Project image
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€163
pledged of €19,000pledged of €19,000 goal
6
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 13 2016 2:15 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated November 13, 2016

Reginald: A new way of looking at sourcecode

Turn sourcecode from a repository into dynamic HTML - so you can watch the software develop step by step, as if it's being written live

Reginald: A new way of looking at sourcecode

Turn sourcecode from a repository into dynamic HTML - so you can watch the software develop step by step, as if it's being written live

€163
pledged of €19,000pledged of €19,000 goal
6
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Sun, November 13 2016 2:15 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated November 13, 2016

About

(If you don't like coding, better skip this, because it won't be very interesting to you.)

About Reginald

First, about the name: The software's called "Reginald" after Reginald Jeeves*, because this software shall help the users with seemingly impossible tasks - that is, make it easier to understand and tackle big, bigger and biggest software projects out there, even for smaller teams and people new at huge projects. - But now let's talk about the software proper.

* yes, Jeeves had a first name

The idea behind Reginald

You know how it is: A good way to learn how to program is: Read a lot of well-written sourcecode.

So the best way to learn how to program must be by looking over the shoulder of good programmers. Just imagine you could learn about programming the Linux kernel from Linus himself!

Now we *do have* Linus' code online, at GitHub and such, but we can't ask him to explain every little detail to us.

Even so - a program with a million lines of code may scare off some people, by its sheer size. And there is software out there which is even bigger than that!

But we need people who maintain and improve open source software.

So there is something missing if you want to learn how to code for big projects. But what? This is a problem I'd like to solve.

Now I thought about this: It would help people if we could watch the software as if it's being written, like in a kind of movie.

So why don't we take the versions of the code, and turn the code differences of them into a kind of animation?

Think about this: If you want to learn about a big piece of software, you don't start with the first file at the first line.

How did the original programmers do it? They started with a small core, and built the software around it, so it became bigger like a snowball.

But if you look at the big program, you wonder: Where is the core? You can't tell if you didn't write it.

How Reginald works

This is the plan for what the finished software should do:

First, it fetches the code from a repository on your computer or the internet. All the versions of the software.

Then, it creates a dynamic HTML file from them. When you open it, you'll see the code, just as it was in the first version.

Then, you just click "Play", and you see the code grow organically just as if it was being written right now.

The rest should be as easy as watching a movie on DVD. You can play it faster or slower; you may also play it backwards if you like; and you can jump to certain versions of certain files at certain times.

Of course, when there are comments from checking in code, they are worked into the HTML to demonstrate how the code was developed.

Reginald's parts

The source panel: This is simply the part where you see the source code - one file at a time. Changes are highlighted - additions in green, deletions in red(dish), other changes in yellow.

The control panel: To control the flow. Just as with a movie on DVD, you can play forwards and backwards, either accelerate or decelerate the speed, or watch the changes one at a time ("single frame"). - Details aren't fixed yet.

The status panel: Simply displays the current file you're looking at and the comment during the animated commit, if there is one.

The file selector: This small selection field over the timeline allows you to select the file(s). Select e.g. foo.c, and the software will display the changes in foo.c only.

(In a later version, this part will have to be reworked, to handle software with several packages as well.)

The timeline panel: This area displays all the commits of the project, either for all files or one specific file (see above). Comments from the commits are displayed if they exist. The space between two changes differs for a reason - the more time between two changes, the bigger the space. The current commit (which is animated in the source panel) is highlighted.


The origin of Reginald

About the original idea - how and when I had it - I can't tell you anything, unfortunately, because I don't remember either, it was quite some time ago. I have written software and used code repositories for many years, but never thought of this - until one day, I did. Then I shelved the idea for a while, but now I decided to make it real.

What will happen next

If this project is successfully funded, this is how we'll proceed:

Phase Zero: If you are a beta tester, you tell me which project on GitHub you want to explore like this; with my software, I'll turn it into dynamic HTML and mail it to you.

Phase One: Still for beta testers: You will receive a mail with a platform-independent script you can deploy on your computer to fetch any project from GitHub and turn it into dynamic HTML.

Phase Two: For everyone with access: After Reginald will have left beta, you get the software and the necessary support to make it run on your computer. After that, you may use it as you like. (I'm not sure yet which open-source license to use, feedback is welcome.)

Budget

What do I need the money for? Besides the usual fees: New hardware for smoother development, work with big software projects and for testing several platforms; pay the bills for several months; acquire a dedicated server to run a website for the software and its users; a graphic designer for the shiny bits (software and site); spreading the message to various programming communities; and unexpected expenses, to be on the safe side. (I may also need a tax advisor for this, since there aren't many Kickstarter projects based in my country, and in my city I'm actually the first one - I checked - so I may even need an out-of-town advisor.)

Finally

While I don't want to promise too much, I've got the feeling that this software has a great potential. Its purpose is pretty general, any programmer who works on a big project (or plans to) may find a use for it, and it's not specialized for a certain programming language, or category of software. I haven't made up my mind about stretch goals yet, but I can imagine that this software might be useful for other areas too - for example, wikis.

Risks and challenges

The dynamic HTML file you can see in my video is already real - you can play it forwards and backwards, so this part is mostly done already.

Next, I will have to write a script that turns a software project into such a dynamic HTML file; but that's pure routine to me.

I will also have to write a software (a bit like a wikibot) that fetches data from a repository on GitHub, but since I have experience with that kind of software, this shouldn't be a problem either.

At the moment, I'm not busy with other projects, and I'm 100% independent, neither working for a company nor any other organization. So there are no obstacles in that way either.

About the various Skype sessions... I've limited them just to be on the safe side. Anyway, this should be doable. People in callcenters have to do more work, and deal with angry people to boot.

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    Get mentioned

    Your name (up to 64 characters) will be mentioned on the "Special Thanks" page of the official website AND in the "About" feature of the software.

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    ...and your website too

    As above, but you may mention your website too (if in doubt, take your KS page), with up to 256 characters.

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    Beta Tester

    You guessed it: As soon as the core of the software will be done, you may test it with any open-source software that is out there. Also, you'll join the official mailing list.

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    The software

    A digital copy of Reginald, before the software will be available for anyone out there.

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    Reginald on DVD

    Digital copies are sufficient today, but if you prefer a solid DVD with a dead-tree manual, get it here.

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    ...and a signed manual

    As the above, but in addition I'll sign the dead-tree manual and write a short dedication.

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    Short Skype session

    In addition to the above, I'll do a five-minute Skype session with you, so I can thank you personally, and you may ask the one or other question about software development or something else.

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    Medium Skype session

    As the above, but we'll have fifteen minutes for a talk instead. That should suffice for a short Q&A.

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    Long Skype session

    As the Medium Skype session above, but we'll have *one whole hour* for a talk instead. That should suffice for quite a good discussion.

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    Your quote as an intro in the manual!

    Reginald will need a manual/help function of course. Many books and software manuals quote famous programmers, scientists etc. opening a chapter of the manual. If you feel you have something worthwhile to say, pledge this, so every user of Reginald can read your quote!

    First come, first served.

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    A webinar about software development

    I'll make a webinar (up to 90 minutes). Not necessarily about Reginald itself, but some topic related. We'll have to talk about details on Skype.

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    Name a version of Reginald!

    Debian Linux e.g. names its versions after characters from Toy Story. In the case of Reginald, up to five people will name the first version(s). Anything that doesn't lead to legal problems should be fine. First come, first served.

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    Let's meet IRL!

    I'll visit you in person, at the place where you live or in a city near you, sometime in 2017. For my travel expenses, I will pay myself. I'll stay there for a weekend or two other days, so there'll be enough time to talk. For a longer discussion about software and other topics.

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    Decide about Reginald's official logo!

    Linux has Tux the penguin, Debian has the swirl, Reginald doesn't have anything yet... so if you had this great idea for a software logo, but no opportunity to use it, I'll take it. Anything that doesn't lead to legal problems should be fine.

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    Name Reginald's official website!

    There should be a website for Reginald, for support, discussions etc. Of course, I could simply call it "reginald-<something>.com", but if you have a really good idea for a title, this is your opportunity. Anything that doesn't lead to legal problems should be fine.

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Funding period

- (20 days)