Friday, September 11, 2009

Let's turn towards the future

Yes, SmartEiffel is dead.

SmartEiffel has brought great things such as the first working implementation of non-conforming inheritance as well as well defined (should I say, just defined) conformance rules for agents.

SmartEiffel lost its steam, in my opinion, because:
  1. The code base is too complex. There is no way to understand it if you are not helped by the core team.
  2. The core team does not welcome any patch from the outside. It discouraged people to participate and since the users of a compiler are also technical people, users were lost.
  3. Everybody knew that the core team had a private list where every decision was taken. Not free.
  4. Some members of the core team had ideas that were not approved by the big boss. Too many no-no and core members got weary.
  5. The head of the core team seems to have mysteriously disappeared. The team lost all motivation.
Here comes Liberty: SmartEiffel down from its ivory tower.

I want Liberty to be:
  1. A striking example of good Eiffel code. That certainly means powerful, but above all simple and understandable.
  2. Released with batteries (and with simple technical means to add more batteries!)
  3. Interoperable with most mainstream languages (C, Java, .NET...)
  4. Available on most platforms.
  5. Really free, as in free speech.

Monday, September 7, 2009

SmartEiffel: dead of alive?

In the previous two years it seems that SmartEiffel has "lost steam": frequency of commits seems to confirm this (see also stats on SmartEiffel): 3.31 days between each commit compared to the 1.69 hours between messages of ISE Eiffel; quite obviously this metric does not measure the quality of a project but I think it is quite agreeable that it is a good indicator of interestest in the project.

It seems to me that the project leader - Dominique Colnet - has lost interest in his creature. He is free to lose interest; as a professor he may have found other area of Information Technology that looks better from an academic point of view.
The commits from the last few months comes from Cyril Adrian; other contributors
svn log -r {2008-1-1}:HEAD --quiet|grep "^r" | cut -d '|' -f 2 | sort |uniq --count|sort -nr ## tells us
    190  cadrian
    166  colnet
    117  ribet
     25  zen
      5  gremin
      4  pini
      2  dmoisset
      1  jobo
 SmartEiffel was born as an academic project; this allowed for strong theoretical foundations but hindered external contributions.
Sadly its development model has been heavily burderned - at least looking from outside - by the requirements of university which does not easily match the way "logicielle librè" ("programmi liberi" in italian) are usually developed.