Static library support

After some messing around the EGit finally I came to understand how to push my changes to the google code clone. It came as a surprise because I was sure that I understand the git architecture. The problem was that I had proper ref specs to the google code clone’s repository.

Today’s exercise was to add some support of static libraries. I found that the DeeBuildOptions class had some traces for supporting different build types but it was set to EXECUTABLE without the option to change it. In the case of static library, the DMD compiler offer an option “-lib” to build static libraries. In addition I found that the there were already a combo box to set the build type in the DeeProjectOptionsBlock which is responsible for handle the compiler options in the UI.

So this part of the job was pretty easy: Uncomment the relevant part in the DeeProjectOptionsBlock.createControl method that shows the combo box for the build type setting. To handle the default cases better than we do currently, I hid all the properties of the DeeBuildOptions class and added some handling of the default values. If there’s no set output directory yet, it will depend on the build type, for instance: if the build type is executable or dynamic library, the output directory is ‘bin’, if the build type is static library, the output directory will be the ‘lib’ directory. However, I noticed a tiny little problem here. The D programming language is a native language which means that the compiled modules are subject of linking. That is, the real output of the build process is the executable/library/dynamic library and the object files themselves are kind of a by-product of this process. Most of the build system I saw there were a separation between the intermediate files (object files) and the final output. As a next step I would like to add an intermediate directory for the object files to handle (of course, if the user wishes so, he can keep the output files mixed with the object files).

On the UI with small little hack I only update those DeeBuildOption fields that were actually edited so that my changes on the default values could come to effect. But I need to updated the artifact name’s field which I just realized I didn’t. Next commit. If you switch to LIB_STATIC build type, the output folder and the output extension will change to lib.

Also, before I committed these changes I merged Bruno’s recent changes (mostly GDC related stuff).

The corresponding change set in the source code: r080d4e50bc25

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Features that worth to look at

DDT is still quite immature so there are plenty of features missing to make it a productive development environment. Browsing in the code and messing with the product it self I decided to come up with an approximate list of features which should be implemented in order to make DDT worth to work with as a IDE for D development in the long run. The following list will change a lot in the future as I will revisit in the light of ongoing development.

Static and Dynamic library support: In a real software ecosystem static libraries are essential more than anything else. To add the static library support seems easy, but I haven’t tried any dynamic library with D yet.

Debugger support: This is perhaps the biggest one. There is no development IDE without a useful debugger interface and unfortunately DDT is lacking one. And also, this is quite a problem with D in it self. As far as my experiments went, the only compiler that produces some meaningful debug-info is DMD, but we have a limited support for command-line based debuggers. GDB would be a perfect choice, but at the moment I have no convincing evidence that the GDB’s D support is working to this moment. I need to investigate the matter further.

Refactoring: The CodeAssist for D is quite promising and I don’t see any issue to implement the most popular refactoring strategies: it’s just matter of time and arse.

Unit-testing IDE integration: It is imperative in the software development these days to offer a good, reliable testing facility for the developers. JUnit has an excellent support in Eclipse, where you can track in a graphical way what unit tests are present in the source code and we can have a good report on their progress in the test view.

As a frame work, I think it worth to have a look at the Felt project as it is aimed to provide all the agile goodies through several library. The DUnit framework in particular provides the unit testing framework which I could build a IDE support for. The real deal here is to parse the output of the unit test executable. Unfortunately it seems to rely on the Tango library which I find quite disturbing as the Tango is an optional library, but in this case all software that would use the Felt libraries, will depend on Tango. As the Felt library was updated quite a long time ago, as I try to explore it, I should remove the dependencies to the Tango library.

Quick Reminder How to Develop DDT

As I ran in to problems as I tried to set up my Eclipse environment in order to develop the DDT plugin, I decided to make a quick reminder how the installation should look like. My development environment is Eclipse Indigo (3.7.x) on Windows.

  1. Make sure that the Eclipse is up-to-date completely. (Help/Check for software updates)
  2. First I need to install the PDE, the plug-in development plug-in for Eclipse. This is easy, however there are always problems with the naming. So, open up Help/Install New Software dialog from the menu, and select the repository Indigo – http://download.eclipse.org/releases/indigo. Untick the Group items by category and search for the phrase: “Eclipse Plug-in Development Environment”. Install it.
  3. DLTK 3.0: This is the default version line for Eclipse Indigo, so we should find it also in the eclipse repository. Help/Install New Software dialog, http://download.eclipse.org/releases/indigo. Untick the Group items by category and search for the phrase: ” Dynamic Languages Toolkit – Core Frameworks”. Install it.
  4. Since the original Descent project exists on an SVN repository, I need to install the Subversive SVN Client for Eclipse. In the same dialog as before, I check for the phrase:   “Subversive SVN Team Provider (Incubation)” and go.

As I expected EGit became part of the Eclipse Indigo project thus no additional installation will be required. Yet.

I need to be careful of the import order of the related projects. What I need accordingly to Bruno’s tutorial is to import the descent.compiler project from SVN. In the Package Explorer’s context menu click on the Import and select the SVN/Project from SVN repository. Stick the http://svn.dsource.org/projects/descent URL to the repository address and select on the resource page the trunk/descent.compiler project. Ta-dam! Oh, wait… the first time when you want to import from SVN, the subversive team provider plug-in will find that you don’t have a connector so, there’s a need to install one. After several try, I found that the SVNKit 1.35 works just fine to use.

Now comes the real deal, the source code of the DDT. Luckily, it’s really simple: Again, in the Package Explorer’s context menu click on the Import, select Git and in the upcoming dialog, click on the Clone… button.  There it is: paste the URL: https://code.google.com/a/eclipselabs.org/p/ddt/ and select the all the branches (well, the branches themselves is a bit funny, because it still seems that I need to add a new remote in order to get the other branches, but heck, it didn’t kill anything). Note, that the clone isn’t my google clone address, I’ll add that later as an upstream clone while Bruno’s one gonna be the downstream update site.

At the remote naming, I chose to use the bruno-* (* = branch name) format, so it’s gonna be easier to sort them. After all these, the package explorer gets littered with projects.