DataEngines are plugins that get loaded on an as-needed-basis to provide access to specific bodies of information. This week we saw DataEngines for looking up the meanings of words in online dictionaries, facebook updates, weather information (currently only Canada, but it is fully extensible to include other country information) and hardware events (interfaces with Solid).
With these engines, a Plasmoid can ask to be connected to specific pieces of information and all the data fetching, processing, updating and clean up is handled for it. The interface is also identical regardless of the type of information so there is no need to learn different library interfaces to create different kinds of applets.
Phase/Animator is a system to provide centralized management of animations and other graphical effects. Like DataEngines, Phase/Animator is also plugin-based for flexibility and makes it very easy to add animations to Plasmoids and other desktop elements.
Animating a whole item is one line of code while animating an element within an item is ~3 lines of code. Animations for appearing, disappearing, slide outs, etc.. are provided and it is extensible to easily add more. This gives us the ability to provide consistent, efficient and pervasive effects on the desktop while also allowing them to be turned off (or otherwise chnaged) with the flick of a configuration switch, which is pretty important for thin client systems or accessibility concerns.