Re: Cursed GTK port actually usable


> > ? From days of Borland's turbo vision, good text mode UIs are
> > very similar to graphical UIs. Movable windows, pull
> > down menus, mouse, colors. I believe turbo vision is still the best
> > text UI around. Now... how is it different from gtk+?
> I got started doing C programming using Turbo C and Borland
> C++ in the text mode, and they were indeed pretty usable.
> But my memory is that you didn't really use the moveable windows
> much, you just left the editor window maximized, or maybe split
> the screen into two windows. And it also wasn't really usable
> at 80x25 ... I think I typically ran 132x48.

IIRC DOS did not have 132x48. Most people used it at 80x50, which was
VGA standard. Movable windows were usable for debugging.

> What people are usually doing with text mode UI's these
> days are:
>  - Running tools in a ssh session where either they can't
>    forward X, or where forwarding X would be too slow.
>  - Running config tools on a machine without X


> There are a few text mode UIs that are so good that people prefer
> them to the graphical competition - Mutt and MC seem to be 
> the primary examples, but they don't look much like GUI apps.
> A few of the specific design differences between good GUI
> and good TUI apps:
>  - TUI apps have very little content per screen, especially
>    when internationalized
>  - TUI apps are divided into screens with roughly the 
>    same amount of information per screen. Popup dialogs
>    generally don't work very well.
>  - Scrollbars in a TUI app won't be recognizable or
>    navigable for beginning users, so generally should
>    be avoided.

Well, both mc and Turbo Vision do have popup dialogs, and Turbo Vision
does have scrollbars. They are quite ok if you don't expect user to
click on them.

Now, little screen space is of course a problem on 80x25
display. Fortunately, little people are using 80x25 these days, task
above (config without X and no X forwarding) are usually not limited
to 80x25. [And Turbo Vision indeed did work ok on 80x25].

Little screen space is not unique to text mode, either, PDAs with
320x240 displays are even worse than 80x25 text.

> If someone said, "OK, we've made MC depend on GTK+. To get
> MC built, you first need to build:

Well, what were are doing is doing GTK+ NC-style file manager. And yes
we are doing curses port.

>  - iconv/libintl
>  - GLib
>  - Pango in text mode
>  - ATK
>  - GTK+ in text mode

That's actually quite okay; iconv/GLib/ATK are already in

> MC when run, will pull in 3-4 megabytes of extra libraries."
> I can't imagine that people would accept that. People running
> text mode apps are a small subset of total users. People 
> wanting to run text mode apps built on GTK+ are going to be
> a small subset of that small subset. Simply not worth spending
> time worrying about.

Well, every user is going to install his system, and having same
installation tools available under X and over ssh seems pretty

> I think it's very much worth asking:
>  A) Why are people still using text mode in 2003?
>  B) What can we do to fix those problems?
> Halving the memory usage of GTK+, making GTK+/X twice as efficient
> over the network are both attainable goals. 

But better memory usage and more efficient network do not help two
important cases above: config without X and no X forwarding. [I do not
think twice improved gtk+ will be usable over modem, and in many cases
X forwarding is not available because of other reasons.]

> > > I think adding a Curses backend would be useful to a very small 
> > > group of people and would distract significantly from the goal of GTK+ -
> > > to be the best possible toolkit for writing graphical mode 
> > > applications.
> > 
> > I do not think that group is so small; currently popular applications
> > tend to have their less-powerfull text-mode variants. I believe that's waste of
> > effort. (kmail/mutt, mozilla/links, yast-graphical/yast-textmode, stormpkg/dselect
> >  gnobots2/robots, krusader/mc),
> For each of the above ask yourself - would the graphical mode app be as
> good run in text mode as the current text mode app is currently? 
> For all of the above I'm familiar with, the answer, I'm pretty sure,
> is no.

In case of yast and stormpkg, I believe cursed-gtk port would actually
be superior. For links I've actually wished mozilla-cursed would be
available, because links just can't handle some pages.

> And presumably the reason people are running, say, links, is that they
> feel Mozilla is too heavy, not because they are running on a VT100 
> terminal. Even if a curses GTK+ would give you a curses Mozilla
> (it wouldn't) it would be pretty close to exactly as heavy as Mozilla
> running in X.

I believe resource consumption is not so bad problem these
days. Unavailability of X is worse, and I do not think its going away.

When do you have a heart between your knees?
[Johanka's followup: and *two* hearts?]

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