Roadmap Update

The core software of the client is ready to be released. I am already using the client day to day. I wish there were a Google Chrome extension. But it has only Firefox and IE currently. So I am using more Firefox than usual.

The biggest remaining problem: although the software is ready, it needs configuration. If you have a web server which hosts an avatar description and if you have an XMPP account and if you are prepared to add both to the config file like I did for my tests, then the software works for you. This is probably not the case for most of you. Therefore, I have to add a bit of auto-configuration before I can release the software (is this correct?). I can release now, but would you want it with so much work on your side? Tell me what you think.

Anyway, I updated the roadmap and I will keep it up to date from now. Here is the task list:

IE Plugin, Installer, Setup, VS10, Support Software

Just a short notice what's currently happening: I am working on
  • some issues with the IE support. Stability is very good, but avatars were "behind" the browser window
  • installer for the IE extension
  • simple setup process which starts after downloading/installing, where you can select install browser extensions, select a nickname/avatar.
  • I upgraded to MS Visual Studio 2010. There are some migration issues to be solved. But I feel, that it is better to migrate now than during the beta phase.
  • There is now a separate code repository for the WebKit SDK. It has 1.5 GB headers, libraries and DLLs, which are needed to build and run the WebView module. Surprisingly the result is not larger than 10 MB.
Still next on the list:
  • Finishing Setup and browser extension installers
  • Simple Web site
  • Installer packaging and final testing

Asynchronous and Messaging

Our extensive unit test suite discovered, that
  • if two WebKit instances are loaded simultaneously, which use the same JS file from the local disk, then initializing one of the JS engines sometimes fails.
The average WebKit programmer will never experience this. The average WebKit programmer uses WebKit to make a web browser. And web browsers do not create many instances simultaneously. You press CTRL-T to open a new tab. Then another. Not two at the same time. Especially not from the local file system. Maybe that's the reason why nobody discovered the "feature" before.

Anyway, this means, that creation of WebKits must be serialized. This in turn, introduces all kinds of asynchronous behavior, which must be handled properly in many places. Asynchronous programming is always more challenging than spaghetti coding. Fortunately the client is message based. The image shows events which wait for other things to complete, before they are forwarded. In other words: the display must be loaded before it can show something. As simple as that.

This kept me busy several evenings and made a huge commit. Now I can continue with the setup/install process.