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10 October 2011, 13:03

KDE releases Plasma Active One

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Plasma Active One The KDE project has released Plasma Active One for smartphones and tablet computers. Active One is an open source user interface (UI) and development framework which the developers say is designed for "consumption over creation". The software is intended for various smartphones, tablets and other touch-screen enabled devices such as set-top boxes, and it runs on top of the device's existing operating system to provide its own interface and API.

The integral component of Active One's UI is Contour, the desktop workspace that is displayed when the device is powered-up. Developed using Plasma Quick, a Qt Quick-based markup language, Contour allows the user to create "activities" – groups of actions, applications, resources, and desktop appearance settings. Although activities are user-defined, Contour can suggest new activities when the user changes their method of working. Users can switch between different activities at any time. Contour also recognises patterns that the user creates, and can suggest recommendations based on the user's method of working.

Zoom Plasma Active in action
Commenting on the release on his blog, Aaron Seigo, Plasma team and Active One project leader, said: "When you start it up, you get a view of an Activity and everything in it. You can add things to it. You can connect a web site or an image to an Activity while you are viewing said site or image. Applications launched are automatically associated with the current activity. You can quickly switch between them using a great little wheely switcher thing that's a pleasure to use."

Active One developers can create applications for the platform using the Plasma Quick language, as well as more common languages including JavaScript, Python, Ruby and C++. The first major application to be developed for Active One is Calligra Active, a modified version of the popular KDE office suite. The Plasma Active team note that they are actively looking for application developers to help the project.

The KDE project has also developed Plasma frameworks for other platforms: Plasma Desktop for desktop PCs and laptops, and Plasma Netbook for netbooks and tablet PCs. A Plasma Mobile version was expected to be released this year, but development has since stalled.

More details about Plasma Active One can be found in the official release announcement and in the release notes. The libraries used by Plasma Active are licensed under the LGPL. Plasma Active One is available to download as both installable and live images. Alternatively, users can run Plasma Active in a virtual machine for testing. So far, it has been tested under openSUSE 11.4 and MeeGo, on devices including the ViewSonic Viewpad 10, WeTab, ExoPC and the Lenovo Ideapad 10.

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