Today's post is about one of the little libraries I'm developing as
part of Iron Lute. In the previous posts, I've laid out what I believe
were successes; today I highlight what is so far a failure for a
change of pace.
Please note that today's post is really more of an XML post then an
outliner post; if you're interested in programming with XML, stay
tuned. If you're only interested in outlining, you should probably
move on. I've tried in the previous posts to be accessible to
interested laymen, but this one may also be only useful to
programmers. Consider yourselves fairly warned.
Dotan Dimet has some comments on Iron Lute, which I think contains some misunderstandings about Iron Lute that mostly stem from the developer-centric view of Iron Lute y'all have seen so far. I posted a comment containing some follow-up on his post, and I replicate it here for posterity and RSS readers. Note it contains links to some of the actual code which I posted to provide evidence of how hard it will be to provide bi-directional text support in Iron Lute, so if you want to see some of my actual code, now's your chance. Comment I posted follows:
I have a case of the multi-disciplinary writer's block.
I'm having a hard time writing the outline saving code in Iron Lute. I have an essay I want to post here, but it is obstinately refusing to go into focus. (I may yet just post it in a nebulous state, as I'm not convinced it's ever going to focus, by its very nature, but I think it's important that I write it.) I also have a technical post on the inner workings of Iron Lute which I'm having a hard time writing; I've mostly written it, but it's quite dull.
Yes, that's right, even more dull then the existing postings! I figure someone ought to be interested in those because I would be, but I wouldn't want to read this posting as written.
Going backwards, I know why the Iron Lute essay is dull, though I am surprised. For a change of pace, I was going to show a failure I've experienced, to contrast the successes I've mentioned to date. I've been able to explain why it should have been a success, but explaining why it is a failure has proven difficult. (Perhaps this is because the only real failure is that it is too difficult to use, not that it "doesn't work", and it's hard to show in prose why that is. You really have to try to use it yourself to understand why it is hard to use.) I am intrigued by how this is almost exactly the opposite of conventional journalism, where disaster stories write themselves (assisted with a heavy helping of cliches and standard idioms) but good news is hard to write.
I haven't been able to work on the code out of lack of motivation. I'm sure it will come back, it always does, but that's one of the major downsides of Free Software; it gets released when I'm good and ready and if that means I want to take a month off to play video games, well, that's what I'm gonna do. ;-) (OK, it's only been the last week, but it has been quite relaxing and rejuvanating. I'm sure the code-monkey will get back on my back here soon.)
Finally, the essay has been just plain, ole' fashioned hard to write. It's about negativity in weblogs and journalism, and how it is affecting me, and I believe others, emotionally, but I've had a hard time keeping a strong thesis in it, mostly because the emotional effects are quite diverse. Hopefully it will come together, because I feel quite strongly we need to start critically exploring the new media world we are building to see how we fit in as humans, and indeed, whether we fit in as humans.
Here's hoping at least one of the blocks breaks soon.
Just a quick note: I'm still working on the XML save format for Iron Lute outlines. I'm trying to use a library I've put together for XML serialization and it's not going so well right now. I think it still has potential but I may need to re-work it into a "version 2", because version 1 is sucking pretty badly.
In my previous post, I discussed the practical matter of how to
hold the outline structure we've built so far together. Having created
a strong base, it is now fruitful to consider how to extend the data
structure to handle the wide variety of outline structures I want Iron
Lute to be able to manipulate.
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