KDE codesprint, Randa, Switzerland

Well, it’s been quiet some days since I came back from the Randa meetings, and I have to admit that after staying there, I have had the single-most productive experience in my life so far. These Randa Meetings are an event, where KDE developers from all across the globe are invited to come and code away for a week, under one roof, with a common goal, and I am fortunate enough to be a part of this.

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I reached there on the 9th of August in the afternoon. Later that day, I have been able to meet with my mentors Dennis and Torsten. It was great to meet them face-to-face at last. In the next couple of days (after which they had to leave for work), I was able to clear out almost every doubt of mine, about my GSoC project from my mentors, which obviously led to some great progress in my work in one week. I also met my other GSoC colleague there, Calin (one great guy to hang out with).

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I had a nice chat with the other KDE-edu folks David Guarez (his GSoC student Aniket is from my college 😀 ), and Andreas Cord-Landwehr as well, while sitting in the same table and hacking together, both awesome people to talk to, and some other guys from the other groups as well. I have also been able to have nice chats with Vishesh Handa, Rohan Garg, Kevin Funk, Nicolas Alvarez, David Edmundson, Myriam Schweingruber, Valorie Zimmerman, and many others.

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Not to mention, the food there was too freaking delicious and also the freshest food I have had since my birth, thanks to every person involved with the kitchen for the great work! Also, the FreeBeer was pretty awesome, along with the loads of free chocolate given in the night. The everyday hikes outside, were a real tension-buster, especially since it was the beautiful Swiss landscapes you were hiking in. I had gone for three hikes, the first one being with the Marble folks Dennis, Torsten, and Calin, and the next two being with the rest of the guys, after Dennis and Torsten had left. There was another trip to Zermatt, in which, during the return trip, I had a great hangout with Myriam, Andreas, and Calin. Talked about culture and many other things. Myriam paid for all our drinks as well, so thanks for the treat! 😀

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Overall, the Randa Meetings was an awesome experience, with loads of fun, and a whole lot of hacking and work done, and something to keep in my memories forever. Thanks to all the KDE developers out there, and most importantly, to Mario Fux, for organizing this amazing event, for inviting me there, and for providing the travel-pass on the 15th without which I couldn’t have survived that day 😀 It was an amazing time spent, and I would love to come back here the next time, and the next, and the next! Thanks again 🙂

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GSoC Ends – Project Summary

Hi everyone! Okay, so GSoC finally comes to an end, and I’m going to miss it a lot. Working for Marble has become an addiction, and I am going to keep contributing to it in the future. However, here is a brief summary of what all I have been able to implement in Marble in the duration of the project.

My project is about implementing interactive tours in Marble, a feature by which we would be able to take a virtual tour of the planet, by making the camera fly from location to location on the globe, waiting at certain points, playing some music in the background through certain time-durations, and also possibly showing/hiding placemarks as well at certain moments during the tour. Tours are kml files consist of a playlist with five basic elements:
1) FlyTo : contains the latitude, longitude, altitude, etc. of the locations to which the camera is supposed to fly to.
2) Wait : contains the durations for which the camera should wait (not move) at some instances during the tour.
3) TourControl : these can be used to play / pause the tour automatically during its playback
4) SoundCue : these are required to play some music in the background while the tour is playing.
5) AnimatedUpdate : for being able to show/hide, or also create/delete balloon popups (info-boxes) at different coordinates during the tour.

-> There was a Tour Widget which showed a list-view of the different elements present in the kml tour file that has been loaded. Now I added the functionality to be able to edit the elements directly from the widget itself, thus modifying the tour without having to make any manual changes to the kml file, and providing a nice user-interface while doing so. Please go through my blog post for some screenshots and a clearer explanation of the feature.

-> Refactored tour playback logic, so that the tour is represented by only one serial track, containing of FlyTo, Wait, and TourControl items, and several parallel tracks, each representing either a SoundCue item, or an AnimatedUpdate item, which could overlap with other tracks, both serial and parallel. This refactoring of design was required in order to make the tours look more dynamic, and so that it is easier to handle and work with them in our subsequent codes.

-> Implemented seek functionality for tour playbacks, with a progress bar in the tour widget, which can be dragged manually by the user, to bring it to any position of the tour. Also, while dragging itself (not only just before and after), the respective changes, that is, the movements in the camera, along with the balloon visibility, can be seen getting changed in the map while dragging the slider itself, both forward and backward.

-> Added basic interpolation of tours in Marble, so that the camera makes smooth turns (not sharp ones) when flying from one location to the other (when the Fly-to-mode has been set to smooth). Please go though my blog post to know more about this, and the previous two features mentioned above [Note: In the kml file of the tour in the video shown there, the FlyTo modes are mostly not set to “smooth” so the “smooth interpolation” feature is not quite visible in that video, but the videos which are following later on in this blog, have all its flyto’s modes set to smooth, so it will be visible there.]

-> Next, I implemented the feature of being able to create / delete placemarks, and also to show / hide the popup balloons of existing placemarks, during the playback of the tours. The showing / hiding of popup balloons can be understood more clearly if you go through this video of a tour on the moon of the various landing sites made in it in the recent past. The creation / deletion of placemarks, during the playback of tours, can be understood from this very short video.

-> Then comes viewing of routes as tours. I implemented the functionality to preview routes as tours and showing turn-type icons in waypoints during a route preview, while adjusting the speed and range of the tour according to the density of waypoints in the current visible region in the map. This can get more clear if you look at this video.

-> Finally, I implemented the functionality of being able to create videos from tours directly, without having to play and record them manually in order to get the video. So, I added a new Play button in the Routing widget, clicking on which, a dialog box would come up where we can choose the destination filename with path, along with the fps rate with which we want the video to be written. Clicking on Start would start video recording, showing the % progress in the progress-bar. We can cancel video-recording any time by clicking on Cancel. Below are two pictures showing how it would look like, before and after the the video has finished being written.

Video Export Ongoing  Video Export Complete

 

I would like to thank my mentor Dennis, for his awesome help in making me be able to complete this project. Without his motivation, I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the very end. I am going to miss GSoC like hell. But I’ll obviously keep contributing to Marble in the future. It has been a hell of a great experience for me. Thanks again! 🙂