The Lure Of Features

I am not immune to featuritis.

Things that I really need to do with Lump include:

What did I do instead of working on these things? In no particular order:

I've been bad. I really need to focus more on the stuff that matters; a design that makes it easy to maintain and extend (and test) the software. Oh, that's another thing I need to do, but haven't:

It turns out that featuritis is a shockingly contagious disease, and using the software publicly at the same time I develop it might increase my susceptibility to infection. I shall have to try to develop stronger resistance to it.

Creating an RSS Feed

As it turns out, it was easier to write my RSS feed generator from scratch than to figure out how to use Ruby's RSS core module. Yes, really. The problem, you see, is that documentation for the RSS library is shit, and all the examples on the Web for how to use it to build an RSS feed are every bit as anemic and sad as the actual documentation. I'm not entirely sure most of the people writing these howtos have even used it. I think most of them have probably just copied the same old thing they found somewhere else, word for word, and changed a few details to thinly veil the plagiarism.

Note that the problem with these howtos is not so much that they are all the same as it is that none of them explain anything. All we get is a cryptic set of examples with zero explanation of what each step does, at all. You have to guess, and hope for the best. Perhaps worse is that all of the examples are basically code snippets taken out of context. At least if an actual live code sample that includes the entire source file was presented there would be more to work with when trying to figure out for myself what the code means and how it works. Instead, there is nothing of the sort.

It is a bit like presenting someone with a "gentle" introduction to programming by showing a code sample that consists of nothing but a tree-recursive function in Common Lisp with no indications of how to compile the code or make it call an appropriate interpreter, nor of how to do anything with the function's return value, nor of what data it takes as input, nor of how the syntax works, nor of what each function does. Oh, yeah, and another thing: most of these howtos do not include any code indentation at all, so it looks like crap on top of being almost useless.

. . . so I just looked up some simple introduction to how an RSS feed is supposed to look, and cobbled together a way to produce that from scratch. It is really sickening that there is an open source library out there -- not just out there, but part of the standard distribution of Ruby -- that is so poorly documented that one basically has to already know how to use it to get any use at all out of what little documentation exists.

In general, open source software is pretty well documented, but Ruby has this problem that, for some rason, people seem to think that providing nothing but a skeleton for documentation with zero fleshing out, basically just a glorified function name list in an almost non-searchable form, is "documentation".

Bad News for RSS

My RSS feed does not validate. Maybe I will fix that soon. Sorry. Hopefully it at least works properly in your feed reader.