behold, the desktop reborn! and not just kicker, but kdesktop and superkaramba as well. as i've mentioned previously in my blog these three pieces of software are being refactored into one coherent application. the desktop will still have icons, but they will be (behind the scenes) the exact same objects as you see on the panel (this is transparent to the user who couldn't care less of course ;). the desktop will be able to host applets, which is of course where kicker and superkaramba conspire. drag an applet from the desktop to the panel, or "detach" it so that it floats, and the applet will reconfigure itself appropriately for the form factor.
a new applet library, which will amalgamate refactored classes from libkdeui, libkickermain and superkaramba will provide applets with access to system information, web services and of course the usual wealth of standard KDE facilities.
using Qt4's graphics capabilities (and the mad graphic hacking of Zack) we should be able to make this not only look dead sexy but also be performant! for instance, right now kdesktop sends the background via DCOP to the panel to coordinate for the "transparency" effect (ever wondered why it was slow? ;), now we have the opportunity to simply composite all the graphics in process. also expect new takes on the kmenu (which will cease to be a popup menu, by the way), the standard applets such as the clock and more.
what will this all mean for the average user? a prettier desktop that feels smoother and does more. it also means zero barrier, 2-click access to add on desktop widgets via Get Hot New Stuff (yes, we are already talking about sandboxing the applets =). the changes won't be so amazingly drastic that the WinRefugee will feel lost, but they will be immediately apparent and seductive. it won't be in your face, but it will be elegant.
and what will this all mean for the developer? it means that if you can develop a web page, you can make an applet. it means that if you know python or ruby you can quickly create a widget that will run everywhere: fast development of products that are easy to distribute. it means better cooperation between their desktop, application launcher, run command window, eye candy ....
with this exciting set of synergies we obviously need a new name, a new look a new symbol for this software. KDE4 will mark the departure of kicker, kdesktop and superkarmaba as names from the the public consciousness (though kicker will still appear in the code =). therefore i ask you to welcome:
speaking of artistic beauty, i've started interfacing with the amazing KDE art community over at kde-artist.org. if you have artistic vision and talent, please visit the kicker kollaboration forum and join us in defining the new look of the desktop!
we're going to kick ass with KDE4.