The Google Summer of Code 2008 is underway and we have a handful of projects related to Plasma set to go.
I'll personally be working as mentor to two projects: Aike Jan Sommer on his "Easy monitor hot-plug support in KDE" project which will ensure Plasma works Perfectly(tm) no matter what sort of runtime torture you apply to it in the form of displays coming, going and rearrannging; and Rob Scheepmaker on "Implement the 'extender' interface concept in plasma". Both Aike and Rob worked extensively prior to submitting their proposals on researching exactly what the project definitions should be and how to tackle them successfully. This even led to patches in some cases that are already in svn right now for 4.1. I was quite impressed with both of their efforts.
Aside from those two projects, we also have Chani working on "Plasma Widgets on the Screensaver" which is not only going to be coolicious but serves as a great use case (aka "excuse" ;) for working on some of the security scaffolding we currently need to have in place. Chani, who has Sebas assigned as mentor, will likely blog more about her plans, so I won't steal too much of her thunder here.
Then there is Marijn Kruisselbrink who will be working with Ade on "KDE/Plasma for small form-factor devices". We've been able to bring together a number of sources for hardware for Marijn to work on; as those devices show up I (or even better, Marijn?) will blog about them. The goal here is to work on realizing the ubuiquity dream that is part of the Way of the Plasma. Marijn had previously already gotten Plasma working on an OpenMoko Neophone (as well as MacOS, incidently) so he's proven himself in this area already. We're aiming for more than just "works" though, Marijn will be working towards "kicks ass".
Imagine moving widgets between your desktop system and your mobile device (laptop, UMPC, tablet, phone ...?) and walking out the door with them! That (and a lot of practical applications that I can't talk about quite yet) is what we'll get with proper small form factor support mated with JOLIE support.
Joseph Burns will be working on "Plasmagik: The Packager" with Riccardo as his mentor. This project is important as it will be one of key pieces of the Plasma Creative Toolkit for people to put together plasmoids, themes, engines, etc for uploading and sharing. A low barrier to entry is more than just API beauty and scripting languages: it's also about how to get the results from point A (the author) to point B (the audience).
There's also an Amarok2 project that will be working with the Plasma bits they are using, so that can't hurt either.
Unfortunately, none of the KRunner related projects made it through the final cut. This is not because they were poor proposals, but simply because we had so many excellent proposals and the impact of KRunner along with what needs to be done to it still is not widely appreciated in our developer community yet. Combined, that made it hard to get KRunner proposals through. Hopefully next year, though, as the KRunner hackers could probably use the dedicated time to fully achieve their goals and dreams.
Overall though, I'm pretty excited about the possibilities: we have mostly proven contributors with a couple of new prospects all working on well thought out and ultimately useful projects that should fit well within the time frame defined by the program.
I didn't get to participate all that much in the final selection process and I do think that it could be done better next year (particularly the web interface Google provides which is a pure nightmare for umbrella projects such as KDE), but to complain at this point would be staring a gift horse in the mouth. Hopefully we can work to improve things for next year, of course, though this year is probably going to be even more rewarding for the KDE project (and, therefore, you) than last year was. Huzzah!