MAY
19
2005

Oughta... write... some... applications.

Yes, it's already bad to be forced to own and run 16 different linux distros just so as to have one's application available for "linux". But it's even worse when there isn't an application at all.

Way too often I hit the wall with my stubornness to use only Linux all the time. I don't speak of getting the "you're weird, to say the least" looks when I send latex documents to my colleagues. Nor do I whine about not being able to run Duke Nukem or the latest "look ma', 2 tons of fresh blood" game of the hour. I mean, where are the applications?

Today, authoring a small home movie (complete with titles and sound track) is a job that even the most typical subpar Joe Bloe is proud to do in a blink with his stinking overpriced windows xp. Ditto creating a dvd complete with menus and animations (as much as I hate them).

Getting my DV movies from the camera tape to the HDD is a definite no no, and this after 3 years since the DV cameras became as ubiquitous as automobiles.

Creating a publication quality scientific plot or graph on linux requires a PhD in the matter. How could I ask my wife to defect her trusty windows machine when she does such graphs by the dozens per day, knowing that all the tweaking she performs on her Origin or Sigmaplot in 5 minutes would require 2 hours with gnuplot? She doesn't stinkin' want to become professional in gnuplot programming, she just wants her bloody graphs up and out to the printer.

The problem is the usual big ugly NIH syndrom. That explains this abomination (not the distrowatch site, mind you; this is very useful, unfortunately; but the topic of the site). And our inability to cooperate enough. Why create 42 different IM clients (each with its own cherished degree of unfinishness) when we could put the efforts together and speed the development process by incredible factors of 2 or 4 magnitude orders and rather get damn VoIP work with at least one OSS IM client. Talk about resource waste.

The other problem is lack of communication (yes, the paradox of the internet). Instead of looking at what is already done and just start from there with helping (redesign if needed), most of us just proudly reinvent the wheel.

And the roots of evil are really deeply dipped both in the past and in the landscape of technology that we develop. Wanting to start an application today means doing a set of 5 to 10 a priori choices: base distro, packaging, build system, docu system, base GUI library, base DE and so on. This efficiently scinds the already small attention market. And proficiently denies the deserved success to apps that rather get cornered into a niche section of the landscape.

No, I don't see a solution (other than an orwellian style one). The problem is very intricate. The distro proliferation that Kurt Pfeifle rightly criticized is only a (big) chunk of the problem, but only the tip of the iceberg (penguin pun intended). And I understand very well the "pro-choice" arguments. But I feel (deep inside) that if something doesn't change quick, we might loose our toys. And soon apart that.

Comments

Hi,

do you know xmgr and/or its descendant grace (http://plasma-gate.weizmann.ac.il/Grace/) ?

You can generate very nice graphs, analyze the data, apply some algorithms and all that without programming (as in gnuplot). The GUI needs some time to get used to, but then it's a really good application.

Alex


By Alexander Neundorf at Thu, 05/19/2005 - 18:07

I actually used xmgr for a few weeks back in 1996 (yeah, I'm that old). It was difficult to use back then. I will give it a try. I know about kmathplot too, but it seems to be abandoned (last news in April 2002).

Perhaps I'll take the kmatplot and see where can I go with it. 'Cause interaction with with other office apps is as important.

The KDAB widgets were on my radar for a while too.

But see, the lack of focus is transparing here too.


By Cristian Tibirna at Fri, 05/20/2005 - 01:24

I would recommend to take up Kommander and fill the gaps, just like I do. When you talk about working with (Mini)DV, camcorders, DVD authoring, etc you should realise that Linux already has all technology you need. There is SMILUtils, MJPEGTools, FFMPEG, Transcode, DVDAuthor, MPlayer, and so on. The only thing that is needed (badly) is some people who build nice user interfaces on top of these technologies.

Personally, I try to fill the DV/DVD software gap by writing some simple Kommander wizards. Kommander is really fit for this job, as you can use it to create a simple frontend to a commandline tool in a matter of minutes.

Here are some of my pet projects:

http://dvdripomatic.sourceforge.net
http://kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=27528
http://kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=29587
http://kde-apps.org/content/show.php?content=23627

I could use some help if you're interested... ;)


By meneerdik at Sun, 01/08/2006 - 11:38