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Ruby for GUI programming survey

Several months ago a survey was started to find out what people are using for GUI development and what they’re looking for from the various toolkits.  Well the results have been published and you can look them over for yourself.  Apparently JRuby/Swing aren’t exactly taking over the GUI development landscape, although I’d like to see the results from just developers pursuing commercial applications as I believe many of the GUI toolkits (such as Shoes) simply are not usable for this use case.

Categories: Development
  1. February 9, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    I had the same thoughts. After I read the survey results I did some Googling to find anything about commercial desktop Ruby apps, and only found (amusingly enough) posts about Monkeybars and JotBot.

    When I was first shown the survey I requested some changes to some questions because there was no mention of Swing; I don’t recall the details offhand, but I expressed concern over bias against Java/JRuby.

    Polls are always tricky, and having more details on what, exactly, people mean when the say the use or prefer one or another GUI tool would be useful.

    Perhaps a future poll could say, “Of those people who have actually deployed a commercial desktop app, GUI preferences were …”

  2. February 11, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Here are the numbers for the “preferred toolkit” question, counting only those who said they were doing GUI programming for commercial purposes (either alone or in a company, or both):

    Wx 9
    GNOME2 6
    Swing 6
    Shoes 6
    Cocoa 4
    Tk 1
    Fx 1

    The base is small (n=33) so I would be cautious about inferring too much about the exact relative positions. It seems to support the sensible guess that Shoes is less popular relatively in this domain, and Swing more so.

    James: you made a number of very helpful suggestions on the drafts of the survey form, which I incorporated. One of these was to include SWT (an omission through ignorance) and another was to include “Prejudice against certain vendors…” as an impediment to the development of Ruby GUI programming. However I don’t believe you suggested the survey itself was biased.

    Of course there’s ambiguity in how questions are interpreted, as in any linguistic communication. I took considerable care, including circulating for comment, in the construction of the survey, and others feedback (eg on c.l.r.) seems to recognise this. I don’t think ‘preference’ is especially ambiguous. And a principal aim of seeking a large sample is that statistical error (eg through ambiguity) is reduced.

    Most importantly *error* is different to *bias*. If you believe that the final design of the survey was such that it would produce systematic *bias* against one toolkit or another, then you should say so explicitly, and say how.

    I would’ve liked it if wxRuby was found to be the most popular and well-regarded toolkit. The fact that it wasn’t leads to me reflect on the survey findings, rather than sort-of hinting that it arose from flaws in the survey method.

  3. dkoontz
    February 11, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Thanks Alex for this information. While the sample size is small like you point out, it does seem to confirm my initial expectation of the more “industrial” toolkits being favored when money is on the line. I am interested in the idea that people consider Shoes ok for commercial applications. In fact, at one point at my old company we were employed to rewrite a Shoes app as a Monkeybars app. The fact that the original authors had tried to use Shoes was, to me, a bit shocking, since it clearly came up lacking in the large complex app department. Perhaps this is more a reflection on the relative immaturity of GUI programming experience in general within the Ruby development community. How do you know what X is lacking if you’ve never run into problems with it?

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