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Some thoughts about GS

From: Philippe C . D . Robert
Subject: Some thoughts about GS
Date: Tue, 2 Jan 2001 14:32:25 +0100


these are just some thoughts of a tired developer, so please excuse me if this 
is rubbish....;-)

I am active in the NeXT/GS world for years now. I love NEXTSTEP and I believe 
that its technology and design is superior to anything else out there - but the 
world does not stop moving and it seems to me that the GNUstep project is in 
heavy danger. While the foundation is stable and the AppKit becomes more and 
more usable every day, the idea of a GNUstep system/environment never really 
became reality. I always hoped that GNUstep would one day become what NEXTSTEP 
should have been and never was, a widely adopted, powerful 'desktop solution' 
(I hate this term, but you know what I mean...) 'for everyone'. This implies 
(for me) the existence of a good development environment, all kind of apps that 
are required for daily work and amusement and the adoption of new, open 
standards and technologies. In all those years, GNUstep never took off and 
played this role - IMHO it never *could* play this role because of some 
important points:

- it never became a product for the masses, as of today it isn't even included 
in any Linux distro I know off. 
- the goals were/are IMHO too high for the few of us working on GNUstep
- although superior, Objective-C never became very popular
- in the meantime other technologies became very popular *and* powerful, such 
as GNOME and KDE
- Mac OS X (Rhapsody) did not boost the interest in the OpenStep technologies 
up until now...

While all the developers working on GNUstep and related stuff are certainly 
brilliant, they are just too few to compete against GNOME and KDE. I do not 
know if you (the active members of the GS community) want to compete at all or 
if you have completely different goals in mind (for GNUstep). I just fear that 
GNUstep will become one of those projects that never really take off, and this 
would be very sad - at least for me. Projects like DGS, Stepwire (the GNUstep X 
window manager) etc. are nice from a theoretical point of view, but not 
realistic for the few of us. So, what could solve this problem or what can we 
do at all? IMHO there are 2 possibilities:

i)  We continue to work on GNUstep like we always did. One day we will perhaps 
have a 100% working OpenStep/Cocoa API clone.
ii) We alter our plans and visions and try to integrate GNUstep into another 
desktop (GNOME)

Like Apple already understood, nothing is more important than the support from 
the developers and the existence of important applications. Thus they changed 
their plans, dropped DPS and 'invented' Carbon and CoreFoundation to make it 
possible to migrate from Mac OS to Mac OS X - you all know this of course. 
For me it seems that GNUstep is in a similar situation as Apple was when 
working on Rhapsody. They had a beautiful system but no support from the 
(important) developers. 

This said, wouldn't it be possible for GNUstep to enter i.e. the GNOME world, 
share some/the foundations and integrate the GNUstep UI part into gtk (like the 
Cocoa AppKit and CoreGraphics)? This way GNUstep could perhaps become the most 
advanced API to develop GNOME applications (like Cocoa on MOSX). Nobody would 
be forced to learn it, nobody would be scared by ObjC, but those who love it 
would benefit from it while all would work on/for the same desktop. This would 
also make it easier to adopt and profit from new technologies and inventions 
(GNUstep already uses libxml for example, no?). Now I admit that I have no clue 
what this would imply (technically), what would have to be changed in the GS 
code base and so forth, but I think that such a move could only help the 
GNUstep Environment project. 

What do you think? Is this complete rubbish, should I get more sleep or ....?

...anyway, happy new Millenium!...;-)

cheers, Phil
Philippe C.D. Robert | http://www.nice.ch/~phip/

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