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Re: So, honestly, is GNUStep a viable development option?


From: Daniel Santos
Subject: Re: So, honestly, is GNUStep a viable development option?
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 11:40:19 +0000
User-agent: Icedove 1.5.0.10 (X11/20070329)

Being gnustep an API and development environment, its foundation is the open step specification, and has as an objective to follow the state of the Cocoa APIs.

But the openstep spec also specifies a set of applications and user interface guidelines that make NextStep and consequently GNUStep look and feel the way it does. It is radically different than any other desktop environment that I know. The application is the menu, that manages a set of documents. Most applications are multi-document windows with a menu bar. The integration of these into gnustep is an illusion.

Besides, the framework has a powerful design philosophy. Applications have a way to provide services to users and to applications, which makes them more powerful and resembles the unix style of shell programming. Not to mention that is supports transparent object oriented remote method invocations.

One other point that is of great value is that its all written in objective C, a truly object oriented language (this is a selling point).

You can change the way it looks, but if you change the way it works, seems to me that the value is lost, and it turns into yet another desktop environment. This difference may be a barrier to new users. For example the menu and a window for each document clutters the screen. You can solve this with virtual desktops (windows has some free ones). But this is practical for lengthy tasks.

About the fact that you may be keeping a fossil alive, this is a misconception. In what way are current desktops evolved from their earlier versions ? Perhaps they look nicer. But it is still all about windows, menus, icons, etc.

Next at the time, was sold as a machine, with an operating system and a basic set of applications. It was a common-denominator all-in-one, ideal for those who didn't know how to buy computer systems, and needed usability and power. To the user, GNUStep can only be as good as that. Applications that integrate well in the framework, and that span the most common daily tasks. Linux users are mostly developers or at least computer literate. The killer apps they need are already there. Development environments, compilers, text processors, etc.

My point is, that if its good, why does it need to keep up with others, if its reason to exist is to be better that them. The fact is that or it isn't known, or that most people simply don't want it. Those that do, use it.

Daniel Santos


Gregory John Casamento wrote:
Mark,


Hi All... I don't mean to come on and be a flame thrower my first
post. Believe me, I am hoping to be convinced that GNUStep is a great
choice... but my three weeks of poking and playing makes me wonder...

I'm not going to try to win you over, only give you the facts about where we 
are and what our intentions are.

Here's the thing: I am getting ready to start a pretty big project in
Linux and I am trying to decide what to use as a GUI/Framework. I did
a lot of research and came across the GNUStep project and thought:
Aha! This sounds great! Just what I was looking for!

:)

I downloaded it and ran through the couple of (old) tutorials I could
find. It's enough to get a SENSE of what is possible... but not enough
to persuade me to commit my future to it. And the look and feel of it
is -- I'm sorry -- very tired and worn.  I know from reading the
archives that apparently a lot of the GNUSTEPPERS  look longingly at
the bland square icons and widgets of GNUStep getting nostalgic warm
fuzzies (the way my father does when he looks at a '54 Buick)-- but
trust me no user I'm building an app for will have the same reaction.

While it's true that some people like the older look, there is a consensus that 
it really needs to be changed.  The theme-engine available in the Etoile 
project (a desktop project based on GNUstep) currently allows great flexibility 
in GNUstep's look.   Please see previous posts on this mailing list regarding 
the themes available for it.

"1) Adopt a more modern look. "

Umm... no... it still looks like it did in 1999.
There is a branch which contains theme related changes and the beginnings of 
integration of Camaelon (Etoile's theme engine) into GNUstep directly.

"2) Make regular releases. Start courting different distributions to
include GNUstep in their package set."
Can' comment on this... I don't know how frequently the releases were
before, but it appears that UBUNTU releases new versions of their
whole distro more frequently than GNUSTEP releases updates.


We currently have two live CDs and GNUstep is available on Debian, Ubuntu and, soon, Redhat. As for release frequency, I believe we release more frequently than Ubuntu releases their entire distro.
.... skipped reply to 3, since it didn't seem terribly relevant ....

"4) Start appealing more to the Mac OS X/Cocoa crowd."

I honestly don't know how important that is, or what is meant by it...
but appealing to the Mac OS Users by updating the look and feel would
be a wonderful place to start.

Indeed... as stated before... there is a theme engine available the the default 
look is set to change.

"5) Focus and concentrate on one and only one set of display
technologies per platform."

Not sure where this is... but it seems reasonable. Having a way of
using the native look and feel would also be a huge plus for those of
us who don't WANT to look different than every other app on a
Distro...

Your assumption is incorrect.  It has nothing to do with the look, but how the 
graphics are rendered.  GNUstep's look is consistent across all platforms 
today.  This goal discusses moving away from older technologies such as Xlib 
and art onto the Cairo graphics library.   This refers, in case you're unaware, 
to the back-end library of GNUstep which handles basic drawing and events.   We 
have a version of this backend that is currently in beta.

Using "native widgets" is a different issue altogether and has been discussed 
before.

"6) Decide what we are. Yes, that's right. Some people view GNUstep as
a desktop, others view GNUstep as a development environment."

I see this still being debated today... Someone in charge needs to
stick a stake in the ground and move on already...

I have said many times on this list in the past year: GNUstep is an API and development environment. Period. Desktops such as Etoile are built on top of it.
"7) Make GNUstep friendly with other environments like GNOME, KDE,
Windows and etc. Make sure that GNUstep functions sanely in these
environments."

Oh yeah, you betcha. This is a biggie. And not done. I can run a
GNUStep app in Gnome, but if I hit the wrong key,  suddenly find
myself in a non-responsive wmaker session! Yikes!

(further, untrue, rants regarding the mistaken assumption that GNUstep is tied 
to wmaker or somehow dependent deleted)

GNUstep is not tied to WindowMaker.  This is an extremely common misconception. 
 What this point refers to is interoperability with freedesktop and, themes.   
Many changes have been made in the backend to make GNUstep play better with 
freedesktop based window managers.  Also, I'd be interested in what wrong key 
you're hitting in GNOME that lands you in a wmaker session.   That certainly is 
a bug if it's severe enough to cause you to quit one Window Manager and land 
you squarely in antoher. ;)   If it is happening, I invite you to, please, 
submit a bug on savannah to help us squash it as soon as possible.

I guess what I'm asking is this: Is GNUStep a living, breathing
project that wants to be useful in 2007 and beyond, or are you guys
the Computer version of the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) --
happy to be the caretakers of a historical moment in time, extolling
the virtues of a system that has lost its effectiveness, but was
really cool way back when?

No, we're not the computer version of the SCA.  We're moving forward.  We're 
trying to modernize the GUI and getting things in shape for the future.  The 
problem with GNUstep, historically, has been that there are far too many people 
willing to sit on the sidelines and criticize than there are people willing to 
help us and take part.  :)

I apologize for the language here. I know many will be greatly
insulted, and I don't mean it that way. I just want to know where
GNUStep is headed before I commit time to learn it, and resources to
develop in it...

Asking sincere questions is one thing.   Casting about preconceptions based on 
a cursory examination of the facts is quite another.

Anyone?

I hope my comments help.
The GNUstep community would welcome you with open arms if you're willing to 
help us make GNUstep better.  Dare to be different, or be content to just be.

Sincerely,
--
Gregory Casamento -- OLC, Inc # GNUstep Chief Maintainer

----- Original Message ----
From: Mark Grice <address@hidden>
To: address@hidden
Sent: Monday, November 12, 2007 11:54:03 PM
Subject: So, honestly, is GNUStep a viable development option?


Hi All... I don't mean to come on and be a flame thrower my first
post. Believe me, I am hoping to be convinced that GNUStep is a great
choice... but my three weeks of poking and playing makes me wonder...

Here's the thing: I am getting ready to start a pretty big project in
Linux and I am trying to decide what to use as a GUI/Framework. I did
a lot of research and came across the GNUStep project and thought:
Aha! This sounds great! Just what I was looking for!

I downloaded it and ran through the couple of (old) tutorials I could
find. It's enough to get a SENSE of what is possible... but not enough
to persuade me to commit my future to it. And the look and feel of it
is -- I'm sorry -- very tired and worn.  I know from reading the
archives that apparently a lot of the GNUSTEPPERS  look longingly at
the bland square icons and widgets of GNUStep getting nostalgic warm
fuzzies (the way my father does when he looks at a '54 Buick)-- but
trust me no user I'm building an app for will have the same reaction.

So... I did some more reading... and I come across this great blog
 post:

http://heronsperch.blogspot.com/2006/12/plans-for-change.html

And I think: YES! Great! the guys in charge get it... this is exactly
what I am hoping for... then I see the date: 2006??? Oh oh. That was a
YEAR ago this was discussed... What has a year wrought?

"1) Adopt a more modern look. "

Umm... no... it still looks like it did in 1999.

"2) Make regular releases. Start courting different distributions to
include GNUstep in their package set."

Can' comment on this... I don't know how frequently the releases were
before, but it appears that UBUNTU releases new versions of their
whole distro more frequently than GNUSTEP releases updates.

"3) Eliminate the need for GNUstep.sh..."

Well, this one wasn't a biggie for me... but I still had to run the
GNUStep.sh to get things to compile.

"4) Start appealing more to the Mac OS X/Cocoa crowd."

I honestly don't know how important that is, or what is meant by it...
but appealing to the Mac OS Users by updating the look and feel would
be a wonderful place to start.

"5) Focus and concentrate on one and only one set of display
technologies per platform."

Not sure where this is... but it seems reasonable. Having a way of
using the native look and feel would also be a huge plus for those of
us who don't WANT to look different than every other app on a
Distro...

"6) Decide what we are. Yes, that's right. Some people view GNUstep as
a desktop, others view GNUstep as a development environment."

I see this still being debated today... Someone in charge needs to
stick a stake in the ground and move on already...

"7) Make GNUstep friendly with other environments like GNOME, KDE,
Windows and etc. Make sure that GNUstep functions sanely in these
environments."

Oh yeah, you betcha. This is a biggie. And not done. I can run a
GNUStep app in Gnome, but if I hit the wrong key,  suddenly find
myself in a non-responsive wmaker session! Yikes!

Selling GNUStep is hard enough... having to sell Window Maker on top
of it is a real stretch...

I guess what I'm asking is this: Is GNUStep a living, breathing
project that wants to be useful in 2007 and beyond, or are you guys
the Computer version of the SCA (Society of Creative Anachronism) --
happy to be the caretakers of a historical moment in time, extolling
the virtues of a system that has lost its effectiveness, but was
really cool way back when?

I apologize for the language here. I know many will be greatly
insulted, and I don't mean it that way. I just want to know where
GNUStep is headed before I commit time to learn it, and resources to
develop in it...

Anyone?


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