Archive for September 2008

Drinking a huge cup of Java

I am working again on XPontus XML Editor. I believe that I'm ready to go for another round.

I am happy to see that there are so many people using the software. Since the intial XPontus release, there are about 10 000 official downloads from Sourceforge and probably 12 000 from other sites grabbing the files directly by HTTP. I didn't expect such a thing at all and it gives me energy to work again on the application.

Here are the main things that I learned since the XPontus inception:

  • Provide a project roadmap even if it's ambiguous or you won't do anything listed :-)
  • Don't use build tools such as Maven if you expect lots of people to contribute to a project, use a simpler but powerful tool such as Ant.
  • If the component is has a public API, finish writing all the documentation before releasing: 20 bugs+good documentation is better than 5 bugs + no documentation, there will be bugs anyway.
  • Advertise a project enough but not too much, people will expect the application to be at the best commercial level even if there are only 2 or 3 people working on the project.
  • Don't assume you know what you're writing because you do code similar things often, read books or articles about the subject whenever you can.
  • Don't try to make a big application without taking time to do it well, or as well as possible
  • Try to think more like a user or a client of an API, rather than a programmer. The application is for users at the moment you distribute it.
  • Make it look good and then make it work : you love what you see and then you love what's inside.
  • Don't necessarily provide many features, few working features are better than a zillion of unstable features.
My goals are simple for the next release:
  • The application will probably be lighter and faster (java reflection abuses, bad programming, race conditions, etc.)
  • Partial rewrite and more use of design patterns(without trying to recognize them everywhere though! ).
  • Fix the current bugs, usability/stability issues. No new features except maybe XPath2, XQuery. VFSJFileChooser will be introduced in the release as an optional plugin.
  • New, simple but powerful API : If you explain the components relationships and the logic of the application, it should almost sounds like common sense, not magic or absurd.
  • One should be able to reassemble, disassemble or extend XPontus without much effort. It looks difficult though, how can someone integrate very easily an application that uses a plugin system?? Last time I integrated parts of JEdit into an application I won't say it was too tough but it wasn't that simple even if I believe that JEdit modules are well written most of the time.

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