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Re: Future Development of m4

From: Eric Blake
Subject: Re: Future Development of m4
Date: Mon, 9 Jan 2017 12:51:46 -0600
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On 01/03/2017 05:44 PM, Cordian Alexander Daniluk wrote:
> Hi fellow m4 people,
> I'm using m4 for a while now. I like it and you can be really clever
> writing macros with it (for better or worse).
> Anyway, I've eagerly anticipated new commits on the git tree ever since I
> started using m4.
> Now, around New Year's Eve, some new commits have been pushed and commits
> are coming daily now. It's still more a "keeping up with the
> state-of-the-art" thing as of now, I think (and daresay), but it's part of
> maintenance and I'm glad there's ongoing development, which brings me to my
> question: how is development of m4 going to continue?

At this point, barring further volunteer effort, it is still in
maintenance mode. I'm hoping to release m4 1.6 once I can make sure I
have forward-ported all relevant patches from branch-1.4 (right now, a
git checkout of branch-1.6 doesn't even build); there's also a huge
patch submission for making m4 generate dependency tracking information
(akin to what gcc can do, so that you can then feed that to Makefiles
for automatic rebuilds) that has been on the list for several years but
gone unreviewed due to lack of development time.

> I'm following m4-patches and Eric Blake has uttered several times something
> along "development's going on as long as I manage to find some spare time,"
> and I respect that. It's great that the project is being pushed forward.
> However, before New Year's Eve, the last commit dated back to 2014, so back
> then, I wondered when development would resume, naturally.

At this point, M4 is relatively stable, so no one is getting paid to
develop it further, thus ALL development is glacially slow waiting for
free time (which never seems to materialize).

> I've checked out the GNU m4 website and there was already talk of GNU m4
> 2.0 already, with modules and all.

Talk of m4 2.0 has been around for more than 10 years, sadly.

> Not that this is all too important, I'm just a curious m4 user, but how
> (frequent) is development going to be? If possible, when do you think v1.6
> and v2.0 will be released? And what parts are you currently focusing on?

"When it's ready" is the best answer I can give; 1.6 might be this year,
but probably not 2.0.  I also need to release autoconf 2.70 before any
further m4 releases will happen.

Eric Blake   eblake redhat com    +1-919-301-3266
Libvirt virtualization library http://libvirt.org

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