Compiler Explorer Road Map
CE was started in 2012 to serve my needs at my company in terms of showing how
C++ constructs translated to assembly code. It started out as a
tmux session with
vi running in one
watch gcc -S foo.cc -o - running in the other. Since those days it's now a public website
serving the C++, Rust, Go and D communities and performs around 20,000 compilations per day.
This document is an attempt to capture thoughts on the future direction of Compiler Explorer.
Areas to improve
Mobile client support
CE's UI doesn't work well with mobile clients. The editor doesn't work well on many mobile clients, and the layout doesn't lend itself well to small screens.
Ideas for improving mobile support include automatically folding up all the panes into a single tab upon detection of a mobile client. This would require a bunch of fixes in the underlying UI library as this doesn't properly work with mobile and tabs.
Perhaps a read-only simplified view would work better: the main reason one brings up the CE website is to look at tweeted links rather than author content.
The UI has a number of things that need improving:
- Multiple editor windows
- Saving and restoring from browser-local storage
- Handling the loss of data if one has a work-in-progress CE window open and then clicks another CE link.
A frequently requested feature is to be able to diff output. A large patch was provided by @Voxelf which helped spur on the development of the new UI, but the diff view he created has yet to be merged. There's a possibility that moving to the Monaco editor will not only give a better editing experience, but also bring pretty much free diff windows out of the box.
Another big ticket item is to allow executing of the user's code. This is fraught with security issues, and brings up a number of UI and API considerations. Compiling code every time to execute with different params seems wasteful, so caching seems good; but in a multi-instance setup a shared cache woudl be needed. Perhaps a backend system that caches the executables (and makes them downloadable; at least for some compilers where license allows), and stores the binaries in ephemeral, shared storage. This same backend system could also be used to store code, and could be part of a whole new way of sending and sharing code (if made permanent storage).
Support more compilers
Most of the open tickets are to do with adding new compilers, or fixing issues with existing compilers. Continuing to add more compilers and make it easier for others to submit PRs to add new compilers is very important.
There's an inherent tension between the standalone, run-it-yourself version of CE and the scalable, AWS-backed CE instance. Care must be taken to keep the standalone version usable, not least as the majority of CE's development is done on a laptop during a commute (with little or no internet access).
Above all, the priority is to keep the main CE site up, stable and dependable. After that, features are added honestly in the order that is most useful and interesting to the primary developer (Matt Godbolt).
CE will remain ad-free, open-source and non-commercial. There's no plans at all to add "freemium" content.
With all this in mind, the tentative goals for 2017 are:
- Move to the Monaco editor
- Implement diff view
- Come up with a decent secure solution for code execution
- Design an API that can handle remote code execution and download needs
- Implement remote execution UIs
These goals will be refined as time ticks on.