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Re: A Critique: Getting Started with GNUstep on Windows

From: Riccardo Mottola
Subject: Re: A Critique: Getting Started with GNUstep on Windows
Date: Fri, 19 Feb 2016 14:52:04 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows NT 6.1; WOW64; rv:42.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/42.0 SeaMonkey/2.39

Hi Doug,

Since I ported several applications to GNUstep, but also maintain an application used in the enterprise, that works on mac,Linux,SOlaris and Windows, I can share my thoguhts here too. All my users are windows users, except two, one of them being me :) And even myself use the Windows version daily. Everybody "likes" the fact that it runs elsewhere, but then everybody uses it on Win:)

Doug Simons wrote:
Our challenges working with GNUstep fall mainly in these areas:
(1) - Bugs -- things are sometimes buggy compared to Cocoa (no surprise, given the relative resources of GNUstep and Apple!) (2) - Code Limitations -- the frameworks are always playing catch-up with Cocoa, of course, so we have to either add the missing pieces or be limited in what classes we can use
(3) - Nib Files -- this is a tricky compatibility area
(4) - Infrastructure -- the build environment is particularly challenging
(5) - User Experience -- the user interface is less polished than we would like, in both appearance and usability
(6) - Community -- working with the community is sometimes a challenge

(1) I share the pain. Several of them were fixed in the course of time! Thins stabilized for me - on Linux. Most bugs do remain are windows specific. But since all my users are Windows users... it matters. (2) Being very careful about what to use, I share this pain less. But yes, it is har dand also what sometimes confuses me is to "know" which method is there. I know usually in apple do'cs what do use if I want to stay compatible with 10.4. Our documentation is not so clean or perhaps it is only half-implemented. (3) I redid all my interfaces twice. I do like them being hand-tuned. BUt it is lots of work. Also, it works for this one application (DataBasin). However, attempting to do that with GNUMail has another issue: -> GORM is still missing features of IB present in 10.3, 10.4. Granted, few, but.. it means I can't redo the NIB files in GORM at all! (4) I find it easy on linux, but it is more challenging on windows. I do maintain separate GNUstep makefiles, develop on either Mac or GNUstep hybridly and then on Windows I do just a "make". The windows environment however is not easy to update.. although i got my setup now (5) true User Experience is not perfect, especially on windows. I do however have lots of issues with the WinUX theme and couldn't yet fix them. I gave some selected user the choice between the two themes, but except the initial "wow" factor in seeing the application look native, they chose not to use the new theme yet, too many issues. The nicety doesn't pay off in usage yet. (6) Every community is a challenge.. I am and have been part of several projects and only few were issue-less. Projects which have many platforms and different types of usage, like ours, are the most difficult.

I also may add:

(7) "deploying" the windows application can also be black magic :)

So I took different routes, but replaced certain issues with others... no perfect way.

On the other hand I feel that compared to a couple of years ago when I started, things have improved, but the road is still long, even whit my reduced constraints.

Right now, I am trying to reduce the difference between Mac and GS versions of GNUMail and I hit similar problems, as mentioned, with GORM.

Gregory and I are porting a bigger application from mac to GNUstep. After more than a year of work, things are still tough. And i can confirm: new NIB files are unusable on GNUstep and can't be opened in Gorm, they are now "compiled" and lack information compared to older versions. A possible solution is to fully parse the XIB file and "compile" it to a Gorm file or allow Gorm to cleanly open it so that it can be saved. But right now they can't be parsed yet, Greg is working on that.


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