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pitti

Yesterday, GUADEC hosted a PyGObject hackfest. I was really happy to see so many participants, and a lot of whom who are rather new to the project. I originally feared that it would just be the core crew of four people, as this is not exactly the shiniest part of GNOME development.

So I did not work on the stuff I was planning for, but instead walked around and provided mentoring, help, and patch review. Unfortunately I do not know all the results from the participants, hopefully they will blog some details themselves. But this is what I was involved in:

  • Manuel Quiñones added an gtk_tree_view_column_set_attributes() override (the original C function uses varargs and thus is not introspectable). Most time was spent figuring out an appropriate test case.
  • I showed Didier Roche some tricks about porting a pygtk application to PyGI/GTK3. He gave a shot to porting Meld, but unfortunately it uses a lot of pygtk hacks/tricks, most of which are obsolete now. So this proved too big a project for one day eventually :-(
  • Paolo and I guided Marta Maria Casetti, one of this year’s GNOME GSoC students, through her first pygobject patch. The test case still needs some love (again, nothing regarding GtkTreeView is easy), but the actual patch is good. Thanks Marta for participating, and not getting intimidated by all the new stuff!
  • While working on above patch, Marta encountered a rather curious TypeError: Expected Gtk.TreeViewColumn, but got GObjectMeta when writing the override. What seemed to be a trivial problem at first quickly turned into an one-hour debugging session involving grandmaster John Palmieri and me, with others chipping in as well. In the end it (of course!) turned out to be a trivial four-character change in Marta’s patch, but it was fun to get to understand the problem (a loong-forgotten special case of overrides resolution in overrides code). Now pygobject gives a proper error message which is actually helpful, i. e. which argument causes the problem and which module/class/method is provided, which should prevent us from being misguided into the totally wrong direction the next time this happens.
  • John Stowers got the Windows build working again, and showed off the gtk-demo under Windows. This is really amazing, I hope we can get that into trunk soon and not let it bitrot again for so long. Thanks!
  • Simon and Manuel worked on porting some Sugar extensions. Together with Paolo we also discussed the GStreamer 1.0 API a bit, which parts can become API additions and which need to become overrides.
  • Michal Hruby debugged a leak in the handling of GVariant arrays when using libdee.

Thanks everyone for participating! I hope everyone enjoyed it and got to learn a new thing or two. See you at the next one!

PyGObject hackfest at GUADEC 2012

PyGObject hackfest at GUADEC 2012

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pitti

I have had the pleasure of attending GUADEC in full this year. TL;DR: A lot of great presentations + lots of hall conversations about QA stuff + the obligatory be{er,ach} = ?.

Last year I just went to the hackfest, and I never made it to any previous one, so GUADEC 2012 was a kind of first-time experience for me. It was great to put some faces and personal impressions to a lot of the people I have worked with for many years, as well as catching up with others that I did meet before.

I discussed various hardware/software testing stuff with Colin Walters, Matthias Clasen, Lennart Poettering, Bertrand Lorentz, and others, so I have a better idea how to proceed with automated testing in plumbing and GNOME now. It was also really nice to meet my fellow PyGObject co-maintainer Paolo Borelli, as well as seeing Simon Schampier and Ignacio Casal Quinteiro again.

No need to replicate the whole schedule here (see for yourself on the interwebs), so I just want to point out some personal highlights in the presentations:

  • Jacob Appelbaum’s keynote about Tor brought up some surprising facts about how the project has outgrown its past performance problems and how useful it was during e. g. the Arab revolution
  • .

  • Philip Whitnall’s presented Bendy Bus, a tool to mock D-Bus services for both unit and fuzz testing. He successfully used it to find and replicate bugs in Evolution (by mocking evolution-data-server) as well as libfolks (by mocking the telepathy daemons). It should work just as well to mock system services like upower or NetworkManager to test the UI bits that use it. This is a topic which has been on my wishlist for a long time already, so I’m happy that there is already an existing solution out there. We might have to add some small features to it, but it’s by and large what I had in mind, and in the discussion afterwards Philip said he’d appreciate patches against it.
  • Christophe Fergeau showed how to easily do Windows builds and installers from GNOME tarballs with MinGW-w64, without having to actually touch/use Windows (using cross-building and running tests etc. under wine). I found it surprising how easy that actually is, and it should not be hard to integrate that in a jhbuild-like setup, so that it does not keep breaking every time.
  • Colin Walters gave an introduction to OSTree, a project to build bootable images from kernel/plumbing/desktop upstream git heads on a daily basis. This is mostly to avoid the long delays that we otherwise have with doing upstream releases, packaging them, and getting them into a form that can safely be tested by users. In an afterwards discussion we threw some ideas around how we can integrate existing and future tests into this (something in spirit like our autopkgtest). This will be the area where I’ll put most focus on in the next time.
  • Adam Dingle of yorba fame shared his thoughts about how we can crowdfunding of Free Software Projects work in practice, comparing efforts like codefoundry and kickstarter. Of course he does not have a solution for this yet, but he raised some interesting concerns and it spun off lots of good discussions over lunchtime.
  • Last but not least, the sport event on Saturday evening was awesome! In hindsight I was happy to not have signed up for soccer, as people like Bastian or Jordi played this really seriously. I participated in the Basketball competition instead, which was the right mix of fun and competition without seriously trying to hurt each other. :-)

There were a lot of other good ones, some of them technical and some amusing and enlightening, such as Frederico’s review of the history of GNOME.

On Monday I prepared and participated in a PyGObject hackfest, but I’ll blog about this separately.

I want to thank all presenters for the excellent program, as well as the tireless GUADEC organizer team for making everything so smooth and working flawlessly! Great Job, and see you again in Strasbourg or Brno!

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pitti

I just received confirmation that my request for a PyGObject hackfest has been approved by the GUADEC organizers.

If you are developing GObject-introspection based Python applications and have some problems with PyGObject, this is the time and place to get to know each other, getting bugs fixed, learn about pygobject’s innards, or update libraries to become introspectable. I will prepare a list of easy things to look into if you are interested in learning about and getting involved in PyGObject’s development.

See you on July 30th in A Coruña!

GUADEC Badge

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pitti

7 years ago, The Ubuntu 4.10 “The Warty Warthog” was announced. A huge congrats to the community, Canonical, and especially Mark for getting so far from “there” to “here”.

This brings back old memories of my first conference in Oxford in August, the great-great-grandfather to what is UDS these days. Back then, there was no company, no Launchpad, no Blueprints, no work items, no detailled plans, just a bunch of ideas, BoFs, and this was a third of the entire crowd:

Warty Hack Room

Back then we worked on the famous TRLS technology (“Totally Rad Laptop Support”) and were proud when we got the ThinkPads to suspend once. During that conference I wrote pmount to provide automatic mounting of USB sticks in a safe manner. Those were the days… :-)

But I can also safely say that there are some things that haven’t changed. Even though both the community and the company (which changed away from www.no-name-yet.com recently) grew by two magnitudes since then, we still have the same serious attitude, stern look, and formal attire as we had back then:

We are professionals, really!

We are professionals, really!

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pitti

(Update: Link to Tomeu’s blog post, repost for planet.gnome.org)

Last week I was in Prague to attend the GNOME/Python 2011 Hackfest for gobject-introspection, to which Tomeu Vizoso kindly invited me after I started working with PyGI some months ago. It happened at a place called brmlab which was quite the right environment for a bunch of 9 hackers: Some comfy couches and chairs, soldering irons, lots of old TV tubes, chips, and other electronics, a big Pirate flag, really good Wifi, plenty of Club Mate and Coke supplies, and not putting unnecessary effort into mundane things like wallpapers.

It was really nice to get to know the upstream experts John (J5) Palmieri and Tomeu Vizoso (check out Tomeu’s blog post for his summary and some really nice photos). When sitting together in a room, fully focussing on this area for a full week, it’s so much easier to just ask them about something and getting things done and into upstream than on IRC or bugzilla, where you don’t know each other personally. I certainly learned a lot this week (and not only how great Czech beer tastes :-) )!

So what did I do?

Application porting

After already having ported four Ubuntu PyGTK applications to GI before (apport, jockey, aptdaemon, and language-selector),
my main goal and occupation during this week was to start porting a bigger PyGTK application. I picked system-config-printer, as it’s two magnitudes bigger than the previous projects, exercises quite a lot more of the GTK GI bindings, and thus also exposes a lot more GTK annotation and pygobject bugs. This resulted in a new pygi s-c-p branch which has the first 100 rounds of “test, break, fix” iterations. It now at least starts, and you can do a number of things with it, but a lot of functionality is still broken.

As a kind of “finger exercise” and also to check for how well pygi-convert works for small projects now, I also ported computer-janitor. This went really well (I had it working after about 30 minutes), and also led me to finally fixing the unicode vs. str mess for GtkTreeView that you got so far with Python 2.x.

pygobject and GTK fixes

Porting system-config-printer and computer-janitor uncovered a lot of opportunities to improve pygi-convert.sh, a big “perl -e” kind of script to do the mechanical grunt work of the porting process. It doesn’t fix up changed signatures (such as adding missing arguments which were default arguments in PyGTK, or the ubiquitous “user_data” argument for signal handlers), but at least it gets a lot of namespaces, method, and constant names right.

I also fixed three annotation fixes in GTK+. We also collaboratively reviewed and tested Pavel’s annotation branch which helped to fix tons of problems, especially after Steve Frécinaux’s excellent reference leak fix, so if you play around with current pygobject git head, you really also have to use the current GTK+ git head.

Speaking of which, if you want to port applications and always stay on top of the pygobject/GTK development without having to clutter your package system with “make install”s of those, it works very well to have this in your ~/.bashrc:

export GI_TYPELIB_PATH=$HOME/projects/gtk/gtk:$HOME/projects/gtk/gdk
export PYTHONPATH=$HOME/projects/pygobject

Better GVariant/GDBus support

The GNOME world is moving from the old dbus-glib python bindings to GDBus, which is integrated into GLib. However, dbus-python exposed a really nice and convenient way of doing D-Bus calls, while using GDBus from Python was hideously complicated, especially for nontrivial arguments with empty or nested arrays:

from gi.repository import Gio, GLib
from gi._gi import variant_type_from_string

d = Gio.bus_get_sync(Gio.BusType.SESSION, None)
notify = Gio.DBusProxy.new_sync(d, 0, None, 'org.freedesktop.Notifications',
    '/org/freedesktop/Notifications', 'org.freedesktop.Notifications', None)

vb = GLib.VariantBuilder()
vb.init(variant_type_from_string('r'))
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('s', 'test'))
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('u', 1))
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('s', 'gtk-ok'))
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('s', 'Hello World!'))
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('s', 'Subtext'))
# add an empty array
eavb = GLib.VariantBuilder()
eavb.init(variant_type_from_string('as'))
vb.add_value(eavb.end())
# add an empty dict
eavb = GLib.VariantBuilder()
eavb.init(variant_type_from_string('a{sv}'))
vb.add_value(eavb.end())
vb.add_value(GLib.Variant('i', 10000))
args = vb.end()

result = notify.call_sync('Notify', args, 0, -1, None)
id = result.get_child_value(0).get_uint32()
print id

So I went to making the GLib.Variant constructor work properly with nested types and boxed variants, adding Pythonic GVariant iterators and indexing (so that you can treat GVariant dictionaries/arrays/tuples just like their Python equivalents), and finally a Variant.unpack() method for converting the return value of a D-Bus call back into a native Python data type. This looks a lot friendlier now:

from gi.repository import Gio, GLib

d = Gio.bus_get_sync(Gio.BusType.SESSION, None)
notify = Gio.DBusProxy.new_sync(d, 0, None, 'org.freedesktop.Notifications',
    '/org/freedesktop/Notifications', 'org.freedesktop.Notifications', None)

args = GLib.Variant('(susssasa{sv}i)', ('test', 1, 'gtk-ok', 'Hello World!',
    'Subtext', [], {}, 10000))
result = notify.call_sync('Notify', args, 0, -1, None)
id = result.unpack()[0]
print id

I also prepared another patch in GNOME#640181 which will provide the icing on the cake, i. e. handle the variant building/unpacking transparently and make the explicit call_sync() unnecessary:

from gi.repository import Gio, GLib

d = Gio.bus_get_sync(Gio.BusType.SESSION, None)
notify = Gio.DBusProxy.new_sync(d, 0, None, 'org.freedesktop.Notifications',
    '/org/freedesktop/Notifications', 'org.freedesktop.Notifications', None)

result = notify.Notify('(susssasa{sv}i)', 'test', 1, 'gtk-ok', 'Hello World!',
            'Subtext', [], {}, 10000)
print result[0]

I hope that I can get this reviewed and land this soon.

Thanks to our sponsors!

Many thanks to the GNOME Foundation and Collabora for sponsoring this event!

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