Kamis, 27 Oktober 2011

Q&A with Enlightenment Lead Developer "Rasterman"

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the Enlightenment desktop. I recently got into contact with the project's lead developer "Rasterman" and we did a little bit of a question and answer session. If you aren't sure on what all the Enlightenment desktop and the EFLs are exactly please see my post here.

How long have you been working on E for?

I remember when I started writing E. Dinosaurs were roaming the earth and things were much warmer... So that was back in 1996.

You've been the lead developer for Enlightenment for some time, did you work on any other desktop environments/projects prior to it?

Prior to enlightenment I was hacking on fvwm. fvm-xpm was a result of my
hacking and rxvt-xpm too. Beyond this I also wrote some trinkets like xflame (display flames in X in a window or on root even) xripple (create reflection ripples on your desktop background in x). Then I got sucked into the bottomless pit that is Enlightenment and have yet to escape.

What inspired you to create another desktop/window manager?

I had an itch. I scratched it. Frankly I just thought X was too plain and ugly
and needed some spicing up. I knew X could do it and people were just not
using the facilities it had, so I did.

In your opinion what are the EFLs strongest advantages over other libraries such as GTK or QT?

Smaller, leaner and built for a more modern graphics era. They are designed from the ground up as a scene graph. GTK and QT are just beginning to explore that and see the light. EFLs have been there and mature for many years now.

How much of Enlightenment/EFLs do you maintain personally?

Not all of them by any stretch. I mostly stick to ecore, evas, edje, embryo, eet, and elementary. Eina I throw things into now and again, but I don't tend to put a lot of time into that one. Efreet, e_dbus and eeze I mostly leave alone. E17 itself I do a large amount of work on still. Of course many others who work on these too to varying degrees, not just me, so it's a team effort.

How many active developers does Enlightenment currently have working on it?

In terms of fulltime developers spending 8+hours per day cranking out code, we have about 5 on a good day. If you just want to talk about the number of people actively sending in patches, it's about 20. If we had more manpower we could do so much more. Many developers just get distracted off into many other things (real life, their day jobs, other tasks etc.) most of the time.

Are you looking for more help with development?


Do you have any tips for aspiring programmers hoping to get started writing applications using the EFLs?

Start with the libraries that make things simplest - start with elementary.
It's the least code to get the most done. Work your way down. Get your head around the idea of a scene graph instead of immediate-mode rendering as well as a mainloop and callback-driven api's and you'll be golden.

I know Samsung funds Enlightenment development, do any other companies sponsor a sizable amount of development?

Right now, other than Profusion, not a sizable mount. There are smaller
companies involved here and there like ordissimo, calaos, free.fr, but I don't even know them all and have probably missed a few in my quick answer here.

Can you give us any hints about how Samsung plans to use the EFLs they are funding?

We are using them as part of a mobile platform that's basically a full Linux OS stack like your regular desktop linux distributions. It is being designed for mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and god knows what else (that's all pretty obvious given that it's the mobile os r&d that is doing the work).

As a developer what is your take on Gnome 3 and Unity?

Unity - I haven't been looking at too closely, but my take is that it's causing
a lot of unhappiness amongst users. 

Gnome 3 - seems to have also created a lot of friction. Gnome 3 is now finally becoming tightly coupled like E17. They are in fact moving towards our model of things now, so I would guess it's a vote in favor for us having had the better model to begin with and being ahead of the curve. My general take on any environment that REMOVEs options from the user or makes them exceedingly hard to find or change, is that it does its userbase a disservice to the extreme. If you want to move options to "advanced" dialogs somewhere or something - fine, but removal is just bad.

Anything else you'd like to add/feel is worth mentioning?

In general I think EFL and E get a lot of things really RIGHT. We normally implement many things quietly without fanfare or blogs that you find other DE's and toolkits implementing with lots of publicity about their great new feature. We are a very behind-the-scenes group and are more conservative than most in actual publicity. This is something we really need to break out of somehow and improve. We don't "toot our own horns" enough. I really wish we had 1 or more people just devoted to doing public relations, blogs, announcements, press releases... the works.

I'd just like to say thanks to Raster for taking some time out of his day to field my questions. Hopefully you learned as much as I did.

~Jeff Hoogland

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