Saturday, March 22, 2008

Using Clone Digger

There's a new tool available for Python programmers: Clone Digger. While it has not been officially released, it is available from the svn repository. Clone Digger finds code duplications in a given project, and creates a fairly comprehensive report (html file). Seeing the duplications on a screen is a powerful motivation for refactoring.

Check it out!


Just to make it clear: I had nothing to do with this project; I just found out about it via the gsoc-python-mentors list.

Inspiration and persistence

While mindlessly wasting time instead of programming selectively reading the internet, I came across this gem by Seth Godin which I reproduce in its entirety:


Persistence isn't using the same tactics over and over. That's just annoying.

Persistence is having the same goal over and over.

That's it.

A wiser person would most likely leave it at that. However, this lead me thinking of my goals when it comes to programming which I thought I should write down if only to help me reflect upon them again at a later time. I can sum them up as follows:

  1. Do something that is fun but that gives me some sense of accomplishment rather than just wasting time.
  2. Find ways to make it easier for others to learn programming (in Python).
In doing so, I have found myself oscillating between two extremes:
  1. Trying to follow the "release early, release often" philosophy.
  2. Trying to get everything "just perfect" before releasing anything.
Trying to get things "just perfect" is something that can lead to procrastination and delays. As an example, rur-ple's version 1.0 release candidate 3 has not been updated since July 2007. The next version should be the final 1.0 ... but somehow, I am not happy with many details and I'd like to get everything right for 1.0. Too often I read about (usually commercial) software which is officially released and is considered by its users to be a Beta version. All open source programmers I have met have a sense of pride in their work that I share. So I postpone the final release and end up working on something else...

I went the other way with a little utility called lightning compiler (now at version 2.1), whose version 1.0 was released as a recipe in the online Python cookbook. Much of the rapid evolution of lightning compiler came from user feedback, as expected from the "release early, release often" philosophy. Yet, following the same philosophy generated relatively little feedback for rur-ple of for crunchy to date. I did get some feedback for rur-ple which has been used at an elementary school in Austria, at a high school and a university in the U.S., among others, but it has often been very indirect.

Still, I am persistent. Following Seth Godin's definition of persistence, my second goal written above can be described as finding a solution as to Why Johnny can't code. Or, as I have written elsewhere
My goal is to provide an introduction to programming which is as "smooth" as possible. We sometime hear the phrase "steep learning curve" to characterize some difficult to grasp concept. I think it is important to have as few "steep learning curves" as possible in the learning process. GvR [Guido van Robot] uses a slightly easier syntax than Python ... but at the expense of having a "step-like learning curve" when one wants to go from GvR's world to Python programming. Since Rur-ple uses Python, there is no transition to speak of.
Both rur-ple and Crunchy, and to a lesser extent lightning compiler (which has been incorporated within rur-ple) have been inspired by that goal.

However, sometimes I stray from that goal. For example, inspired by an earlier post on Georg Brand's remarkable Sphinx, Crunchy now includes a prototype for an automated documentation testing framework along the lines of sphinx.ext.doctest which was released yesterday. My intention is to update Crunchy's implementation so that it can be totally compatible with Sphinx's. And while I believe that this is a neat (and fun!) thing to include in Crunchy, it only very indirectly contribute to my overall goal and ends up delaying the 1.0 release for Crunchy.

Blogging too can be a distraction. However, it is my hope that it may generate a few comments that will contribute to inspire me to make Crunchy even more useful.

Success is the result of inspiration and persistence.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Crunchy: Pycon 2008 release

Crunchy is getting really close to a 1.0 version. To mark the Pycon 2008 event (that I won't be able to attend), I just did a new release (0.9.9). It has a few new goodies that I won't list here, leaving Johannes do the demonstration. As for me, I am heading down South for a vacation with my kids.

Note: the opening Crunchy page indicates that this is version - which is incorrect.

What is left to be done for version 1.0 is cleaning up the existing documentation (proofreading, proofreading, proofreading) and adding a few more pages to it. New features will have to wait until after 1.0.... unless we get feedback from Pycon attendees for "must have" features that we could implement quickly.

As far as I know, there are no bugs (famous last words). If you find any, please let us know.