Lars Wirzenius: Wishlist, 2005


Sunday, May 29, 2005

Wishlist: Got my notification wish: zenity

About a dozen people told me about zenity, which is part of GNOME and in 2.10 seems to have a --notification option that does what I want. Even people who don't use GNOME knew about this: how could I have missed it? Thanks, everyone.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Wishlist: Notification from command line

I often run, from the command line, lenghty compilations or other processes. While I anxiously wait for them to complete, I keep switching between other windows and the shell window, hoping to notice immediately when the job is complete. This is annoying, but I can't stop myself.

It would be nice if there was a nice tool that could put up a flag in the GNOME panel notification area while the job is running, and, optionally, pop up a dialog box (or whatever) notifying me that the job is now complete. Something very simple that I could put in front of the command line:

flag --popup -- make -s all check

For someone who knows how to make a notification applet, this should probably be very simple. Or perhaps something like this exists already?

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Wishlist: Generic syntax checker

Every so often I find myself wishing for an easy to check the syntactic validity of some kind of file. For example, a mail file (RFC822), debian/control, a Python "sprintf" template string, an md5sum.txt checksum file, or a wiki ad hoc markup file. Such tools exist for HTML and XML. For example, I write this web log as an XML file, with a custom DTD (syntax rule file), and use rxp to check that the XML file follows the DTD. What I want is a tool that lets me easily describe the syntax of non-XML files and check the syntax.

For example, I might write the following file (as debctrl.syntax):

control-file = (block "\n+")* block "\n*"
block = logical-line+
logical-line = first-physical-line continuation-line*
first-physical-line = "[A-Za-z0-9][A-Za-z0-9-.]*:.*\n"
continuation-line = "[ \t].*\n"

Then, I could give the following command:

syntax-checker debctrl.syntax debian/control

If there is an error, the tool would give me the line number and character offset where the error occurred, and the syntax rule that failed to match. This would, I think, make it much easier to verify that files are of the correct format.

I don't want to write yacc files and build binaries to do this kind of checking. That is too tedious.