GTK+ matures

By Cameron Laird and Kathryn Soraiz, Unix Insider |  Software



GTK+'s documentation, like its core functionality, has always had strengths and appears to be maturing nicely. Jonas Munsin, author of the gcombust project, said ease of learning first attracted him to GTK+: "GTK+ had, from the early beginning, quite a good tutorial -- documentation on how to get started was a major advantage of GTK+."


Maintaining that documentation has been a challenge, though. It's much easier to make a basic language binding that accesses most of GTK+ than one that connects to all of it; similarly, even the tutorial has struggled to keep pace with GTK+'s richness. A half-dozen books are now available for GTK+ help. As a long-term solution, Damon Chaplin manages the Reference Documentation Project (RDP). While the RDP has several holes in it, including such important pieces as GtkWidget, GtkContainer, and GdkWindow, Chaplin hopes "that more effort will be put into the documentation once the GTK+ 2.0 code stabilizes."


Although it has no direct impact on the GTK+ documentation, one of the first enhancements Chaplin aims to make is to the gtk-doc automation that generates documents from source code. This will "make gtk-doc easier to set up when used with other libraries," Chaplin said. "It is now used for quite a lot of the GNOME libraries as well as GTK+."



Accessorizing your toolkit

Chaplin also devotes time to Glade, a user interface builder for GTK+ applications. Chaplin wrote most of Glade, which he now maintains. It is a marvelous tool for developing useful GUI applications. Just as some programmers choose Motif for its UIL, or Qt for Qt Designer, Glade's power makes a convincing argument for its underlying toolkit. Glade's interfaces are structured in XML, which creates opportunities to tie together different technical tools, automations, and work processes.


Glade isn't the only bonus GTK+ users enjoy. Powerful extension libraries like gnome-libs make it hard to consider GTK+ as separate from the accessory tools and extensions that have grown up around it. In fact, many GTK+ users don't recognize the distinction between the GTK+ core and all the goodies that surround it.



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