Tuesday, December 02, 2008

FTP 0.2 released

Finally, after months of delays and tweaks, FTP 0.2 is out! FTP is the FTP application in GAP for GNUstep and Macintosh.

Externally, few changes can be noticed: a new icon, the correct fixed pitch font in the log window and little more.

Internally, several changes happened though. Two are the main news.

First, the socket core was rewritten not to use file operations: on non-Unix systems sockets may not be files. This change allows, after some additional effort, to run FTP on windows. Thus FTP now runs natively on the Macintosh, runs on GNUstep on unix systems like BSD, Solaris or Linux and now on Windows too.

Second, the data connections are handled in a separate thread, which talks back to the main thread using DO (Distributed Objects). This allows the UI to remain responsive during list and download operations: this wasn't a real issue on the Macintosh, but on GNUstep windows wouldn't even redraw their contents during download, making the progress bar pretty useless. I still do not allow concurrent downloads, since the FTP protocol is not designed for that and it needs some workarounds.

Enjoy! Be sure to have the latest version of GNUstep base, since the DO system contains some fixes which are needed for FTP to work correctly.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The GNU Workspace

Thanks to the continuous improvement by the HURD team and thanks to a nice hacking evening with Matt Rice, quite some improvement was done on GNUstep with HURD. I was already able to have some rough results years ago, but then for a long time everything was unusably broken.

The only major thing to do was to set the global default NSPortIsMessagePort to NO.

In the screenshot we can see a GNU Workspace: done with GNUstep on GNU/Hurd.
GWorkspace is running, the upcoming FTP 0.2 can be seen too and it works well, meanign that distributed objects do work. Terminal.app works pretty fine as does the Rich text editor Ink. Not seen here, but ProjectCenter and Gorm do work too.

Cool is the front most application: Vespucci, the GAP browser which has at its core SimpleWebKit, runs too and loads an URL. This means that sockets, port, and rendering do work on Hurd well enough! Although still quite primitive, a browser on Hurd...

I have noticed some instabilities, with some applications starting up twice or closing and I suspect it is due to the applications not correctly registering with the daemons or with their ports dying.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On Air!

I right finished a Radio talk with Gregory. Leo Laporte and Randal Schwartz interviewed us. It was a fun talk, many points got out and both the strengths of the project came out as well as the areas where we need help...

FlossWeekly #44 ! It got taped! Twit.TV FLOSS: watch for it on coming Friday.

Oh, as a side note, it means that GNUstep is still alive! Dead people don't usually speak.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Filing and refining

Few news here lately.
I have been busy looking and fixing several bugs inside FTP and GWorkspace, to make them ready for release. Today I was able to compile GWorkspace on Windows, a first after I updated the build system.
I collaborated also with Gregory and Fred to search and fix small bugs and issues withing base and gui, related to the applications mentioned above. So essentially, "polish" here and there and I would expect a release of the mentioned programs soon. Stay tuned.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

PRICE 0.8.3

Finally, after several months, PRICE 0.8.3 is out. Mainly it is a bug-fix and performance improvement release compared to 0.8.2. Chasing a memory leak which appeared only on GNUstep, Gregory found a piece of inefficient code which let to morememory usage and slower performance, but no solution to the hideous leak. Fred fixed it recently in GNUstep, this means that the PRICE code was good and that it was ready for release and that if you don't want to leak, you need the next gnustep-gui release.
Another issue is the License, the past GNUstep release was GPLv3 and this caused incompatibility to GPLv2; under Debian's maintainer suggestion I added an exception, but this is an unsatisfactory solution, thus I decided to relicense PRICE with GPLv2 and the "and later" option. Now GNUstep got relicensed back due to all the trouble; but my decision stands, also to avoid any more trouble in the future.

Monday, July 21, 2008

FTP news: Threads and Windows

After a long silent hiatus, now some good news!
Development proceeded, but I did not announce anything since the code was too buggy. Two were the areas of change since the ancient 0.1 release: threads and socket core.
I want FTP to have a worker thread during file transfers, else the user interface is unresponsive, which is barely acceptable on the Macintosh and unusable on GNUstep, where there wasn't even a progress refresh. My first attempts called the gui from the worker threads which gave problems on GNUstep. Now with DO, the controller separation is need and works very well.
I rewrote the core data transfer mechanism, which previously was in typical BSD style where sockets where used as standard files, which a more portable recv() approach. Together with some tweaks and macros this means that socket operations work on Windows!
FTP is thus now able to work on windows too, I attach a screenshot.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Evening (AlemanniaStep)

Thus it came to an end, AlemanniaStep, that is. Thanks to a prepared schedule of topics, the short time was exploited well. We had an interesting demo of the development of various handheld devices by Nikolaus and we had some discussion about how to market ourselv better, how to improve the SoftwareIndex and our problems with packaging in distributions.

The rest was dedicated to hacking (as we see in the Picture, Fred fixing weird Font stuff that SWK triggered). Fred and I fixed the backend and Terminal bugs, Nikolaus hacked on SWK and I tested it on both Mac and GNUstep providing continuous feedback and it indeed improved.
Another session was dedicated to porting and checking of FlexiSheet, which we got finally compiling on the Mac, although with some compromises. Although not ready, it is foreseeable to adapt some pieces so it will run under GNUstep. Gerold found some issues with PCH on debian and made a good proposal in improving FTP after testing it.
These activities consumed quite some time, thus there was little time for windows. Also because one of the bugs didn't reproduce as expected.

I'll write about results in the next future, when they get a bit more finalized.

Friday, July 11, 2008


Here we are in Freiburg, with Fred, at AlemanniaStep. Few people came, but those that came are good. Let's hope in a lot of new ideas, bug fixes and development.

Fred, Gerold, Nikolaus and Riccardo

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New LapisPuzzle

LapisPuzzle 1.1.0 is out! The work of Banlu badly needed some updating since it was no longer usable. Matt Rice hinted me about what was wrong and I took the time to complete a better key event handling [NSEvent characters] instead of codes.
I also updated the Makefiles and now LapisPuzzle works on Windows, like the screenshot proves! Our Windows backend and port is actually in better shape than some people say.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

SystemPreferences 1.0.2

Finally SystemPreferences got released. Long due it contains a series of minor corrections since the past release of 2006: Updated makefiles against gnustep make 2 series, warning fixes and compilations on older platforms like gcc 2.95.

But maybe of more impact is the new Color Schemes module, written by me, which allows the setting of the color accent of GNUstep. It can select against ready made schemes and has a simple built-in editor. The schemes are compatible with backbones Preferences' application.

Included is for example the "GNUstep lighter" scheme which is visually very similar to the standard NeXT style colors but they are brighter: it is thought for people running their monitor with a different gamma than NeXT computers. It appears to be the majority since there were a lot of complaints about GNUstep being too dark!
If you run GNUstep applications on Windows I bet you will welcome this small new detail.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Browser and WebKit progress

Thanks to the continuous dedication of Nikolaus who worked and works on SimpleWebKit, a new, pure Objective-C WWW implementation compatible with Apple's WebKit implementation. It shows once again the real power of Objective-C and the Foundation and AppKit frameworks (and also shows what kind of unnecessary kludge Apple did).

Thanks to the efforts of Fred, Nikolaus himself, Gregory and me, SimpleWebKit and GNUstep AppKit evolved enough so that SWK can now display pages pretty decently, close to what the first screenshots from a mac showed.

Images, links, font size, rudimentary Header and list support is there. Horizontal rules. Bakcground and Font colors.

Also the DOM tree is pretty complete, so parsing is even more advanced than the display itself.

Thanks to the power of OpenStep Vespuccci already supports easily multi-window browsing. And scrolling inside the pages thanks to the scrolling of text views which Fred fixed.

The way to something usable is still long. No history, no tables, many small quirks even in basic 1.0 HTML when doing formatting.

But what counts is I think that an extremely big step was done. I was amazed when I saw everything working so smooth.