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Object Oriented Code in the Gnus Newsreader

Eric Abrahamsen

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The venerable Gnus newsreader has evolved over the years to interface with many different types of news- or mail-like backend programs, presenting all of them using a unified interface. This sort of software often calls for an object-oriented architecture, at least as regards polymorphism, yet Gnus was written well before Emacs lisp acquired the object-oriented tools and libraries – largely borrowed from Common Lisp – that it boasts today.

Yet Gnus needed something "object-oriented-like", and so nnoo.el was born: a rather amazing (and frankly terrifying) implementation of object-oriented behavior using functional code.

This talk will be a brief introduction to how this existing system works, and to the ongoing, incremental effort to port it over to newer Elisp tools like generic functions, structs, and objects.


Q3: Have you done any other projects using EIEIO and/or defstruct?

Right, EBDB is super deep into EIEIO, and was kind of written as a project for learning it, and the new gnus-search library is a more restrained usage. The search engines are defclasses, and much of the code is shared, which works quite well.

Q2: Is there may activity on maintenance of Gnus today? (and is Lars involved/aware of this work?)

Yes, there's still development going on. I don't think Lars is very focused on Gnus right now, but I run all changes by him first. He fixes bugs, but as far as I know, I'm the only one adding features right now, which is a terrifying thought.

Q1: How much of this 90's funny code :) can be replaced and how much will have to stay forever?

Eventually I think we can get most of it out of there. I was happy to be able to replace obarrays-as-hashtables with real hashtables, though that was a very painful process


Famous last words: "Sometimes the only thing that's worse than not knowing why something doesn't work is not knowing why it does work."

Sunday, Nov 29 2020, ~ 3:17 PM - 3:41 PM EST
Sunday, Nov 29 2020, ~12:17 PM - 12:41 PM PST
Sunday, Nov 29 2020, ~ 8:17 PM - 8:41 PM UTC
Sunday, Nov 29 2020, ~ 9:17 PM - 9:41 PM CET
Monday, Nov 30 2020, ~ 4:17 AM - 4:41 AM +08

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