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

From: Mark Grice
Subject: Re: So, honestly, is GNUStep a viable development option?
Date: Tue, 13 Nov 2007 08:37:39 -0500

OK. So, I have a couple of thoughts. If the goal is to bring GNUStep
into use to as many developers as possible, there is only one
solution: Critical Mass. The history of our industry shows us that the
best product rarely wins. (Anyone think that Windows Vista is the best
windowing system?) Building a better mousetrap is not enough. You have
to build critical mass and get enough people using your product that
it becomes easy for the late-adopters to follow suit.

If UBUNTU has shown us nothing, it has shown us that.

It would be nice if a billionaire would decide to advertise the hell
out of GNUStep, but assuming that won't happen... what else can be

First, you have to lower the barrier for noobs (such as myself).

I get a sense that most GNUStep developers today were NEXTStep (or
OpenStep) developers in the past. That is fine, but you have to
realize that you started into GNUStep with a lot more understanding of
what it can and should do than a guy like me. Instead of getting
frustrated by the KDE fanboys who come on here and say: "Hell,
KDevelop does everything GORM does..." you need to see that as a
failure to get the message out. Yeah, some fanboys are hopeless, but
some are simply ignorant, not Kool-Aid impaired.

I have gone on Amazon and found used books on NEXTStep development.
I've ordered them and hope they will help fill the gaps I am missing
to understanding exactly what GNUStep gives me. That isn't a viable
strategy for everyone though. (For one thing, the source of used books
will one day dry up...)

So, here is what I suggest (and you will be happy to note that none of
these steps require any programming changes :-)

1. Stop the mailing list and put up a forum. That is the preferred
method of communication for most people these days. This takes about
one day to do, and costs little or nothing. I would be happy to set up
the basic structure for this if anyone wants me to, but I obviously
can't fill in all of the information. I'd even be willing to register
the domain and pay for the first year (and maybe more, but I can
easily commit to a year...)

2. Detailed installation instructions. PLEASE. I actually had very
little trouble getting GNUStep on Ubuntu. I used the Synaptic Package
manager, clicked everything even resembling GNUSTEP, and had no
problems at all. HOWEVER -- The GNUStep.org page still includes a link
for UBUNTU that is almost 3 years old! I read that and was so
confused, I almost gave up!

And, I still read that some people can't manage to get it installed.
This is a real problem.  We need instructions that even a Linux/Unix
noob can follow. These people are a GREAT source of new converts
because a lot of them haven't made their mind up yet about GNOME vs.
KDE, and are open to new development environments.

3. Update the examples. It's nice to have them, but with no document
to describe them, and virtually no comments in the code, they aren't
very helpful. And make sure they work on the main Distros. (i.e.
Debian, Ubuntu, and Redhat)  My PC/GORM problem is the prime example
of something that should never happen to someone following a script.

3. More tutorials. More examples. My suggestion: Scour the net for the
new KDevelop and GLADE examples. Take one and re-do it in GNUStep.
SHOW people why working with GORM and GNUSTEP cuts down on their
programming time. I'll be happy to help out here -- but first I need
to learn this myself...

A lot of this work doesn't require heavy lifting, but will bring in a
lot of results, I think.

Then, moving forward:

A) Update the look and feel. If that means Cameleon, great. If it is
Etoille. Fine. But there should be ONE PLACE to get this. That should
be the MAIN ROOT, not a branch. If someone wants to keep the old style
NEXTStep look and feel THAT should be a branch. The main code has to
move forward in this area or no one will take GNUStep seriously.

B) Native widgets. Why not? I used to work for Neuron Data about 15
years ago. We had a product called Open Interface that provided a
cross-platform GUI. It was great when we started -- a superset of all
windowing environments... but we couldn't keep up. Critical mass was
against us. Our developers kept telling us that there was no way to
use native toolkits then... suddenly... there was. It made a
difference. Now if I opened a file dialog box it looked like everyone
else's. That is HUGE to a user. I can't emphasize it enough...

C) Once the look and feel is ready, and the thing is well tested, we
need articles written for the magazine and journals. The goal would be
to have a product exciting enough, and an article compelling enough,
that we can get them to include our LiveCD with the Magazine.

D) Someone needs to see about getting the old NextStep books rewritten
for GNUStep. I honestly think that the idea of a RAD development
environment that crosses UNIX/LINUX/MAC and WINDOWS boundaries has
HUGE play. Microsoft has made a huge mistake with VIsta. It comes at a
time when Leopard is getting a lot of press, and Linux is gaining. The
cross platform decisions of the nineties may be returning. Add the
projects like OpenMoko, and GNUStep is perfectly positioned to leap
back to the forefront.


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