Friday, November 30, 2007

First Crunchy screencast

I finally got around to produce a first Crunchy screencast. Since Crunchy is an interactive program, I thought I should do screencasts that reproduced the interactive feel: that is to say, I would record a live, more or less improvised session. This means that the screen cast is not as polished as it could be - an even has a few minor mistakes in it. Still, I think it gives a good (superficial) overview of what Crunchy is capable of.

What do you think?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

First result from GHOP: Crunchy Estonian

By now everyone has probably heard of Google Highly Open Participation contest, and the participation of the PSF. And, initially through serendipity but later with more active involvement, a few Crunchy-related tasks were created including some involving translations. And, just a day after the contest started, a first translation (in Estonian!) has been made for Crunchy by a student named Tanel.

The tasks assigned are usually not very big but they provide nice stepping stones for getting people involved in open source software. Thank you Google for this wonderful idea.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A failed experiment

On a whim, I decided to try a fun experiment: have Crunchy run correctly when invoked either from Python 2.4 or Python 2.5 ... or from Python 3.0! I thought that if I could make it to work, it would be a great tool to go through the 3.0 docs and tutorial, and finding out if there were any mistakes. (I was planning to do this, hoping to help the developing team in my own limited way.)

In the end, I had to give up, as Crunchy uses third-party modules (ElementTree, HTMLTreeBuilder, ElementSoup, BeautifulSoup, etc.) that I could not make compatible with both Python 2.x and 3.0 without essentially rewriting them in two separate modules each. Actually, this was already done for ElementTree (included in the stdlib under a different name) but not for the others.

The main stumbling block was string handling/encoding... This should not be a surprise to anyone who has followed the Py3k development.

Still, I've learned a fair bit from that experiment. One thing that I sort of knew already related to using print statements for debugging purpose. I often sprinkle my code with "if DEBUG: print ...", having multiple print statements appearing. Often I find that I want to have a few debug flags in the same file and think to myself

Shouldn't I replace these print statements by a debug() function with a variable setting the debug level ...

If I would have done something like this, I could have had just a few print statements located in a module. As it was, with the change in Py3k for print becoming a function, I had to do a lot of changes by hand. Yes, it might have been possible to use the automated 2to3 tool ... but I wanted to maintain compatibility with Python 2.x and, more importantly, get a feel for what was involved in making the code Py3k compatible.

If or when BeautifulSoup, ElementSoup and HTMLBuilder become Py3k compatible, I'll have to give it a try again...