KDE Apps Initiative

A bit like Nate’s “5 minutes bugs” initiative, I’m announcing a new initiative to improve our applications ecosystem. The goal is to improve the quality and quantity of KDE applications and the number of application contributors. For anybody who knows me, it is not that surprising. Inside KDE, I have been mainly involved in apps for many years. I worked on all areas, from development (maintaining or co-maintaining many apps like NeoChat, Kontrast, MarkNote, Tokodon, and Arianna, and contributing to numerous other apps, but also design, promotion, websites (e.g., and even a bit of packaging (Flatpak and to a lesser extent Windows). Hopefully, making this a bit more public and making this an initiative with a bit more coordination will encourage more people to help :)

The good thing is that we don’t start from zero. In almost 30 years, KDE developers have developed over 200 applications, covering many use cases, from high-quality applications for artists (Krita, Kdenlive, Glaxnimate) to educational and office apps. We also have:

  • tons of shared libraries that make developing new apps more straightforward and consistent
  • an increasing amount of technical documentation on (Thanks to Thiago, Claudio, and everyone else who contributed to it)
  • a nice auto-generated website that lists all of these apps (
  • a whole CI/CD system that makes it easy to test and deploy our apps to Flatpak, Windows, macOS, Android and FreeBSD
  • tooling for the user documentation and the translations of apps
  • an opt-in service to ensure that apps are regularly released (KDE Gear)
  • tools like Clazy and Heaptrack to improve the code quality and performance of KDE apps
  • and a lot more

However there are prominent areas where we should improve our story; otherwise, we would already have a desktop and mobile market share of 90% and archived world domination.

More concrete here is a non-exclusive list of high-level tasks to achieve this goal.

Closing the Feature Gap

We need to identify missing apps compared to other app ecosystems (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and GNOME) and see where we could, with little effort, improve our app offering. While creating a KDE 3D editor like Blender is unrealistic, we could already go quite far by creating small apps that wrap up existing CLI tools or KDE libraries. To give some examples, I saw a few days ago that GNOME has a new document converter app called Morphosis. It’s a simple wrapper around Pandoc, and we could either do the same and wrap Pandoc or use Calligra’s rich collection of filters. Another example is a translation application; we already have a library in KTextAddons that does translations with many backends (offline and online), and the library even provides a ready-to-use widget. We could create a simple wrapper around KTextAddons, and boom; we get a new high-quality application with minimal maintenance effort.

Improving our Existing Applications

Aside from creating new applications, improving and reviving some of our applications is also highly valued. A lot of work has already been put into these applications, and by cleaning up their UI and bringing them up to our latest standard, we could go quite far. Some examples: Calligra (a complete office suite including presentation tool, spreadsheet, presentation, and vector editor), KTechLab (an IDE for microcontrollers and electronics), KWave (a sound editor), Parley (a vocabulary trainer).

Usually for every release, I try to have one or two apps, where I focus some time on it. In the past, I worked for example on KWordQuiz, KAlgebra, Koko. I recently ported Calligra to Qt6, so now one of my side quests is to figure out a way to have a modern QtQuick UI while using the current QPainter-based renderer using the new Window embedding in Qt 6.7

Better Marketting for our Applications

We need not only more apps but also better promotion. The website has already helped a lot by listing all KDE apps, and more recently, we also created a lot of websites that list some KDE apps for some niches that might be interested in some of our apps. Further ideas on improving the marketing effort would be to promote new and lesser-known applications on social media regularly. But also publish a “This week in KDE apps” blog post that would cover all the news relating to first and third-party apps (e.g., new apps, updates, new app relevant APIs), and this would be community maintained with a process similar to this week in Matrix/GNOME/… where people write in a Matrix channel and a bot compile the relevant posts togethers. We need to make the progress on our apps more visible.

In addition to promoting first-party apps, we must figure out how to better promote third-party apps and extensions that use KDE Frameworks and integrate well with Plasma. Here, we could get some inspiration from the GNOME Circle initiative.

Make it More Accessible to Start a New Project

Documentation is essential in making it easy for newcomers to start projects. In the past few years, we have invested a lot of effort into that. I started, moved and updated a lot of old documentation from, and mentored a Season of KDE project to write a Kirigami tutorial. Nowadays, Thiago is fabulously leading the documentation effort. It is going in the right direction.

Aside from pure documentation, I’m impressed by the quality of the GNOME Workbench app and the number of examples it contains. I started a simple prototype of the same idea with Kirigami a while ago, which I need to finish (help is welcome 🤗). In the same vein, KAppTemplate and our default templates need some love.

Aside from documentation, we should create a support channel where people can ask for help with their applications. We could also make it more evident that developers are encouraged to ask on kde-devel and the VDG channel for help with their apps, even if their apps are not first-party KDE applications.

Making it More Attractive to Write KDE Applications

Writing applications using KDE Frameworks is already quite attractive, but we should communicate more on the advantage of starting an application using the KDE Frameworks more.

Firstly, by leveraging an almost 30-year-old ecosystem, app developers can reuse many libraries for their apps and find examples of how to implement the most common workflow in existing code. KDE Frameworks are also extremely cross-platform, and creating a KDE application doesn’t restrict you to only Plasma. Krita and Kleopatra have famously had millions of Windows installations. We also have Craft, which helps develop and deploy Qt applications on Windows, macOS and Android.

For first-party applications, our self-hosted Gitlab allows app developers to have full CI/CD pipelines for many platforms and even automatically publish them to the Windows Store. We also have infrastructure for translations, user documentation, wikis, code search, file sharing (Nextcloud), chat (Matrix), OSM hosting, and more. There is also a human factor; by making an app a first-party KDE app, the app received a lot of help from experimented KDE developers as part of the KDE review process and also during the entire life of the app. And we have a promo team that helps promote your app as much as possible.

For third-party applications, by being LGPL, we give users of KDE Frameworks a lot of freedom in licensing and monetizing their applications as long as they contribute their changes back to the library they use.

Not Limiting Us to C++

In terms of cross-language support, there are also two independent efforts to make KDE Frameworks accessible to more programming languages: one for Python by alcarazzam, which is part of a GSoC project I am mentoring, and another one for Rust by mystchonky. These efforts should make it easier for app developers to write KDE applications even if they are unfamiliar with C++ or prefer not to use it.

Streamline the Publishing of our Apps for Other Platforms

We now reached a state where most of our applications are automatically published on Flathub. This is not the case yet for Windows, Apple and Android. Recently we gained the ability to publish directly from the gitlab CI to the Microsoft Store, but we don’t make use of that yet in most of our apps. So let’s change that!

Getting Involved

I started creating a board of issues on gitlab and filled it with various applications ideas from a discourse thread. Feel free to take one of the open task or suggests a new app.

Additionally I also created a Matrix room to have a room for conversation.

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