Interactive GUI Shell

by Miguel de Icaza

This week at the Microsoft PDC I showed gsharp, our GUI repl for the C# 3.0 language, a tool that I had previously talked about.

Before the PDC we copied an idea from Owen's great reinteract shell where we provide our REPL with a mechanism to turn objects into Gtk.Widgets which we then insert.

Out of the box we support System.Drawing.Bitmap images, we turn those into Gtk Widgets that then we render:

I also added a toy Plot command that can take a number of lambdas that return floats to do some cute plots. The plots are just rendered into a System.Drawing.Bitmap so they get painted on the screen automatically:

But you can add your own handlers for any data types you want, all you have to do is call RegisterTransformHandler with a function that can return a Gtk.Widget based on an input object, or null if it does not know how to render it.

The implementation to render images is very simple, this is the implementation:

using System;

public class MyRenderHelpers {
	public static object RenderBitmaps (object o)
		System.Drawing.Bitmap bitmap = o as System.Drawing.Bitmap;
		if (bitmap == null)
			return null;

		return new BitmapWidget (bitmap);

You can put your own library of helper methods in a compiled assembly in ~/.config/gsharp, and then register all of your types from a file ending with the extension .cs in ~/.config/gsharp:

RegisterTransformHandler (MyRenderHelpers.RenderBitmaps);

And you are done.

The above could be used for example to create all kinds of information visualizers for the GUI REPL. I would love to see a LINQ query navigator, similar to the one in LinqPad.

Update: A one line change that brings gsharp into the new millenium by rendering `true' and `false' with icons instead of text:

Posted on 02 Nov 2008