?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Tue, Sep. 23rd, 2008, 12:23 pm
Sometimes, you get what you need

Someone sent me a link to this post entitled "Desktop Linux suckage: where's our Steve Jobs?" and it tickled something in my booze shattered brain. Actually, it tickled three thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if my brain works entirely in parallel because it tends to operate as either off or a screaming cascade of constantly collapsing and expanding thoughtwaveforms. It occurs to me that that this is very much a fork bomb. And that if my brain does run in parallel then I can guarantee it has race conditions.

So, the three somewhat related thoughts were:



  1. When the Gnu project started up people said that it couldn't do more than replace Unix utilities. Then there was emacs and people said that that was the very limit of the ability of free software teams to work on apps. Then the Linux kernel came along and people said "Well, fine but you can't produce enterprise class Desktop apps" and then OpenOffice got made and now people have conceded that particular point but have pointed out that it's all well and good but the fundamental model of Free and Open Source Software (i.e that there's an itch a programmer wants to scratch) pretty-much precludes having a usability person in the mix from the start and that this means that free software will always look fucking gash. History tells us not to underestimate the ability of open projects to evolve. Note: this history is truncated, inaccurate and intended only for illustrative purposes only


  2. Despite the horrifically broken app building model utilising the unholy trinity of AJAX, HTML and HTTP we seemed to have hit a fairly happy center ground between UI designers and programmers. If someone had proposed a programming language in which, in order to create a GUI app you had to use one scripting language on the front end, another language on the backed, do everything using largely stateless function calls and then create your GUI, which has no standard widget set, by dynamically generating a verbose, textual markup language by concatenating strings together ... you'd have quite rightly bitch slapped like they talked dirty about your daughter. It's like people took the worst features of X, Swing and a whole host of other GUI ideas, threw away the good bits stuck it all together using peanut butter.

    Yet that's the state we're in at the moment and weirdly it's working out quite well - we're getting pretty looking web apps and the trolls doing the backend and the eloi doing the pretty bits need the minimum of contact. Hell, with mashups et al they need never even meet. Frabulous joy!

    Interestingly we seem to have wended our way into a situation quite close to the original MVC model (i.e not what Web Framework people call MVC) and also, rather fascinatingly, sort of what Microsoft wanted with VB and COM.


  3. In making Linux and the other free Unixen ubiquitous on the Server we may just have killed apps on the Desktop. Which I guess means that Linux on the Desktop becomes obsolete. Which I suppose means we win after all. Maybe.

(Deleted comment)

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 05:30 pm (UTC)
deflatermouse

Well, a couple of answers to that.

First, I should have really picked KOffice rather than OpenOffice.

Secondly - yeah, it sucks and it's derivative but so was Linux 0.1. My point was that OpenSource keeps getting better. And sometimes it ends up with stuff that's better than commercial software.

The big question is whether it can get into a habit of innovating rather than imitating.

You still in Oakland? Where you working nowadays?

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 05:35 pm (UTC)
deflatermouse

Also, OpenOffice is OpenSource now which means, (if you squint at it in the right way) that the open source movement caused it to end up open source and thus, directly or indirectly we end up with an open source Office Suite.

Sort of. Maybe.

That argument's a bit shit though.

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 09:15 am (UTC)
zimpenfish

"When the Gnu project started up people said that it couldn't do more than replace Unix utilities. Then there was emacs"

Emacs: mid-1970s
The Gnu Project: 1983

Your implied timeline is backwards.

I would also like to second revmischa: "people said "Well, fine but you can't produce enterprise class Desktop apps" and then OpenOffice got made" -- to prove them 100% correct. OpenOffice is to enterprise class Desktop apps what Dan Brown is to quality literature.

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC)
deflatermouse

Err, yeah. You've got me there.

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 12:44 pm (UTC)
perlmonger

generating a verbose, textual markup language by concatenating strings together

Wash your mouth out! Even the entrails of that monstrous abortion, the pre-IE8 MS DOM¹, don't need that. Mostly. Not hereabouts, anyhow.

As revmischa writes, I'm not sure how much OpenOffice counts in your argument, given its origins in StarOffice and Sun; a better example of complex SL user apps might be the Gimp, which against all odds succeeds in its wildly ambitious target of making Photoshop look user friendly.

¹ Did you know, BTW, that IE7 barfs with an error spurious in both text and indicated location if a reference to a function the source of which contains a double quote character even in a comment is included in a hash or array denotation? You couldn't, as they say, make it up.

Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
deflatermouse

Wash your mouth out! Even the entrails of that monstrous abortion, the pre-IE8 MS DOM¹, don't need that. Mostly. Not hereabouts, anyhow.

True, you don't need to do that any more now but you used to have to.

Also, as someone else pointed out

    you clearly don't do much web app programming anymore. Take [fairly well known site] for example. The back-end is ruby. Fair enough. The front end is HTML written by RHTML templates with embedded Ruby, also embedding JavaScript, and (recently, experimentally) using the nginx renderer include functions to parallelize some rendering.

    That's _5_ front-end languages. Maybe 4 if you disagree that HTML is a languge.




Wed, Sep. 24th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
perlmonger

It's… eclectic…

For various reasons, we use ColdFusion server-end, so that's three languages (CFML, CFScript and Java) straight out. With a fair wodge of Perl as well, Javascript and HTML client side, plus a few pidgins for specialised purposes. If you really wanted, you could call CSS a functional language too.

Miracle any of it works at all, let alone as well as it actually does.

Thu, Sep. 25th, 2008 08:50 pm (UTC)
pfig

i was going to reply, but then the words "free software foundation" formed inside my head and all i can say is "COCK".