Musings on an Erlang GUI System.

Eric Merritt <>
Fri Feb 14 15:44:11 CET 2003

> The name object for a compound of data and functions
> is
> a good one, it can model physical objects (which
> have state
> and are subject to actions).
> It just happens that one can assemble GUIs out of
> such
> objects like list boxes, buttons, sliders, etc quite
> good.
> So much for oop.

  I didn't say it was a bad approach simply that it is
currently the only approach we have. There have been
very very few other approaches even researched. This
is probably becuase the OO approach actually works as
well as you say. All of this doesn't mean that its the
best way or even that there are not other alternatives
just as good.

> The other common feature of modern GUIs is that they
> are 
> event driven apps, with many visual components
> running in
> parallel. The event wiring of the components is a
> bit ugly.
> That part should be easier in Erlang.

  Ah yes, but the event loop is *generally* entirly
driven by the user. It is very hard to create a nice
interface that is reactive to both the user and
arbitrary external stimuli.

> > I realize that most everyone on this list at the
> > moment is a server side guy (I am myself by and
> large)
> I did much GUI hacking in the past, I hope this will
> benefit
> the erlide. :)

 I sure hope so (on the side I have finished a bit of
the prelimiary docs, will post them soon).

> > Perhaps this could be one of the many killer
> aspects
> > of Erlang that would help draw users.
> Important for GUI development IMHO are
> - the GUI must look professional (win95 or Aqua
> look)

  I think to extend this thought, the gui look and
feel must be very easy to change. Whats cool now will
not be cool in five years, and what cool in five years
will not be cool in ten, etc, etc. So its got to be
easy to change and keep up to date.

> - the GUI must act snappy (not more than .5s delay
> on user interactions)


> - there must be builder tools which enable people to
> slam together
>   GUIs very quickly

  Yes but this could come much later. Once the gui is

> - it should not crash

> Java has some advantages when it comes to quick
> development,
> but depending on the visual complexity of the data
> performance
> penalties.
> Qt is nice for cross platfrom development.

  I am thinking that instead of picking an already
created gui to wrapper, instead it would be best to
create or find a graphics kernal that would be easy to
port. Then let erlang handle everything else.
> Depending on your view either look or quick
> development is
> the top argument. Robustness comes last, I guess.

 I would disagree, I think that both are at least
equally important.

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