March 6, 2004

It’s Like Back To The Future In Reverse

Filed under: digital — mhoye @ 2:55 am

If you’re wondering where all your disk space went, then you might want to take a look at the situation with FileLight, which I think is pretty cool.

I’m trying to rewrite JWZ‘s XKeyCaps in Ruby::Tk, because it looks like it needs to be done. I’m interested in learning Ruby, it looks cool, and this seems like as good a way as any.

The other reason is that I’m getting really fed up with discovering every few months that something that used to be dirt simple has magically devolved back to being a big pain in the ass again. There is no equivalent to XKeyCaps available in KDE or Gnome, and I had to reapply my very-marginal KDM .xsession workaround to get xmodmap to work properly with KDE/KDM.

I’m not sure what the result is going to be – his code does a lot of stuff that I don’t think that I’ll be able to do, in Ruby or at all, like autodiscover keyboards on hardware that I’ve never even heard of. But on the other hand I suspect that with Ruby and a modern toolkit I’ll be able to get 95% of the functionality together in about a quarter the code. Almost all the boring stuff is taken care of by the Tk toolkit, thank Ghu.

I’ll tell you, though, as much as I hate writing UIs, one thing that I’m never, ever going to complain about is the unpleasant tediousness of creating a UI in the modern era. My experience has ranged from early AWT on through Swing and some simple/ugly
Ruby-Tk widgets for my own amusement, and I hated pretty much all of it, but old X code? Wow. Trying to read that stuff is just awful; it’s like Chaucer’s been khodeing ‘pon a keebhorde. You can kind of understand it but, Christ, why would anyone do that to themselves? Or to other people?

On the bright side, Mr. Zawinsky has had the very good graces to write out all of the relevant data files (actually, they’re all C header files, but that’s not important) in a consistent and easily machine-mungeable way. So things are moving along apace. I think that the thing needs some more keyboard layouts for laptops anyway.


  1. dear god that’s a lot of linux geek speak… if you ever care to author a translation into a language i understand I’d be happy to follow along too.



    Comment by sean — March 6, 2004 @ 8:22 pm

  2. Well, Ok.

    “Oook OOOK! OOOK! OOOook. Oook ook EEEK!”

    Did that help?

    Comment by Mike Hoye — March 6, 2004 @ 9:10 pm

  3. Filelight is very cool, one of those programs that compels one to take a screenshot or two, but I’m not sure it’s worth the 54MiB of dependencies it pulled in.

    Comment by Sean Neakums — March 8, 2004 @ 7:32 am

  4. Let me know how that whole Ruby business works out for you. I’ve toyed with learning it as well.

    I am more likely to putz around with Scala in the near future, though, just because.

    Comment by Novak — March 8, 2004 @ 10:44 pm

  5. Ruby has always seemed a little weak, to me.

    I tend to default to Python for my non-compiled language needs.

    Comment by Mike Bruce — March 9, 2004 @ 9:49 am

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