RFC: BeOS Plan Of Action

Subject: RFC: BeOS Plan Of Action
From: James Montgomerie (jamie@montgomerie.net)
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 05:03:18 CST

Before I start my mail properly, a few words:

First, please read the attached document even if you have no interest in
BeOS - I'd appreciate any comments you might have. I'll post the document
(in original .abw format) to the list tomorrow with any changes.

Secondly, can we have the BeOS boxes back on Tinderbox please? I might be
able to do some remote compile fixes.

Thirdly, I'd be happy to take the title of 'Interim BeOS Maintainer'. The
reason I haven't stepped forward before is that I don't think I've got the
time to devote to the post that's required, but if we need a figurehead or
motivator or something, I'll give it a go until someone else steps forward.
 I guess a part-time maintainer is better than no maintainer. I'll
understand perfectly if others don't think it's a good idea.

Now the mail proper :-)

To get our BeOS port up to speed, I suggest the following:
For the next release, if it compiles (which, if we can get it on Tinderbox,
I'll make sure it does), ship it. Unless Mike Crawford works wonders,
it?ll be in an almost unusable state, but ship it anyway.

Simultaneously to the release, post my document, first draft attached,
somewhere on www.abisource.com.

I'll write optimistic, encouraging articles for the Be news sites (BeNews,
BeGroovy) declaring the new release, but pointing out the defficiencies of
the BeOS port compared to other platforms, with a link to my document (i.e.
show the potential, but no rose-tintes glasses). We won't ask for a
maintainer, but for developers and users.
Hopefully, BeOS users and developers will come forward to help. I think
the reason we've had so few offers of help is that simply begining to
maintain AbiWord having never seen it before is a daunting task -
hopefully my
document, and the fact that we're asking for developers, not maintainers,
should relieve that.


The Guide To Making AbiWord Under BeOS Usable
[or How to Make Abiword Just Work on Beos]

James Montgomerie [jamie@montgomerie.net], 27th March 2001

Abiword - Word Processing for Everyone

AbiWord is an free open source word processor. Designed to be
cross-platform, it runs on more platforms than any other office
application, with the exception of Mozilla. Its design allows the vast
majority of code to be platform independent, yet still have a native
front-end on every platform it supports, with all the speed and natural
ease to use that entails.

Word Processing for Everyone? Even BeOS users?

AbiWord has supported BeOS for some time. Recently, however, the
BeOS-specific code (arguably, it?s not a port, so I won?t be calling it
one) has been falling behind its equivalents for other platforms. BeOS
users downloading AbiWord have been (rightly) disappointed by it?s speed
and stability, and are not using AbiWord, seeing it as another failed
open-source BeOS port.

This perception is understandable, but unfair. Though ?behind? the
implementations for other platforms, the BeOS code is almost there. It is
almost working. If you help, AbiSource will, once again, be able to
trumpet BeOS as a supported platform, and BeOS users will be able to use a
high-quality, fast, stable, free word processor, just like Windows, *nix,
GNOME, QNX and (soon) Mac users can.

How You Can Help If You?re a [Potential] User

Try It Out

Download the latest version from http://www.abisource.com/, and try it out.
 The bad news is that you probably won?t be happy. You almost certainly
won?t want to regularly use the program now filling [a small amount of]
your hard disk space. The good news, however, is that AbiSource has a
public database of bugs, called ?Bugzilla?, and that by entering any bugs
you find into this database you can alert the AbiWord developers to them
and, hopefully, they?ll fix them for future releases.

Hang on - you want me to complain?

Yes! We want AbiWord to be the best, easiest word processor you?ve ever
used. The only one you?ll ever need. Word Processing for Everyone -
remember? By entering bugs into the Bugzilla database, you can help us
reach that goal - after all, if developers don?t know about the bugs, they
won?t be able to fix them. The database is located at
http://bugzilla.abisource.com/ - just create yourself an account, and start
logging bugs. Only if users do this can we truly create Word Processing
for Everyone.

How To Help If You?re a [Potential] Developer

If you?re a developer, download the code and have a look around. Take a
look at the summary of current issues below, dive it and try to fix them.
Join the AbiWord Developers Mailing List, and don?t be afraid to ask (or
answer) questions. I?ll say it again - join the AbiWord Developers Mailing
List, and don?t be afraid to ask questions. Lastly, remember not to read
only this document - there?s lots more information in the abi/docs/
directory and on the AbiSource web site (http://www.abisource.com/). After
you?ve done some coding, post a patch to the developers mailing list, and
it will most likely be included in the official tree. Don?t forget to
change /abi/CREDITS.TXT to include your name, if you want credit for your

The Non-Exhaustive Current BeOS Issues List

Redraw Speed

The Killer Problem. Even ?normal? typing on BeOS is currently dog slow.
The text drawing functions can be found in
abi/src/af/gr/beos/gr_BeOSGraphics.cpp, but the problems probably lie
deeper than that, in the depths of the view refreshing code - places like

Weird Crashes and Hangs

The other Killer Problem. AbiWord often hangs or crashes strangly under
BeOS, and it doesn?t on other platforms. Compile with debug on (make
ABI_OPT_DEBUG=1), break out bdb, and start fixing bugs!

Graphical Glitches

Despite recent clean-ups, the BeOS frontend still does weird things
sometimes - wrong sized text, stray lines, disappearing text. These could
be occurring in many places, but the misbehaving code will probably be
contained in files in the abi/src/af/gr/beos/ or abi/src/af/xap/beos/
directories. Have a ferret around and try to find the cause. Then try to
fix it.

Missing and Wrong Dialogs

Many BeOS dialogs are missing or out of date. If you have another PC near
your BeOS machine, try running
AbiWord on both at once and having a run through the features. If not,
take a look at the screen shots in abi/shots. If you come across a missing
dialog, or one that needs to be changed to conform with other platforms,
put code in abi/wp/ap/beos/.

Toolbar and Ruler Issues

The toolbars and rulers don?t turn on and off when they?re supposed to
(i.e. when the user selects the toggling options in the View menu).
However, before that?s fixed, they should probably be made to look more
BeOSey - see the NetPositive toolbars for an example. The relavent code is
in the obviously named files in the abi/src/wp/ap/beos/ and
abi/src/af/ev/beos/ directories. If you feel it?s necessary [or easier],
don?t be afraid to re-factor this code to use third-party (but GPLed!)
toolbar code.

The Status Bar is the Wrong Height!

Okay, so this isn?t such a pressing problem, but it?s a pet peeve of mine -
the status bar should be the same height as the grabbing-sizing thing on
the bottom right of the window. This is easy to achieve by changing the
value of STATUS_BAR_HEIGHT in src/wp/ap/beos/ap_BeOSStatusBar.h, but this
makes the text fall off the bottom of the window (set it to 13, recompile,
and see what I mean). The cross-platform code might need to be changed to
fix this (any changes should not affect the look of the status bar on other

We Need an Icon

AbiWord on BeOS currently has no icon. Make the AbiWord icon be the AbiWord

We Need an Package

Currently, AbiWord for BeOS is packaged in a rather user-unfriendly zip
file. Make a SoftwareValet (or other installer) package target for the
make system.

Lots Of Other Things

Browse the Bugzilla database at http://bugzilla.abisource.com/. Play with
AbiWord. You?ll find plenty of other, smaller, issues.

Spread The Word

If you know other BeOS developers, get them to help too. Don?t worry -
they won?t spoil the broth.

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