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KDE community shifts branding as KOffice 2.1 debuts
Nov. 25, 2009

The KDE community has modified its product branding and expanded its focus beyond the KDE Linux desktop to support a wider range of open source projects, says eWEEK.. Meanwhile, the community has released Version 2.1 of KDE's KOffice suite, featuring improved OpenDocument support and KWord enhancements.

The 13-year-old KDE community, which is primarily known for its KDE desktop environment, one of the top two Linux desktop UI stacks along with GNOME, has decided to "reposition the KDE brand from focusing on being an open-source desktop for Linux to being an overall open-source community," writes Darryl Taft in our sister publication, eWEEK.

In a Nov. 24 post describing the repositioning, KDE spokesperson Stuart Jarvis stated, "The application framework has grown, matured and gone cross-platform, as have the applications." Indeed, KDE now offers Windows and Mac versions, although they are listed as still being in the experimental stage. Jarvis goes on to state that "KDE's identity has shifted from being simply a desktop environment to representing a global community that creates a remarkably rich body of free software targeted for use by people everywhere."

New KDE brand map

Noting that "The strength of KDE is the community," Jarvis goes on to state that "it is natural that the brand 'KDE' stands first and foremost for the community." KDE originally stood for the "K Desktop Environment," but evolved to become simply KDE. However, "The expanded term 'K Desktop Environment' has become ambiguous and obsolete, probably even misleading," Jarvis continued. "The term 'K Desktop Environment' can be accurately and completely replaced by 'KDE Community,' 'KDE Platform,' 'KDE Applications' or specific KDE application names, depending on what is actually meant."

KDE 4.3 Plasma Desktop Shell with new Air theme

The community will now use "KDE" exclusively for "KDE, the community," which creates free software for end users, and as an umbrella brand for the technology created by the KDE community. In addition, KDE Workspaces will be separately referred to as "KDE Plasma Desktop" and "KDE Plasma Netbook," says Jarvis, and KDE technologies used for building applications will be referred to as the "KDE Platform."

Jarvis also notes that KDE 4.3 "is essentially a compilation of our software (Workspaces, Applications and Platform), and thus the next release will be named "KDE Software Compilation 4.4."

KOffice 2.1 boosts ODF, KWord

Also on Nov. 24, the KOffice team released Version 2.1 of KOffice, an integrated office suite built on the KDE platform. A major focus is improved support for the OpenDocument format, ODF. The release also supports enhanced support for component communication and component embedding. In addition, import and export of foreign file formats has been overhauled, says the team.

Karbon 2.1 vector graphics editor, here seen with KDE's Oxygen theme Webcam icon
(Click to enlarge)

The KWord word processor has been rev'd with a new change tracking function, as well as a more advanced implementation of tables, says the team. The KPlato project management application has also received considerable attention, with added support for many new manipulations of resources, currencies, and work types. There are said to be many smaller additions and bugfixes to other apps such as the KSpread spreadsheet and KPresenter presentation manager.

All the apps are said to be stable except for the Krita picture editor and paint application, and the Karbon 2.1 vector editor application (pictured above). Karbon has been improved with a new framework for svg filter effect plugins, with pre-installed filters that can be combined to support drop-shadow effects. Krita, meanwhile, has gained new brushes.

The KOffice 2.1 release is mainly aimed at developers, testers, and early adopters, says the KOffice team. "It is not aimed at end users, and we do not recommend Linux distributions to package it as the default office suite yet," says the release blog.

The announcement also notes that "KOffice 2.1 still does not have all the features that KOffice 1.6 had, even if it in some ways greatly exceeds KOffice 1.6. These features will return in the upcoming version 2.2, in most cases better implemented and more efficient."

During the development of Version 2.1, it was also announced that KOffice is being incorporated in the Nokia N900 smartphone, which is based on Maemo Linux.

Earlier this month, the KDE community released KDE 4.3.3, which is described as being a bugfix and translation update to KDE 4.3.


The KDE repositioning blog may be found here, and the KOffice release announcement, with links to downloads, may be found here. More information on KDE 4.3.3 may be found here.

eWEEK's story on KDE should be here.

-- Eric Brown

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