As part of the Desktop Summit currently taking place in Berlin, the KDE development team has announced that work on the fifth generation of KDE is to commence. The new generation is not scheduled to include any fundamental changes of the type seen in KDE 4.0 and GNOME 3.0. Instead, it will be 'KDE Frameworks 5.0', which will likely be the foundation for a future KDE Plasma Desktop.
There are plans for a major restructuring of the KDE libraries. This should deliver a more modular structure to allow KDE to be better tailored to different device types – this is also the reason for the name change from 'KDE Platform' to 'KDE Frameworks'. The KDE team also wants to raise quality to a new level and update some of the technologies on which the desktop is based in order to improve interoperability.
The leading KDE developer Aaron J. Seigos described in a posting on his blog, and explained together with other developers at the Desktop Summit, that the work on the new frameworks is not expected to affect ongoing development of KDE applications in the short term. For now at least, new versions of KDE 4 will continue to appear every six months. Once progress on the work under the bonnet has sufficiently advanced, the development team will adapt the most important developments for the new version so that work on applications does not hold up work on the libraries, and vice versa.
One factor behind the musings on KDE's next generation, which have, after all, been bubbling for some time now, was the announcement that Qt 5 is set for a 2012 release date. The development team hopes to complete KDE Framework 5.0 not too long after Qt 5. More information on the restructuring can be found in three documents linked to from the KDE wiki and two Google Docs spreadsheets (1, 2).
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