Monday, November 19, 2012

Prologue

- Why do you want to climb Mount Everest?
- Because it's there
(George Mallory)

Once upon a time...

What is wxWidgets, and why would you want to port it? And what is porting anyway?

Few people would know.  Even fewer will actually do it.  But the world wouldn't be the same without it.

As I go through the process myself, I will attempt to explain it in a casual way that can be appreciated without a technical background.  There will be jokes and pretty pictures.  And you will (yes!) learn programming by following along.  Entertainment and utility, all in one package!  ;-)

Here's the issue:

  • When Angry Birds first came out you needed an iPhone to play it
  • If you want to play Halo you need an Xbox
  • Logic Pro (create digital music) is only on Mac
  • Lots of programs for Windows will not work on your tablet
  • And so on...

This is incredibly common.  You can't use x because you have to have y.  We've all experienced it.  We keep experiencing it, over and over.  It's in fact so common that we've come to accept it as part of normal life.  Often, we don't even realize that it could be any different.

But it can.

Mountains and ports

For now, let's say porting means making an app work on a new device.  Like a phone.  Or a gaming console.  Or a desktop computer.  Anything really.

With that introduction, wxWidgets will be a lot easier to understand.  But it really deserves its own blog post.  For now, let's just say wxWidgets makes it easier to put any app on any device.  Now you have the tools to understand what porting wxWidgets means.

Foothills of Himalaya in 2008
In the early 1920s, George Mallory took part in the first three British expeditions to Mount Everest.  He is famously credited with the response in the beginning of this post.  I find that quote appropriate to this project.  A complex porting project can be a difficult challenge.  It's a step into the unknown.  It's not guaranteed to succeed, and the rewards are unclear if you do.  It's not even completely clear why you would want to do it.  If you want to play Angry Birds, just go get that iPhone!


And yet, here I am, dead set on completing this project.  I can't easily explain why I want to do it.  The best explanation I can come up with is "because it's there."  Fortunately, that's all I need at the moment.

It is unknown whether George Mallory actually reached the top.  He and his climbing partner disappeared in 1924 during their attempt to make the first ascent to the top of the world.  They stayed missing until 1999, when their frozen bodies were found.

Luckily the consequences of a failed port are not quite as severe, but let's still hope it works out, ok?  ;-)


//Andreas
“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you're no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn't just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It's the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here's where things grow. But of course, without the top you can't have any sides. It's the top that defines the sides.”

― ROBERT PIRSIG



3 comments:

  1. Andreas, congratulations! This site looks great. I find this blog interesting, too! Continue to keep on writing. You have a lot to share. Can't wait for your next episode. Good job! :)

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  2. This is going to be fun to follow.

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  3. Thank you both for the encouragement. ;)

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