What is KTracks?

In a series of articles we illustrate the user centered design process from scratch, based on a still missing application in the KDE world: KTracks, an endurance activity tracker.

In the last couple of months smart-watches started to receive mainstream attention. But the idea to quantify the self is known for years. While some aspects are really debatable, the advantage in respect to physical training is beyond controversy. With GPS you can easily track your activities like running, cycling or swimming including measures like route, distance, altitude, speed, etc.

Unfortunately, non of the gadgets is shipped with open software. Open in this context means especially the freedom to share data as you want, to keep the ownership, to be able to run elaborated analysis, and to use it on the system of your choice.

Most applications are web based. For instance, Suunto as a premium manufacturer, reads out the data directly into the web space. The platform provides many ways of sharing but non of exporting. Additionally, it has a lot of issues from presentation to interaction. Only a few applications run stand-alone. A good example is Sporttracks, but unfortunately this is available only for Windows.

Call for action

We are currently missing a Linux / KDE application to deal with this data, that at the same time helps users to keep control over their personal data. To give the child a name, let’s call it KTracks.

The purpose of this posting is twofold. First we want an application to get developed that is awesome and useful for many people. This posting as well as the following posts should be understood as a call for participation, both in gathering the fundamental requirements as well as looking for developers who are willing to actually code it. So, if you are an interested developer, hop on!

But additionally, as usability experts, we want to illustrate and promote how a user centered design process can start from scratch. UCD methods include the vision, persona, and scenario first, which are presented in this article. The next blog postings will be about requirements in terms of user stories and the interface architecture aka mockups. All based on your input, of course.


A vision describes the goal of the project. It can be emotive and a source of inspiration, for instance by outlining how the final product makes the world a better place.

KTracks is KDE’s activity tracker. It allows to import, analyze, export, and share data from endurance activities for beginners to advanced athletes, basically using a GPS device. The essential functions are easy to operate but the tool also offers advanced features to satisfy all needs of recreational athletes. Ownership of the data stays at the user.


Personas describe the target users, giving a clear picture of how they’re likely to use the system, and what they’ll expect from it. The description includes a concise summary of characteristics of the user, their experience, goals and tasks, pain points, and environmental conditions.

KTracks personas are based on KDE users: Susan, the recreational KDE user, and Matt, the student. Both are primary users.


The scenario illustrates how the users achieve their goals by means of task-orientated examples. It is supplementary to a persona. A scenario describes one way that a system is or is envisaged to be used in the context of activity in a defined time-frame. 

Casual Scenario

Susan has joined the initiative to bike to work just to stay in form. And from time to time she runs for about half an hour. She collects data with her smart-phone because it also offers the function to listen to music. At home she wants to read out data with KDE Connect and share her achievements with friends. She does not care too much about the analysis but would notice abnormal values (e.g. sudden altitude difference). She expects those artifacts to be removed automatically. At the end of the season she wants to summarize and submit data to her health insurance.

Professional Scenario

Matt is a triathlon athlete. He runs at least three times the week for 10km or more. At the weekend he bicycles up to 100km and does 50 laps in the pool. All with the intention to improve his performance. He wears a GPS sport watch and wants to analyze the results in detail. For instance, he is interested in the trend of outdoor temperature and the average speed within the last year. Those calculation should be available as some kind of formula editor and via plugin. Since he cares about privacy he wants to share only selected tracks with anonymized fields of his choice. His major interest in sharing data is to compare his own activities with those from competitors, and to get expert recommendations for the training.

Your Feedback

Do you agree with the vision? Are there different scenarios to take into consideration? Please join the discussion!

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