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[STUMP] Stumpwm in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years

From: David Bjergaard
Subject: [STUMP] Stumpwm in 1 year, 5 years and 10 years
Date: Thu, 27 Jul 2017 21:58:32 -0400

Hi All,

It has been a pleasure to serve as StumpWM's maintainer for the past three years.  During my time here we've released two new versions, revamped the module system, added multithreaded i/o channels, and fixed countless bugs, crashes, and corner cases.

StumpWM as a project began in 2003 and reached a fairly stable state around 2008.  The Lisp ecosystem has changed significantly in that time, and our current policy of only supporting SBCL stems from a broader attempt to consolidate the community around one distribution.  This will hopefully make it easier for new members to make meaningful contributions without being overwhelmed before getting in the door.

Since the project has been around for over a decade, I think it is useful to take a minute to look at where I see things going in the next 1, 5, and 10 years. 

StumpWM has fairly minimal dependencies, but the most important is CLX.  At this point CLX is effectively abandonware and is being kept alive through a fork on github. CLX was written as a native implementation of X11 in Common Lisp in the early 90's.  Since it is independent of Xlib, it hasn't seen some of the modernization it otherwise would have. 

Specifically, it is missing support for multibyte characters (essential for localizing StumpWM outside of the traditional ASCII character set) and it is missing support for XInput events.  The latter means that certain things are ignored (scrolling events and multitouch) when StumpWM is running.  In the next year, I would like to tackle adding XInput to CLX for the benefit of StumpWM. It would also be great if we could finish the "make everything a package" approach to organizing a modern Lisp project.  This would allow us to carve out bits of the StumpWM ecosystem for others to use.  I would also like to revisit some code I wrote to get anti-aliased/OpenType fonts running efficiently.

We have some really great contributions coming through! I would like to thank @jorams and @PuercoPop for doing an amazing job with assessing and code reviewing some of the larger PRs that have come down the pipe recently.  I've gone through quite a few life changes recently, and I haven't been as present with the project as I would like.  @jorams and @PuercoPop have kept up the pace and prevented PRs from languishing in the queue. 

In 5 years, I expect that Wayland will be the new way to interact with a graphical environment.  This will mean a few things:
- a lisp solution will rely on bindings through a foreign function interface. This will constrain our ability to stay "lispy" and will require adopting the paradigm of the underlying library. 
- many of the bedrock pieces of stumpwm will need to be re-written
- X11 support will likely remain strong as StumpWM won't be the only legacy application in production
- As the line between tablet and laptop is continued to blur, a modern window manager will be expected to behave well with touch.  This presents challenges for a tiling window manager, but StumpWM can innovate here.

In 10 years, things get a little hazier.  It is likely that Wayland will have the dominance that X11 has now and that the latest display paradigm will be on the horizon.  I hope that as long as I am using a Linux desktop, I will be able to run StumpWM.  I expect that if Wayland takes over, X11 support will be in a legacy state at best, and non-existent at worst.  I hope that StumpWM will have the development manpower to overcome these changes, and will have positioned itself to adapt to a hybrid touch-screen/keyboard interface. 

Let me know what you guys think of this vision, and if you have any big ideas about where you would like to see the project in the near, medium, and distant futures!



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