Wednesday, 24 December 2008


Implementing GTK+-widgets and other GObjects in C requires quite a bit of boilerplate code - that's hardly news. One obvious way to deal with that is to use a different programming language. If you're into C++, I can recommend the excellent GtkMM C++-bindings for GTK+. Programming GtkMM feels very natural and follows the C++-idioms; it's easy to integrate with std:: and friends. Also, it's LGPL and pure C++.

Another option is Vala. If you haven't heard about it, Vala is a programming language in its own right, with similarities to C#, but specifically designed for use with GObject. One very interesting thing about Vala is that it compiles to plain C-with-GObjects (as an intermediate step). Thus, you write in Vala, with no 'libvala' needed, with code which is just as fast as handwritten C. Vala also supports many other libraries, which can make them easier to use, compared with plain C. Using Vala, writing GObject/GTK+-based applications becomes a lot easier. Vala Overview.

Finally, my truly low-tech solution is spuug. Spuug is a little GObject code-generator that I wrote in 2006 to learn some Ruby, and to save myself some time. And boy, has it saved me some time! Now, finally a new version. The credit for this go mostly to Viktor Nagy (many thanks!), who submitted some patches.

spuug usage is quite easy; for example:

$ spuug --class=FunkyFooBar --namespace=Funky --parent=GtkWidget

will generate funky-foobar.c and funky-foobar.h with 150 lines of boilerplate code, as a starting point for some FunkyFooBar-widget.

Of course, spuug works well for Maemo-code, and I know of a number of programs that are using it.

There are of course some disadvantages to using code-generators. But the advantage of spuug is that it doesn't require you to learn any new language. Also, after using it, you're not depending on spuug - the output is perfectly readable C code.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

the song remains the same

So, after three years I finally made a new version ttb, my teletekst viewer, which is especially interesting for Dutch-speakers and linguisticly-inclined people studying West-Germanic languages. The new version brings user-help and some cosmetic updates.

The program is listed as the 'official' client for Linux by the NOS (state television), and I'm getting quite some mails -- but interestingly, not one single bug in three years. To be honest, there is a bug remaining: there is too much bad news in the news section. I am working on that one, but it might take a while.

I am also preparing a Maemo-version. Interestingly, I had a version running on an 770 in early 2005 at LinuxTag, but I never got to packaging it. Anyway, the work has to wait until after my trip to a friend's wedding in the Eternal City of Rome, where I'll be flying.

As if all of that were not enough, I started a blog with tips for emacs-users; the idea is to have frequent small posts that show one useful trick: Emacs-Fu. Let's see if I succeed.