why kdelibs?

John Layt johnlayt at googlemail.com
Tue Nov 2 19:31:41 GMT 2010

On Sunday 31 October 2010 01:32:24 Henry Miller wrote:
> On Saturday 30 October 2010 12:01:18 Albert Astals Cid wrote:
> > Just for those that have short memories let me explain what happened.
> > 
> > We killed our printing stack because we were "promised" that QPrinter
> > would be maintained and better than KPrinter was. And years later,
> > QPrinter is unmaintained and provides less features KPrinter delivered
> > much more years ago.
> > 
> > So please come back to the real world were Nokia doesn't have infinite
> > manpower and where the only thing Nokia wants to do is sell cell phones.
> Woah.   My recollection is we killed kprinter stack because while everyone
> wanted us to have it, nobody was actually interested in maintaining it.  A
> couple months before 4.0 it was brought up on this very list, that kprinter
> did not work and nobody stepped up to do the work (or at least it didn't
> work in a good KDE 4.0 way - I too didn't look into the issue).  Nobody
> considered QPrinter better than what we could do - but it was much better
> than the nothing we could offer as an alternative.

It's a lot of both.  Yes, KPrinter was unmaintained, unmaintainable, broken 
and wouldn't work in KDE4 at all (not even badly, just not at all).  While 
discussing what to do within a 2 week deadline and with 0 skilled KDE resource 
available, Qt promised to fix all the problems with QPrinter, so we went with 
that.  We provided them with a list of features, the "must have now or we're 
screwed", the "we can wait a little, but we still want them", and the "would 
be nice, but we can survive without them".  

The Qt guys involved at the time did step up to the mark and delivered the 
"must have now" in time for 4.0, even breaking their freeze to do so, but when 
the rest of the list was passed on to the QPrinter maintainers it quickly got 
lost in the rush for the mobile space, presumably due to lack of resources.  
Besides the occasional bug fix, printing improvements of any sort seemed to 
get lost, not just our requests but lots of paying Qt clients too.

I've actually coded some of what needs fixing and put in merge requests, but 
between bad timing for feature freezes and a distinct lack of feedback or 
enthusiasm from the key Qt people needed to push them through they've gone 
nowhere.  With Qt 4.8 in planning, maybe now's the time to try find a champion 
for the patches, but what I found for changes this size is that the "code for 
6 months in isolation, sub a merge request" model just doesn't work (no 
surprise there).  Designing stuff like this needs direct and ongoing 
involvement between both sides, and the mechanisms are just not there for that 
yet.  Maybe with the new open governance model it will improve, but I need to 
investigate just where that's at.

From a technical, cross-platform and support point-of-view, I truly believe 
that printing support belongs in Qt, it's one of those things that once it's 
done it's not going to change much.  However, I do sometimes wonder if the 
time hasn't come to fork QPrinter, fix some of it's problems and add all the 
missing features I've coded, and see what happens, which obviously conflicts 
with Cornelius' big idea :-)


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