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Re: Woctave-another gui front end

From: Ben Abbott
Subject: Re: Woctave-another gui front end
Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2012 10:43:25 -0500

On Dec 19, 2012, at 9:09 PM, Stephen Montgomery-Smith wrote:

> On 12/04/2012 08:46 AM, vinukn wrote:
>> Anyone know woctave? . I just found
>> today. It look like guioctave,but opensource. It is a small one,written in
>> wtl. 
> I see there has been a lot of discussion about whether a GUI is desired
> or not.  But let me add my point of view.

An "official" GUI is actively being developed.  For reference, our FAQ includes 
a section on the GUI.

One motive for developing the GUI is largely to make it easier for individuals 
with no experience with programming to run octave.  These inexperienced users 
tend to run Windows (MacOS users are showing up in greater numbers as well).  
Unfortunately, while it appears the majority of Octave's users run Windows, 
only a small minority of the developers use Windows.  This results in some 
tension between the developers and the users.  If life were "fair" the uses and 
developers would run various operating systems in similar proportions.  As it 
is Windows users must rely upon the good will of the developers.  Some of the 
Windows crowd feel entitled and make demands for Octave's development.  I don' 
t think you're doing this, but thought you'd appreciate why some of us may 
conclude you "fit the profile" and try to nip things before they get out of 

My last comment on this, is that it is uncommon for Windows users to offer 
praise or appreciation for the effort the development community puts into to 
Octave on Windows.  Developing Octave for Windows isn't just a thankless job, 
it often feels like one where no good deed goes unpunished :-(

In any event, there has been significant progress in the GUI and recently an 
effort was begun to allow a Windows version of Octave to be built on Linux.  
The Linux built Octave can be run by Wine (Windows emulator that runs on Linux) 
or on Windows itself.

> I teach a class "numerical linear algebra," and octave/matlab are
> obviously the best programs for the students to use.  I use octave in a
> unix environment, and I find the command line interface extremely easy
> to use.  I combine a terminal window, an editor like gedit, and octave
> running in the terminal window, and it works just great.
> However, this is far harder to do in the windows environment.  Octave
> creates an icon, and when you double click on it, it creates a terminal
> window whose default directory is somewhere in the depths of an octave
> directory.  One would like it to open in a default directory like the
> users Documents directory, or at least in the directory it was in when
> you last used it.

You can use the "cd" command to specify the startup directory in the 
~/.octaverc file.  You can use atexit(), ispref(), setpref(), and getref()  to 
modify the users ~/.octaverc file to change the startup directory to be the one 
used in the prior session.  The commands below work for me.

        startupdir = getpref ("startup", "startupdir", pwd ());
        cd (startupdir);
        function setstartupdir ()
          setpref ("startup", "startupdir", pwd ());
        atexit ("setstartupdir")

When I have time, I'll look for a proper place to add this to the documentation 
as an example for how the preferences can be used.

> Then to edit the file, one uses notepad or writepad.  But how to
> persuade these simple editors to save a file as an ".m" file?  Windows
> tries to automate the file extensions, and as a result it becomes hard
> to use the file extension ".m".  Furthermore, unix uses "line feed" as
> end of line markers, and the notepad program seems completely unable to
> handle this gracefully.  So programs copied from my website did not do
> well.  Finally we figured out we should download another program called
> "notepad++."  (I also found out how to change a windows setting, but I
> honestly don't remember what it was.)  All of this took valuable time,
> which should be spent understanding matrices, and understanding basic
> matlab/octave commands.

The GUI under development includes an integrated editor.

> If woctave provides a gui which simply provides two or three windows - a
> window to run commands - a window to edit files - and a window to
> display results, then this gui will have succeeded admirably.  And I
> will definitely be introducing it to my students.  (And I don't need a
> good "help" button, because "google" does extremely well.)

There have been several GUI's developed for Octave.  They each suffer from a 
common design problem.

> The reason octave needs a GUI is precisely this - the Windows OS does
> not play friendly with non-GUI programs.

This is one reason the development community decided to work on a GUI.


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