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KDE Feature Overview

KDE can be viewed either as a user desktop or as a development platform for applications. This page will quickly describe the major features of both.

The K Desktop Environment

Konqueror Browser
Konqueror is KDE's next-generation web browser, file manager and document viewer. Widely heralded as a technological break-through for the GNU/Linux desktop, the standards-compliant Konqueror has a component-based architecture which combines the features and functionality of Internet Explorer/Netscape Communicator and Windows Explorer. Konqueror supports the full gamut of current Internet technologies, including JavaScript, Java, HTML 4.0, CSS-1 and -2 (Cascading Style Sheets), SSL (Secure Socket Layer for secure communications) and Netscape Communicator plug-ins (for playing Flash, RealAudio, RealVideo and similar technologies).

KOffice Office Suite
KDE also ships with the highly anticipated release of the KOffice suite. The integrated suite consists of a spreadsheet application (KSpread), a vector drawing application (Karbon), a frame-based word-processing application (KWord), a presentation program (KPresenter), and a chart and diagram application (KChart). Native file formats are XML-based, and work on filters for proprietary binary file formats is progressing. Combined with a powerful scripting language and the ability to embed individuals components within each other using KDE's component technology (KParts), the free KOffice suite provides all the necessary functionality to all but the most demanding power users.

KIO Network Transparency
In addition, KIO's network transparency offers seamless support for accessing or browsing files on GNU/Linux, NFS shares, MS Windows SMB shares, HTTP pages, FTP directories and LDAP directories. The modular, plug-in nature of KDE's file architecture makes it simple to add additional protocols (such as IPX or WebDAV) to KDE, which would then automatically be available to all KDE applications.

aRts Multimedia Architecture
KDE 2.0 introduced a new multimedia architecture based on aRts, the Analog Realtime Synthesizer. ARts enables playing multiple audio or video streams concurrently, whether on the desktop or over a network. ARts is a full-featured sound system, and includes filters, a modular analog synthesizer and a mixer. Its architecture allows developers to create additional filter plugins and users to apply sequences of filters using a graphical drag-n-drop approach. Video support is available for MPEG versions 1, 2 and 4 (experimental), as well as the AVI and DivX formats.

KDE's customizability touches every aspect of this next-generation desktop. KDE's sophisticated theme support starts with Qt's style engine, which permits developers and artists to create their own widget designs. KDE ships with over 14 of these styles, some of which emulate the look of various operating systems. Other configuration options permit users to: choose among icon themes and system sounds (using a simple drop-and-replace approach); configure key bindings; select from over 50 languages; customize toolbar layouts and entries and menu composition; employ single-click or double-click to activate desktop items; navigate the desktop using a keyboard instead of a mouse; and much, much more. Moreover, KDE fully supports Unicode and KHTML is the only free HTML rendering engine on GNU/Linux/X11 that features nascent support for BiDi scripts such as Arabic and Hebrew.

Standards Compliance
Besides the exceptional compliance with Internet and file-sharing standards mentioned above, KDE achieves exceptional compliance with the available GNU/Linux desktop standards. KWin, KDE's new re-engineered window manager, complies to the new Window Manager Specification. Konqueror and KDE comply to the Desktop Entry Standard. KDE generally complies with the X Drag-and-Drop (XDND) protocol as well as with the X11R6? session management protocol (XSMP).

The K Development Environment

KDE offers developers a rich set of major technologies. Chief among these are the Desktop COmmunication Protocol (DCOP), the I/O libraries (KIO), the component object model (KParts), an XML-based GUI class, and a standards-compliant HTML rendering engine (KHTML).

DCOP Messaging
DCOP is a client-to-client communications protocol intermediated by a server over the standard X11 ICE library. The protocol supports both message passing and remote procedure calls using an XML-RPC to DCOP "gateway". Bindings for C, C++ and Python, as well as experimental Java bindings, are available.

KIO Network Technology
KIO implements application I/O in a separate process to enable a non-blocking GUI without the use of threads. The class is network transparent and hence can be used seamlessly to access HTTP, FTP, POP, IMAP, NFS, SMB, LDAP and local files. Moreover, its modular and extensible design permits developers to "drop in" additional protocols, such as WebDAV, which will then automatically be available to all KDE applications. KIO also implements a trader which can locate handlers for specified mimetypes; these handlers can then be embedded within the requesting application using the KParts technology.

KParts Components
KParts, KDE's component object model, allows an application to embed another within itself. The technology handles all aspects of the embedding, such as positioning toolbars and inserting the proper menus when the embedded component is activated or deactivated. KParts can also interface with the KIO trader to locate available handlers for specific mimetypes or services/protocols. This technology is used extensively by the KOffice suite and Konqueror.

XML GUI Builder
The XML GUI employs XML to create and position menus, toolbars and possibly other aspects of the GUI. This technology offers developers and users the advantage of simplified configurability of these user interface elements across applications and automatic compliance with the KDE Standards and Style Guide irrespective of modifications to the standards.

KHTML Rendering Engine
KHTML is an HTML 4.0 compliant rendering and drawing engine. The class supports the full gamut of current Internet technologies, including JavaScript, Java, HTML 4.0, CSS-2 (Cascading Style Sheets), SSL (Secure Socket Layer for secure communications) and Netscape Communicator plugins (for viewing Flash, RealAudio, RealVideo and similar technologies). The KHTML class can easily be used by an application as either a widget (using normal X Window parenting) or as a component (using the KParts technology). KHTML, in turn, has the capacity to embed components within itself using the KParts technology.

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