Recently, I've been extensively involved in desktop application development using PHP-GTK.
At first, I just needed a cross-platform, Markdown/Texy-capable desktop blogging tool that would publish to (and open/batch backup from) Blogger, preferably Scintilla-based. I looked around quite a bit and didn't like what I found, so I decided to do myself a favor and just sit down and make it already. Then I weighed some choices on how to actually do it:
First Choice - HOW DO I DO IT?
- Quickly, hack together a bunch of batch files
- Blah. Obvious. Ugly. Not cross platform.
- Make some pretty witty shell script(s) instead
- Blah. Uninspired. Not cross platform.
- Do it properly
- Hmm ... OK, let's try that. Sigh, more choices.
Second Choice - AGAIN, HOW DO I DO IT?
- C#, Mono
- Nyeee ... I'm not very familiar with neither the language itself, nor Mono.
- Nyeee ... an option. Or is it, really? An option?
- Python GTK/QT
- Hmmm ... definitely an option.
- PHP GTK/QT
- Well, let's take a look at that first.
Once settled upon that, the choice between QT or GTK bindings wasn't really much of a choice, actually. QT bindings for PHP are still quite young in development, plus the documentation is still virtually non-existent. Furthermore, as attached as I used to be to QT appearance, I recently switched to GNOME (at least until KDE 4.1) and learned to actually like it, so a GTK interface would be a natural choice for me right now.
Enough. Let's get on with it already
Now, once again, I had but a rhetorical choice between PHP-GKT versions 1 and 2. In its second version it provides a good OO API, some new components and quite stable foundation - although still in beta - so I obviously decided for V2. The new components (at least
MozEmbed, as I wanted to have HTML preview) turned out to be either non-existant, not (yet) fully cross platform, or quite buggy, so I left them out for now. No HTML preview. Pah.
What I did got, free of any charge, is the excellent
GtkScintilla component - however, it turned out to be poorly documented and still somewhat rough around the edges. Oh, well. I used some of this, some of that, some looking at the
GtkScintilla source coupled with some blind luck, and it turned out OK - which I hope to explain more thoroughly in a future post.
Anyway, the ease of use really amazed me - without Glade or any other GUI-editing IDE, it took just about a day or two to get a fully functional editor/blogging tool. The OO API allowed for easy custom control creation which greatly improved the speed of development. So much so, that I decided to use it for a pending project for a client.