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Re: [Chicken-users] cross-platform gui toolkit

From: Brandon J. Van Every
Subject: Re: [Chicken-users] cross-platform gui toolkit
Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2007 02:26:10 -0800
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20061207)

Daniel Sadilek wrote:

Right, too. Really, "targeting" Qt(4) is a perfectly reasonable
choice. Actually,
I have no clue what's the best option - but I fear committing to one particular

I see your point. However, independence of the toolkit ranks second
for me. Having a platform independent API with which you can build
full-featured professional looking GUIs ranks first.
It seems to me that here are two groups. One wants a slick API for
3D-OpenGL-game-development and the other a comparatively big API with
lots of standard-widgets for standard-looking desktop-applications.
Perhaps we should distinguish between the requirements these two
groups have? I suppose that two different APIs are necessary.

There are at least 3 camps:

- put OpenGL windows on screen, no widgets. For game developers who don't want a bunch of extraneous stuff in their way. Not much to discuss about requirements here. We've got 3 people working on it, and we all know what we're doing well enough. We welcome anyone who actually wants to cut code.

- minimalist GUI, minimal core set of the most useful widgets. Intended to be simple, portable, and sufficient for modest GUI apps. Not intended to be fully featured. Not important to have native look and feel. Has many different GUI toolkits as backends. This is Felix's plan for conquering the universe. I fear he won't actually secure the support resources for more than 1 platform, in practice. Multi-platform will exist as proof-of-concept, but outside the de facto area of core strength, the builds will suck and be forever broken. I point to Chicken itself as evidence, pre-CMake. MinGW simply didn't get the love. MSVC had 2 different build methods and different path conventions than the Unix builds. It took 1 year to pave all that over. People who come along to do that much gratuitous refactoring are the exception rather than the rule, i.e. I am insane.

- maximalist GUI. Maximal number of widgets, fully featured, can handle any enterprise class problem you have in mind. Native look and feel. "Fear of committment" is silly here. WxWidgets, GTK+, and Qt have been dealing with the "heavy duty and portable" problem for the past decade. If you want to be fully featured, you can't do better. Pick 1 and wrap it.

Also there's an undercurrent of research and exoticism in some people's posts, with regards to event handling and other would-be GUI features. This could skew people into yet more camps.

R&D is a non-issue for OpenGL windowing. We're not going to do enough to get ourselves into trouble. I'm sure Thu will cook up some event handling experiments, and at some point I'll try my own hand at it. Don't know what John has in mind here.

For Felix's portaGUI, the R&D impulse will cause a lot of design discussion. Hope it sheds more light than heat. I don't expect all designers to last through the process. The direction taken will not be equally fascinating to all parties, and some will lose interest.

For a maximalist GUI, the R&D impulse is counter to getting the job done. WxWidgets, GTK+, and Qt are exceedingly mature projects with gigantic user communities. "Not Invented Here" isn't going to get anyone anywhere. People have to value the pragmatic result, not the fun of doing their own R&D.

Brandon Van Every

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