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Does LablTk have a future?
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Date: 2005-08-30 (11:53)
From: Jon Harrop <jon@f...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Does LablTk have a future?
On Tuesday 30 August 2005 05:39, Matt Gushee wrote:
> Now, I have lately realized that you can explore LablTk with
> ocamlbrowser, so a reference doc isn't strictly necessary. But you could
> say the same about any OCaml module ... anyway, the document mostly
> exists, and some people may find it more convenient/pleasant to use a
> Web page or a printed document.

Yes, I've only studied it through ocamlbrowser. So I'd recommend simply 
commenting the labltk .mli file rather than writing a quick reference.

> >>2) A Book
> >
> > I think labltk is too specific to be commercially viable.
> Specific in what sense? And do you mean LablTk as a tool, or as a book
> topic?

I meant that the topic "GUI programming using lablTK" is too specific for a 

> > Also, unless I've
> > missed some hidden complexities in Tk programming, I think you'd have a
> > job filling enough pages to call the result a book.
> Ever used the Canvas or Text widgets? There's a lot going on there.

I'm using the Text widget in a very simple way. I may have to start using the 
canvas widget because I can't figure out how to do various things (e.g. a 

> Besides, there are several mainstream (i.e. published by major tech
> publishers and available in any well-stocked bookstore) books about Tk
> programming (including at least Tcl/Tk, Perl/Tk and Tkinter). They've
> mostly been available for several years, so there must be some market
> for them.

Yes and there are a few books on OCaml. But you're talking about the 
intersection of those two sets of users, which is much smaller.

> Maybe today's OCamlers are by and large beyond needing that sort of
> book. But it's kind of self-defeating to take for granted that the
> status quo will continue. I'm inclined to think that as OCaml gains in
> popularity--as it is certainly doing--there will be more people who need
> more hand-holding. Which doesn't necessarily mean there's much of market
> for a book such as I've proposed, just that I see some reason to hope.

Yes, that is true.

> > As I'm the author of the only existing self-published book on OCaml, you
> > may be interested to know that it is doing well (~500UKP per month for 6
> > months so far).
> Well, at 85 quid a pop, I should think so (what is that in US money,
> about $120?)! But you're targeting an audience that has significant
> institutional support. I doubt very much that any and all OCaml books
> can be sold for that kind of money.

Yes. As OCaml gains popularity it will be commercially viable to publish 
cheaper books. In the mean time, if you're interested in making money, 
perhaps educational software would be better?

> > This wouldn't need to be anything
> > fancy, just easy access to the simplest GUI elements to start with.
> What kind of apps do you envision writing with only the simplest elements?

I have two projects with GUIs now. One is that database app, that has a very 
simple GUI. The other is Presenta, that draws its own GUI via OpenGL.

I tried to get the latter to work with lablgtk but was told to take my 
question to the gtk forum, where they told me not to use out of date OpenGL 

Incidentally, OpenGL is extremely important for us. So a GUI toolkit must be 
able to handle OpenGL widgets. Indeed, this begs the question: why not do the 
whole thing in OpenGL?

Dr Jon D Harrop, Flying Frog Consultancy Ltd.
Objective CAML for Scientists