[plt-scheme] Some PLT environment issues

From: Scott McLoughlin (scott at adrenaline.com)
Date: Tue Oct 27 04:59:20 EDT 2009

I'm fairly new to PLT, so I may be unaware of some features that i
think are sorely lacking. As well, this is in part just a late night dump
of an insomniac :-)

1) First, while Scribble is a very cool virtual troff/TeX replacement,
it's just *WAY* too complicated for documenting code quickly during the
process of code writing. A more appropriate tool, IMHO, would simply
embed docs in comments (or some other s-expr, docstring format, etc.).
It would impose some minor structure via section tags, such as date,
author, function parameters (checked by the documentation processor
of course), type information where appropriate(including types from
a fully integrated typed-scheme)  etc.

The default doc processor should be a simple menu item that just
generates HTML for a collection of source files, including hyper links
where appropriate (who calls, struct use to struct definition, and
so on). Ideally the docs would feature an index, search, etc. in
the generated HTML docs.

And sure, there may be some more involved doc generation options
provided by DrScheme as well - options for printed docs, PDF output
and what not. But aside from the basic "Update Docs" menu item.

2) Regarding the "collection of files" refered to above, DrScheme
would benefit greatly from a simple default Project structure concept.
A simple directory hierarchy of files, included libraries, perhaps sub
projects, maybe sharing - pretty much standard fare for many IDE's that
have been out there for years now.  Regarding HTML doc generations, it's
the project files (or a subdir or even sub project) that is the
"collection of files" unit of HTML documentation.

3) Spawning the browser to view the docs is fine, but really, just as
easy these days  is providing an HTML tab for viewing the hyperlinked
documentation. This avoids repeatedly switching between apps to compare
source and documentation, especially if DrScheme would provide both
horizontal and vertical window splitting as Emacs does.  Ideally, the
source editor would be modified to hyperlink source forms directly to their
associated documentation, presumably by an unobtrusive right mouse button
context menu item.  Request for such a source item doc could easily
verify the up-to-date status of the HTML docs and bring them back up
to date as necessary (CPUs and Disks are blessedly fast these days).

4) Dr Scheme needs clean, simple revision control integration. I've been
on quite an illness driven coding hiatus, but not too many years ago, emacs
and cvs went together like rum and coke, and setting up a CVS server was 
a little harder than falling off a log.  Subversion seems the new CVS if I'm
reading the lay of the tech land correctly, but ideally, DrScheme should 
a family of the most popular version control systems. The source file 
tabs can
then show the checkin and even remote modification status, display 
inline diffs,
generate regular diffs and of course allow resolution of conflicts right 
the editor and so forth.  Basically, on any kind of multi-user project, 
or even
a  large single user project, including this type of revision control by 
would be a MAJOR productivity enhancement.

5) Anyway, just some immediate off the cuff observations.

I *REALLY DO* have the greatest admiration for the folks banging on 
DrScheme and
the whole PLT technology suite, and I (reluctantly) understand that 
there are
design priorities outside of building a commercial software development 

I also want to say that the resulting technology to date is nothing 
short of
amazing and is, so far, my development technology of choice for so many 
and good reasons.

So I hope my critiques are taken in the right spirit.

Night all,


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