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Re: Contributions to Guile

From: Mike Gerwitz
Subject: Re: Contributions to Guile
Date: Sun, 07 Feb 2016 21:25:50 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/25.0.50 (gnu/linux)

On Sun, Feb 07, 2016 at 14:23:29 -0800, Christopher Allan Webber wrote:
> Texinfo is pretty nice to use if you're an emacs user... in fact, if
> you're an emacs user, it's the best documentation reading system in the
> world.  But not everyone's an emacs user.

It's also the required documentation format for GNU projects.

> If the html export was nicely themed, that could help a lot.  Maybe
> other things could also be done, I'm not sure.

I had some decent success with the GNU ease.js manual:

...unfortunately it required some post-processing:

That doesn't do well to help makeinfo's case, but the changes weren't
all that complicated, and I think that a few good configuration options
would produce some good results.

> I'm not super excited dealing with all the m4-expanded shell, I'd still
> love a Guile based autotools replacement that implements the ./configure
> && make interface still.  I'm not sure it'll happen.  Maybe someone will
> pick it up?

That's not a trivial problem to solve.  If you take a look through the
Auto{make,conf} documentation and script output---while a lot of it
exists to handle various types of systems which Guile will need to
worry about a whole lot less, since it's contained---it handles quite a
bit.  For GNU evaluations, we find that it's very hard to get a
configure and build system that meets GNU standards without it.

But the declarative approach offered by Scheme is very appealing.

Perhaps one idea is to start by compiling a Scheme representation into
Auto{conf,make}.  This could also have the benefit of generating the
necessary boilerplate with a (probably very) concise syntax.  The result
will be a standard build process that could then have pieces slowly
replaced with pure Guile Scheme.

Since Guile is a standard part of the GNU operating system, this might
also be a reasonable option for many other projects, even if they don't
themselves use Guile as a language.

It's possible that this might only ever be a subset of all the features
that Auto{conf,make} offer, but a subset is all most people need.

> In the meanwhile we've had some conversations about this, see David
> Thompson's RFC on a Guile project generator:

I like this idea, even if the above is implemented.

Mike Gerwitz
Free Software Hacker | GNU Maintainer
FSF Member #5804 | GPG Key ID: 0x8EE30EAB

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