java-gnome 4.0.7 released!

This blog post is an extract of the release note from the NEWS file which you can read online … or in the sources, of course!


java-gnome 4.0.7 (30 Apr 2008)

Draw some.

In addition to the usual improvements to our coverage of the GNOME libraries, this release introduces preliminary coverage of the Cairo Graphics drawing library, along with the infrastructure to make it work within a GTK program.

Drawing with Cairo

Example

The trusty Cairo context, traditionally declared as a variable named cr in code, is mapped as class Context. Various Cairo types such as different surfaces and patterns are mapped as an abstract base class (Surface, Pattern) along with various concrete subclasses (ImageSurface, XlibSurface, and SolidPattern, RadialPattern, etc). Error checking is implicit: the library status is checked internally after each operation and an Exception thrown if there is a failure.

Thanks in particular to Carl Worth for having reviewed our API and having helped test our implementation.

New coverage and continuing improvement

The single option choice buttons in GTK are called RadioButtons and have now been exposed. When using them you need to indicate the other buttons they are sharing a mutually exclusive relationship with, and this is expressed by adding them to a RadioButtonGroup.

RadioButton

The usual steady refinements to our coverage of the GtkTreeView API continue. There’s a new DataColumn type for Stock icons, and TreeModelSort is now implemented, along with minor changes to various other miscellaneous classes.

Considerable internal optimizations have been done, especially relating to ensuring proper memory management, with notable refinements to make use of “caller owns return” information available in the .defs data. This fixes a number of bugs. Thanks to Vreixo Formoso for having driven these improvements.

Error handling has been improved for GLib based libraries as well. If an ERROR or CRITICAL is emitted, our internals will trap this and throw an exception instead, allowing the developer to see a Java stack trace leading them to the point in their code where they caused the problem.

Internationalization support

java-gnome now has full support for the GNOME translation and localization infrastructure, including the standard _("Hello") idiom for marking strings for extraction and translation, but combined with some of the powerful support for positional parameters available from Java’s MessageFormat as well. There’s a fairly detailed explanation in the Internationalization utility class.

Build changes

Note that as was advertised as forthcoming some time ago, Java 1.5 is now the minimum language level required of your tool chain and Java virtual machine in order to build and use the java-gnome library.

Thanks to Colin Walters, Manu Mahajan, Thomas Girard, Rob Taylor, and Serkan Kaba for contributing improvements allowing the library to build in more environments and for their work on packages for their distributions.

The download page has updated instructions for getting either binary packages or checking out the source code.

Documentation, examples, and testing

Refinements to the API documentation continue across the board, notably improving consistency. A large number of javadoc warnings have also been cleaned up.

While not a full blown tutorial, the number of fully explained examples is growing. There are examples for box packing and signal connection, presenting tabular data, and basic drawing, among others. See the description page in the doc/examples/ section.

This code, together with the not inconsiderable number of unit tests and the code for generating snapshots of Widgets and Windows means that a large portion of the public API is tested within the library itself. The number of non-trivial applications making use of java-gnome is starting to grow, which are likewise providing for ongoing validation of the codebase.

Summary

You can see the full changes accompanying a release by grabbing a copy of the sources and running:

$ bzr diff -r tag:v4.0.6..tag:v4.0.7

Looking ahead

It’s probably unwise to predict what will be in future releases. The challenge for anyone contributing is that they need to understand what something does, when to use it (and more to the point, when not to!), and be able to explain it to others. This needs neither prior experience developing with GNOME or guru level Java knowledge, but a certain willingness to dig into details is necessary.

That said, I imagine we’ll likely see further Cairo improvements as people start to use it in anger. It shouldn’t take too long until the bulk of the functionality needed for most uses is present in java-gnome. In particular, forthcoming coverage of the Pango text drawing library will round things out nicely.

There are a number of other major feature improvements we’d like to see in java-gnome. Conceptual and design work is ongoing on for bindings of GConf, GStreamer, and even support for applets. Within GTK, there have been a number of requests made for various things to be exposed, for example, the powerful GtkTextView / GtkTextBuffer text display and editing capability. Some of these have preliminary implementations; whether or not any given piece of work is acceptable in time for any particular future release will remain to be seen and depends on the willingness of clients to fund us to review and test such work.

In the mean time, people are happily using the library to develop rich user interfaces, which is, of course, the whole point. We’re always pleased to welcome new faces to the community around the project. If you want to learn more, stop by #java-gnome and say hello!


You can download java-gnome from ftp.gnome.org or easily checkout a branch frommainlineusing Bazaar:

$ bzr clone bzr://research.operationaldynamics.com/bzr/java-gnome/mainline java-gnome

AfC