In this article I will try to cover new features appeared in motor after 2.6.3 version release. I gonna tell you why I decided to implement them and why you may feel need for them. This article can be considered as a status report easily.

What is motor? (if you still don't know)

Motor is an IDE for Linux that works in the console and provides the developer with a useful mcedit-like editor, front-ends to the compiler, linker, debugger (gdb), concurrent version system (cvs), ctags, rpm, automake/autoconf and other useful things. It can also generate distribution packages in any format. Almost everything is done with templates, so any kind of language or distribution can be added easily.

The new features as they are

Autoconf/automake support

As autoconf/automake is a de-facto standard for Linux packages, I've been planning to implement support for it in motor for a long time. And now it's finally done. Most of files needed by automake are generated and updated by a script that resides inside Makefile.func (see below).

Using automake gives a developer a bunch of benefits such as automatic dependency tracking, ready-to-use standard Makefile targets such as "dist" to generate a tar.gz distribution package, "all" to build the binaries, "clean" and "distclean" to clear generated stuff, etc. So it must have been supported by motor a long ago. Bad luck, I haven't got enough time to implement it before.

To use automake/autoconf with a project you write with motor, you are simply to set "makefile mode" to "automake" value on project creation. If you decided to migrate an existing one to automake, the option is accessible in the "project settings" dialog. It happens sometimes some of your's are accidentaly removed or broken. In this case motor has a facility to regenerate it. This can be achieved with selecting the "Project->Regen. build stuff" menu item. You might also need to change something in your's or All the files can be found in the "Build stuff" folder of the "Project files" dialog.

Gettext support

Another intresting feature motor 2.15.7 and later versions have. It's the gettext support. GNU gettext is a localization library designed specially to make Linux programs as well as other GNU software speak various languages. Any language can be supported just with putting a single file to the special directory.

Now, how it works with motor. Please note that it requires you to be quite familiar with gettext itself. You can turn on or off the feature with the "Use GNU gettext for internationalization" item either in the "Create a new project" window or in the "Project settings" dialog.

But turning the option on is not enough. Now you gotta create at least one translation file so gettext stuff is to be included into your project. For example, you are going to translate it into Russian (aren't you? :) yourself. Open the "Project files" dialog, and add a file named "po/ru.po" to the "Miscellaneous files" folder. As soon as the dialog is closed, all the necessary programs are ran and two directories are created. They are standard-named po/ and intl/.

Being familiar with GNU gettext you should know that to make a program be multi-lingual some code is to be added to its source. Usually it's done the following way.

// ...

#include <libintl.h>
#include <locale.h>
#define     _(c)     gettext(c)

// ...

int main() {
   // ...
   setlocale(LC_ALL, "");
   bindtextdomain("progname", "/usr/share/locale");

      // Actually the directory for translation files should
      // be specified in a more flexible way, but I left it
      // hard-coded just to keep things simple.

   // ...

Having done all of this you can easily add now .po's to the "Miscellaneous files" folder. If you use automake they will be compiled and installed automatically.

The magic functional Makefile

It was obvious previous versions of motor needed more and more flexibility. Growing amount of external GNU tools to be called, more complex scripts, you know. I though a little about how to group them. So I came up with a simple solution, to add a template for Makefile that does everything. Its name is Makefile.func and it's called to compile and clean the binaries and object files, to import files into CVS, to call a debuger, even to generate automake required files.

The output of Makefile.func is displayed every time the execution is performed. Actually it's quite customizable. If you don't want to see all of those annoying and chaotic messages, you can easily turn it off with the appropriate options in the "Motor settings" dialog. Options for compiler and CVS output are separated. So you can control both of them.

Java support

Since the 2.15.7 release motor supports Java. Actually it's not that deep and great Java support JBuilder has. Motor cannot even debug Java programs so far though it's planned. What it can about this nice language now is just to support its syntax and generate appropriable Makefiles with automake. Also motor calls java VM to run a program from the IDE.

First, you should have JDK. Also you will need path to your javac and java binaries present on your PATH environment variable. To create a Java program just follow the standard project creation procedure, don't forget to select the "terminal program/java" template for it. In the main class of your project (that what's the "Result file name" from the "Project settings" dialog points to) you should have the standard public static void main() method which is ran when you press F12. That's it.

Other nifty facilities

I was often bothered by the fact that gdb stepped inside the standard template library (STL) source when passing parameters of string type, lists, vectors and other stuff. That's why I decided to implement an option not to step inside the standard headers when debugging. You can control such a behaviour with the "Debug standard headers" option in the "Motor settings" dialog.

It happens from time you time you add some non-standard targets to the Makefile. I found motor not to be able to execute such ones. So now there is a "Make a target" item in the "Project" sub-menu. You can add any targets there that are executed from motor which shows their output.

Plans for the future releases

I'm frequently asked questions like this: "What are you planning to implement in the next release of motor?". Well, I will try to tell about the planned features here in brief.

CVS front-end improvement

While using my own made front-end for CVS with motor, I found something I can also need. Aside from checking in and out, viewing the file modification history and module releases, it would be really great to have a branching facility and ability to view diffs CVS can generate. That's what I plan to implement first of all.

Regexper tool

This small feature can be of interest for those who like regular expressions and use it in their everyday programming. This gonna be a dialog that allows to construct regexps, try matching to various strings specified and if everything is ok, give an ability for programmer to insert it into the source.

Sending signals to a program being run

Every time a program I write is being ran, looking at the motor screen I think why a developer cannot do anything there? So I think it's a good idea to add some functionality such as sending signals, and maybe doing something else instead of just reporting the program running.

About the Author

Konstantin "konst" Klyagin, lives in Kharkov, Ukraine. He is a 4th year student of the Kharkov State Polytechnical University, going to get his BS in System Analysis this year. Works as a programmer for the "Creative Data Desicions" company. Has got about 10 years overall programming expirience. Personal interests relate to computers, networking, programming, IT, Linux, digital innovations and also art, painting, history, politics, heavy music, girls, and having fun. Can be contacted at Konst's personal site URL is