Older blog entries for Cardinal (starting at number 2)

dirtyrat: Hmm. It'd be handy if advogato had a <lit> tag that you could use to enclose a block of code like that, and have it auto-translate the <'s and >'s to &lt;'s and &gt;'s

nooks: I have some issues with WinCVS. In my somewhat biased opinion, it's a usability nightmare, which is highly unfortunate. It seems to be the only widespread Windows CVS app, yet it looks like something a kid made in VB's IDE.

I'm particularly disappointed becuase a lack of a solid, relatively intuitive CVS app for Windows is about the only thing preventing CVS from being adopted at my place of employment. We're pretty much an NT/CF shop, unfortunately. I'm the sole PHP coder, and do XML work with another guy when issues of integrating apps comes up. So here's this company firmly within MS's grip, and it's hindering their productivity. They don't use SourceSafe, so the CF developers have to make sure they're not stepping on each others toes. SourceSafe is a disaster waiting to happen, imho, so I'd love to be able to say "Here, have CVS. It will solve all your problems, once you understand the basics, which I can explain to you in an hour."

It worked with Bugzilla, after all. They were using some MS Access form/database for their bug tracking. Naturally, it was terrible. Only one person could be editing the database at a time, it incurred the overhead of running Access, and didn't have nearly as many features as it needed. For my project, I set up Bugzilla and taught it to the QA people. They loved it, the testing phase for my project went smoother than anything they'd done before, and when we were done we had a complete, detailed history of all the bugs. So now Bugzilla will be replacing the Access form for the rest of the projects. See how easy it is?

Maybe there are other CVS apps out there for Windows. It'd be nice if the other developers would be cool with using the command-line tools, but that's somewhat unlikely. These are firmly GUI-dependent people. What about jCVS, has anybody messed with that?

deekayen: Yeah, the "RedHat is Linux" misconception bugs a lot of us, but it's a fact of life. After all, Linux broke quite a few rules and preconceptions when it entered the mainstream. One of the rules accepted by the general public is that an operating system is a product of a single company. Apple makes MacOS, IBM makes OS/2, Be makes BeOS, and so on. So when Linux started appearing, it was inevitable that a single distro would arise as the one people knew about. That distro would become "Linux" to many people. And, as most things in the States, the distro that won was the one that appeared the most polished and/or commercial (Quality is irrelevant to this process). We all know it's wrong, but being wrong never stopped anyone before. :)


So I was looking at XMLBoard a couple days ago, and since I'd taken an interest in XML earlier, I pondered if a PHP forum based on XMLBoard's DTD would be worthwhile. Sharing the DTD wouldn't really gain anything beyond the ability to migrate a forum from one platform to another. Sharing a forum between two otherwise unrelated sites would be an interesting option, though.

XML for a forum certainly has advantages. The first obvious one that beats SQL hands down is that the relationship between messages, regardless of how deep a thread goes, are represented automatically. I like that. Another good benefit is the ease of searching. There are, of course, downsides. Random access isn't the easiest thing to do. And how do you lock the file when writing posts? Well, there's a small project to look into some time.

30 Nov 2000 (updated 2 Dec 2000 at 07:26 UTC) »

Well, what the hell. Let's try something new and write a diary entry.

Since I'm not worthy of posting replies to the articles (Probably with good reason), I'll reflect on my own meandering experience here instead.

The modest proposal certainly sparked a good amount of discussion, the vast majority of which is of good quality, as lilo observed in a comment towards the bottom (at the time of writing. 'The bottom' was comment #29') A refreshing improvement over the usual Slashdot fare, to be sure. My initial thoughts after reading RyanMuldoon's article were agreeable as far as GLib, more or less agreeable regarding gconf and Bonobo, but uncertain where gnome-vfs is concerned.

The benefits of integrating all of the above libraries are plain, it's simply a matter of if those benefits justify introducing the libraries into a standard GNU environment. With GLib, this is pretty simple. It's a useful library that adds valuable features to any libc environment, so long as it is being put to use. Obviously any system running the Gnome desktop is using it, but at present the use of GLib, afaik, ends there. Would introducing Glib into all GNU environments as a standard library expand that use? Perhaps.

As I see it, there are two ways a library becomes 'standard'. The environment declares "This is standard," or the people declare "We want this to be the standard." Which method is responsible for more standard libraries, or which method yields more successful standards? Personally I would lean towards the latter. If GLib truly belongs in a standard environment, that should become evident naturally as programs beyond the Gnome sphere of influence make use of it.

My familiarity with gconf is virtually nonexistant, so I won't spend too much time blowing smoke. Unix, in its long life, has acquired a rather substantial inertia in many respects to how it works, not the least of which is how configuration is done. This exact issue was discussed at length some time ago on debian-devel, when the suggestion was brought up to move all Debian config files to an XML structure (IIRC, gconf hadn't been written at the time). The idea raises a series of important questions. How do you do that at a distro level without the upstream maintainers adopting the structure? Would they adopt such a structure? Would it become a peculiar feature limited to Debian packages, forcing Debian package maintainers to work that much more? And so on. So, as we ponder gconf, would a 'standard' configuration library be accepted by application writers beyond Gnome's influence? As with GLib (Moreso, actually) I think the best way to determine this is to see if it's being used, rather than push its adoption. I can already hear an argument against this. "But if people aren't aware of gconf or its benefits, how would they know to use it?" Well, that's an education issue. Get the word out. Tutorials, presentations at conventions, articles, and all that good stuff.

And speaking of good stuff, we come to Bonobo. Iain's pipes-for-GUIs comments were right on, I'd say. What I wonder about is if standardizing it in the GNU environment is even necessary, since its usefuless is focused on GUI-type apps. I think wider adoption of Bonobo would serve to benefit applications, though I wonder about apps that, for whatever reason, find themselves wanting to communicate with KDE's component system and Gnome's at the same time. For some reason that seems like it could get hairy. Anyway, I think Bonobo can stand, and thrive, on its own merits without being declared a standard library.

This leaves gnome-vfs. Whatever fate it may bring me, I can at least understand aaronl's reservations about seeing this sort of utility enter a standard environment, but my reasons are somewhat different. Where he sees unnecessary 'over thinking' (for lack of a better term) on the part of the Unix system, I simply see overhead. This is possibly because I'm quite fond of Debian's almost anal habit of breaking packages down into their smallest logical components. This has, for the last five years, consistently yielded a more efficient system that occupies, on average, half as much space as a comporable RedHat-based installation. I like that. So when I imagine a (potentially large) vfs being tied to my system at a relatively low level, I can't help but worry. As egnor quickly pointed out, wget | wc -w works just fine. :) Would it be cool to grep a web page without a pipe? Sure. I could think of countless uses for my standard Unix commands to take URLs as parameters, but is it the right thing to do? Well, that's certainly not my call.

Back to work.

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