Open Collaboration Services and KDE Forums

For KDE developers, web-based forums are often uncommon workflows. Indeed, for communication among developers mailing lists are much better tools, especially since you can handle everything inside a client (most of the time), compared to forums where you have to use a web browser. The ways of reading, replying and interacting with posters are dramatically different. And that is why some developers find themselves uncomfortable with the KDE Community Forums.

A dedicated application would be usually much better than a browser, because you can work around the intrinsic limitations of the browser itself. The problem is that you can’t really access a forum with anything else than a browser. That is, it used to be like this, but now things are changing.

In the past months fellow administrator bcooksley has been working quite hard implementing the Open Collaboration Services (OCS) specification in the KDE Community Forums. For the uninformed, it’s the same API that powers OpenDesktop.org and related web pages. This means that you could access the forum contents programmatically using a REST API and parsing the XML that is returned by the service.

Unfortunately, bcooksley had no time to implement a client that would make use of this newly-made service.

That’s where I stepped in. This morning I committed in the kde-forum-mods repository the first implementation of a backend to access the forums’ OCS service. Currently it’s extremely basic – just a few classes to wrap the XML responses into decent data representation, and a basic class to perform reading requests: that means that technically it is possible to request forum listings, thread listing, and posts. I’m still working on the ability of replying and posting messages.

Being a Pythonista, the backend is written entirely in Python: currently it uses the standard library plus dateutil and lxml to do its bidding, but the next steps would be to turn it into a PyKDE4 library to access all the KDE related goodness (hello, KIO!). Bear in mind that currently there is no application using this: I merely completed (part of) the backend.

If you’re interested, the code can be found on gitorious.org, in the ocs-client directory, branch experimental, inside the kde-forum-mods repository.

5 thoughts on “Open Collaboration Services and KDE Forums

  1. Kevin Krammer

    One of the student teams at Paul Sabatier University in Toulouse has been working on an Akonadi resource for the KDE Forum.

    One of them, Rudy Commenge, is still working on it. He and Frederik Gladhorn have been working on several improvements during this year’s Akademy.

    Until now this required a PHPbb plugin which the students also developed, maybe this can be merged in some way?

    IIRC the technical contact on the forum side was Ingo (nervendingo)

  2. Ingo Malchow

    @Frank:

    Not at this point, the phpbb part was finished before you published the first draft. But switching to it is probably not that hard.

    @Kevin:

    Some parts need to be rewritten to reflect the newest OCS spec, but it should be possible to merge together what was done till this point.

  3. Fri13

    I have always wondered why does HTML forums really be so popular because old NEWS servers were much better (it was easier to start using HTML forum than NEWS server, when there was no need to preconfigure reader). If wanted, you can generate the HTML site (forum) from the NEWS server.

    Handling the NEWS server was much easier. More like emails but the discussing was much better.

    I have always hoped that the Open Source software projects would have the NEWS servers. Not even mailinglists are so powerfull when compared to NEWS server.

    Hopefully this would bring something as powerfull.Maybe bad thing would be it would be re-inventing the wheel.

  4. Diederik

    @Fri13: “I have always wondered why does HTML forums really be so popular because old NEWS servers were much better”

    - Discoverability
    - Ease of accessing
    - Nice looks

    These things make more people familiar with it -> they also install it -> you get a feedback cycle. That boosted the popularity to the max.

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