Light Table Roadmap - 2017

27 Jan 2017 - Scott Bauer

Light Table has grown quiet as of late and we aim to bring a much needed update on what our next steps are. The Core team: Magnus, Gabriel and myself (Scott), have discussed these steps which fall under two main categories: Immediate Future and After That.

Immediate Future

Work in the short term is about documenting, updating, and stabilizing Light Table. Essentially, we need to make working on, and contributing to, Light Table easier. Few are willing to spend hours frustrated over something that should be trivial.

Let us be clear: If these tasks are not met then the project will continue to stagnate.

Migrate docs to Gitbook

Rather than spend effort maintaining our current user docs, we are migrating all guides and tutorials to Gitbook.

Documentation

It has been an ongoing need for a long time and a constant pain point. Documentation is one of our highest priorities.

We intend to take a three-pronged approach towards documentation:

  • Improve the User Guide
  • Create a Developer Guide
  • Document our API

Magnus has produced a great guide for the Elm plugin and is spearheading work on the Developer Guide.

I have been pursuing documentation for the API. Our API docs site will now render with markdown.

The User Guide has been ported over to Gitbook from docs.lighttable.com, merged with some wiki pages, and is undergoing updates before we replace the current User Guide.

Update Core Dependencies

This is another strong pain point. Our Clojurescript version is badly out of date. Our Electron version is out of date too. We adopted these technologies while they were young and there has since been breaking changes. They are fundamental to our project and require a deep knowledge of Light Table internals to update. They are also fantastic and deserve to be at the latest. The out of date dependencies have caused stagnation and are blocking significant possible improvements.

Once Clojurescript is updated then the Electron update will be handled, finally followed by CodeMirror.

Note: Expect possible breaking changes to plugins due to these updates. Should this occur, we will provide advanced notice.

Outstanding Pull Requests

There are a number of outstanding pull requests. A few of them have been lingering for some time. We will be either merging or closing them.

Fix Updating

Not that you would notice if 0.8.1 was your first encounter with Light Table, but it used to be possible to update Light Table when a new version was released. Since there have not been any releases this has not been an issue, but will be in the future.

Regular Releases

As the number of maintainers and contributors of Light Table can highly vary, as well as their availability, we will no longer be making firm commitments as to what will be in each release. Instead, we will simply release what has been done since the last release. Sometimes this will be a lot… sometimes not. We are still deciding what frequency we aim to release with and will announce once we decide.

After That

Once the above has been taken care of, Light Table will be in a solid position to encourage new growth and innovation. Areas to focus on at this point are as follows.

Testing

We need to catch bugs and regressions before they are released to users. While we can’t catch them all, we also cannot spend excessive amounts of time performing manual QA. Thus, we will be pursuing automated testing of the UI as well as testing at the code level. Tests will provide an additional benefit of guiding future contributors and preventing regressions.

Actively Recruit

We need people. This is an open source project with (currently) no sponsorship - private or corporate. As such, everything is done through people’s free time and time is always short.

From plugin authors to maintainers, we need everyone and anyone interested in the project to pitch in. Even opening a pull request to fix a typo in documentation is valuable.

Feature Parity

There are other editors we lag behind in certain ways. Common functionality found across other editors needs to be up to current standards (or better) for Light Table. This does not mean it will necessarily be in Light Table proper, but potentially a plugin.

Searching and autocomplete come to mind as obvious targets. Both need to be improved for users to have a pleasant experience. Our search functionality is simply inadequate when compared to Atom. Autocomplete is lacking when compared to others, such as Cider.

A Call for Ideas

Light Table is built on the idea of being a next generation editor. Many of our ideas were ported over to other editors and that is awesome! However, we need to keep innovating and want to hear from you. What would you like to see in an editor that you can’t find elsewhere? What plugins don’t yet exist?

-Scott

Light Table 0.8.0

10 Dec 2015 - Gabriel Horner

We are excited to announce an 0.8.0 release of LightTable! Many thanks to our contributors including Chris and Mike for the move to Electron. We are also fortunate to have added Kenny Evitt and Magnus Rundberget to the core team, both of whom have been critical in helping users and getting this release out. This release finalizes an important transition from LightTable being a Kodowa managed project to a community managed one.

Changelog

If we could give a theme for this release, we’d say it’s transition and maintainability. We have made major changes: switching to Electron, upgrading CodeMirror, revamping how LightTable is built from source, and revamping how plugins are distributed (hint: it’s all just data in this repository). For maintainability, we have gotten off forked dependencies and added significant documentation. This release has the following major changes:

  • CHANGED: We have switched to Electron from NW.js
  • CHANGED: LT’s releases and self-updating processes are completely in the open on Github
  • ADDED: LT can be built from source with provided scripts across supported platforms
  • ADDED: Most of LT’s node libraries are installed as npm dependencies instead of as forked libraries
  • ADDED: Significant documentation. See more below
  • FIX: Major usability issues on >= OSX 10.10
  • CHANGED: 32-bit linux is no longer an official download. Building from source will still be supported
  • FIX: ClojureScript eval for modern versions of ClojureScript

For more, see the full changelog.

Notes for plugin authors:

  • lt.objs.app/window-number numbering now starts on 1 instead of 0. We encourage you to use lt.objs.app/first-window
  • Use lt.objs.platform/electron set to true if your plugin needs to detect for behavior specific to LT versions before or after 0.8.0 (and electron).
  • The following fns have been removed: lt.objs.thread/node-exe and lt.objs.app/extract!

Documentation

While LightTable has a documentation site, there has been a concern around LightTable not having enough documentation, both for those who want to understand its internals and for those who want to become power users. We have heard those concerns and done the following to address them:

As we continue to improve documentation, we look forward to it enabling the community to better use, understand, and develop LightTable.

Next Steps

LightTable is built on two amazing communities, ClojureScript and CodeMirror. LightTable is primarily written in ClojureScript, which allows us to use immutable data instead of mutable objects, explicit state management, functional programming and much more. CodeMirror is the underlying editor which provides a 100+ language modes, dozens of addons and powerful vim and emacs keybindings. Unfortunately, LightTable has been running on old versions of both of these and it is time we fixed this. As part of our 0.9.0 milestone, we will be upgrading them to recent versions. We want to enable these communities to use their latest libraries and creations in LightTable. Aside from upgrades, we will continue to expand the community with more documentation, clean up LightTable internals and empower plugin authors with a powerful API and possibly even tools. Looking forward to what we can build together!

-Gabriel

Light Table Hack Night

13 Jan 2015 - Rob Attorri

Back in November we released v0.7.0 and made some big announcements about our new committers and turning Light Table and its documentation over to the community, but we left a couple things still up in the air that I’m happy to announce today - our new hire who will be spending part of his time working on Light Table, and also the inaugural Light Table Hack Night at our new office.

Meet the new guy

I’m extremely pleased to announce that we’ve brought on one of our commiters, Josh Cole, as our next hire. We named him as one of the new committers in the last blog post but he was still finishing up a project at his previous job and we wanted to let him finish that before we publicized his employment here. Josh caught our attention some time ago as a contributor to Light Table, most notably in November 2013 when he wrote his first LT plugin, Claire, a couple months before we open sourced Light Table and released the API for plugins, which left us duly impressed. He followed that up with another plugin called Recall and has been a standout in the community ever since. When we announced Eve and started looking for developers he got in touch with us, and the rest, as they say, is history. While we are still working primarily on Eve, Josh expressed a vested interest in continuing to further Light Table and will be spending a day per week or so working on that.

Hack Night

Good news everyone! We bought a table. A real, honest-to-goodness table that multiple people can sit around and dine, converse, work, and collaborate. Not only are we very proud of this development and the inherent progress it represents for our company but also excited for the events it will enable us to host. Our first Light Table hack night will take place on the night of January 28, starting around 7pm at our SOMA office in downtown San Francisco. If you’re in town and want to come voice your opinion for the future of Light Table, eat pizza and beer, and hack away, we’d love to have you. There will be plenty of stickers and t-shirts, so if you didn’t get any goodies back in the day from Kickstarter, this is a great opportunity to come stock up. We’ll be releasing the precise details and address on our discussion group soon, so sign up if you’re interested in participating but aren’t in the group yet, and keep your eye out for the thread. We look forward to seeing you!

-Rob