Phil Hassey - game dev blog
Phil Hassey as Rambo
".. I've been there,
I know what it's like,
and I'll do it again if I have to."

Keeping code small

I’ve been working on a re-write of my pygame based gui PGU. I found, that as PGU grew larger I was less inclined to maintain it. It became harder to add new features and harder to maintain existing ones. At present, PGU is pretty stable, but it’s also pretty large and likely not going to change.

While working on Galcon, I added the ability for users to add their own python mods to the game. I wanted to give the users the ability to add their own option screens using a simple gui system, which, just for giggles, I decided to make sure it was less than 32k of code. After I had written this system “” it occurred to me that not only was the API simpler than PGU it also had most of the features PGU had! (As well as quite a few PGU didn’t have.) My simple 32k was rivaling my 250k pgu.gui!

I came up with a theory of sorts: “Any useful library can be written in 64k or less.” Of course, I wouldn’t swear by that, but I figured I’d give it a try. I’m working on getting more functionality than PGU had into my new PUG library. So far so well, I’m keeping the <= 32k and the <= 8k. So far I have a cleaner API with more features than the original PGU. However, keeping it smaller than 32k requires me to make quite a few trade-offs. I can't have all the features I included in PGU. The real challenge now is deciding “is this feature important for almost all games, or is it a bit frivolous” … I’m sort of cheating by putting those frivolous widgets into a contrib/ folder. At the same time, it’s helping me keep the core small and maintainable. Anything found in the contrib/ folder may very well be quite useful, but I can also claim it is unsupported and not have to worry about it.

My arbitrary rules for PUG development:

  • the code in pug/ must be <= 64k
  • <= 32k
  • <= 8k
  • code must be readable
  • names must be readable
  • use 4 spaces for tabs
  • must include complete docstrings

A number of those rules are in place to keep me from “cheating” to get the file smaller. I hope to wrap up a useable version today .. and then begin working on my pyweek entry!

If anyone is brave and wants to try the alpha: svn://


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