Marble: more than a virtual Desktop Globe
Speaker: Torsten Rahn
"Where?" is a pretty basic question that computer users have got to ask and answer quite often - no matter what they are working on. The free desktop has been advancing since years already. And while there's a pretty large amount of free software GIS ("Geographical Information System") applications available  they are mostly targeted at advanced users who deal with geo data during their daytime jobs or as a matter of enthusiasm. However, most people out there aren't cartographers and don't want to be. These people expect a simple and clean task-oriented interface that adheres to the map layout standards that decades of cartography have developed to improve ease of use of maps.
So for casual users Marble offers a fast, flexible, visually pleasing and easy to use map component. For developers, Marble offers a light-weight, fast, cross platform map component that can be used online as well as offline with meaningful results that don't require proprietary webservices. Marble is meant to become for "geo browsers" what KHTML/WebKit is for web browsers already.
Since Marble was presented during a lightning talk at aKademy 2006 in Dublin, it has made significant progress and has entered KDE-EDU recently. The latest advances will be presented, among them the Marble Qt Designer Plugin as well as the first results of Google Summer of Code 2007. We will also provide details about our plans for the Marble Desktop Globe as a part of KDE's educational application suite.
Torsten Rahn studied physics at the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany. At that time he got involved with the KDE project. During the first years Torsten Rahn focused on visual design and promotion of the Linux desktop as a part of his work for SuSE GmbH. His long-standing passion for creating star charts payed off when he started to shift his interest towards programming a virtual globe for KDE. While "Marble" was born as an idea during usability discussions for YaST in 2000, serious work on this virtual globe started only much later in 2005.
Torsten Rahn works as a software developer and consultant for credativ GmbH. credativ GmbH offers support and solutions for open source software with a special focus on PostgreSQL, Debian, Groupware solutions and KDE.