[Gnome-devtools] What we're doing.

Hello hackers,

There have been a few people complaining recently that we have no
documentation explaining what we're working on.  These complaints
combined with being asked the same questions numerous times on irc
have led me to write down these notes about what we're working on and
what new developers can do to help.

This is just my view of what's going on.  I'm sure people will have
corrections, additions, flames, whatever.  Please comment on this.

* What we're working toward
Our end goal is to create an easy to use and powerful environment for
developing applications.  This means having an environment that the
user can tailor to his or her needs, and that fits in with the
developer's way of working.
Our basic strategy is to build small, well defined components that
will work together to form a complete environment.  We'll be using the
bonobo component model to help achieve these goals.  Having these
seperate components should keep development manageable.  Most
implementation details can be left to the maintainers of the various
components, and only the interaction of the public interfaces will
need to be coordinated across components.

* What pieces are needed 

A basic development environment consists of a few different pieces.
Some fundamental pieces of a development environment are (in no
particular order):

* A project management/build system
* An editor
* A debugger
* Code analysis tools (class browsers, etc)
* A documentation system.
* GUI builders.
* Code generators.
* Revision control.
* Process tools (things like UML integration, bug tracking, etc).

Some pieces of the environment need to communicate with other parts to
be effective.  For example, integration of revision control and
project management is obviously beneficial, and code generators can
often benefit from services provided by the code analysis tools.
Other pieces, like the debugger and documentation systems, don't
really need as much interaction with the other pieces.

These are the tools that we need to work on.  Most pieces have a
significant codebase we can reuse. 

* What we're working on

We're starting with some of the more fundamental pieces.  Our current
projects include:

- Project Management 

gnome-build is our project management and build system component.  It
is based on automake/autoconf, but we're trying to keep it generic
enough so it'll hopefully be easily adaptable to other build systems
This project is in the embryonic stages.  The contact for this
gnome-build is Martijn van Beers <martijn earthling net>.

- Editors

The choice of editors is a religious one.  So rather than trying to
force an editor on someone, we're working on integrating many
different editors into the framework.  Some editors we plan on working
with include (x)emacs, some sort of vi, glimmer (formerly
codecommander), and GtkEditor.

- Debugger

gnome-debug is our debugging component.  It is backend independent,
but currently only a gdb backend exists (except for a half-formed
python backend sitting on my hard drive).  This component is basically
useable, see http://internet.oit.edu/~campd/gdf/.  The contact for
gnome-debug is Dave Camp <campd oit edu>.

- Code Analysis

gpf is a framework for incremental program analysis and fine-grained
document versioning.  It will form the basis of the code analysis and
generation tools.  Ideally, most tools modifying source code will use
gpf to do it in a clean, structured manner. gpf is basically embryonic
at the moment.  The contact for gpf is Mark Slicker
<jamess1 wwnet com>.

- Shell

For the short term at least, gIDE will provide the shell for the
components.  See http://gide.pn.org/.  The contact for gIDE is 
JP Rosevear <jpr helixcode com>

Mark Slicker has done a Dia diagram showing the interaction of the
components we have.  It is available at

* Notes for future development

Here are some random thoughts about the various projects that need to
be done:

Documentation system: Whatever system gnome has.  The tough part is
actually getting the documentation - gnome is pretty bad on this

GUI builder: There are a few gtk-based gui builders out there, the
most prominent being glade.  We will be able adapt any of those to
work with the devel-environment through the interfaces we'll define
for gui builders.

Code generators: Kinda like MSVC's classwizards and appwizards and
stuff.  These will most likely be based at least partially on

Revision control: Should be backend independent, with CVS being the
most important backend.  Will need to work with gnome-build.

* Getting Involved

There are a lot of things an interested person could work on:

gnome-build is an ambitious project with only one person working on
it.  I'd bet someone with skill in perl and automake/autoconf could
really help Martijn out.

If you're into language analysis, gpf is a really neat project that
could probably benefit from another knowledgable person or two.  Talk
to Mark if you're interested.

At some point in the near future I'll be working on some more advanced
visualization features in the gnome-debug framework.  If you're
interested in that kind of stuff, let me know.

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