Releases, release notes and branding

Following on from my comments about our brands, I want to talk a little about how this affects our release announcement and release promo.

One thing you’ll notice on the upcoming KDE Release Day is, well, the use of ‘KDE Release Day’. When we discussed our branding structure, both last November and at Akademy, we agreed that the software compilation (or what used to be KDE 4.x) is just a result of the way we organise ourselves: it is convenient to release a lot of things together to get group testing, make life easier for localisation, packaging and to give us big promotion opportunities a couple of times a year. The software compilation is an organisational thing – it’s the collection of KDE modules and being in the software compilation means application developers get some stuff done for them (release management, general promotion and localisation) while in return they have to follow the same release schedules including freezes as everyone else. Some of our highest profile apps such as Amarok, digiKam and KOffice prefer not to be in the software compilation and are big enough to handle their own releases.

We recognised this and the fact that the software compilation is not a product, but it is something that people need to refer to sometimes: “Is KMail 2 going to be part of SC 4.5.0? No, it will be part of SC 4.5.1”. That is why we settled on the name software compilation rather than something catchier – it was never meant to be a brand. However, we didn’t get things quite right. The initial announcements were ok, I think, but we then promoted the software we released in SC 4.4 as KDE Software Compilation 4.4. We promoted something that wasn’t really a brand or a product, rather than concentrating on our actual products of the Plasma workspaces, Platform and apps.

Picture of the 4.5 release announcements

Announcements for our 4.5 release day

So, for 4.5 we’re trying to be more true to our original intentions. You won’t see the software compilation mentioned in the official announcements, but instead we will talk about the actual products. We are also more accurately reflecting the purpose of the SC (a simultaneous release of software) by referring to the KDE Release Day. On this day we release new versions of our three main product groups: workspaces, apps and the KDE Platform.

We’re not trying to stop you from using the terms software compilation or SC – we need some way of referring to this thing we release every six months. But externally we encourage you to be more specific where possible. So if you like the new activity manager, it’s more precise to call it a cool new feature of Plasma Desktop 4.5 than SC 4.5. Likewise, if Marble’s new routing capabilities get you excited (and they should) then be excited about Marble, not the SC.

Now, KDE’s 4.5 Release Day is almost upon us and the promo team has been very busy getting the release announcements ready. Personally, I’ve been away on holiday for a couple of weeks and therefore pretty useless 🙂 but – as always – other people have picked up the slack.

To highlight this, in the pic on the left is of our 4.5 release announcements as written in our EtherPad installation.

One of the many nice features of EtherPad is that you can use colours to track contributors, so each colour you see there represents the work of a different person (except that a few people managed to use two different colours…). The mass of light blue is Jos, although some of that is an import from work Luca started in Google Docs. The bit I really want to point to though is the yellowish part (first paragraph and many others) that belongs to Dion Moult. Not only has he put in masses of his own work, but also rallied people on the promo mailing list to make the needed edits and add information. Dion has been around for a while now – I think I first saw him on the kde-promo list in September 2009 – and it’s awesome that he has taken this and pushed it. Sometimes what is most needed is someone to keep an eye on what needs doing and bug people to do it.

13 Responses to “Releases, release notes and branding”

  • Diederik says:

    I really like the way the release is announced: as 3 separate things. It makes it look much bigger, and less “one big chunk tied together”. Also reducing the SC part really makes sense to me, this looks much better 🙂

  • onety-three says:

    I was pretty unhappy with the rebranding before and had decided to just ignore it and hope it would go away. With this tuned version it’s a completely different story 😀

    • Stu says:

      (also @ Diederik) Great 🙂 Thing is, this was always the original intention, really. We just didn’t quite get it right with 4.4 – we had discussed actually separating the product releases in time (rejected that as it would dilute the promo opportunity) but somehow it didn’t occur to us to simply separate the announcements while keeping the single, convenient release day.

  • Could be see the attached image in fullsize? I’m really curious to see the exact notes…

  • Antonio says:

    I take it this implies I could mix (for example) Plasma 4.5 with kdelibs 4.4?

    • Diederik says:

      > I take it this implies I could mix (for example) Plasma 4.5 with kdelibs 4.4?

      Rather the other way around, you can upgrade the developer platform first, and optionally install applications which require this version. The rest can remain at 4.4.

      Plasma 4.5 likely builds on top of new features in kdelibs 4.5 too. The same applies to other (third party) applications; they can mention their minimum developer platform version they need.

      • Stu says:

        Yep: You should be able to run 4.4 apps – including workspaces – with Platform 4.5 as it is backwards compatible, but likely not the other way round as the apps build on the features of the platform.

        In fact, the KDEPIM applications are staying at 4.4 with this release – 4.5 versions of KDEPIM will hopefully follow with one of the later 4.5 Platform and App releases

  • Paul Eggleton says:

    Great move! One thing though – “KDE Development Platform” referred to in the 4.5 release announcement material makes perfect sense and describes exactly what it is, but is it really meaningful for end users? Personally I think users may see the word “development” and assume it is only of interest to developers and ignore announcements relating to it. How about “Application Platform” or something similar? (This may already have been discussed at length, I apologise if so.)

    • Stu says:

      It has been discussed at length and is still being discussed 🙂 It may be tweaked before the next release day.

      It is aimed at developers in many ways, but there are of course things in the Platform of interest to end users too, such as the better integration of WebKit in Platform 4.5

  • Tommy.S says:

    “That is why we settled on the name software compilation rather than something catchier – it was never meant to be a brand. ”

    But name is *the* brand. KDE Software Compilation is a name for the “package” what gets designed and released.
    Most marketing people do not even itself know what “the brand” is. The “brand” has always be used for the name. Since dark ages people have been branded to specific group or belong to specific man (slaves or criminals).

    Cowboys and farmers have used hot iron to mark their livestock with their brand so no one could steal them.

    The brand what KDE maded, is the “KDE SC” or “KDE Software Compilation”. But many has done the totally wrong conclusions as well because they have not know the technology, even how much people have tried to explain.

    The KDE SC is not the desktop environment, it is the KDE Plasma Desktop or KDE Plasma Netbook and so on. The KDE Platform is what user needs as well to get the KDE Applications working (without need Plasma Desktop/Netbook itself).

    People have not understanded that one brand can have multiple sub-brands.

    People really should have learn first the technology how the computer works. Was it Amarok, digiKam, KMail, Konqueror… they have all own brands but they all still belongs under the KDE SC brand what really is the “mother”.

    I noticed fast that people believed that re-branding was KDE -> KDE SC. That the technology staid same but brand changed. Thats why they did not understand that at all.
    It was hard to explain that the technology changed when KDE 3.x series died and 4.x series was started.

    The technology became modular and more community oriented that different groups and projects were doing together work to give something for the end-users, but all from different projects, more than different groups making one same project. So KDE became more community oriented than earlier.

    The marketing people should knowledge that brand is just a name.
    Brand is not a
    – Logo
    – Icon
    – Font
    – Trademark
    – Imago
    – Identity
    – Fame

    You can not announce “we have a brand”. The brand needs to get builded by many different ways in time so the audience/users are those who develops the brand.

    • Stu says:

      > I noticed fast that people believed that re-branding was KDE -> KDE SC. That the technology staid same but brand changed. Thats why they did not understand that at all.

      Yes, that was the big problem.

      As you say, KDE SC is the name for the big set of stuff we release together. If you like it is the ‘brand’ for that. So let me put it another way: KDE SC is not something we’re seeking to market. The reason for this is that no one uses it. I don’t have all the software in the SC installed. I certainly don’t use all the software in the SC. I also don’t use the SC as a basis of choosing software for a task – I use Amarok instead of JuK, Kaffeine instead of Dragon Player (is Dragon Player SC?). I don’t even know that accurately what is in the SC.

      And you’re right, we can’t decide how everyone calls our software. All we can do is try and provide good names that makes sense and present our products in a logical way and hope that people pick up on that.