Verbosio progress, 06/17/2007

A few days ago, Benjamin Smedberg astutely summarized his thoughts on a XUL IDE: “I like this dialog, steal it”. Now, that wasn’t the point of his blog entry, but it did leap out at me.

You see, I’ve been talking for over two years now about Verbosio. In particular, I’ve been talking about this markup template system, and how you could build markup templates for Verbosio in Verbosio, etc., etc., etc. But I never found a nice, short way to describe what my intent was, until Benjamin (accidentally, and without his knowledge) did it for me.

Verbosio’s markup template system is all about “stealing” code.

Now, I want to be clear: I don’t mean stealing code in the sense of taking someone’s copyrighted works without their permission. You should never use any editing tool to plagiarize someone else’s work. For XML documents under an open-source license, however (MPL/LGPL/GPL, anyone?), it’s fair game. Besides, by the time you’re done creating a template, it’s highly unlikely the template will more closely resemble the original than it would resemble any other similar piece of code.

Below are a couple of screenshots of a wizard I’m building

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. This wizard will let you take a fragment of XML written in a given XML language (in this case, XUL), and transform it into a Verbosio markup template. The template (specifically, its user interface) appears in the upper-right corner of the wizard. The upper-left corner lets you select nodes to edit for the template. The bottom panel is where you would set up the attributes and text contents of the template.



You can accuse me of building a really bad user-interface in this wizard, and I would accept that criticism without shame. My goal here is to build something that works, for a proof-of-concept release. I’m still working on this wizard, to be honest. But here I’ve accomplished the hard part: taking a minimalist XUL element (<xul:button/>), and building a template for that XUL element. A few dump() statements in the background show the template even works – you can change the button within the template. (Don’t knock me on the attribute name column – it’s a placeholder for real namespace-aware attributes.)

Now I have to integrate the above functionality (which took me at least two days of code on this alone, and several weeks of design speculation) into Verbosio’s core, and create a complete path from unknown element to new element template. That’s coming, hopefully by the end of the week.