Thursday, 1 November 2012

Life in gEDA?

Vital signs weak, but detectable

A few days ago the geda-user mailing list suddenly remembered that development on gEDA/gaf had slowed to a near standstill. Some soul-searching ensued, and as usual John Doty castigated anyone daring to suggest that gschem's UI could stand a bit of improvement. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! In turn, as usual there were others to castigate him in turn for being unreasonable. Over the years that I've come to know his mailing list persona, I've long known that I disagree with him about the "micro" things: whether, and how, to use keyboard shortcuts, to integrate various tools more closely, and whether and how to add attributes that do special things. In my fork's case: to implement my solution to the "transistor problem", as well as to the related "package pin numbering problem" - both specific instances of the broader light-versus-heavy symbols problem.

My fork is found

And somebody noticed my fork! I'm glad - both because I'm vain and want to be noticed, and because I hope it's a sign that the cliqueishness / insularity of a few years is giving way to a more outward-looking culture. Perhaps they have to: commits to the main repository have slowed to near standstill and KiCAD has all but eaten gEDA's lunch ever since CERN chose the former over the latter. Perhaps, like some people afflicted with depression, the patient has now suffered enough and decides to get better. We'll see.

The truth shall set you free (but first it will cause pain)

There's also what I find a more credible explanation for why Anthony Blake quit working on gEDA than the notion that (presumably - see footnote [1]) KMK "drove him away". I stand by what I told Ales during an IRC conversation in #geda about the disintegrating developer community:

2011-05-19 04:58:21 <berndj>    i could also submit that when people quit, they may indicate "excuses" rather than "reasons" if, say, real-life circumstances were causing them to want to quit soon anyway

If DJ has, as I suspect, the real reason here, then I think a few apologies are due to the victims of the toxic-people witch-hunt. If apologies are too personal for what may have been an emergent and collective phenomenon, an olive branch.

Return from self-imposed exile?

I don't know yet. I've long suspected that I may have been a supposed "toxic person" - it is my perhaps somewhat paranoid way to make sense of how comprehensively my non-trivial patches have failed to find any traction with any of the "gEDA developers" clique. I'm done with explaining, at length, the features that my patches implement, and why I think they are a good idea. Clearly they're forgettable, and not as self-evidently the superior solution to the problems they seek to address as other folks' favoured solutions. No matter. I'm fluent in C, and I can keep maintaining my fork so that I, at least, can have my abstract slots and, one day when I teach pcb to do the other half of the work, pin and gate swapping back-annotations. Perhaps I'll just speak when spoken to, and not earlier.

[1] I'm piecing together the details from fragments, as Ales vaguely described the contents of the "I quit!" private emails he has received. Both KMK and JPD seemed to be the black sheep around the time the elders were discussing the breakdown of the community, but overall, I think the context of the IRC discussion hints that they attributed Anthony's departure to KMK's "abusiveness".