[plt-scheme] DrScheme wxWindows/wxWidgets support

From: Peter Wright (pete at flooble.net)
Date: Mon Mar 21 12:28:55 EST 2005


On 21/03 10:13:58, Robby Findler wrote:
> Your question has been asked several times over the years

Ah. I did do a bit of a search (including going through the archives
of this list) but wasn't able to find anything terribly specific.

> and the short answer is that porting the modifications to the new
> wxWindows does not seem worth the effort.


> In particular, getting eventspaces working properly is quite difficult (if
> you're not familiar with eventspaces,
> see http://www.ccs.neu.edu/scheme/pubs/icfp99-ffkf.pdf)

Thanks for that, I'll definitely have a read.

I was most interested in how precisely the porting effort could be
(reasonably) considered impractical, and from what you say it sounds
like this eventspaces problem is a significant part of the issue.

> At Mon, 21 Mar 2005 23:57:45 +0800, Peter Wright wrote:
> > PS. This email was largely inspired by my firing up DrScheme (for
> > the first time in a long while) under a Gnome environment, and
> > going "holy _crap_, this looks ugly". :)
> We have tried to respond to these kind of complaints by improving
> the interface layer directly, ourselves. The Mac OS X version, for
> example, has seen lots of improvements over the last year or so.
> So, in that light, do you have any more specific comments about it's
> ugliness?

Actually, I've always thought the main issue with user-perceived
toolkit "ugliness" is when an app just doesn't look or behave as
they (the user(s)) expect. Or, more specifically, that it doesn't "fit
in" with the applications in their "normal" desktop environment.

This kind of problem (from what I've seen/heard) is particularly noted
by Mac OS X aficionados, where anything deviating significantly from
the Apple HIG almost causes users to retch (I've certainly heard of
this reaction from users trying out OpenOffice/X11 on OS X :-)).

In this respect, I'm sure the Mac OS X users of DrScheme are very glad
that special efforts have been made on their behalf :).

But anyway, there are a couple of specific usability things that get
me with DrScheme on a wxxt platform, both of which are really trivial
but still irritating. First, menus - I can't click _once_ with the
mouse, release then move the mouse left and right (on the menubar) to
look through the menus. This is my normal action on every other
application-with-menus. In DrScheme/wxxt, it appears I either have to
mousedown-and-hold and then move left/right, or individually click on
each menu header.

Second, a similar issue with drop-down combo boxes (see for example
the "Font smoothing" combo box in the Preferences window
(DrScheme/MrEd v209). You have to click-and-hold to see the dropdown
menu options, rather than a click to see the options (and then another
click to select).

Also - purely from a visual perspective, the tab-selection widgets (as
demonstrated in the Preferences dialog) look extremely ugly to me
_just_ because they're so different to every other tab-selection
widgets I've ever seen:

  ______  _________________  _________  __________  ___________  _________
 / Font \/ Syntax Coloring \/ Editing \/ Warnings \/ Profiling \/ Browser \
/       /                   \          \           \            \          \

(where "Syntax Coloring" is the selected tab)

It's perfectly functional. It's absolutely usable. It does what it's
supposed to do and does it effectively.

It just looks _alien_. And primitive alien, not advanced high-tech
alien (not that that'd necessarily be much better :)).

> Thanks,
> Robby

I guess I had a hope lurking at the back of my mind that perhaps one
day there might be a PLT Scheme equivalent of wxPython
(http://www.wxpython.org/). It'd be nice. As I said before, I don't do
anything at all GUI in PLT Scheme, but a fairly large part of that is
because I believed PLT Scheme's GUI framework was outdated and didn't
look/feel native (at least on Linux/Unix). It may well be that the
situation is a lot better on Windows and Mac OS X, but I use Windows
only occasionally and OS X not at all.

Anyway, I've probably rambled enough for now. Thanks again for your
response. :)

It goes against the grain of modern education to teach children to
program. What fun is there in making plans, acquiring discipline in
organizing thoughts, devoting attention to detail and learning to be
self-critical?  -- Alan Perlis, Epigrams in Programming 

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