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Re: [Texmacs-dev] TeXmacs gwt front-end

From: Henri Lesourd
Subject: Re: [Texmacs-dev] TeXmacs gwt front-end
Date: Sat, 02 Dec 2006 14:40:41 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv:1.4) Gecko/20030821

Carl Witty wrote:

On Fri, 2006-12-01 at 23:49 +0100, Henri Lesourd wrote:
But it's a long, long way till it becomes as fast as a thin
layer over X-Windows. As a matter of fact, if you can't
compile your JavaScript and run the corresponding executable
file inside your browser, it will *never* happen that it gives
us the computing power we need. As for me, I'm not aware
of such plans of implementing JavaScript compilation in
the main browsers. But it's a classical thing to do, so browser
implementors will unavoidably think about that, at some
point. But when ?

The Mozilla project has started on this (based on Adobe's donation of
the JIT-based virtual machine from Flash Player 9): http://www.mozilla.org/projects/tamarin/
The roadmap says "...to be released in 2008."

Aha. Interesting.

Other options for doing intensive computation in a web page include Java
(or other JVM-based languages) or Flash Player 9 (which can be targeted
by ActionScript or Haxe).  I think your best bet for the full TeXmacs
experience in a web browser would be to port TeXmacs to Java, and run it
as an applet; this is a huge amount of work!

This is just not realistic (although not completely infeasible). The
information you gave me, as well as the previous thread discussing
with Amir leads me to think that the Ajax-based implementation of
an X-Windows-like layer would definitely be the way to go, as far
as porting TeXmacs (and other X-Windows/MS-Windows interactive
apps) to the web is cincerned. Something that would provide :

1/ The ability to detect & reprogram events ;
2/ The ability to draw & to display fonts ;
3/ The ability to create subwindows ;

Currently, such a project appears to be feasible, but it is
hard to obtain a very efficient/stable result. But given what
you, along with others say, it seems definitely possible that
at some point, the efficiency of such an "X-Web-Windows"
implementation becomes comparable to what can be done
in C++ on top of a classical Window manager. It is even
rather probable, finally.

On the other hand, I'm actually in the middle of writing a
TeXmacs-inspired browser-based editor; I may have an alpha version in a
few months.  This will display the document using DOM manipulation.  It
will be missing many of the nicer features of TeXmacs (no CAS
integration, no fine typography, no blue outlines showing which blocks
the cursor is in), but I think it may still be usable.
I'm aware of people who tried similar implementations
of such editors inside a browser. All these projects started
and worked well, but they all stopped at some point because
of the lack of efficiency / stability in the DOM, and because
of the lack of portability, too (although this latter point was
never the main blocking point : but already, developing
e.g. on top of Mozilla appears a big challenge in comparison
to what you can do with C++ and native bitmap screen access).

My opinion remains that it is very good for people to reinvent
the wheel by themselves : it often provides them with an
invaluable learning experience. Therefore, I strongly encourage
you in your project.

This being said, I would also say that the kind of "X-Web-Windows"
project I extremely briefly sketched above would be of the higher
interest, not only for porting TeXmacs to the web, but also for
porting lots of other interactive-windowed apps to the web. It
is rather likely that if it could be developed in a sufficiently significant
way, such a project would really raise a lot of interest (much more
than TeXmacs itself probably, due to the general-purpose nature
of such a project).

Best, Henri

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