An appeal to upstream KDE developers

While I have stopped using KDE almost two years ago, I don’t hate KDE per-se… I have trouble with some of the directions KDE has been running in – and I fear the same will happen to GNOME, but we’ll see that in a few months – but I still find they have very nice ideas in many fields.

Unfortunately, there is still one huge technical problem with KDE, and KDE-based third party software (well, actually, with any Qt-based software): they are still mostly written in C++.

Now, it’s no mystery that I moved from having a liking at that language to hating it outright, preferring things like C# to it (I still have to find the time to learn ObjectiveC to be honest). One of the problems I have with it is the totally unstable nature of it, that is well shown by the number of problems we have to fix each time a new GCC minor version is released. I blogged last week about GCC 4.5 and what actually blew my mind out is what Harald said about the Foo::Foo() syntax:

The code was valid C++98, and it wasn’t a constructor call. In C++98, in every class C, the name C exists as both a constructor and a type name, but the constructor could only be used in certain contexts such as a function declaration. In other contexts, C::C simply means C. C::C::C::C::C was also a perfectly valid way to refer to class C. Only later did there turn out to be a need to refer to the constructor in more contexts, and at that point C::C was changed from a typename to a constructor. GCC 4.4 and earlier follow the original C++ standard in this respect, GCC 4.5 follows the updated standard.

Harald van Dijk

Now, I thank Harald for clearing this up, but even so I think this aliasing in the original standard was one of the most obnoxious things I ever read… it was actually making much more sense to me that it was an oversight! Anyway, enough with the C++ bashing for its own sake.

What I would ask the upstream KDE developers is to please set up some way to test your code on the newest, unstable, unusable for day-to-day coding upcoming GCC branches. This way we would avoid having the latest, very recent, release of a KDE-related tool to fail the day the new GCC exits beta status and gets released properly. I’m not expecting that you fiddle to make sure that there are no ICEs (Internal Compiler Errors) caused by your code (although finding them will probably help GCC upstream a lot), but at least make sure that the syntax changes won’t break as soon as a new GCC is released, pretty please.

Of course, this kind of continuous integration, even extended to all of the KDE software hosted by is not going to be enough as there are huge numbers of packages that are being developed out of that… but it would at least give the idea that there is need for better CI in general in FLOSS!