21 Mar 2004 graydon   » (Master)

a few months pass, and many things have happened.


I switched monotone from a temporal transport model (log replay) to a stateless hashed-index synchronization model. this was an interesting trip into the wilderness of implementing wire protocols. curiously, getting the protocol's shutdown sequence right seemed to be one of the most complicated parts. anyways, now any monotone client is a server, and you don't need to have any shared history with anyone to do a symmetric or asymmetric (push/pull) sync. it seems pretty cool.

I also internationalized it. so now it does localized messages, local filenames, file character set conversions, international branch and tag names, international dns, etc. this was actually kind of fun work; it was especially amusing when it suddenly started returning system error messages to me in german! I can't say I like IDNA much, but it seems to be the consensus. oh well.

free swing

work proceeds reasonably well. we have some other people at work helping on it now, and we have a bunch of widgets working and the ability to make some trivial buttons-and-sliders sort of programs which really work. of course there's still much to do, but things seem to be speeding up. I think we're over the hump.

language wars

as a long time language geek, I can't help but put in a word about the recent threads over language preferences. this is of course a mixture of business and personal thinking, but in the spirit of honesty I figure I ought to lay out my beliefs.

C# and java strike me as a language-war-in-progress between big, old, dangerous proprietary firms. these companies are not blushing virgins; they have a history of fighting dirty fights. we, the free software community in general, should make a conscious policy to stay away from that war. it is one thing to ship cloned toolchains if our customers want them -- how can you say no to a paying customer? -- but we should not write central or critical code in these languages until well after the war is over. that may take decades, it may involve a lot of splintering and pain. it may even involve writing off some huge, tasty programs previously assumed to be "donated" to the community. yes, it sucks. that's the proprietary game and we're all trying to get out of that game. choosing sides won't make it any less painful. we need to abstain.

havoc asks for a compelling high level language platform, and despite my preference for more exotic languages (ocaml, haskell, lisp, ada, eiffel) I have to ultimately rest on the pragmatics I see before me: the high level free software platform in 2004 is C++ and python.

I suspect that high level really means two things these days: lots and lots of libraries, and abstract interfaces which don't involve pointer twiddling. C++ and python meet the bill here. C++ didn't used to, say in 1994, but it's gotten a lot better in 10 years. we have a good compiler for it now (g++ soon-to-be-3.4) and lots of free libraries. if you're careful you can program in it with nary a "*" in your code.

here is my selection; if you haven't read these libraries or used them, honestly, give them a try:

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