Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Speed Up Your Compilation Times Part Two: Using ccache

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

In my last post I presented a technique for speeding up compilation times in a very limited number of a cases. The obvious question is then what about the rest of the time? Enter ccache. ccache is a compiler cache which is to say that if you request it to compile a file with the exact same preprocessor directives and compiler flags then the result from the cache will be used. I use this tool everyday and I highly recommend it.

For the nervous among you who are worried that ccache will produce results inconsistent with those from just using the compiler, I present this choice quote from the ccache site:

“The most important aspect of a compiler cache is to always produce exactly the same output that the real compiler would produce.”

If my recommendation and the assurances of the ccache site aren’t enough to convince you, I suggest you test it for yourself. I am positive you’ll find it works as advertised and that the decrease in compilation times will convince you to continue to use it.

Wings 3D

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

At some point during the development of your game you will need to create some artwork, even if most of the time it is just temporary. If you are working in 3d this task can be extremely daunting given that the user interfaces for most 3d modeling packages are slightly less than useful for a beginner. Maybe those interfaces are extremely intuitive and effective for those who model all day, every day but we just want something quick and dirty right? Enter our savior: Wings 3D.

Wings 3D is what is known as a subdivision modeler. Which is to say it is really easy to be effective quickly. I’m no artist but I can create some pretty cool stuff for mock ups using Wings 3D in no time at all. Give it a try and a little time. It might also help to check out some videos such as this simple one to give you an idea of how people model in Wings 3D. If that isn’t enough to convince you maybe this will: Wings 3D also has geek cred. It is written in Erlang and uses the winged edge data structure (this is the only place I’ve ever seen it explicitly mentioned outside of my computational geometry course).


Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

I often get asked by others how to get started with Linux and the command line when coming from a Windows background. This is typically because I am constantly telling developers they would be more effective if they did so. While this commonly happens, I still struggle to answer this question. Linux is not something I can easily recommend to someone with only Windows experience. Certainly, live CDs like Knoppix and distros like Ubuntu are slowly changing that but I still feel uncomfortable recommending jumping right into Linux. I simply do not want to be responsible for setting someone up for a bad experience with Linux.

That brings us to the point of this post: Cygwin. From the site: “Cygwin is a Linux-like environment for Windows.” Think of it as a way to get your feet wet with Linux without leaving your comfortable Windows. Training wheels, if you will. It will introduce you to most of the tools you’ll find at the command line under Linux and allow you to give them a test drive risk free. If you’re a developer who has only ever worked with tools on Windows, I can not fully express how much Cygwin can change your life and work for the better. I will openly admit that it will be work to become proficient at the command line but the productivity gains are definitely worth it.