Some of you may know that for quite some time, on and off, I am working on a rewrite of WonderBrush, the graphics tool that comes bundled with Haiku releases. Since I have last demonstrated the prototype publically, I have occasionally found the time to work on it some more. I’ve ported over most brush tool related code from the original WonderBrush. And in the past weeks, I have specifically worked on a new text tool (written from scratch).
In recent times I have become much less of a BeOS/Haiku full time user and regularily use other systems such as Ubuntu, Windows 7, and sometimes even Mac OS X Leopard. After my very recent blog post on my impressions of the GNOME 3 Shell, I've narrowed down some ideas floating in my head about how Deskbar could be changed to improve it's usability. Let me list some things I like or hate in other desktops.
GNOME 3 is out and of course I was very curious to give it a spin. As the GNOME developers claim they care a lot about usability and have given the new desktop design a lot of thought, I was pretty excited, since I care about these things as well. Haiku still has a lot of usability issues that we need to sort out. Maybe we can learn a few things. So what are my impressions? To be honest, I have pretty mixed feelings.
Going through some backup files on my hard drive, I discovered a blog entry about my work on the Media Kit and MediaPlayer, which I for some reason never published. Even though it's about work which happened some time ago, I am going ahead and publish it anyway, perhaps it's still an interesting read for some. Here it goes:
While I was contracted to work on the port of WebKit to Haiku, and later on WebPositive, I've written regular enthusiastic blog entries to report on my progress. This time around, I haven't felt confident in the results of my work up until now. Getting the FFmpeg plugin to perform decently was quite a piece of often frustrating work.
Working on my rewrite of WonderBrush, I've been thinking about the document management. As you may know, WonderBrush is a stricly single window application in its current release. It can still open more than one document at once, of course, and those are displayed in a list above the navigational preview of the current document. One of the drawbacks of this approach is that there are no previews of all the documents visible at once, and it's harder to make non-current documents the target of drag&drop operations, like when dragging objects from one document onto another document to move or copy them there.
At least it can finally log into Facebook. Not that I am a fan of Facebook, but I realize how important it is for WebPositive to be able to log into that site. Some other seemingly random crashes have a good chance of being fixed, too, since I was able to track down a memory corruption bug that was caused by different parts of the code being compiled with incompatible defines. Unfortunately this took a bit of experiementing until I was finally on the right track. Today I hooked up my quad core machine to temporarily replace my regular Haiku work machine, which is CPU wise a bit underpowered. The insane rebuild times were really getting on my nerves. Even with the quad core it took quite a bit of patience, but to be absolutely sure to compile everything with the right defines, I had to compile… well… everything. Many times.
Hah, you wish! These blog titles are getting way ahead of the progress I make with WebPositive. Or let’s say the title is truthful in some ways, but on the other hand perhaps suggesting more substantial progress than what was made. I did turn my attention to fixing a lot of little annoyances and bugs that were reported via various channels, the comments section of this series of blog entries being among the important sources of feedback. So keep the good feedback comming, it’s very useful for me!
Wow, it’s been 10 days already since I posted my first blog entry on my work on WebKit and the native web browser. Of course my continous updates to the package I posted in my first article will probably have spoiled most of the surprise, but HaikuLauncher has been reduced again into just a bare browser shell, while a new codebase, WebPositive, has been split off from it. Using WebPositive has become a whole lot more pleasing in the meantime. For those of you who have not followed the comments to the original blog, these are the things implemented since my first post on the project:
First of all, I want to thank Haiku, Inc. for giving me the opportunity to concentrate fully for a while on the WebKit port and browser! This is an awesome chance that I intend to make full use of.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings. Not about writing blogs. Not about working on WebKit. But about using the new WebKit browser to write the blog entry, haha! I’ve seen it crash, although in the last days, it has become pretty stable. After we upgraded to a newer WebKit version as the basis for the port, the frequent random crashes have almost disappeared and I saw only one crash in three days. Compared to one every few minutes before.