> < ^ Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 10:47:00 +0000
> < ^ From: Steve Linton <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk >
> < ^ Subject: Re: Workshop on GAP internals?

Jean Michel proposed two things:

1) more documentation of the kernel
2) a workshop on "GAP internals"

I will take them one at a time:


Documentation is an issue that is already being discussed as preparation of
GAP 4 and preparations for the move to St. Andrews get underway. The present
manual is an excellent reference manual, and we certainly intend that it
should continue. We are, however, considering a number of other areas that
should be addressed by documentation. Amongst these are:

a) Various tutorial manuals for users;
b) An "advanced" programming manual;
c) Coding standards for kernel, library and share package code;
d) Documentation for the internal interfaces, conventions and practices.

As Andries remarks, keeping documentation up-to-date is always a problem, and
it is certainly better to have sparse but accurate documentation, together
with well-commented code, than voluminous documents which are wrong.

We are very open to suggestions for the structure, format and content of new
GAP documentation, as well as offers of assistance.


I can see two functions for a "GAP internals workshop". Firstly, it would be
an opportunity for the GAP developers to provide "advanced" instruction and
guidance to the more experienced users and application developers. Some of us
have been lucky enough to spend time in Aachen getting individual support, but
a workshop might be a way to instruct more people more thoroughly for less
investment of the developers time. Secondly, a workshop would be an
opportunity to provide intensive feed-back. Andrew Mathas made a couple of
suggestions within this thread.

The question of timing is a rather delicate one. The basic shape of GAP 4 is
now set, but many details are still malleable. If the workshop is too early
then instruction given might be obsolete before the system is released, while
if it is too late, feedback could not be acted on (at least for version 4.1,
there will be more versions).

My provisional view (and I am quite happy to be persuaded otherwise) is that
the correct time for such a meeting is probably quite close to the release of
GAP 4.1, so that the instructional side of the workshop would have something
solid to work with. Such a meeting, featuring users with substantial GAP
applications and experience might also provide valuable beta-testing for the
new system. This leaves the feed-back question slightly adrift, but (a) there
will be releases after 4.1 and (b) there is always the GAP-forum.

Steve Linton

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