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Re: PSPP goals

From: John Darrington
Subject: Re: PSPP goals
Date: Wed, 3 Aug 2005 09:07:41 +0800
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.9i

On Tue, Aug 02, 2005 at 09:58:25AM -0700, Ben Pfaff wrote:
     Jason Stover and I met over lunch yesterday and talked over some
     of the goals for PSPP.  

Sorry I couldn't join you.  It's a bit too far to come during lunchtime :)

     Over the long term, we also wish to provide support to developers who
     wish to extend PSPP with new statistical procedures, by supplying the
        * Easy-to-use support for parsing language syntax.  Currently,
               parsing is done by writing "recursive descent" code by hand,
               with some support for automated parsing of the most common
               constructs.  We wish to improve the situation by supplying a
               more complete and flexible parser generator.

I'd like to abstract this one level further, so that two other birds can be 
with the same stone (or at least have the framework in place).  Namely, the 
textual and graphical interfaces.  

If we think about it carefully, it should be possible to devise some kind of 
'pspp language description format' (PLDF).  Then we can produce suitable tools 
can generate:

 a) the parser ;
 b) the command line completion code ;
 c) the structure of the GUI elements.
 d) ... other things that we haven't thought of yet.

        * Eventually, a plug-in interface for procedures.  Over the
               short term, the interface between the PSPP core and
               statistical procedures is evolving quickly enough that a
               plug-in model does not make sense.  Over the long term, it
               may make sense to introduce plug-ins.

On the subject of plug-ins, I'd like to see plug-ins for importing/exporting 
and portable files.  I think this is something that would be beneficial in the 
short term.
A fully fledged GUI is a long way off, but if we have a plugin that can read a 
file then that'll open up PSPP to all those command line phobic users out there.
Similarly, if we put [dps]fm-{read,write}.c into a separate library, then it'll 
straightforward to create a gnumeric plugin to import pspp files into gnumeric 
(or any 
other application).


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