Making settting up a development environment quick and easy
Open, Needs TriagePublic


During the goals office hour that took place on IRC on 15 March 2018, the issue came up of making it as easy as possible for new contributors to setup a development environment so they can start working on all things KDE.

The main idea that surfaced during the initial discussion was to use some sort of virtual environment, you will find the relevant chat text at 17:21:48 to 17:43:28 of the log. The suggestions were about using either a virtual machine or a docker image. The discussion continued on the mailing list, and this time it was about using janitor. There is an ongoing effort to update the KDE container offered there.

What's more, at Akademy 2017, @ervin and @dfaure talked about making it easy for newcomers to build and test Applications. They discussed removing the need for make install and implementing solutions around and Detailed summary, video and slides can be found here.

I'm starting this issue so we can continue the discussion and properly track our progress. What is the current status? Can we distinguish any requirements that an ideal implementation would fulfill?

Pinging @ngraham, @Fuchs, @sebas and @adridg as they are the ones I recognize from the people that took part in the discussions so far. Please further ping people I missed or might be interested.

richardbowen added a subscriber: richardbowen.EditedApr 10 2018, 4:37 PM

On the web side of things, a Dockerfile per web{site, application} would be helpful. That way, those who use docker can do isolated development from containers.

I finally had an "ah-hah!" moment a few weeks ago (thanks to the patience of @hein) when I finally got my development setup properly configured. Eike's gentle but direct question of "didn't we cover this on your last patch?" made me sit back down and follow all the documented steps one by one. With the addition of the right environment variables, I can now download and compile virtually any source module I need.

There are good, detailed directions already on the Community wiki, but the big picture of how everything interlocks remained a little mysterious.

Perhaps I can contribute some kind of flow chart or dependency diagram to illustrate how tools like kdesrc-build operate. The concepts aren't hard, but I clearly "had a moment" when it all suddenly snapped into focus. I'd like to share that for other incoming members.

I'd like to point out again the talk we delivered at Akademy 2017 with @dfaure (it is referred to in the parent task of that one). For most cases we should strive at not forcing people to use a VM or a container. Especially if we want to make it easier for people on non-Linux platforms to contribute. The highest potential solution is the one using conan but since @fredrik prototype no activity has happened in that direction.

@ervin I think you are confusing me with someone else here.

ervin added a subscriber: gladhorn.Apr 21 2018, 8:06 PM

Good point, I was thinking @gladhorn in fact. Sorry. :-)

Indeed, I did a small proof of concept with Conan, it looks promising, but someone would need to put real work into this. Ideally we get Qt and dependencies into Conan, at that point the whole magic would hopefully just work, the dependencies could be built as needed and would be shared thanks to they way Conan caches packages. This would add one step to the build, something like "make conan" or so, so all in all quite reasonable. I'd like to see this happen, but I will not have the time to implement this.

neofytosk updated the task description. (Show Details)Apr 26 2018, 4:37 PM

I repost here the comment previously posted in T7116 as requested by @neofytosk on my personal experience with the setup of the development environment.

I have been using KDE for a decade and I wrote some applications for KDE in the past. For the past 5? years I have mainly contributed with bug reports. Only recently I started to contribute with some patches to existing projects (okular, kdevelop, kio, kile).

As reported by others, the main wall to get started is setting up the development environment. I found the information quite scattered usually. I report here my experience to try to highlight some problems I think we should try to address.

Patch to the "Open with" dialog.
To patch the "Open with" dialog, which is part of KIO I figured out I also had to build dolphin to open it.

Was this necessary? Could have I only built KIO and called the Open with dialog from the system installed dolphin? Not clear to me.

So I decided to create a new virtual machine and build dolphin, kio and their dependencies with kdesrc-build following this guide:
To build dolphin it was necessary to build a tons of other KDE component and I had to install a tons of development packages. The previous guide links to this other guide, which is outdated.
So with a painful trial and error, which involved a lot of google searches, I managed to install all the required packages.

In this case I haven't even tried to use KDevelop because of all the dependencies, so I just used kate to edit and konsole to compile. Not very practical for debugging.

I think I did not have too much problems with the environment variables in this case.

Bottom line: Building all those packages with kdesrc-build was a lot of work and I had to use a separate development environment (virtual machine) because I did not want to install all the dependencies in my own system. I still have the doubt if buliding dolphin and all its dependencies was really necessary. Debugging was difficult.

Patches to Okular
In this case I worked on my own system (solution I prefer), without creating a separate development environment. I downloaded okular via git and started to configure KDevelop.
I looked up for the git repository via the Okular website, and only in a second moment I discovered a feature of KDevelop that allows to clone a KDE project directly from within KDevelop. This feature should be advertised more I think Bug 392550

I would loved to have a guide that describe how to configure KDevelop to build okular. In particular:

How to create a run configuration
Should I pick one of the Okular targets or should I choose compiled binary? I did not have idea about what are the "targets" when I started. I used CMake in the past but I still deal with it like it is black magic (slowly I am trying to understand it more and more).
Is it enough to just build and execute? Or do I need to build install, and execute?

How to configure the environment variables
Setting up the environment variables is very important and usually is a mess. For example Okular is a KPart and if the env variables are not set, when I launch the compiled Okular it uses the system part so I could not see my modifications.
How to setup the env variables is explained in Okular website (rare case where this is). Another problem is that in KDevelop I cannot reuse a defined variable in another variable, so for example the variables as given in this guide won't work. Maybe this is a KDevelop bug (I should notify this).

Moreover in the KDevelop manual the "Environment" feature to setup multiple sets of environment variables is not even explained.

How to debug in KDevelop
By default KDevelop was using LLDB as debugger, so I had first to figure out what LLDB is, which led me to LLVM, so I had to figure out what LLVM is. Then given that is was giving me just problems I figured out I could use GDB by installing okteta that was not a dependency of KDevelop (maybe a problem of my distribution). Not really a KDE problem, but part of my odissey.

Debug messages
Another problem I often encounter when I want to debug an application to submit a bug report is how to enable the debug messages. I know I need to edit an *.ini file to enable the logging categories or export an env variable, but every time I forget. A guide on this topic would be useful.

To sum up I think that each project should have a page that contains the documentation for the developers with:

Guide to configure KDevelop to compile and run the project, which includes
How to clone it
How to configure a KDevelop launch (or more than one if there are multiple for different purposes)
How to setup the environment variables within KDevelop
If instead the project is not viable to be built within KDevelop, for example because it requires a lot of other dependencies, it should have:

Link to guide on how to setup kdesrc-build
List of environment variables required
Guide on how to run the compiled binary
This post is way longer then I expected, sorry for the long story but I hope that explaining in detail my experience can be useful to generate some ideas on how to make it easier to start writing code for the ones that come after me.