January 7, 2006

Firedrop2 Revisited

My initial experiences with Firedrop2 were recorded as Open Source Frustrations. I'm happy to say that the initial problems in running the software were eventually traced to an error in the installation of the wax GUI package. At the time it looked like everything was copacetic, (making my remarks at the time about how trouble-free the installation was quite ironic) but alas needed sub-packages weren't installed by wax's distutils setup, so it was only after I did a manual install that Firedrop2 finally started to run.

As a result of all this Hans Nowak, to whom I reported the problem like a good open source citizen, has decided to stop using distutils. My own experiences with distutils have also been less than entirely happy, and I wonder whether in the long term we might not end up using something more like setuptools. While its developers acknowledge that it still isn't perfect I am sure they will be valuable enhancements to the distutils before their developers are finished.

The Firedrop2 tests are still completely broken, and they should be removed until they are worth running. Tests that fail when software is correctly installed and functioning are worse than useless, and give an incorrect impression about the software. In this case I suspect that they were vestigial when the software was handed from one developer to another, and that they haven't received any attention since.

It's also clear that the software hasn't yet been engineered for general use: simple problems like a missing configuration file result in a Python traceback window that would be excessively confusing to a non-Python user. After a few such errors, however, I realised that I needed to create a blog configuration before anything else would work. Once I'd done that, and edited the configuration to taste, things did start to work.

The function of some of the buttons remains far from clear, but the basic entry creation, editing and publication functions do seem to work.

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