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Getting this car back on the road

Regulars here may have noticed that I've been a bit quiet for the last week or so... I've been putting in one last heave of effort to complete the internal interface overhaul that I've been working on for a while (it has felt like forever at times).


It's been quite a task: something like 25,000 lines of code have had to be more or less completely rewritten from scratch, and a considerable amount of debugging has been required to get everything just right... So what  benefits do you, the end user, get from all this work? A fancy new user interface? A whole lot of new and powerful features? Pet peeves finally corrected? Well, although it pains me to say it, the visible benefit you will see from all this effort is precisely nothing. Sad

It's a bit like getting the engine in your car overhauled. It costs a lot of money, takes time, and is quite inconvenient, yet when it's done you don't really feel like you've gained anything - the car just goes the way it did before. The only real satisfaction is knowing that you'll probably get another 100,000km before you have to have it all done again. Well, a large software project is not much different, really: over time, things get tacked on and hacked on until eventually the whole thing looks like it's being held together by the machine-code equivalent of duct tape. You finally reach a point as a software author where the whole shebang becomes so hard to maintain that it's like a seized-up engine: only a major overhaul will get things running smoothly again. So it has been with Pegasus Mail - seventeen years of development has taken its toll, even though I consider myself a careful and tidy programmer: the best part of a year ago, it consisted of 460,000 lines of code written for a compiler that hadn't been supported in over five years, with as many untidy ends as a packet of homemade spaghetti: now, though, the program is hosted in a current compiler environment, and has internal interfaces that will allow it to grow in the ways it will need to produce version 5 in a maintainable manner.

So, doing this overhaul was about as much fun as a root canal from a sadistic dentist, but it was essential, and now we can move on. The next goal is to release a v4.42 build as soon as possible (lots and lots of small problems have been fixed, and my testers assure me that the new builds are much faster than the old ones), then to move onto v5, for which I have so many cool new ideas that I can barely wait to begin realizing them.

Cheers!

-- David --

Posted: Monday, July 16, 2007 4:30 PM by David Harris

Comments

lherrou said:

David,

I've been there, junking code that "sort-of" worked, to re-do the whole thing "the right way". When you can get an elegant solution that does more than the last version ever could, it's worth it. But, I know the pain.

As a long-time pmail user (circa 1992), I want to say that we appreciate what you do...

LHerrou

# July 17, 2007 3:48 PM
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