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Alpha 8

A few years ago, a team of Alpha's users assumed responsibility for development of the Alpha application (unfortunately, Pete Keleher no longer has the time to devote to the project). Along with Vince Darley, Daniel Steffen, Jim Ingham, Aaron Montgomery, flip phillips, and Tom Fetherston, I am one of the Alpha Cabal. Alpha8 is currently in private alpha testing. AlphaX (a carbonized version for Mac OS X) is in development.

Daniel Steffen has been good enough to set up Alpha-bugzilla, a bug-tracking database for Alpha. This is the appropriate place to report bugs with any version of Alpha. Some historical bug reports from the old Alpha-D mailing list have been entered (Please contact me if you'd be willing to help), but that's going to take awhile.

In addition to our general goals of bringing Alpha up to date with the latest Tcl libraries and general bug fixing, my particlar interests are:

  • Improved AppleEvent operability.
    • I wrote the ae(parse|coerce|build).tcl scripts in the System code of Alpha 7. These make AE communications between Alpha and other programs easier, more consistent, and less error-prone, but they can be quite slow. In Alpha8, this system has been completely replaced by my TclAE library. In Alpha 7.x, TclAE has been implemented with a reasonable facsimile in pure Tcl code. The Alpha8 and Alpha7 variants are interface compatible, but the speed concerns above are a big problem in Alpha7.
    • Alpha7 can act as an AppleEvent handler for any arbitrary event, but its ability to send a reply is quite primitive. Also, the handler queue is not very robust. Alpha8 supports full, two-way communication.
    • Rudimentary support for scriptability and recordability have been added. It's all accessible from Tcl scripts. Development continues…
  • Contextual menu support.
  • Improving Alpha's text renderer. I'm experimenting with WASTE and the Tk text widget, amongst other things.

Alpha is not an open source project. Input is more than welcome, however. Please post to AlphaTcl-developers or AlphaTcl-users if there are things you'd like to see implemented in the core application that you're pretty sure can't be done with Tcl (you might be surprised how little actually falls into this category).

If you're absolutely convinced that you have unique skills to contribute to the core application, please contact me. Contingent on approval by the other developers and by Pete Keleher (nobody's been refused, but we're trying to keep the team manageable), we'll then send instructions on how to access the code repository and to join our Alpha Hackers mailing list.


Alpha 8 development is supported in part by UNI SOFTWARE PLUS, through the grant of a multiuser license to their VOODOO Server version management software. Alpha 8 will eventually be made a Client tool for VOODOO Server, in appreciation for this support.

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Last modified January 17, 2002 11:10 PM
by Jonathan Guyer

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