and enable chats from KMail/KAddressbook to Kopete, Konversation and Licq, and to send files to people via IM directly from Konqueror. While it made sense to keep the UI in KAddressBook, the KDEPIM and Konqi parts were not ported to KDE 4 in 2007 or so – I’m glad to see that it is being done right and look forward to trying out KDE Telepathy.

    • grundleborg said

      As Will said, that old integration code is going to be replaced (by a summer of code project this summer) with new, working code.

  2. CTown said

    Thanks for all of the hard work that went into KDE-Telepathy. Are there any plans to feature some kind of guest mode, which Kopete does not seem to have? Or what if one HAS to make some kind of Telepathy username and password (this is only local, it will not go to any server online). From there, one can configure only the protocols he or she wants. Also, when someone signs into KDE-Telepathy, there will be checkboxes asking what protocols (based off the configured protocols) to sign in to.

    • grundleborg said

      No plans as yet. It’s really quite a tricky problem, but I reckon once we have the more basic use-cases sorted out we should hopefully be able to come up with a way to do some kind of guest mode.

      • bsmith1012 said

        Doing something like that seems counterproductive. A guest user that you dont trust to interact with your telepathy contacts should be signed into their own session and not be using yours. Thats the whole purpose of multiple logins.

  3. venky80 said

    i see contacts integration as the biggest hurdle in all PIM project. If we can isolate and identify a “person” that would be a killer product. I think kde-telepathy has that potential along with akonadi/nepomuck

    • grundleborg said

      Nepomuk is the place where the data will all be joined together that relates to 1 “Person”. There’s a Summer of Code project happening this summer to start getting the Akonadi side of things integrated, and the Telepathy part already has code to integrate, so we’re well on the way to this.

      • venky said

        I just ran into these posts in planet gnome, something about libfolks and libsocialweb how are these projects integrated with kde-telepathy seems like they are trying to do many things kde-telepathy is trying too

        http://blog.barisione.org/2010-11/folks-and-qtcontacts/

        http://treitter.livejournal.com/13168.html

      • grundleborg said

        Libsocialweb is for Facebook and stuff – it’s for different techs to Telepathy, but by integrating it with Nepomuk this would integrate social networking sites with KDE (and by extension, with KDE-Telepathy).

        LibFolks is a “metacontacts” library for contacts from multiple sources. Basically it’s features are a subset of the features provided by Nepomuk (Nepomuk is generic to all types of information relations, folks is only for Contacts). I’ve been in regular contact with the folks developers since the project began, and currently the way we intend to cooperate is to have a Nepomuk backend for folks, so that KDE-Telepathy metacontacts can show up in Gnome applications using Folks (and vice-versa).

        As for Qt Contacts, we can build a similar solution to what we plan to do with libfolks, but I don’t think that’s very important until there is actually a need to use QtContacts with KDE (afaik there is no app that would benefit from this yet).

        In the end, the primary goal of KDE-Telepathy is to integrate Telepathy with KDE really well. Sure, having decent integration with Telepathy apps for Gnome is a goal, but it is (at least at this stage) somewhat less important than getting the KDE experience right, so that’s what we’re focusing on for now.

    • venky80 said

      Thanks for the insight, it is great to know that there is collaboration. Really exciting stuff and thanks for blogging about it. Looking forward to the release :)

  4. blablabla said

    I hope that the ‘current listening to’ could follow MPRIS players, nor like Kopete does… and a solid API to write plugins (for KDE-Telepathy, nor Telepathy) :D

  5. Jan Peter said

    A KDE chat client that works behind http proxy, that’s all I can ask. Waiting for it… :)

    • grundleborg said

      I’m pretty sure Telepathy can do this, at least for MSN (not sure what other protocols it is possible with).

    • Gabble (for XMPP, so Facebook and GTalk too) works fine with proxies, but on GNOME it gets those settings from the GNOME configuration.
      It *could* require some changes to make it work for KDE too.

      • grundleborg said

        It uses libproxy, right? Afaik that has proper KDE support too so we should be OK there. Only problem is that iirc proxy configuration in KDE is a bit of a mess at the moment, so that probably needs fixing for things to work properly first.

  6. damian said

    I don’t understand something what if 2 players want to set telepathy current song at the same time?, I mean will the music players have control over the presence message?
    Wouldn’t it be better if there where telepathy plugins that fetched the music players data via dbus(most players support it).

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