[Etoys] View Source Button

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Tue Nov 28 05:13:34 EST 2006

A complete stack trace per pixel ... maybe not that outrageous an  
idea, actually ;-)

The discussion actually goes about what to do with the "view source"  
button on the XO. I though about mapping this to the user interrupt  
key (Cmd-.), but ideally we would peel away one layer at a time ...

- Bert -

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Paul D. Fernhout" <pdfernhout at kurtz-fernhout.com>
> Date: November 28, 2006 4:12:42  GMT+01:00
> To: "edu-sig at python.org" <edu-sig at python.org>
> Subject: Re: [Edu-sig] FYI: PataPata postmortem link
> Ian-
> Thanks for the comment.
> I think the issue you raise is a really difficult one to resolve. If I
> understand the general issue correctly, when you are looking at a GUI
> interface with underlying processes, and a person wants to "see the  
> code",
> the question is what to show them, and also whether to show it to  
> them in
> such a way as they can modify either what they see right then, or what
> they might see if the restarted the program.
> One thing I had sometimes dreamed about is mapping every pixel on the
> screen with a programming or debugging equivalent of a "Z-Buffer".  
> But in
> this, call it perhaps an "S-Buffer", instead of storing Z-depth from a
> pixel on a polygon, you could associate a stack trace with every pixel
> from the process that last wrote to that pixel (you might even  
> store the
> stacks of everyone who wrote to that pixel). So, in that way you would
> have a somewhere logical to begin to explore the system related to
> constructing each aspect of the current view. If you see a button on a
> screen, mouse over to it, hit a key, and immediately you are in the
> debugger with a stack trace related to the code that drew the button,
> which presumably would link to the button itself. You would need  
> pretty
> much the entire stack since otherwise you would just end up with
> references to the polygon drawing routines. :-) Possibly not  
> feasible with
> today's technology though -- you might need several K per pixel at  
> least,
> and with a megapixel display, that might mean gigabytes just for that
> storage. Might be possible in a few years though.  Or might be  
> feasible
> sooner for beginners if you restricted the window to, say, a 200 X 200
> size, or if you could do something clever related to not storing
> independent copies of each stack trace, since whole areas of pixels  
> would
> likely be drawn by essentially the same common routines with the same
> underlying stack. Perhaps, considering that overlap, if you skipped  
> the
> last one or two specific frames on the stack, you might be able to  
> store
> such a "S-Buffer" with little more than an extra 10 megabytes or so  
> for 32
> bit pointer for each pixel of a megabit display, plus maybe just a few
> megabytes for the really relevant stack? Something someone in academia
> might want to explore, perhaps as a student project, possibly. Of  
> course,
> if you really wanted to do it right, you should save the state of the
> virtual machine in it's entirety when writing each pixel. So that is
> probably a few megabytes at least per pixel, or probably a few  
> terabytes
> per display. Now I now what I'll be doing with all that memory the
> computer I buy in 2020 will have; storing a million similar copies  
> off the
> same virtual machine. :-) Again though, with clever ideas like
> compression, storing checkpoints (like OCaml does) or using other
> approaches to VM design (the Pointrel System I wrote has a data  
> storage
> approach in some versions which only adds data, never changes or  
> erases
> it), it might be possible to reduce the memory demand for such a  
> "complete
> VM state saving S-Buffer" down to only dozens or hundreds of  
> megabytes per
> display, which is within reach even now. Even if this worked, you  
> might
> still find exploring the system awkward if the system created  
> objects in
> one place, but displayed them at another time in a refresh, as most
> systems do. You would still need then to work backward to figure  
> out how
> the particular object on the screen got initialized. So maybe all you
> really need that is ultimately useful is an association of a graphical
> object doing th drawing with each pixel on the screen? And  
> essentially,
> that is what PataPata does (and many other drawing-composition- 
> oriented
> programs as well); it maps from a pixel on the screen back to a GUI
> widget, and then presents that widget in a browser. Anyway, I think
> perhaps there are some genral ideas to explore here.
> Whether changes to anything you explored by picking a pixel from the
> screen were useful to modifying what you saw right then and there  
> would
> have a lot to do with the underlying programming model. In the case of
> conventional Python GUIs, where you have a builder method that  
> assembles
> all the widgets, it would really take a restart of the GUI (or at  
> least
> the modified window) to map back from source to display. And any  
> changes
> just made to widgets would not likely be easily saved with that  
> model --
> unless you pursued writing out object to source in some fashion  
> similar to
> what PataPata tried. The notion of a Smalltalk image (a saved  
> binary file
> representing the current state of a world of object) seems a much  
> easier
> approach to support this kind of dynamic interface redesign, and I  
> think
> that is one of the reasons I feel more productive programming GUIs in
> Smalltalk than Python; I rarely have to restart a complex Smalltalk
> application the way I often have to do with Python ones (unless you  
> use
> various tricks, some of which I have posted on before to the Jython  
> list).
> While I did end up doing things "out of process" a lot in terms of  
> editing
> the source file as text, I think the reasons I did it on further
> reflection could have had more to do with my confidence about the  
> system
> then anything else. I was often making changes to key GUI  
> components or
> other core implementation things (including file writing). If I was
> working as a "user" level instead of a "maintainer" level, I think  
> the "in
> process" editing of windows using the hierarchical browser might  
> have been
> a lot more satisfactory and appealing. But that remains  
> speculation; still
> I think when I used the inspector to change things, I probably was
> thinking more like I was testing the system from a "user" standpoint.
> Of course, the whole point of something like PataPata is to blur  
> the line
> of "user" and "maintainer", so the issue is never that simple.
> Thanks again for your conceptual help with key ideas in the project  
> like
> using metaclasses to build prototypes; that part of going from  
> source to
> prototypes I was very pleased with. :-)
> --Paul Fernhout
> Ian Bicking wrote:
>> Paul D. Fernhout wrote:
>>> Just as an FYI, as a way to wind up the PataPata project (or at  
>>> least one
>>> phase of it), I wrote a lengthy postmortem critique of the PataPata
>>> project to date, plus ideas for where to go from here. You can  
>>> read the
>>> critique by following this link:
>>> "PataPata critique: the good, the bad, the ugly"
>>> http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php? 
>>> thread_id=31111569&forum_id=48729
>>> Comments welcome.
>> Thanks for putting this together; it's useful to know how this  
>> went, as
>> it was a fairly ambitious rethinking of Python development.
>> There's some similar issues being considered for OLPC.   
>> Specifically the
>> laptop has a "view source" key, which (unsurprisingly) lets you  
>> view the
>> source of what you are doing.  What that means is application (aka
>> "Activity") specific, but a general Python solution is called for.
>> Of course it's a little hard to say what that actually should be.   
>> Just
>> a text editor?  Not too exciting.  Really there should be a view  
>> of the
>> process.  And some way to manipulate the in-process objects and  
>> source.
>>   One thing I was unsure of -- and I think your postmortem  
>> confirmed --
>> is whether it's really feasible to generally edit objects in- 
>> process in
>> a persistent way.  I'm inclined not to go so far, perhaps simply  
>> relying
>> on UI hints to indicate when the change is likely to be persistent.
>> It's fairly easy to edit a function definition persistently, for
>> instance, or add a function definition.  You can still explore and  
>> poke
>> around in the process any way you want, but you don't have  
>> complete power.
>> Of course, at some point you need complete power, which means editing
>> the source in ways that can only be meaningful when you restart the
>> process from scratch.  I'm not sure how or where to make that break.
>> OTOH, emphasizing clean/fast/easy restarts might be more general and
>> easier to implement than in-process persistent editing.
>> I'm also not sure what to build on, or what to use.  It's interesting
>> that you felt out-of-process interaction was successful.  This  
>> fits with
>> my own intuition that in-process stuff can be dangerous and fragile.
>> But I'm not that familiar with the details of how the interprocess
>> communication should happen; perhaps IDLE is a good place to start
>> looking.  Perhaps IDLE is a good place to start the development?  I
>> don't believe Tk will be available on the laptops, only GTK, and
>> probably not wx either, so that limits the possibility of reusing  
>> most
>> UI, though other bits of code might be fine.
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