[squeak-dev] Re: Physical Etoys released!

Bert Freudenberg bert at freudenbergs.de
Thu Mar 4 12:23:08 UTC 2010

On 03.03.2010, at 00:42, Ricardo Moran wrote:
> I might be missing something obvious here, but why is FFI forbidden in Etoys? Is it a matter of security?

Yes. One of the advantages of having a Virtual Machine is that you can be quite sure what the code running in it can and can not do. It has a pretty narrow interface to the "outer system". By allowing FFI that interface widens to all the libraries on the system, which means all bets are off.

Additionally, FFI calls are highly platform-specific, whereas Etoys projects are supposed to work on any platform.

> Regarding the "generic hardware-interface plugin", I think it would be great to have something like that but don't you think the underlying platforms are very much incompatible with each other?

That's the point of having plugins - they are an extension of the Virtual Machine. Just like the VM itself, they present an abstraction to the code inside the image. The actual implementation can differ a lot across platforms (and often does) but the image doesn't have to care.

So, that generic plugin would present all its actual hardware to the user as a collection of abstract input or output ports. There only need to be a few functions:

- get number of available ports (1 to n)
- get label of a port (just a string to be used in the UI, possibly hierarchical)
- get the kind (input/output) of a port
- get value range (min/max/step) for a port
- open a port for actual use
- read data from an open input port
- write data to an open output port
- close a port

If there is hardware that wouldn't fit into that framework it can be extended of course, but it seems it could cover a lot, no?

- Bert -

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