Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams

A Note on Languages

Rattle, as a graphical user interface, has been developed using the Gnome toolkit with the Glade GUI builder. Java was considered for the implementation of the GUI, using the Swing toolkit. But although Java was a very good language in its early days, it continued to grow and lose its attraction as a clean and easy to use and deploy system. Deployment became painful, and the Java system remained very memory hungry. Sun also refused for a long time to free it of restrictive license limitations.

Gnome, on the other hand, is programming language independent. Indeed, the GUI side of Rattle started out as a Python program using Gnome before it moved to R. The Rattle GUI is developed using the Glade GUI builder, which is very simple and easy to use. This tool generates an XML file that describes the interface in a programming language independent way. That file can be loaded into any supported programming language to immediately display the GUI. The actual functionality underlying the application can then be written in any supported language, which includes Java, C, C++, Ada, Python, Ruby, and R! We have the freedom, though, to rather quickly change languages if the need arose.

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