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Re: [cross-project-issues-dev] Limiting GTK versions supported by SWT or SWT call for help

Hi Alexander,

"If this is not done, properties using GdkColor seem to no longer have effect/have problems, so it's only a matter of time how long such changes can be delayed"

I am not familiar with this but it sounds like this shouldn't break if it was merely deprecated. From the bugs I've experienced among the different GTK3 versions, I've been thinking that maybe the main problem is that GTK is changing too quickly for its own good - or at least, too quickly for the community to keep up, compared to GTK2 which is in maintenance mode. Is there a plan somewhere that indicates when GTK3 will enter maintenance mode and when development of GTK4 will start? I haven't found anything like that. I don't mean to sound negative though, I appreciate the enthusiasm and advances that are being made in GTK.

About supporting only specific versions, I'm not sure which ones would get picked. I think one approach could be to support only versions that are included in popular distributions with longterm/extended support. For Ubuntu and Debian that would mean supporting 3.4 and 3.10. Looking at RHEL7 that would mean 3.8. That's already 3 different versions. I'm not sure what to do about Fedora since it moves more rapidly and doesn't have a longterm/extended support. The thought of bundling a well tested GTK with Eclipse also crossed my mind but since it's LGPL that's not possible, unless I'm mistaken.

About getting more people involved, I can only hope that people hear the call for help. From my experience, the SWT committers/contributors have been very supportive and appreciative of bug reports, testing and patches. On my end, I will be looking at improving compatibility with 3.10 (on Ubuntu) in my spare time so I can start using GTK3 on a day to day basis.

From: cross-project-issues-dev-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx [cross-project-issues-dev-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxx] on behalf of Aleksandar Kurtakov [akurtako@xxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: Tuesday, 07 October 2014 11:15 AM
To: Cross project issues
Subject: [cross-project-issues-dev] Limiting GTK versions supported by SWT      or SWT call for help

On behalf of SWT team (committers working on GTK port):

The addition of the GTK+ 3.x based implementation of SWT which is now
officially supported along with the GTK+ 2.x implementation means that the
range of supported GTK+ versions has now grown pretty large and is in fact,
continuing to grow with every release (for each x.y+1 SWT release, there
are x.y+2 releases of GTK+). However, it is not practically possible for
the current set of committers alone to actually test all these versions
before we make a release. Therefore, we end up  "declaring" support for a
huge range of GTK+ versions while the reality is that they are not tested
and verified the way they must be to call them supported.

Another consequence of this is that constantly having to convert between
old-to-new or vice versa ways of doing things takes all our time, not
allowing for any meaningful new developments or even to keep pace with the
advancements in the platforms. There are two possible ways to improve this
situation from our point of view:

*) Others start to actively contribute to SWT - help improve the test
suite, get a representative range of test machine variations running the
tests so problems are caught earlier, get rid of dead bits from the
code-base to ease migrations, etc. etc. Many of the tasks don't require any
special OS specific knowledge as many seem to think before trying to help
with SWT. Also, the current committers are more than willing to help new
contributors with guidance and patch reviews as and when needed.

*) Actively limiting the number of supported GTK+ versions - continually
adapting to newer versions is really stretching the current resources. So,
we end up with neither the old nor the new versions being in a really good
shape. To overcome this limitation, it's needed that both groups of people
(committers and end-users) participate actively as some of the soon to come
changes in GTK+ require major overhaul of certain areas. For example,
GdkColor is being deprecated and GdkRGBA is the new way of doing stuff but
there are changes in too many places and there are huge chances to break
some older versions. If this is not done, properties using GdkColor seem to
no longer have effect/have problems, so it's only a matter of time how long
such changes can be delayed. And this is just one of the examples, there are
quite a few similar. As a bare minimum, we think that the range of
supported GTK+ versions should not grow until people step up to help
support a broader range.

An ideal solution would be a combination of both the above approaches -
having more people contributing to SWT + actively dropping support for
older versions of GTK+.

Please reply to this thread and let us know what your thoughts are. It
would be very useful for us to also know which versions of GTK+ are being
used widely and what is the minimum required version that you need support
for from future releases of SWT (4.5+).

Alexander Kurtakov
Red Hat Eclipse team

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