Sunday, January 25, 2009

OrobienStep '09

The developers departed, the lights have been shut down: OrobienStep has ended. We had a nice developer meeting in Italy, near Bergamo. We started Friday evening and went on to Sunday afternoon. Staying at Hotel Quarti, we had a convenient meeting room equipped with LAN, WLAN, Beamer, flip-chart... Attendees were Fred, Nikolaus, Gerold and of course myself, Riccardo. Gregory was able to communicate through skype and webcamera.

Friday was more a warm-up day. Windows work was a bit halted since the new make from svn busted both my gnustep installations. That overcome, work started well.

We tackled several areas and poor Fred was a bit overbooked since a lot came down to gui and back.

  • SimpleWebKit made great strides. Existing bugs with redirect were squashed by Nikolaus, which allows now to visit sites like google or yahoo. Nikolaus worked on Form support too, which got to a reasonable state on Cocoa (sending the data is still buggy) but it still doesn't work on GNUstep
  • both SWKBrowser and Vespucci saw work on Bookmarks support
  • both SWKBrowser and Vespucci got document editor/viewer type problems fixed on GNUstep and can now correctly do new document and open files from disk
  • art backend can now display 16bit images (both on little and big endian machines)
  • sparse bugs were fixed which impeded Windows compilation
  • several bugs were discovered or analyzed (windows problems with display and keycodes, missing features which cause Bean not to save files correctly, focus problems with gnome

A lot of information was exchanged, ideas discussed... I think everything was quite interesting and if an actual implementation follows it will be great.

We demoed some cool stuff to each other too:

  • Nikolaus showed us the evolution on his Macintosh software for the bluetooth Paperium pen+block system
  • we played on the Letux 400 system, an extremely small MIPS based netbook
  • I demoed DataBasin

All in all, everything was packed and productive. Nice trips to Italian restaurants were in, but unfortunately due to the tight schedule and the cold weather, no sightseeing was possible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

DataBasin, or how to access from Objective-C

After several weeks of work, I can announce my first concrete success: the download of the contact list from the CRM to a CSV file.

On supported platforms, like Java or C#, offers libraries for a convenient access to their APIs (webservice interfaces). For Objective-C and GNUstep of course there is nothing of the kind. Thus I started writing a layer to access the webservices directly using SOAP calls. To be able to write those, I use GNUstep's WebServices framework, which I discovered was still quite rough and incomplete. Richard Frith-MacDonald though promptly debugged it and extended it. Until the first login was possible, a lot of debugging and investigation on the calls was necessary, I was patiently supported by my colleague Andrea Rosa.

Currently the donload means that the Login method completes correctly and returns a valid session, which is then reused to perform the query request and interpret its response. It is a demonstration that the whole concept can work

My intention is to develop DataBasin to be a free Open Source alternative to the DataLoader tool supplied by Once I reach that goal, I alreayd have further ideas on how to extend it.

DataBasin is part of the GNUstep Application Project and will be released there once ready for prime time.