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Re: GNUstep Window Manager (was RE: Idea)

From: Philippe C . D . Robert
Subject: Re: GNUstep Window Manager (was RE: Idea)
Date: Mon, 8 Jan 2001 03:25:20 +0100


before I write this, let me say one thing very clearly:

I do not blame anyone for not having written the perfect GNUstep system up to 
now, X/DGS window manager or whatever else. I just express some feelings of 
mine, based on observations I make during the time I spend working on things 
like PC.app, the GNU 3DKit or smaller GS apps. Thus I believe I know of what I 

Nicola Pero <address@hidden> wrote (Thu, 14 Dec 2000 10:39:10 +0000 (GMT)):
>     Philippe> So it is not possible to use GDK and Libart instead
>     Philippe> of/in xgps, for example?
> Ahm - I must say I fail to follow your reasoning.
> I find the proposals quite contradicting and confused.
> You argued that to be succesful, gnustep must reproduce in full the
> nextstep experience.  You even propose to rewrite from scratch the
> window manager because in your opinion, being written in C, using its
> own little widget set, supporting well gnome/kde/X apps, it's not
> suitable for gnustep.
> Then, you are now proposing that we rewrite all the gnustep gui stuff
> basing it on gtk.  How can you think we can reproduce the nextstep
> experience in that way ?  We can't.  Not a bit.  Unless by the
> nextstep experience you mean a nextstep/openstep theme for gtk, in
> which case you may just simply use gtk with that theme and you are
> done.  But then, I don't understand all your integralist threading
> about rewriting window maker in objective-C.

OK, so I write it again...*sigh*

A) I said we should have a GNUstep Window Manager which offers better 
integration than WindowMaker does today. I stated several times that this can 
probably be done *either* by adding code to an existing solution *or* to write 
another window manager *based on an existing solution* (eg blackbox, 
WindowMaker or whatever else). I never cared about WiNG or whatever, I am 
talking about *integration* here, that is the use of DO perhaps, ObjC 
interfaces to important 'classes' and so forth. I also think that stuff like 
the dock and clip are not needed in a window manager being 'part of the GNUstep 
project', as is WindowMaker (but I never told anyone: please remove those from 
the codebase!!!). Such a tight integration could help to reproduce the NEXTSTEP 
experience we all like that much, I think.
B) I further said that GNUstep should reproduce the full NEXTSTEP experience 
(that is mainly the feel), this is one of the major goals of the project (the 
look is IMHO less important for now, you get used to rounded buttones, you 
know...). Since we do not have the support of hundreds of volunteers, I 
suggested to share some foundations with other projects *if it makes sense* 
(such as of GNOME or gtk+). Since we lack experienced X developers and since 
DGS is just 'whisful thinking', it could be wise to adopt existing, stable 
technologies in that area which could help us complete the GNUstep experience. 
Therefore I suggested to have a look into GDK, libart and such which could be 
used to write sth which serves the needs of a NEXTSTEP like experience better 
than xgps or xdps/DGS. I apologise for typing 'gtk' sometimes when I mean 'a 
subset of gtk+, mainly glib and gdk'.

> In general, as tradition in this mailing list, I see two main extreme
> (and contradicting) positions repeating themselves in your posts: 
>  * <integralist> gnustep should clone nextstep totally.  Whatever is
>    slightly different from the holy nextstep 3.3 interface or
>    environment is shit.  No compromises, never: rewrite the entire 
>    system from scratch in Objective-C and Postscript.

Sorry, I never stated anything to be shit, holy or whatever nor did I suggest 
to write everything from scratch, be it ObjC or whatever language. Have a 
closer look before writing such sentences, please.
>  * <destructivist> gnustep is basically useless.  Since most people in
>    the real world are using gtk or qt, we should as well turn gnustep 
>    into an objective-c wrapper for gtk <or qt>.

GNUstep *is* basically useless as of today if you want to write good, fast, 
stable UI based solutions!

> I think we should try to find a good balance.  Which begins by

That is probably true, depending on the goals one has - for me this is very 

> And precisely because Objective-C is such a nice and flexible language
> and gnustep such a nice environment, we can play to interface them
> with whatever is on the market.  I worked on a java interface, and
> played with writing apache modules in objective-c using the gnustep
> base library.  In both cases, I found Objective-C and gnustep enough
> flexible and well designed to allow us to interface with alien stuff
> quite well.

See, this is only 'non-UI' stuff. But there are persons out there who like 
*STEP because of the interface part, the part of GNUstep that is sadly not as 
mature and usable as gnustep-base. The design and elegance itself is worthless 
if the implementation is not yet ready! So my question is and always was: how 
can we improve the quality of the gnustep-gui code. Like Helge already 
mentioned, the remaining 10% will take 90% of the time to get to the point, 
this I think we should really think carefully about future steps!
> We want to be open, we need to be open, this is not a competition,
> everything is free software.


> About the gnustep gui library, the library is perfectly usable, we
> only have few developers writing apps using it.  Which is a pity in my
> opinion, because the gnustep gui library is very nice.  And it's very
> easy to extend and interface it with other libraries or environments.
> It doesn't make any sense to drop it at this point, when it works.

The gnustep gui library is simply not perfectly usable. If you don't believe 
me, try to write a good text editor...  Besides, the integration with X is also 
just not as good as it should be - I know you know the nasty focus problem for 

> The more we (GNUstep) are able to keep calm and don't get hysterical
> because of this competition, and don't disperse energies in mad
> projects (rewrite window maker in objective-c, throw away gnustep gui)
> but get to the concrete stuff <applications and stuff that can be
> delivered>, the more we can be happy.  I guess there are many people

You already mentioned it, it's free software, so everyone can do whatever 
he/she likes to do, be it a new window manager, a gdk/glib/libart/... based 
backend, the forthcoming killer app, a SmallTalk or even a Java bridge...;-) If 
it's good, it will be adopted, if not, it won't last for long.

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

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