Friday, August 22, 2008

Dreaming on: Chandler 1.0 released

You might not have noticed, but on August 8th, 2008 at 1:47 pm, Chandler, the ' "Note-to-Self Organizer", designed for personal and small-group task management and calendaring' finally came to release 1.0 ! Now Chandler is an Open Source project, and 80% of these projects probably never reaches this stage at all, but Chandler is a special case. It is created by the Open Source Application Foundation which was founded and and is sponsored by Mitch Kapor. The Chandler project is a unique example of where a project that has no deadline and an unlimited funding can lead to: unlimited development.
And no matter what finally comes out of it, the first three years of the project already gave us the magnificent novel by Scot Rosenberg : Dreaming in Code. A great book that may well outlive the software itself. It describes the development process from the initial idea upto version 0.7. Three years have passed then and Rosenberg realises he just has to draw the line himself and publish the book before the project is finished. And he was right. The book was written by the end of 2005 and so it has taken roughly two and a half years before they they finally came to version 1.0 . I'm glad he didn't wait for that, since by now I already read the book twice. I really recommend it to any developer, manager or just anybody using software (Yep, that's you by default, or you would not be reading this..).
Apart from it being really fun to read, it's description of ever shifting deadlines, continuously changing specifications and numerous code re-writes is so recognizable to me as a developer. Just check out Joel Spolsky's review to see what I mean.
And what about the software itself ? Well, I haven't tried it yet but the concept is great, though not as revolutionary as it might has seemed in 2002. As already mentioned in the book, 37Signals already provides most of the functionality as a web application. With all the benefits: no server maintenance, available everywhere through every browser and automatic upgrades.
But the Outlook / Exchange combination is still used in many corporate environments. And since Chandler is aimed at replacing that, they might still have a chance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Easy C

After reading this 'Daily WTF' I first laughed, but then I suddenly noticed the this particular line:
/* arithmetic operators */
#define MOD %

.. when I realised this actually solves one of my little annoyances that I had for as long as I program in C or C# : I never remember the 'modulo' operator !
Since it's not something you need everyday I always end up looking at some kind of standard C manual to find out what it was. And nine out of ten times I first hit a compilation error because I use the (non existent) mod(x) function. I think this has to do with the fact that the '%' sign is not in any way related to a 'real' mathematical operator like +, -, / or * . Probably the C language developers just felt that the modulo operation should be a keyword, and the % was the last unused character on the keyboard.
And what about the '==' versus '=' mistake, often marked as the most frequently made mistake in C programming ? Using just ' #define EQUALS == ' would really eliminate this type of error. So maybe there is something to say for this 'Better C'. If it helps you in writing programs faster because you it makes things look more natural to you, then why not do it like this ?