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mu's views on program and recipe! design

January 2006

Free Software's underbelly (2) Posted 2006.01.31 22:23 PST

Continuing along the theme of trivial problems that go unfixed for a long time, with an occasional personal favorite, here's some problems with PyGTK.


Where I treated Mozilla Firefox as a user application, I treat PyGTK mostly as the development library/toolkit that it is. For quite a while GTK+ and GNOME were the poster children of the Free Software Movement. They handle some things really well, but there are still a lot of gaps. Here's some of the gaps I particularly want to see filled.


Real tooltips can only be single paragraphs of text. No images, no formatting, no nothing. At two and a half, and five years respectively, these strike me as a perfect example of the if we put this off until we do such-and-such (a hard thing), then this will be really easy degenerate case mentality. Since GTK+ is much more concerned about backwards compatibility than Mozilla Firefox seems to be, I can give them some kudos for avoiding ill-considered changes. However the status quo is not good enough, and any tooltip reimplementations to acquire the different capabilities ruin the point of having a widget in the first place.

TreeView: tooltips

There is no builtin way to set tooltips on a per-column, per-row, or per-cell basis (three and a half years old). This ties into the above five-year-old bug, potentially as another easy degenerate case. Well, I'm still waiting.

TreeView: dragging

Dragging is hard enough, but dragging multiple items is really hard. By default you need to start a drag on the same button-press that selects or unselects a row. I can't find a bugzilla bug on this one, but Quod Libet uses class MultiDragTreeView which implements this in a saner fashion.

TreeView: completion

There is no builtin way to show the contents of an ellipsized or otherwise truncated text cell. I also can't find a bugzilla bug on this one, but Quod Libet uses class TreeViewHints which does most of what I need. The idea is when you're hovering over an ellipsized cell in a TreeView, a tooltip-like window will show up exactly in place to show you the parts you can't see. Windows MFC has this built in, and that one even works if the contents are hidden due to scroll. TreeViewHints only handles a small subset of ellipsized cases, so I'd rather see something real implemented in C.

TreeView: columns

There's no right way to set a right-click menu on a column header. Apparently there are some hacks in C, but they are not available from PyGTK. This makes it practically impossible for us to do the user-friendly configuration of Quod Libet's column headers that we've wanted to for over a year.

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