XDC 2014: Future Hints

In my last post I talked about what version 1 of the new compiler is going to accomplish in the first quarter of 2015.  It’s a great first step and with any switch to a newer, better technology it means some things will become easier to accomplish.

In Joe Raneri’s Compiler session he talked about several new things that the new compiler might be able to do.  I will stress the might bit.  If it doesn’t happen don’t say they promised it.  🙂

Autocomplete:  The current autocomplete mechanism in Xojo is completely separate from the compiler.  It’s possible with the new compiler these are unified.  This would be great because the autocomplete code pretty much duplicates what the compiler does since it needs to process the same level of information.  I’ve been told there are dozens of autocomplete classes in Xojo.  If the compiler can process some of this information perhaps autocomplete will be even faster and more reliable.

Debugger Tooltips:  I’ve wanted this one ever since I moved to Xojo from Visual Basic.  While in the debugger it would be very cool to get the value of the variable you’re hovering over to get displayed in a tooltip.  The current object viewer in the debugger is less than ideal and I really despise using it.  I always seem to be fighting it so being able to hover over the variable to get its value would be a very welcome addition.

Xojo Plugins:  This is the long term, and only, approach to getting plugins on iOS.  Currently iOS does not allow dynamic libraries so until Xojo can create plugins, developers will have to use declares into the iOS frameworks.  This is less than ideal so the new compiler will allow iOS developers to create plugins entirely in Xojo code.

I believe that, at least for iOS, Xojo plugins is a definite.  How this affects desktop remains to be seen but what it would mean is that developers would not have to create plugins using C.  What we don’t know is what happens to the current plugin SDK.  Does it get deprecated or does the new way get more/better support over time until no one’s using the old SDK?  Only time will tell.

Other:  A few of the other possibilities that Joe shared that the new compiler might be able to do for us:  better refactoring tools, source indexing (e.g. finding the callers of a method), and more platforms or architectures.

The new compiler is a big deal and it’s been many years in the making.  Some of things that might come out of it are exciting.  It’s my opinion that if Joe is saying these things at lease some preliminary work has been done, or at least some preliminary proof-of-concept code has been completed.

What are you most excited about?

10 thoughts on “XDC 2014: Future Hints

  1. I wasn’t at XDC, but the one thing that would really excite me is news that they are going to change the IDE so that it’s usable for non-trivial projects, and I can move from the Real Studio IDE without shortening my lifespan.

    • Funny you should say that. In the first engineer feedback session that was my very first question. The answer was given by Norman, I believe, who said (paraphrasing but the gist is the same): We are keenly aware of the shortcomings of the IDE. All of us engineers use it all day, every day. We have to get a number of things done first before we can tackle any major changes.

      Obviously iOS is going to get hot and heavy for the next couple of months. It requires a ton of IDE work and tweaks which is (hopefully) mostly done. Norman listed off all the areas in the IDE he was working on one night – it was rather lengthy. We need to clone him. 🙂

  2. “If it doesn’t happen don’t say they promised it.”

    “What are you most excited about?”


    • Meaning that if these things don’t make it into the product don’t get mad. These were labeled at possibilities and not as definitely in a future release.

  3. I have to say if they can do the tool tips in the debugger, that would be the thing I’m most excited about. I’m also fighting the object viewer in the debugger.

  4. As well as all the improvements to debugging and analysis within the IDE I’m hoping they’re building the new compiler in such a way that it’ll be usable from the command line.

    The feedback case for command line compilation is ranked 10th and is “scheduled” (how long it’s been at that status I don’t know), so there is some hope we’ll see this in the next year or so.

    • This is one of those cases where they’ve wanted to do it for a while. But, since they knew a new compiler was coming it made more sense to include that in the new work than it was to do it for the old compiler AND the new compiler.

  5. If they can add code QA checks (LLVM should help with this) and better refactoring tools, I’d be very happy. I wonder if they’d be able by default to add unit tests to projects that could then be automatically stripped out of a release version of a program.

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