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XWorkplace - future of WPS

TITLE: XWorkplace - future of WPS

DATE: 2002-02-14 10:37:29

AUTHOR: Ulrich Moeller

This is an inverview with Ulrich Moeller, the author of famous the WarpIN and XWorkplace projects.

Please, tell some words about yourself. Why are you using OS/2 (or eCS)?

Probably because I started programming on it and it's a very nice environment for that. I initially started OS/2 with version 2.1 back in the days where people were still stuck with Windows 3.1. I bought OS/2 2.1 because I wanted a stable Windows and I was curious. Then I got to know its advantages and after a few years started programming more seriously.

These days I am mainly using OS/2 because I'm used to it and I haven't found anything substantially better. Of course there's things you can't do on OS/2, but I can't live with Linux on a regular basis, and Windows I still don't like for too many reasons to list.

Are you optimistic about OS/2 (eCS) future?

Well, it depends on what you mean with "OS/2". IBM has said that OS/2 will not be supported in the future, so I guess that is not the road to follow. I sure hope though that eCS will be able to keep the fire burning for quite some time to come and maybe even attract new users. I do not think though that the times will come back where OS/2 was in a position to rule the world. Windows has won the OS wars, and I don't think anyone can change that anymore. Linux won't change that either. Both eCS and Linux will be alternatives for those people who know they don't want to use Windows for whatever reason, and I think that's quite something already. I know I have my reasons not to use Windows, and I believe in choice.

So, let's get closer to XWorkplace - what is it?

It's a a very feature-rich enhancer for OS/2's Workplace Shell. It replaces many WPS classes to enhance them and fix WPS bugs. There's really too many features to list in just two phrases, but mainly XWorkplace is for making the WPS more productive.

XWorkplace is quite similar to Object Desktop in many ways. It's got some features that OD doesn't have, and vice versa. But XWorkplace is completely open source, so anyone can look at it and contribute.

What are the most important features of XWorkplace?

There are so many... I guess everyone has his or her own favorites. I couldn't live without the object hotkeys any more (where you can assign a hotkey to any object as if you had double-clicked on it), or the folder status bars, which show me info on the objects that are currently selected. Then there's better folder sorting and better associations of data files with program objects. Plus I use PageMage a lot, which is the name of the virtual desktops manager in XWorkplace, and the mouse enhancements such as sliding focus and sliding menus. And the XCenter, of course. And the enhanced shutdown... You can see that XWorkplace has a lot of things, obviously, that are hard to name in just one sentence.

Do you use all of XWorkplace features on your machine?

Most of them, yes. Basically most of what is in XWorkplace was something I wanted to have myself.

Are there any add-ons for XWorkplace?

Yes. Some people have already written add-on widgets for the XCenter. The XCenter supports plug-in DLLs, so everyone who is missing a certain widget type for the XCenter can write one without having to go into the details of the XWorkplace sources.

You said, that you fixed some WPS errors, did IBM help you somehow?

Not really. But I didn't expect them to. The things I found out I found out through a lot of testing and experimenting. A lot of things that are happening in XWorkplace do not use official interfaces. The problem with the WPS is that it was originally very well designed but it's pretty much impossible to write more complex WPS classes without going to the undocumented stuff, unfortunately.

GPL. Why? Did it help you?

Because I wanted people to look at my code and tell me what I could do better. I haven't learned programming in University or anything, so I thought maybe I could learn something from other people. In addition, people have joined the project and contributed not only bugfixes, but also completely new features. Quite a number of things in XWorkplace have been programmed by people other than me. Most importantly, Martin Lafaix and Paul Ratcliffe send me things quite regularly. This wouldn't happen if XWorkplace wasn't open source.

Essentially, all the above are arguments in favor of open source in general. The GPL is just one out of many open-source licences, but it just fit best for my purposes because it protected my work best. I still think it was a good idea to use the GPL, even though I can't quite understand many of the ideological arguments over it in the Linux world.

If you want to read more about this, I have written an article in OS/2 eZine about this a while ago. It's here (I hope the link still works). If you ask me, all OS/2 freeware developers should release their sources under some open-source licence. They have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain -- and the community will profit too.

I've heard about 'eWorkplace', what is it?

It's a special XWorkplace that will come with eComStation. It will have fewer options in order to make it less complicated for non-power users, and a couple of special things that are unique to eComStation too. "eWorkplace" was just a project name for the moment, the final product will probably be called something else. But essentially it will be a special XWorkplace just for eComStation.

So, it will be integrated into eComStation. What about WarpIN?

We are presently working on WarpIN so that it will fully support CID and other things that are required for full WarpIN support in eComStation. The plan is that eventually everything in eCS will be installed through WarpIN, but there's some work left to be done for that to function correctly. There will be a command-line version of WarpIN that will take all the arguments on the command line and then fully install everything.

What are your plans on developing XWorkplace?

Actually, I don't know. I decide this day by day when I sit down to program. Of course there's still things to be fixed, especially with the new features that were added with V0.9.16. But I guess ultimately my goal will be to replace the whole Workplace Shell. There's a lot of good ideas in it, but some things cannot be easily replaced without rewriting the whole thing.

Are there any planned release dates? When should we wait for 1.0.0?

I know I should really be doing a feature freeze and fix the remaining bugs, but then that is not very much fun so I keep adding new features and release another 0.9.x version. Bugfixing is boring. But I have the framework now to kick out certain features individually so maybe 1.0.0 will come out soon.

Do you plan to integrate (and continue their life) some other projects into XWorkplace (like, PageMage)?

Well PageMage was originally a separate program, but the author (Carlos Ugarte) had no more time to work on it, so he released the sources under the GPL. That's where I started. By now lots of things have been rewritten, so the PageMage in XWorkplace really doesn't have that much common code with the original program any more.

By now I am quite reluctant to integrate any more software into XWorkplace. With PageMage I found out that this can be a lot of work, and sometimes it's easier to just rewrite something than to try to get used to some other programmer's way of thinking. Of course this doesn't apply to little things that just do one feature and nothing else, but integrating another complete project will be quite a mess.

So there are no plans currently to integrate any other projects.

How can people (I mean - non-programmers) help this project?

In many ways. For one, people can translate, if they don't care for programming. You can get the sources from CVS, and you don't have to be a programmer to create an XWorkplace for your language. Also people can report problems so that the thing can be improved by someone else. Finally -- people can submit bugfixes if they have found something awkward in the code, or add completely new features if they are missing something. If you want to help, just drop me a mail, and I'll see what I can do.

Which way users can report bugs?

There are two mailing lists for XWorkplace at yahoogroups.com (xworkplace-user and xworkplace-dev). The recommended way to report bugs is thru the xworkplace-user group because then everyone who has the same problem can know that the problem is being worked on. Otherwise I will have to reply to everyone personally which is much more time-consuming.

Thank you for your attention. Keep up good work.

Screen-shots are from xworkplace.org

Questions: Deniska

Test the program:

How to listen mp3, flac, ogg, monkey audio files? PM123 - universal audio player.


2002-02-15 19:53:04

Xwokrplace is going to replace WPS, but authors forgot to include features of WPS into Xcenter (and they were included in Control Center) - object widget is not a wps object - you cannot drop things on it and right-click opens it (like in Warpcenter) - but it should diplsey WPS pop-up menu...

2002-02-16 02:14:50

Einfach Spitze!

frank garcia
2002-02-19 22:28:31

cuando Xwokrplace tenga un manejo de archivos zip como la que tiene object desktop , unos buenos salvapantallas basados en la tecnologia flash que por sierto ya esta soportada por os/2, la capacidad de dar antialising a las font e iconos. sera la aplicacion impresindible de todo usuario de os/2 y Ecomstation

Mark Mellin
2002-02-24 23:15:36

As always, Thanks Ulrich - I seriously doubt that I'd still be using OS/2 (Warp-4) if it wasn't for your/our XWorkplace...

Yusuke Yoshioka
2002-06-01 17:54:10


We thank you very much Ulrich and all of stuffs.

But, from v0-9-16 on, XWorkplace has not been

recognize DBCS charactors correctly...

All of us who live in DBCS counrtries looking forward

to XWP v1.0 which works well on DBCS environments.

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