Sunday, February 5, 2012

The library of babel

If you haven't heard of that library, I recommend that you go and read the short story by that name ASAP, pronto, on the double, etc. etc.

This post however is one of a series, where I will document the creation of my own utility library in C++.


One of the biggest and most important steps in creating software, whether a product or a framework is to name it properly, such that it makes some sense. A recursive acronym as the name is even better.

Since this library will contain everything (in terms of code that I ever needed in more than one project), I call it babel - To expand the recursive acronym - Babel Attempts Being Everything Literally
I don't intend anyone except me to use it, it's my little toolbox to do things the way I want them done.

It will be a heterogeneous collection of classes and modules which will include stuff extending the STL, wrappers and helpers for OpenGL, CUDA, COM, Directshow and DES.
Stuff for Data compression, Image and text handling, machine learning and so on.

Whatever I feel I want to include! Anything and Everything.


Why one more library? Especially since there is Loki and Boost and QT and what not, written by far more smarter programmers?

For several reasons :
  • Writing a high quality library in C++ is a great exercise to improve coding and abstraction skills. Especially since we have C++11 now and the game is changing fast.
  • If an existing powerful library like boost does not do exactly what I wish, it is probably beyond my capability to modify it to do so. And much less fun studying and meddling with existing code, than writing it from scratch.
  • There are some things --some trivial and some not-- that BABEL is planned to implement that no one anywhere else seems to have implemented. BABEL will be like my own personal workshop - the set of things it will do is probably not present in any one single library. And piecing together parts from different libraries in a program seems very inelegant sometimes.


Essentially with MS Visual Studio 2010, using as many C++0x/11 features that I can use to make the code modern.
The NVCC CUDA compiler also figures in the mix.

My process for developing features, is to look at a very common task that I often code in my projects, and make an abstraction for that.
Then I look at how to generalize that and match it to the other parts that already exist.
I keep repeating this process, sometimes rewriting and extending older code to match the newer stuff better.
Once in a while I refactor, and try to see how each class or module could utilize the others.


I started building parts of this about a year ago, and there are numerous fragments of useful code that I have in diverse locations, from several years back, which I will slowly assimilate into this.

The idea is after a point, there is such a good toolkit that my projects become a snap to write and I have more time to extend the library.


I'll eventually put up a git repository on github, hopefully at least parts of it will be of interest to others.
I will post about the design and implementation of various parts of it on this blog, as I make progress...

1 comment: