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XEmacs 21.4 Release Status

Last Update: 29 November 2001

OK, at long last I've done the ``Real Update'' promised for months.

See the release announcements for the change history of XEmacs 21.4.

Last Status Update: 29 November 2001

We are now down to a very few issues that need to be resolved before XEmacs 21.4 is promoted to stable. At that point, XEmacs 21.1 will be retired. We expect this to occur early in the first quarter of 2002.

Please help us test!


The current gamma test version is 21.4.5. Currently known bugs and their statuses are in Bug Status.

Also see the planning document and the individual feature pages (linked from there). Caution: These have not been updated recently. They will be enough for a general introduction.

Synopsis of Current Important Issues

Improved syntax tables

Some languages with crufty baroque syntax (you guessed it, Perl) require ``modal'' support for their constructs even within a single buffer, or syntax highlighting and indentation is rather crude.

The implementation of local syntax tables has been a success as far as Perl modes are concerned, but evidently causes problems for C-related modes and Python.

Customization, especially faces

A number of issues plague the Customize subsystem. The inability to set non-ISO-8859 fonts with Customize will not be satisfactorily resolved for 21.4, at least not for the next few patchlevels. Currently on several platforms, setting some components of a face with Customize may make it impossible to adjust others. This will probably be resolved quickly, or at least workarounds will be provided with a full resolution in the medium term (late first quarter 2002).

There are deeper problems with the popup menus on MS Windows, which for some systems but not others makes them entirely unusable. Andy Piper is investigating.

``Native'' widget support

The native widget support is fully integrated at the base level, and is automatically used, when available, in Custom buffers. There remain some problems with complex widgets, at least on the Athena Widgets platforms.

More seriously, the progress bar is associated with crashes in some cases.

The buffers tab control widget flashes on some platforms. This may be associated with insufficient preemption of redisplay as new expose events arrive.

Integration of XEmacs/GTK with the main line

GTK is not yet really an ``issue'' as far as the core team is concerned, but very frequently asked about.

XEmacs/GTK has been integrated with the mainline source since before the release of 21.4.0. The configuration script defaults to --with-gtk=no on all platforms. If you find some instability, and a fair number of missing or buggy features acceptable return for the latest and flashiest version, configure it with --with-gtk=yes.

It builds and runs, but it must be considered experimental. The core development team has very little time to spend on GTK issues, and cannot respond to GTK-related requests in a timely fashion. Les Schaffer used to maintain a GTK XEmacs bugs page (it disappeared between June and October 2004) for enthusiasts.


Discussion of the development process, bugs, etc will take place on the XEmacs Beta Testers mailing list xemacs-beta. (Occasional short progress reports will be posted to the comp.emacs.xemacs newsgroup.) To subscribe to xemacs-beta (or any XEmacs-related mailing list), visit http://www.xemacs.org/Lists/ or send an e-mail message to xemacs-beta-request@xemacs.org with `subscribe' (without the quotes) as the body of the message.

The tester versions are available, as all XEmacs stable and development code is, by anonymous CVS and anonymous FTP. Procedures for download and testing, and testing objectives and priorities, are described in a separate document, XEmacs Pre-release Tester Guidelines. Please bookmark it and refer to it often, as the objectives and priorities will change.


Additional detail is provided in the release plan.

December 19:

The draft proposal was submitted to the board, and ``people with projects'' were asked for detailed status reports.

January 2:

A revised draft was posted on www.xemacs.org, along with a RFC to xemacs-beta. Some projects demoted to ``planned for future release.''

January 9:

Feature freeze announced.

January 11:

Public announcement.

February 1:

Decide details of default configuration for prerelease versions, and schedule of changes, if any.

February 7:

Open new development branch in CVS. Weekly tarballs that build and run from now until release. Bug/issue list updated at least weekly.

Code expected to be complete. Interim reports from PWPs; triage the features. Reports emphasize known issues for testers to bang on.

Announce explicit testing goals (bugs, issues, features) to xemacs-beta. Update frequently.

February 15:

Final reports from taskmasters: code complete and design bugs cleared. Triage features not meeting this criterion.

April 15 (original proposal: March 1):

"Release" 21.4.0 as "gamma"; move devel code to trunk as 21.5, open 21.4 as new stable branch, branch 21.1 off trunk. 21.1 will continue to be supported as the "stable" branch, with continuing active work on bugfixes in both 21.4.x and 21.1.x, until:

2002 January (? original proposal: April 2):

Acceptance of 21.4.x as stable by Vin; mothball 21.1. (Ie, 21.1 support will be limited to fixing showstoppers.)


The following individuals are specifically responsible for some planned part of this release.

Role players
Stephen Turnbull, 21.4 Release Manager (water boy)
Martin Buchholz, Beta Release Maintainer (general plumbing)
Vin Shelton, Stable Release Maintainer (final acceptance)
Feature creatures
Steve Baur
Martin Buchholz
Olivier Galibert
Yoshiki Hayashi
Bill Perry
Andy Piper
Hisashi Miyashita
Michael Sperber
Matt Tucker
Jan Vroonhof
Ben Wing
Kirill Katsnelson
Special mention
Steve Youngs, Packages Maintainer (the real XEmacs, into which this release will drop seamlessly)
Adrian Aichner, for the homepage design and (with Martin Buchholz) SourceForge CVS-to-web implementation---the primary means for keeping you up-to-date.

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