Musings on an Erlang GUI System.

Joe Armstrong <>
Sat Feb 15 15:49:06 CET 2003

On Fri, 14 Feb 2003, Eric Merritt wrote:
... cut ..
> > I think the only decent way to define a GUI is to
> > *draw* it in a page
> > description language - this is *extremely*
> > declarative and very easy
> > to understand.
>  Very easy yes, but at the cost of flexability I would
> think.

I don't understand - why should a declarative page description language
not be flexible - if it has a good design it will be *very* flexible,
if it has a bad design it will not be flexible.

> > What I'd like to see is *one* page description
> > language that can be
> > used for making GUIs AND pages of printed text.
>  I guess I need to ask you what you mean by this.
> Should displays become more static? Or are you talking
> about resolution? Would you qualify your statements.

I mean what I say - both screens and paper are two dimensional
media - I want one language to describe what I see on paper and 
the same langauge to describe what I see on the screen.

> > IMHO there is *no difference* (or should be no
> > difference) between
> > layout on paper and layout on the screen - so I do
> > not want *two*
> > technologies for this but only *one* - by far the
> > best technology for
> > layout on paper is PDF - and for screen rendering is
> > the anti-aliased
> > font stuff in the freetype project.
>   Surely there is some diffrence? paper is a static
> medium, layouts are static, unchangable. On displays
> we have the chance (though usually not taken) to have
> fluid, mobile, living layouts.

I'm not taking about whether or not what I can see is static
or dynamic, I'm talking about how I describe what I see.

I think that pretty soon electronic paper wil be with us

Gyricon is already selling 100 dpi SmartPaper (TM) and I guess it won't
be long before we can buy the stuff in the shops.

Then this happens there will be no distinction between static and
dynamic content.

> > What Tor did was to make a form of "display PDF"
> > which you could use
> > to write a GUI.
>  I do like his work.
> > I'm currently thinking about the "high quality paper
> > output" stuff,
> > and have written quite a bit of code to do
> > line-breaking, kerning etc.
> > 
> > To my horror I have discovered that most commercial
> > software totally
> > ignores all the kerning information (ligatures) etc
> > in font files -
> > uses almost random font substitutions and generally
> > makes a mess of
> > everything.
>  Not a big surprise.
> > I'd very much like to see a re-unification of
> > typography and GUIs
> > resulting in very high quality printed output and
> > beautiful GUIs with
> > *one* way of describing them.
>  I am not sure I like this.

   What didn't you like? - the bit about them being beautiful - or the
bit about there being one way to describe things?

 a few years we'll probably have electronic
> > paper and then they *will*
> > have merged back into one medium - the current
> > dichotomy between screen and paper
> > is unfortunate, and probably only temporary >>
>   I hope not unless the paper pieces change a whole
> lot.

Paper *will* change - do we have to destroy all our forests
to get a dayly newspaper that we read and then throw away?

Roll-on the newspaper on epaper that just changes it's content
every day ...


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