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Ralsina.Me — El sitio web de Roberto Alsina

Developer-centric and proud of it

Ok, as ev­ery­one and its goat in the free soft­ware/open source/pet-­keep­ing com­mu­ni­ties al­ready has read, Eu­ge­nia [1] has been up to her old an­tic­s.

The lat­est shape of her dis­con­tent is, de­vel­op­ers of GNOME (and late­ly of KDE, too [2]) are de­vel­op­er-­cen­tric in­stead of user-­cen­tric.

Ba­si­cal­ly, the gist is that de­vel­op­ers have a re­spon­s­abil­i­ty to keep in mind their users de­sires, and fol­low their wish­es when de­cid­ing what way their projects should go. That these "peo­ple" are de­vel­op­ing said soft­ware in their free time and giv­ing it away is unim­por­tan­t, she says, the user's voice shall be heard. [3]

Well, I am not a de­vel­op­er nowa­days, at least not of shared soft­ware [4] but I still re­call when I was one. And I am cranky. And I have lit­tle care about what peo­ple think about me. So...

Let me ex­press my feel­ings when I read her ed­i­to­ri­al (and an­oth­er one called the rid­dle of the sphinx, I think [5] ).


I have read, in the ed­i­to­ri­als and (spe­cial­ly) the clue­less talk­back­s, the fol­low­ing:

  • If you are go­ing to do a half-assed job, don't put it on the in­­ter­net

Well, dude, pre­tend it's not there. That works for me when I con­sid­er ja­pa­nese ten­ta­cle porn, it can work for you and a mail clien­t. If you pre­tend it's not there, it won't both­er you. Then those who tol­er­ate half-assed jobs can live a life of jol­ly ful­fill­men­t.

  • The us­er has in­­vest­ed ef­­fort on learn­ing and us­ing the pro­­gram, so the de­vel­op­er owes him some­thing.

I sup­pose the so­lu­tion for that is not al­low­ing peo­ple to use the soft­ware un­less they ac­cept that it is pro­vid­ed as-is... oh, wait­... that's al­ready true. Nev­er mind.

  • That since GNOME (or KDE) claim to pro­­vide use­­ful and user-friend­­ly soft­­ware, by fail­ing to fol­low the user's lead we are en­­gag­ing in some sort of false ad­ver­tis­ing.

Co­ca Co­la promised me "Ev­ery­thing is bet­ter with Co­ca Co­la". Then I tried pour­ing a can in­to my com­put­er, hop­ing it would make it faster, or some­how bet­ter in some way. I have to tell you, those bas­tards won't know what hit'em!

  • Post­ing bug de­scrip­­tions in bugzil­la is too much work.

Well, try fix­ing one some­day, mis­sy! That's WAY hard­er. You are say­ing that us­ing a lit­tle en­er­gy is too much work, to peo­ple who spend hun­dred times more as a con­se­quence.

It's like com­plain­ing that plant­ing seeds is too much work, when you lat­er get a har­vest. Well, if you think, so, drop agri­cul­ture.

  • That the de­vel­op­­ment is some­how skewed to­wards de­vel­op­er­s, not user­s.

Well, to that I have many an­swer­s. Let me share a few.

  1. So? You say that as if it's a bad thing.

  2. Well, that's good for the de­vel­op­er­s.

  3. What mag­ic po­­tion did I have to drink to be­­come a de­vel­op­er? De­vel­op­ers are just users who are way too in­­­volved in the pro­jec­t.

  4. As a lawyer once said, since phoeni­­cians in­­ven­t­ed mon­ey, the ques­­tion "what can I do for you?" has a sin­­gle an­swer. Well, think about it.

  5. No, it is­n't.

Fi­nal­ly, let me tell you the de­press­ing part. In a com­men­t, Eu­ge­nia said she dropped GNOME for Win­dow­Mak­er. Let me show you what she said:

RE: So Eu­ge­nia re­fus­es to use GNOME? By Eu­ge­nia (IP: ---.os­news.­com) - Post­ed on 2005-03-10 20:32:31

I moved back to Win­dow­Mak­er, yes. At least I don't ex­pect any­thing more from it, be­cause it is not a prom­i­nent en­vi­ron­ment and I know it's a much small­er project with few­er re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

Talk about throw­ing the ba­by away with the bath wa­ter. She is sim­ply say­ing that she choses to use worse soft­ware (ac­cord­ing to her need­s), be­cause... well, I have no idea why.

Be­cause she has low-e­nough ex­pec­ta­tions about Win­dow­Mak­er that she won't be dis­ap­point­ed? That road leads to dat­ing ex-­con­vict­s, you know.

In the end, well, I have no idea what peo­ple think. I sim­ply don't un­der­stand the world. I mean, I in­tense­ly dis­like GNOME, and even a few peo­ple in­volved in it, but it's just code. And code that is worth mil­lions of dol­lars. And it's there, dudes! It's like find­ing a stack of bul­lion in your doorstep, and not on­ly that, but on ev­ery doorstep [6].

Why don't peo­ple sim­ply look up and thank the in­vis­i­ble dwarves who must have toiled in dark­ness for years in or­der to rip it off the earth? [7]

No, what we get in­stead is a bunch of jew­el­ers ask­ing for fin­er crafts­man­ship in the good­s, or else they are just gonna buy some bul­lion from some­one else.

You know what? De­vel­op­er-­cen­tric is good. In an ab­so­lute, ob­jec­tive, mea­sur­able way. Be­cause it's de­vel­op­er-­cen­tric you get de­vel­op­er­s. de­vel­op­ers make code. Code brings user­s.

If all you at­tract are users be­cause be­ing a de­vel­op­er is a pain the but­t, you have no de­vel­op­er­s, thus no code, thus no user­s.

What do you think is bet­ter for users in the long ter­m?

So, say it loud, I'm de­vel­op­er-­cen­tric and I'm proud. At least this old hack is.

[1] of OS­NEWS.­COM fame. You de­cide if that's a good or bad thing.

[2] A new post in her site. I sup­pose she has to feed the hit-­mon­ster.

[3] That be­ing pub­lished in a big site that lacks thread­ed replies in 2005, and a wom­an who, when she gets a com­plain about it, said she was do­ing it in her spare time, so stop both­er­ing her. No, I don't get it ei­ther.

[4] Is­n't that much nicer-­sound­ing than open source and much less an­noy­ing and pompous than free soft­ware?

[5] Which is, I think, #4 in the list of "ten ti­tles you should nev­er use in an opin­ion piece". #1 is What I did last sum­mer, but I di­gress...

[6] And by some eco­nom­ic mir­a­cle, it has­n't caused yet a glob­al de­pres­sion in the val­ue of bul­lion.

[7] Well, at least we work in com­fort­able chairs.

Data-aware widgets in PyQt

Here's the chal­lenge: a nicer ver­sion of Qt's data-aware wid­get­s, us­ing PyQt.

Did I suc­ceed? Prob­a­bly not, but it was in­ter­est­ing to do. Maybe it will be in­ter­est­ing to read about ;-)

Trac is cool. Cherrypy is cooler.

Trac is cool. Easy to set up, easy to run, low main­te­nance, and you get:

  • A tick­­et­ing sys­tem

  • Mile­­s­tones

  • A we­bcvs-­­like thing for sub­­ver­­sion

  • A wi­­ki (I mean,. what does­n't pro­­vide a wi­­ki nowa­­days?)

  • Bug re­­port­ing tool

  • The bug re­­port­ing tool and the sub­­ver­­sion change­sets can be linked us­ing Wi­­ki markup (now that's cool­er than it sounds ;-)

  • You don't need to be root to set it up, and you don't need apache or any­thing else, re­al­­ly.

Re­al­ly, re­al­ly nice stuff.

On the oth­er hand, Cher­ryPy is a tool that lets you "pub­lish your python ob­jects on the we­b", which does­n't re­al­ly mean much, but here's what I fig­ured out:

Cherrypy is the first way I have seen to write a useful web-based app in a reasonable amount of time and pain.

Ex­am­ple, I wrote a fron­tend to cla­mav (al­low­ing me to re­mote­ly trig­ger scans of in­di­vid­u­al nodes on a net­work) us­ing Cher­rypy and py­cla­mav in about 200 lines of code.

It works like a char­m, it's ro­bust, it even can be made to look nice us­ing some sort of tem­plat­ing en­gine (haven't both­ered yet).

And of course, I con­trol that ba­by us­ing a Trac project :-)

Breaking radio silence

The main bad thing about PyDS is that you need your own com­put­er, and you need it to be con­nect­ed to the net­s.

I had my own box, but since I changed em­ploy­men­t, it was a lone­ly dis­con­nect­ed box, un­til this week.

So, what hap­pened in the last few month­s...

  • I am cod­ing some lit­­tle stuff, as usu­al

  • I am gonna get mar­ried

  • I moved with Rosario (rather both of us moved in­­­to a new place)

Read The Con­fu­sion and The sys­tem of the world so I can print that "I sur­vived the baroque cy­cle" T-shirt Lots and lots of oth­er things. Most­ly good, too :-)

Ok, so not **everyone** read my calculator rant

First of al­l, a note: I in­tend all this post as en­cour­age­ment to Emil­iano, the au­thor of Kalcoo­lus.

You see, he turned bc in­to a on-screen key­board thing . I don't like that UI much .

I can't post com­ments on kde-look (for­got my id, or maybe nev­er reg­is­tered), and I am not go­ing to reg­is­ter just for this, but it's in­ter­est­ing to see how the same idea is re­cy­cled over and over and over.

This app seems to be a con­fla­tion of the fol­low­ing:

  • Writ­ing fron­­tends is good, be­­cause you don't need to write the hard part

  • A GUI cal­cu­la­­tor has to look like the re­al thing, in the name of us­a­bil­i­­ty

Well, the bad news is: writ­ing fron­tends is frag­ile. What you want are li­braries. And if GUIs had to look like the re­al thing, the UI to Skype would be a numpad, the UI to Amarok would look like an Ipod, and the UI to KWord would look dif­fer­ent .

So, please, Emil­iano, put a CLI in it. Pret­ty please? :-)

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