Background to the Rosegarden-4 project
(written by Chris Cannam, part of a previous version of Rosegarden's web site)
From a developer's perspective, the Rosegarden-2.1 code reached the end of
its useful life about five years ago.
Its internal representation had become inadequate for the
things we were wanting to do, and it was becoming too difficult
to extend it without introducing some serious stability issues.
The GUI was looking rather antiquated, and it was too closely
coupled with the rest of the application to be straightforward
to replace. We wanted closer communication between the
notation-editing and sequencing parts of the application and the
existing code just wasn't designed that way.
Over the years, we've made several attempts to rewrite
Rosegarden. Here are some of them:
- Late 1995: Completely abortive attempt by Chris to port
the GUI to Motif.
- 1995-1996: Andy makes a sibling version of Rosegarden for
Microsoft Windows, adding a significant amount of extra
sequencer functionality. Then he loses the only copy of the
source code in a hard disc crash. You can still have the 32-bit
binaries if you like, but they might not work. Don't come
crying to us if you blow up your computer.
- Early 1996: Inspired by Guillaume's strange fascination
with Tcl/Tk, we give serious consideration to rewriting the
GUI using Tk. Rather fortunately, we don't actually get as
far as writing any code.
- Early 1998: Following a brief dalliance with Objective C,
we begin a ground-up rewrite of the notation editor in C++
using the GTK-- toolkit. It reaches the stage of being able
to load a Rosegarden 2.1 file (using a new parser written with
the PCCTS system) and bring up a few empty windows. Some
amount of core container code written by Chris, and some GUI
code by Guillaume. Abandoned when we decided the basic
architecture was still going to be inadequate for the amount
of editor-sequencer integration we'd like to be able to do.
Here's the source
code as it was when we abandoned it: 5,600 lines of C++
that's probably nearly impossible to compile by now.
- June 1998: A session in the pub with Bownie and Chris
leads to the start of "Rosegarden 3.0", a Grand Unified
Rewrite. We aimed to produce a system where the music was
stored in a separate, server datastore and made available to a
set of editing and performance clients via CORBA objects,
implemented once again in C++ using GTK--, with MICO as the
CORBA ORB to begin with. This design had a lot of potential:
if we'd been three talented programmers working on it
full-time, we could have produced a very nice modular,
extensible, rather slow system. In practice, however, we
spent a lot of time talking about it, then Chris spent a month
writing a working datastore implementation then went on
holiday for six months, during which time nobody else managed
to get to grips with the rather complicated code. And when
Chris got back, he found he'd also forgotten how it worked.
We end up deciding to drop CORBA and do something simpler
instead. You can pick up the last
source code for this version if you like -- it's about
12,000 lines of C++ and IDL that's a beastly pain to compile
and does nothing worth looking at. It's very clever
- April 2000: Following his departure from the GTK--
development team and disillusionment with the GNOME project,
Guillaume begins building a Rosegarden GUI using Qt for KDE.
By working on the GUI first, with relatively little structure
underneath (except a set of generic event objects developed by
Chris), he at last manages to get something visible out of it.
Project development moves to SourceForge,
like all other God-fearing free-software projects. Progress is
still slow, partly because Chris and Bownie are far too busy
at work to help out much.
- June 2000: Fifth anniversary of the release of Rosegarden
1.0. The oldest Rosegarden code (the help system, strangely
enough) is now over seven years old. It's more than two and a
half years since Rosegarden 2.1 came out.
- April 2001: After Chris and Bownie manage to find a bit
more spare time and join Guillaume in actually putting in some
real work, progress speeds up somewhat. We decide on a firm
set of basic features required for a public 0.1 developer
And that's where we are at the moment. Our mantra is now:
"If we lose focus again, Rosegarden is dead.
It has already been brought back from limbo a couple of times,
there won't be a next one."
At the time of writing, we've made the 0.1
release (in October) plus a couple more, have passed 3,500 CVS
commits and have written vastly more lines of code than we
managed in any of the previous rewrites. Things are looking