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1 GNUstep Frequently Asked Questions with Answers
*************************************************

Last updated 20 December 2008.  Please send corrections to
<gnustep-maintainer@gnu.org>. Also look at the user FAQ for more user
oriented questions.

1.1 Compatibility
=================

1.1.1 Is it easy to port OPENSTEP programs to GNUstep?
------------------------------------------------------

It is probably easy for simple programs. There are some portability
tools to make this easier, or rewrite the Makefiles yourself.  You will
also have to translate the NIB files (if there are any) to GNUstep
model files using the nib2gmodel program (from
`ftp://ftp.gnustep.org/pub/gnustep/dev-apps').

1.1.2 How about porting between Cocoa and GNUstep?
--------------------------------------------------

It's easier from GNUstep to Cocoa than Cocoa to GNUstep. Cocoa is
constantly changing, much faster than GNUstep could hope to keep up.
They have added extensions and new classes that aren't available in
GNUstep yet. Plus there are some other issues. If you start with Cocoa:

   * Use #ifndef GNUSTEP for Apple only code.

   * Do not use CoreFoundation

   * Do not use Objective-C++ (except with gcc 4.1 or later)

   * Do not use Quicktime or other proprietary extension

   * GNUstep should be able to read Cocoa nib files automatically, so
     there is no need to port these, although you might want to have
     GNUstep specific versions of them anyway.

   See also
`http://mediawiki.gnustep.org/index.php/Writing_portable_code' for more
information.

1.1.3 Tools for porting
-----------------------

While the programming interface should be almost transparent between
systems (expect for the unimplemented parts, of course), there are a
variety of other files and tools that are necessary for porting
programs.

`nib2gmodel'
     This program coverts nib files from any system, such as OPENSTEP to
     a gmodel format file. Gmodel can be read directly by GNUstep or
     you can convert this to a more GNUstep-native gorm format (using
     the Gorm interface modeller). Note this is not necessary for Cocoa
     nibs - GNUstep can read these directly.

`Renaissance'
     GNUstep Renaissance allows you to describe your user interfaces
     (that is, the windows in your application, and the buttons, boxes,
     textfields, etc in the windows) in simple and intuitive XML files,
     using an open, standard format describing the logic of the
     interface.  It has a number of advantages over the proprietary nib
     format: portability, open standard, easy localization,
     themeability, and intelligent autolayout.

`Gorm'
     The equivalent of the Interface Builder in GNUstep. It might be
     easier to just recreate the interface using Gorm rather than
     dealing with translations.

`OpenStep2GNUConverter and nfmake'
     Two programs that allow you to convert PB files to GNUstep
     makefiles or compile a program on GNUstep directly from PB files.
     They probably work only for OPENSTEP systems and are a little
     out-of-date.

`StepTalk'
     A portable scripting environment that lets your do scripting in
     almost any language you like.


1.1.4 Can I transfer archived data from GNUstep to Cocoa?
---------------------------------------------------------

Apple's archiving format is proprietary and not documented, so this
poses a problem for anyone wanting to implement compatibility with it.
However, even if we reverse engineered the format, there are enough
differences between the class and ivar layouts to make this sort of
compatibility difficult. Not to mention the fact that we would
constantly have to keep up with the changes Apple made.

   The new keyed archiving using XML file formats is much more portable,
and GNUstep is trying to maintain compatibility with Apple with this
type of archiving.

1.1.5 Does distributed objects work between GNUstep and Cocoa?
--------------------------------------------------------------

See the answer to the previous question (on archive compatibility) for
why this won't work either.

1.1.6 Is there an Interface Builder for GNUstep?
------------------------------------------------

There is an Interface Builder for GNUstep called Gorm. A lot of work
has been put into it and it works very well.  You can download it from
the ftp site or via http.  The Project Manager ProjectCenter is also
available.

1.1.7 Can I use my original NIB files?
--------------------------------------

No - NeXT/Apple never documented their nib format, so GNUstep supports
both the 'gmodel' format (which stores information as text
(property-lists) and can therefore be edited 'by hand') and binary
archive format (which can be edited by Gorm).  There IS a conversion
tool called nib2gmodel that can be compiled under OPENSTEP to convert
nib files to GNUstep gmodel files.

   The current version of gui supports reading nib files created as of
10.2.  If you have nib files which are older than this, you can convert
them by loading them into Interface Builder, going to the "file" second
and saving the nib using the "10.2 or later format."

1.1.8 Can one use the hybrid "Objective-C++"
--------------------------------------------

Yes gcc 4.1 has support for this.

1.1.9 Is there a plan to support the Java/YellowBox Bindings?
-------------------------------------------------------------

Yes. The GNUstep Java library/bridge called JIGS is available now.  JIGS
is a free (LGPL) Java Interface for GNUstep; it can automatically wrap
Objective-C libraries based on GNUstep, making them accessible directly
to the Java programmer as if they were Java libraries. As a side effect,
it is also possible to use the whole engine in the reverse way: JIGS
provides a high level API to allow Objective-C programmers to start java
virtual machines inside GNUstep Objective-C code and access java objects
in the java virtual machine transparently, as if they were objective-C
objects.

1.1.10 What if I compile GNUstep under OPENSTEP/MacOS X?
--------------------------------------------------------

GNUstep uses different backends to provide the same functionality as
Display Postscript.  While someone could write a backend library to
provide the interface, nobody has bothered to date.

   You can, however, use a GNUstep program with an X11 server running
on MacOSX.

1.1.11 Is the Objective C API for GTK related?
----------------------------------------------

No.  GNUstep applications provide their GUI via the OpenStep API, which
provides fully object-oriented access to GUI manipulation.

   The object-oriented nature of the libraries and language make it
much easier for new users to create their own subclasses rather than
simply using the supplied widgets as in other frameworks.

1.1.12 How about implementing parts of the Application Kit with GTK?
--------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes and No - The GNUstep architecture provides a single,
platform-independent, API for handling all aspects of GUI interaction
(implemented in the gstep-gui library), with a backend architecture
that permits you to have different display models (display postscript,
X-windows, win32, berlin ...) while letting you use the same code for
printing as for displaying. Use of GTK in the frontend gui library
would remove some of those advantages without adding any.

   That being said, a backend library could be implemented using gtk if
anyone wanted to do so.  Since the frontend library handles most of the
work involved in implementing the OpenStep API, the backend is a
relatively thin layer and the advantages of GTK over direct xlib or
win32 calls is likely to be minimal.  If/when GTK is ported to more
systems, a backend written using it could be a valuable asset -
volunteers are, as always, welcome.

1.2 Compiling and Developing
============================

1.2.1 How can I get started programming?
----------------------------------------

Good question.  Read the tutorials at the GNUstep web site. Also look at
Apple's documentation (pointers in the Resources section on the GNUstep
web site.)

1.2.2 How can I help with GNUstep?
----------------------------------

  1. Write/debug library code

  2. Write documentation

  3. Update the task list and library headers

  4. Write applications

   Let people know what you are doing.  Break your project up into the
smallest units you can.  Feed back frequent updates to the maintainers.
Ask questions in the discussion mailing list.

   Do remember that any changes beyond a few lines of code (or
documentation) require a disclaimer or copyright assignment to the Free
Software Foundation before they can be incorporated into the project.
Get in touch with the GNUstep maintainer about this.

   Don't start with large-scale reorganization of anything - instead,
get a general idea in mind of what you want to do, and proceed as much
as possible with incremental changes that don't break anything - that
way you can make those incremental changes available to the rest of the
community at frequent intervals.

   Don't be afraid to give up - there is no shame in finding out that
you have take on too large/complex a project.  It's much better to
'resign' and take on a smaller job than to just stop without telling
anyone.

   Please document the code you add or change (using autogsdoc comments
that begin with a slash and two asterices). But PLEASE, do not copy from
the Apple documentation or any other copyrighted documentation.

1.2.3 Helping develop GNUstep
-----------------------------

There is plenty of unimplemented stuff in the gui library and backend
libraries that volunteers can work on - just browse through the code
and see if it conforms to the documentation.

   Specific tasks are noted in the developers section on the GNUstep
website.

   Once you have coded something, you could always write a testcase and
documentation for it :-)

1.2.4 Helping document GNUstep
------------------------------

All class documentation is written directly in the source code itself
and translated using the autogsdoc program. See the source code and
documentation for autogsdoc for information on documenting the classes.

   Newcomers could write documentation for individual classes by
comparing the OpenStep specification, the MacOS-X documentation, and
the GNUstep source.  Documentation should clearly note where individual
methods are specific to OpenStep, MacOS-X or are GNustep extensions.

   More experienced people could write documentation on general
programming topics, and tutorials for new users.

   Anyone willing to write documentation, either tutorials for using
GNUstep, or reference documentation for individual classes, should
either write it in gsdoc or as plain ascii text for someone else to
format into gsdoc.

   GNUstep documentation should have copyright assigned to the Free
Software Foundation.

1.2.5 How do I assign my contribution?
--------------------------------------

Everyone who contributes more than 20 lines of code or so needs to sign
a copyright assignment so that the FSF can have legal control of the
copyright. This makes it easier to defend against any copyright
infringement suits.  Contact the GNUstep maintainer for instructions on
how to do this or download and fill out the form
`http://www.gnustep.org/resources/request-assign.future' (instructions
are included).

1.2.6 How do I update the task list?
------------------------------------

The task list (`http://savannah.gnu.org/pm/?group_id=99') is supposed
to tell people what jobs are waiting to be done. Feel free to add to it
or update the tasks that are there (you need to create a login for
yourself first).

   One job of major importance that pretty much anyone can do is to
look for jobs to add to the task list.  In the case of methods from the
OpenStep specification or the MacOS-X documentation not being present
in the GNUstep libraries, it is also helpful to add the method
prototypes to the library header files.

   Send any changes or additions to <bug-gnustep@gnu.org>.

   A beginner can look through the MacOS-X documentation, the OpenStep
specification and the GNUstep source and contribute task items.

   If a class or method is in MacOS-X and OpenStep but is not in
GNUstep - it's a high priority TODO and should at least be added to the
GNUstep headers and a dummy version added to the source with a FIXME
comment.

   If a class or method is in MacOS-X but not OpenStep or GNUstep -
it's a low priority TODO.  It should be added to the GNUstep headers
bracketed in `#ifndef STRICT_OPENSTEP'

   If a class or method is in OpenStep but not in MacOS-X or GNUstep -
it's a low priority TODO.  It should be added to the GNUstep headers
bracketed in `#ifndef STRICT_MACOS_X'

   There are a couple of people working on this already, so it's a good
idea to get in touch with Greg, Adam or Richard to coordinate efforts.

1.2.7 How do I start writing tests?
-----------------------------------

You can write testcases - where the libraries fail tests, you could
either fix the problem, or add it to the task list.

   To write testcases, you need to use svn to install the latest
GNUstep sourcecode you can find. Then checkout the
'gnustep/tools/testsuite' module from svn.

1.2.8 How do I start writing applications?
------------------------------------------

You can either look at the links on the GNUstep website for
applications that have been started, and email their owners to
volunteer to help, or you can start your own project.

1.2.9 How can I help with the GNUstep website?
----------------------------------------------

Talk to Adam Fedor <fedor@gnu.org>, the maintainer.

   The GNUstep website is kept as a CVS module, but the largest portions
of it (the FAQ and the Documentation) are actually generated from files
in the individual GNUstep packages.  Many highly changeable portions
are kept on the Wiki, so anyone can change these (first you need to get
write access, though).

   If you want to update the FAQ or documentation  - grab the latest
snapshot of the GNUstep core you can find, update it from the svn
repository, and work with the contents of the appropriate documentation
directory.

   If you want to work on other parts of the website, you can grab a
copy of the website via anonymous CVS. See
`http://savannah.gnu.org/cvs/?group_id=99' for instructions on how to
do that.

   The main task with the website is to figure out which bits are
out-of-date (or wrong) and update/mark-as-outdated as required.

1.2.10 Why doesn't GDB support Objective-C?
-------------------------------------------

As of GDB 6.0, gdb supports debugging of Objective-C code.

1.3 GNU Objective C Compiler and Runtime
========================================

1.3.1 What is the Objective C Runtime?
--------------------------------------

The Objective C Runtime Library provides C functions and data structures
required to execute an Objective C program.

   The GNU Objective C Runtime Library offers everything NeXT's runtime
does, including Categories, Protocols, `+poseAs:', thread-safety, class
initialization on demand, delayed loading of classes, and
initialization of static instances (such as @""-style string objects).

   It also has several differences over NeXT's implementation:

   * GNU's runtime provides "selector-types" along with each selector;
     NeXT's does not.  A selector-type is a string that describes the C
     variable types for the method's return and argument values.  Among
     other uses, selector-types is extremely helpful for fast
     distributed objects implementations, (see GNUstep Base Library
     Section, below).

   * Many of the GNU functions have different names than their
     corresponding NeXT functions; the GNU names conform to the GNU
     coding standards. The GNUstep base library contains a
     compatibility header that works with both runtimes. You should use
     functions there or use OpenStep Foundation methods/functions
     instead of the basic runtime functions so that you code can run
     with either system.

     Apple has recently added new functionality to their runtime,
     including built-in exception handling, etc. Hopefully these will
     be ported to the GNU runtime in the future.


1.4 GNUstep Base Library
========================

1.4.1 What is the GNUstep Base Library?
---------------------------------------

The GNUstep Base Library is a library of general-purpose, non-graphical
Objective C objects.  For example, it includes classes for strings,
object collections, byte streams, typed coders, invocations,
notifications, notification dispatchers, moments in time, network ports,
remote object messaging support (distributed objects), and event loops.

   It provides functionality that aims to implement the non-graphical
portion of the OpenStep standard (the Foundation library).

1.4.2 What is its current state of development?
-----------------------------------------------

GNUstep base is currently stable and, to the best of our knowledge,
implements all of the OpenStep functionality (except for a few classes
that we feel are not useful). It also implements most all of the new
Cocoa classes. However we do some things, like scripting, differently,
so we don't implement all the Cocoa classes.

1.4.3 What are the features of GNU Distributed Objects?
-------------------------------------------------------

GNU Distributed Objects has many of the features of other distributed
objects implementations, but, since it is free software, it can be
ported to platforms for which other distributed objects implementations
are not available.

   [ NOTE: The GNU distributed object facilities have the same
ease-of-use as Apple's; be warned, however, that they are not
compatible with each other.  They have different class hierarchies,
different instance variables, different method names, different
implementation strategies and different network message formats.  You
cannot communicate with a Apple NSConnection using a GNU NSConnection.

   Here are some differences between GNU distributed objects and Apple's
distributed objects: Apple NSDistantObject asks it's remote target for
the method encoding types and caches the results; GNU NSDistantObject
gets the types directly from the local GNU "typed selector" mechanism
if the information is known locally and only queries the remote target
or caching encoding types when using a method that is not known to the
local process.  The NSProxy for the remote root object always has name
and, once set, you cannot change the root object of a NSConnection; the
GNU Proxy for the remote root object has a target address value just
like all other Proxy's, and you can change the root object as many
times as you like. ].

1.5 GNUstep GUI Library
=======================

1.5.1 What is the GUI Library?
------------------------------

The GNUstep GUI Library is a library of objects useful for writing
graphical applications.  For example, it includes classes for drawing
and manipulating graphics objects on the screen: windows, menus,
buttons, sliders, text fields, and events.  There are also many
peripheral classes that offer operating-system-independent interfaces to
images, cursors, colors, fonts, pasteboards, printing.  There are also
workspace support classes such as data links, open/save panels,
context-dependent help, spell checking.

   It provides functionality that aims to implement the `AppKit'
portion of the OpenStep standard.  However the implementation has been
written to take advantage of GNUstep enhancements wherever possible.

1.5.2 Explain the organization of the front- and back-ends
----------------------------------------------------------

The GNUstep GUI Library is divided into a front- and back-end.  The
front-end contains the majority of implementation, but leaves out the
low-level drawing and event code.  A back-end can override whatever
methods necessary in order to implement low-level drawing event
receiving.  Different back-ends will make GNUstep available on various
platforms.  The default GNU back-end will run on top of X Windows.
Other back-ends could allow GNUstep to run on OpenGL and WIN32
graphics/event platforms.  Much work will be saved by this clean
separation between front- and back-end, because it allows different
platforms to share the large amount of front-end code.

1.5.3 What is the current state of development of the front-end?
----------------------------------------------------------------

Many of the classes are well implemented, if not thoroughly tested.
See the GNUstep web sites and read status information contained in the
distribution for the most up-to-date information.

1.5.4 What is the current state of development of the back-ends?
----------------------------------------------------------------

There are several backends currently available:

`xlib'
     This backend runs on X11 and uses standard xlib calls for
     implementing drawing. It works well, but is limited in many areas
     due to the limitations of xlib drawing.

`art'
     This is a very good backend that draws using the libart package and
     freetype with near PostScript quality and functionality. It is
     currently the standard backend (as long as the required libraries
     are installed).

`w32'
     This backend works on Windows and uses basic Windows drawing

`cairo'
     An up-and-coming backend. It still relies on unpublished functions
     in the cairo library so using it is not for the beginner.

1.6 GNUstep DisplayGhostScript Server
=====================================

1.6.1 What is the Display Ghostscript Server?
---------------------------------------------

It is a free implementation of a Display PostScript server based on the
GNU Ghostscript program developed by Aladdin Enterprises and now owned
by artofcode LLC.

   At one point, GNUstep was using this for display purposes. However
the development of DGS has stopped as it is too difficult to maintain
and no one wanted to work on it. Now we are using other means of
drawing.

1.6.2 What is its current state of development?
-----------------------------------------------

GNU contracted with Aladdin Enterprises to add some key features to GNU
Ghostscript so it could be used as a DPS server. This work has mostly
been done, although Aladdin did not completely finish the work that they
were contracted for.  (Because the work took longer than specified and
was not completed, Aladdin agreed to waive approximately $10,000 in
promised fees for the work that was actually done and delivered.)  DGS
works fairly well with a single context.  Alpha channel and compositing
doesn't work.

   Currently, further development on DGS has been abandoned.  The
library based approach using libart, cairo, etc works much better.

1.6.3 What is the relationship between the Display Ghostscript Server and X Windows?
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Display Ghostscript runs on top of X Windows.