I wanted to have the option the hide the text labels in the taskbar for quite some time now. I stumbled over bug 159480 recently and noticed that I’m not the only one. Sadly my patch for the task applet has been rejected by the maintainers, because they do not see enough value in this feature (you can follow the discussion on review-board). So I took the option to create and maintain a fork of the task applet with this option added. It is placed in playground and you can download it from kde-log.org.
This is the normal task applet as you now it, fetched from current KDE trunk. It has the option to show icons of running tasks only – you can have it looking as normal too. Here is the screenshot:
This is placed as “flexibletasks” in playground. If there is a feature for the task applet you always wanted to implement and try out – this is open for your contribution.