While the Marble Widget itself is based on pure Qt4 code it is now being embedded into a real KDE application with all that entails (KDEPrint support, GetHotNewStuff support, and so on). As such Marble will become a prominent application in its own right in the KDE-Edu module.
The idea is that the central Marble visualization widget will be for geodata what KHTML/Webkit is for HTML: a component that is used everywhere geographic data is displayed, like in KWeather, Kontact, Kopete, DigiKam, KControl, KStars, KGeography, and on and on.
Torsten writes in his Marble manifesto:
"'Where?' is a pretty basic question that computer users have got to ask and answer quite often - no matter what they are working on. [...] most people out there are not cartographers and don't want to be. [...] So for casual users there is still missing a fast, flexible, visually pleasing and easy to use map component. For developers, marble offers a light-weight, fast, cross-platform map component..."Also according to the manifesto, Marble should be: fast (right now it starts up fully within 2 seconds), visually appealing, easy to use, be able to fully work on all kinds of hardware wherever Qt compiles, usable online and offline and following free and open standards (like KML, for example). To follow these strict goals, Marble uses many advanced algorithms not commonly found in non-professional software.
It has also gained the interest of the outside world, and in this year's Google Summer of Code, it gained no less than 3 student projects:
- vastly improved support for the KML markup language that is used by Google Earth (Murad Tagirov mentored by Torsten)
- a 2D projection mode (Carlos Manuel Licea VÃ¡zquez mentored by Torsten)
- support for GPS units (Andrew Manson mentored by Inge Wallin).
At this time, the code is being cleaned up and adapted to the KDE coding standards by Torsten and Inge Wallin. Documentation is being updated to make it easier for the students who are starting to work on it. When this is done, the "Marble Universe" will contain:
- The Marble Desktop Globe, a KDE 4 application for KDE-Edu. This application will show off much of Marble's full potential and also act as an educational program.
- The Marble Widget, a KDE 4 widget usable everywhere that geographical visualization is needed.
- The Marble Framework, a framework for providing geographical services for the desktop. It will provide GPS support for KDE and other backends that will help to detect the user's position on our tiny little planet (via hostIP, mobile devices, etc). Part of this framework will also be the "Marble Almanac" which is planned to be developed in co-operation with the Wikipedia Offline Client and as such will contain a minimal set of information about prominent places on earth (like demographic data).
If you are interested in helping out, you can check out /trunk/playground/base/marble, or wait until it is moved into the kdeedu module, which should happen soon.