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GNUe Traffic #13 For 26�Jan�2002

By Peter Sullivan

Table Of Contents


This Cousin covers the three main mailing lists for the GNU Enterprise project, gnue, gnue-dev and gnue-announce. For more information about GNUe, see their home page at Details of the mailing lists can be found at,,

It also covers, on an intermittant basis (i.e. when I have time), the #gnuenterprise IRC channel. A great deal of development discussion is still going on in IRC. You can find #gnuenterprise on, or you can review the logs at

1. Car Dealer Management System

17�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 17 Jan 2002"

Topics: Forms, Application Server

People: Stuart Bain,�Daniel Baumann,�Jason Cater,�Derek Neighbors

Stuart Bain (stbain) said "I think I found the "Killer app" that will bring GNUe into the limelight" One of his clients was a car dealership who was very unhappy with their relationship with one of their system suppliers, who was "pretty much gouging them for support, installation, and maintenance on obsolete technology - it's nothing for some dealerships to spend up to $45K to add 12 users at an existing location " . The system supplier "maintains complete control over the machines [...] refuses to give out root passwords or work with third party vendors to implement new technologies or add new sites" . He wondered "is GNUe ready to build a Dealer Management System on?" Daniel Baumann (chillywilly) said "you could hack up a 2-tier app" with the GNUe Tools as they stood at time of writing. He believed that "ncurses is probably old and rotting away" but noted "there's going to be a UI rewrite soon" which should reinstate support for it. Stuart said that "capitalizing on their existing hardware (dumb terminals) would be a big selling point" and added "oh... BTW... they're willing to fund us :)" He also asked "do you know off the top of your head how much it would take to port forms to a java swing interface? " Daniel said "we have a Java forms client - however - the proper thing to do would be to write java ui plugin" and he noted "swing is non-free" . Jason Cater (jcater) said his original involvement with GNUe had been due to dissatisfaction with " actually writing a swing-based forms app" . However, "it is certainly possible to port forsm to java/swing - actually, we consider the Python forms to be a " reference" implementation not necessarily the "only" implementation" of GNUe Forms. Stuart was worried about the implications of having to install the Forms client and the python/ wxpython dependancies on each PC. Jason said " we have precompiled Windows binaries on the website that contains EVERYTHING" . For GNU/Linux, you could either "use diskless terminals" such as the Linux Terminal Server Project or "create a "static" python + wx install then tar it up and untar on all the other machines - in effect creating a binary image" . Daniel said "long term I would hope you would want to use geas and define your business objects and methods, but ubtil then you could just use the forms client and a database and write som triggers and have a nice app" . Stuart said the idea was to "have the entire dealer base in the country throw their weight behind the development effort(s) - so we would definitely want to use a mature GEAS and use 3 tier design" . He added "I also discussed the problem w/ multiple vendors... GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, etc... they all have their proprietary protocols to access information from their networks - so I'm also thinking something along the lines of an Automotive Markup Language - AML ;) I'm thinking we can work with OASIS and try to lobby for some support in that area" Jason had to run, but suggested that Stuart talked to Derek Neighbors.

Later, Derek suggested "if you are on windows dont use cvs - instead grab the .exe's - that way you dont have to install any dependencies - they are all included" . He said "we are PRIMED to run on vt100 as soon as curses support is back" and said "i think what you are asking is DEFINITELY do able w/ two tier as it sits right now" . He personally didn't see any value in a java/swing client - " if you wanted java, i would write from scratch in java" . He said he was "not sure what the questions were in some regards i.e. is stbain asking can this be done or asking for us to do it?" Jason said he was " not really sure" . Daniel said "hey, I am all for offering my services ;)" .

2. Red Hat Packages (rpms) and Ximian

17�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 17 Jan 2002"

Topics: Why GNUe?, Forms, Designer

People: Miguel de Icaza,�Daniel Baumann,�Jason Cater,�Derek Neighbors,�Reinhard M�ller,�Richard Stallman

Miguel de Icaza (miguel) asked "Anyone know where I can get complete rpms of Gnu Enterprise?" . Daniel Baumann (chillywilly) said "we don't have rpms" at the time of writing. Miguel also asked "So does GNU enterprise use WxWindows only? (and gtk through this?) - I thought it had a pluggable architecture " ? Jason Cater (jcater) said the wxPython version "is currently our reference implementation - next up will be a curses-based plugin followed by an html" . They had had a curses-based version previously, but had not been keeping it up to date. Miguel asked "Is GNUE end-user ready? I am going to ask someone at Ximian to make rpms ;-)" . Jason said "the forms client is in production use several places" and "the designer ide is coming along nicely" . Miguel noted "Ok, so you are not reusing anything like glade (totally understandable)" . Jason said "we have an entry on that in our faq - glade is EXCELLENT for designing GTK apps" - "but that is not what we do" . Miguel asked "Ok, so what should I subscribe to if I want to know when you guys make rpms of the new release?" He was pointed to the mailing list at

Later, Derek said "i missed miguel eh" - "guess we have hit the 'radar'" with Ximian. He added "i have long long long long said that gnue is one of the few pieces of free software that has a BUSINESS MODEL " . He said "8 months ago i would have been PLEASED as punch that ximian was interested" but now he was not so sure. However, he added "hopefully they will bring resources and good intentions" .

The next day, Reinhard M�ller noted " we had ppl from gnucash and bayonne here for quite some time - then we had bkuhn - now miguel - i'm expecting rms to appear tomorrow ;)" Later, Derek said that Richard Stallman did not use IRC, "but he does give 'pleasant emails' occassionally :) - i.e. rms knows about gnue and knows somewhat of what is going on " .

3. HTML Client for GNUe Forms

18�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 18 Jan 2002"

Topics: Forms

People: James Thompson,�Michael Maluck

Continuing Issue�#12, Section�#8� (13�Jan�2002:�HTML client for GNUe Forms) , James Thompson (jamest) noted that Michael Maluck (madlocke) had "got a lot of work done on the layout mgr " . However, he said "i can't see us replacing GParser as forms and designer both use it heavily" Michael said "for now i only wrote own one because it was easier and i wanted to try some things..." He also was "still thinking of getting rid of this phaseinit... but not now..." . James said they had previously had "a single init system that just didn't work for our multipart system" . He hoped to "fold the layout manager into the current code base w/ a few changes - then see about adding in the html stuff along side our current UI rewrite" . They hadn't progressed with this so far as it was "really dependent upon the html clients needs - jcater and I have discussed it somewhat - but nothing on paper yet" . They had been "talking about having a single process on the web server - using sessoins/cookies to driver mutliple UIhtml sessions for different users" .

4. Degenerate Widgets

18�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 18 Jan 2002"

Topics: Forms

People: James Thompson,�Michael Maluck,�Jason Cater,�Derek Neighbors

James Thompson noted that he "was thinking about keeping the number of entities to a minimum" in the GNUe Definition files. Michael Maluck (madlocke) asked "what to do with special styles" for layout managers, such as box layouts that "can do layouting horizontal or vertical " . James said "we could either allow optional attributes or we could provide some general attribute that takes a string of values" . Jason Cater (jcater) opined that "it critical that we keep the number of tags to a minimum" . James explained that " my goal however was for forms to be able to fall back when it hits something it didn't know how to handle - for instance when curses and wxpython both worked, the curses client didn't know how to do dropdowns. Since dropdown was an entry style it didn't matter - the forms with dropdown still worked on curses and still did input validation - you just couldn't pick from a list. If we had done <dropdown> as it's own thing then the form would not have displayed at all" . Michael said " i was thinking of something like a widget hierarchy - means that these fall backs can be automated" . He explained "if the ui does not explicitly say: i can support a tag that tag falls back until a good widget class is found " . James said this was basically what they were trying to do - "I'm still of a mind set to keep the number of tags low" to make this easier to program.

Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) said " the more complex the widget set teh harder to support a myriad of UI's - but more importantly - the most PRODUCTIVE applications i have seen for (business) are old curses terminals [...] a little hard to 'learn' but once you learn VERY efficient to use" . There were still a lot of dumb terminal applications still in use in large organisations. He added "i am NOT ANTI gui - just saying all the bells and whistles of complex widget sets dont == better software" . James said "what I like now is that I can show a .gfd to a non-programmer and they can "get" it" . Derek agreed - "you shouldnt have to be a C hacker to use gnue and extend applications" .

Michael asked what had been decided about "trees and other widgets" , as discussed in Issue�#9, Section�#6� (18�Dec�2001:�Trees and Lists in GNUe Forms) . Jason said "I think the consensus was those would be custom widgets that we would not support - but would provide hooks for those who "insisted" they need them" . Derek added "but we make it a 'use at own risk' and we dont use it for GNUe Apps that are official" Michael said "ok. then we need some docs/ specs about this" and asked whether " the widgets supported at the moment by gnuef define the standard already or is it too much/less?" . Derek said "the current thinking is start simple - lets get entry/label/etc working WELL - and supported on many different UI's - and used in applications - then lets see what other widgets could be really beneficial and such and look at implementing them i.e. classic lets do a few things really well instead of a lots of things really bad" .

5. Nightly snapshots of CVS on website

18�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 18 Jan 2002"

People: Derek Neighbors,�Jason Cater

Derek Neighbors (dneighbo) complained that "i cant get cvs at work" and asked Jason Cater (jcater) to send it to him as a .tar file. Jason said "I think we should do this weekly (automatically) and post to website" . Derek agreed, but suggested "nightly" . Jason concurred "I'm thinking of having gnue-cvs-<date>.tar.gz and keep the last 5 days worth" . After a while, he confirmed that the snapshots were now at

6. Bugs with Debian package dependancies

18�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 18 Jan 2002"

People: Peter Sullivan,�Nick Rusnov

Peter Sullivan (psu), having read Issue�#12, Section�#3� (11�Jan�2002:�Debian packages for GNUe) , confirmed that "we now have a debian maintainer" . Nick Rusnov (nickr) tried the debian packages out, and noted "hrm, it has a bug - it doesn't depend on wxpython" . Peter suggested "'I'd raise a bug against the package if I were you' - heard someone say that last week - sounded cool - might even have been you ;-)" Nick agreed " Yes I suggest that people file bugs all the tim e:" . Nick later confirmed "kay, i just submitted like 4 bugs. :)"

7. Version 0.1.1 of GNUe Tools

19�Jan�2002�-�22�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 19 Jan 2002"

Topics: Forms, Designer, Common

People: James Thompson,�Derek Neighbors

James Thompson (jamest) said that version 0.1.1 of GNUe Forms, Designer and Common "should be out today in release form " , once he had tested them "on win32" . He explained that version 0.1.1 would be " the basic release. Then I'm adding trigger enhancements in forms. If time allows I'm redoing the event system as well so that it plays nicer w/ the mouse. I'll also fold in the i18n stuff from the dude from india. Also want to get a good look into madlocke's layout mgr and see what it'll take to add that in as well [...] plan on doing an install guide too for maintainers" .

Later, James added that "i'm putting together a list of db driver authors and mailing lists and am contacting them about our drivers - looking for people to help give us the info we need for introspection as well as testers" . He then officially tagged CVS for a release of Forms, Common and Designer and did "a happy dance" .

Three days later, James asked " did anyone ever release? the exes and tar.gzs were done" . Derek Neighbors (derek) said " nope no one released - way jcater is going its time to release again :) " .

8. GNUe Forms client for curses

21�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 21 Jan 2002"

Topics: Forms

People: Holger Schurig,�Reinhard M�ller,�Derek Neighbors,�Jason Cater

Holger Schurig (holsch) asked " is anybody caring for the file? It's in a sad state ... " . Reinhard M�ller (reinhard) said "UIcurses was done by a guy named arno - he had to stop because he got seriosly ill iirc - meanwhile a lot in forms has changed and so the is no longer compatible with the rest i guess" . Holger said " I'd love to have even a minimal UIcurses that lacks almost all widgets so that I can show a demo to my boss" . Reinhard said "a lot of people in this project want curses - me too btw :)" . Holger said " I tried for 4 hours to understand enought of python and UI<whatever> to get something running - but to no avail. Maybe even an totally empty would help. In that case I would probably try to create a (I like newt much more than curses). The problem is that python-newt currently only exists for python 1.5 ..." Reinhard agreed that might be a problem, as "forms needs 2.0 at least " .

Holger later explained how to find the python code for newt - "python stuff in in the normal newt-rpm e.g. in newt-0.50.33-1.i386.rpm - yes, it's called "snack"" . He felt newt was easier to program, but noted that "I don't know if it can be used event-driven " . Derek Neighbors (derek) said that didn't matter, as "forms has its own events system" . He felt it "would be cool to offer 3 diff curses modes :) as originally we were offering pyncurses (whose maintainer actually worked on gnue for a bit) then we switched to curses that comes w/ python [...] so to offer newt version would be sweet if got all three up and moving - it woudl REALLY show the power of gnue - yeah we have 'character based' forms - which style you want? curses, pyncurses or newt? " .

Holger felt somewhat frustrated that " Forms are designed for character based terms (i.e. absolute coordinates,) but they don't run on them ..." as at the time of writing. Derek said "they did - i promise they did - in fact if you grab an old release from the website it will work with curses" . Holger said he had considered this, " but forms without a layout manager just suffer as soon as it comes to i18n. Some languages use lots of more characters than english ... :-(" Derek said "i dont think that layout manager is that huge of deal personally" . Holger disagreed - " The problem is that many english words are short, but they are long in hungarian or german" , which could make labels look ugly. Derek said "point is you have the source - if it looked horrid in your language w/ a little work you could fix it :) "


Later, Jason Cater (jcater) confessed that he had been the last person to modify the code. He said "I'm in the process of abstracting the "input handling" out of UIwxpython and trying to get curses working again" .

9. GNUe Designer developments

21�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 21 Jan 2002"

Topics: Designer, Application Server

People: Jason Cater

Jason Cater (jcater) announced " as of 10 minutes ago designer fully supports drag and drop schema introspection - drag a table to the form, and a datasource and block is created" . Several people were very impressed. Later, he said "Designer is almost useful now - our Layout Editor is drag-n-drop + toolbar at top plus we have full schema introspection support plus a real syntax-highlighting code editor plus a data source editor" . He clarified that "schema" meant "for relational sources, it's "tables" + "fields" but for object sources, it's "objects" + "attributes"" . This meant " whenever GEAS works - designer will be ready" .

10. Database support for GNUe

21�Jan�2002�-�22�Jan�2002�Archive Link: "[IRC] 21 Jan 2002"

Topics: Common, Forms, Designer

People: Rob Levin,�Jason Cater,�Andrew Mitchell

Rob Levin (lilo--) " wondered if someone could give him a quick summary of the development framework and what it compares to in the proprietary world - right now I'm stuck with Windows Powerbuilder and I wanted to know that there was at least something sane out there :)" Jason Cater (jcater) said the GNUe tools were a "direct comparison to Oracle Forms and PowerBuilder" . Andrew Mitchell (ajmitch) said "nah, GNUe is better :)" . Jason said they supported a wide range of database back-ends - "Postgres, MySQL, DB2, Oracle, SAP-DB, Interbase, Informix, any ODBC" . Rob, all embarassed, asked "is the dreaded MS SQL Server somewhere in there? :) " . Jason said "we are working on an ADO driver - but it's supported via ODBC at the moment" . He explained "ADO is supposedly MS Server's native interface format" . The ODBC support was slightly limited, as "we use a public domain ODBC driver which is lacking introspection" . This meant " our Designer can't automatically create forms" using ODBC.

As midnight came, he explained that "Designer is our IDE - Forms runs what Designer creates" . Rob asked about debugging, as "Powerbuilder is horrible :)" . Jason said "as right now, try not to make mistakes :)" Rob said "well, I can accept that - Powerbuilder is that way and it will never get better ;)" . Jason said "actually, the client software is in production use at my office and a few other guy's offices - my IT team is starting to use designer - but it's fairly new. Now the other tools aren't as "mature" i.e., reporting, app server, etc but we're getting there :)" .

Later, Rob asked "what kind of resource do I need to demonstrate the software, you think? big machine, medium sized? " Jason said "not too much at all, really - I have 30 users all running on a dual 400 Mhz PII" , using other applications as well.

Sharon And Joy

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