Windows UI summer of code project

John Bailey rekkanoryo at
Tue Apr 21 11:13:51 EDT 2009

Mark Doliner wrote:
> This year we accepted TWO students to work on a better/native Windows
> user interface for libpurple.  It's not decided what these projects
> entail exactly, nor if/how these two students should interact.  I know
> I'm opening a can of worms here, but I think it's probably a good idea
> for us to talk about what we'd like to see from these projects.  The
> language and drawing toolkit are the biggest decisions.  Wade proposed
> using either .NET or XULRunner with the possibility of also comparing
> against MFC, and Gregor proposed using straight up win32 api.

For the record, I'm fine with one project being .NET and one being W32API.

> In our comments on Wade's proposal we expressed some concern about
> using XULRunner, since there already exists a project called
> Instantbird [1] which is an IM program which uses libpurple and XUL
> for the UI.  I'm not very familiar with Instantbird...
> I really should stress
> that I'm not very familiar with XUL, but I'm worried that it isn't
> native enough.

These are concenrs I share.  I would hate to restrict a Windows UI project, but
at the same time I'd hate to duplicate or detract from the work Florian and his
contributors have done to date on Instantbird.

> My experience with .NET 1.x and 2.x UIs from years ago left me with a
> feeling that it was good, but not as good as programs written using
> the win32 api or mfc.  I remember minor flickering and slowness to
> draw the UI when launching an application initially.  But I've heard
> .NET UIs have improved in recent versions.

I too have had less than optimal experiences with .NET applications on Windows.
 the new 250MB (on x86, it's even bigger on "x64") .NET Runtime 3.5 has helped
things quite a bit, but there's still the initial lag due to loading the crapton
of new libraries.

> I feel like the lower-level solution would allow for a more perfect
> product.  But a higher-level language would be more accessible to
> developers, and that's very important since we want this project to
> survive and prosper on its own.

Both projects could survive on their own after the SoC.  It's also possible that
each project could make different choices to best serve a particular set of
Windows users, thus achieving my primary goal with a Windows UI--provide
something that serves our Windows users better than GTK+ does.  If two UI's make
us better able to fit Windows users' needs, then it's definitely time and effort
well spent.

> It sounds like Wade and Gregor might not have very overlapping
> experience with Windows UI toolkits.  Gregor, are you very familiar
> with MFC or .NET?  Wade, are you very familiar with win32 or MFC?  If
> not then it seems like it makes the most sense for the two students to
> work independently, with Gregor using win32 and Wade using .NET (or
> maybe XUL or MFC).

The two students have to work independently anyway to comply with the terms of
participation in SoC.  Of course, there's no reason they can't share ideas, but
they can't commit to each others' branches.


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