Interview series: poy

This is one part of a blog series where influential people in Direct Connect are interviewed about the past, present and future state of Direct Connect.

poy is a developer known for his influence in the development of DC++ and ADCH++. He raised code base standards to a new high, made the UI library transition (in DC++) end up well, have been one of the main developers of DC++ and ADCH++, and more.

What follows are the questions I asked and the answers he gave.

  • What made and when did you start with Direct Connect?

About 8 years ago, back when all I knew of P2P was eMule, KaZaA, Limewire, emerging torrents and other faceless global file sharing solutions, a friend of mine told me about this great gem he had just found, where getting into servers depends upon how well and how much you share yourself.

  • When did you start with the development of DC++?

Looking into the changelog, my first patches landed in version 0.695, released 5 years ago. Before that, I had been spending most of my C++ coding time modding my own version of DC++.

  • What made you interested in the development of DC and DC++?

DC has a unique set of communities that care about sharing in a sense that I fully appreciate. It is therefore always a pleasure to look into its inner workings.

Being reverse-engineered, the initial DC protocol has always left me with a slightly bitter feeling, thus getting me to look for a better, more future-proof alternative. Fortunately, by the time I got interested in that, ADC was already on its way up. It was however far from perfect, especially with regards to the lack of hub programs available. This has led to a constant state of motion, ideas, achievements which quickly appealed to me.

For DC++ specifically, I enjoy its use of many modern programming constructs, its large user base and the fact that there are still so many things to do with it.

  • You are one of the main developers for DC++; What are your goals and ideas?

One of my primary goals is and has always been to be able to replace the mod I used to develop a while ago, which included various features I have yet to see in any other DC client so far. This includes a more evolved chatting facility, configuration for each hub or each hub group, various UI fanciness…

I have many ideas but mostly smaller, short-term ones, such as (just dropping some from my todo list) ways to filter lists with Regular expressions, using the binary and/or city databases of GeoIP, adding right-click accelerators similar to those in Internet Explorer

One untold goal of the UI library that DC++ is using (formerly SmartWin++, now DWT for “DC++ Widget Toolkit”) is to support more than just Windows and to be released separately. Knowing of other applications than DC++ that are able to use DWT would be quite an accomplishment.

Another ongoing goal is to keep DC++ on top of the latest changes in C++ standards. The C++ committee has been quite productive these last few years.

  • You are also involved with the development of ADCH++; What are your goals and ideas?

My ultimate goal for ADCH++ would be a hub that anyone can easily configure, yet expert users can still enjoy. I believe the latter part to be close to reality right now; the former, however, is not quite so according to the feedback we are getting. A GUI would be most welcome. One was in development at one point but it seems to have halted; I hope it gets picked up again.

Aside from that, I consider ADCH++ to be quite complete; its author has made a wonderful job with it. A few features may not yet be available but they are all doable with plugins / scripts, so that doesn’t really fall on ADCH++ itself.

  • Do you have any goals and ideas with the further expansion of NMDC and/or ADC?

I hope ADC can provide a fully secure environment; it is already possible to encrypt ADC traffic, but that doesn’t mean it is completely secure.

I hope ADC can reach a state comparable to other Internet protocols such as HTTP, FTP, etc.

I have been wondering about an ADC extension idea that I would call HFAV, where clients would send the hub addresses they know about to hubs, which in turn would poll all the addresses they have gathered, regularly ping them and dispatch the results to any client that requests them.

  • What other DC projects are you involved in, and what are your goals and ideas with those?

I have written DCBouncer mostly for my own use: it stays connected on a server I own and simulates a presence on some hubs, gathering chat messages (including private ones); then when i log back in, it forwards them to me. Usage scenarios are multiple: logging, hiding one’s actual IP, perhaps in the future even share directly from the server…

  • What do you think will attract more users of DC in general? Would that be desirable?

Internet ads praising the DC idea would, in my opinion, be a great way to attract users. Another is to troll P2P forums.

The main reason I like DC is its elitist philosophy: the better and the faster you share, the more likely you are to get invited to better hubs with users with a better sharing quality. If I wanted some kind of global server where anyone could enter, I would prefer the programs previously mentioned. That is the reason I am not a fan of hubs that strive for a maximum amount of users and disregard the community aspect; and especially why i dislike the DHT feature that some clients have implemented as DHT is taking that idea of faceless hubs to an extreme.

The stuff one can find on global P2P networks / faceless hubs is very different than what is available in elitist DC communities. I believe luring users of the former category into DC would not necessarily be beneficial; it would be more interesting to strive for those who are likely to contribute to the very unique DC sharing spirit.

  • Would you change anything with DC, DC++, ADC etc if you could?

All the ideas I have had so far have been quite realistic; I guess I tend to unconsciously discard those I couldn’t be able to implement myself.

  • How much time do you spend on DC development?

This depends a lot on real life, other Internet groups I frequent and the motivation I have to accomplish a particular task. At times I have spent 6 hours straight; other times, just 15 minutes to do an otherwise awesome change. I try to at least check what’s up once a day or once a week on busy weeks.

  • What would cause you to spend more time with development?

An awesome idea that would have many code ramifications; or a crazily hard-to-find bug.

  • What was the most difficult thing you have done with DC?

I would be tempted to mention the recent crash logger, which led me to fully read the libdwarf, DWARF 2 and PE/COFF documentations. This was a unique achievement so I had no example on how to go about it at first. But in retrospect, this wasn’t quite that difficult.

The hardest thing I can remember is having to track down bug 590651. It was a leak of a graphic object that resulted in all debug reports being useless. We ended up having to ask some testers to run several versions of the program at the same time to try to figure out a scheme to the crash, until one postulated that they were related to the amounts of hub disconnects received by the program. That wasn’t much to go on from but I eventually figured it may have been related to tab icon changes on disconnects. Although the fix was trivial, pinpointing the bug was quite the hardship.

  • What was the most important thing you have done with DC?

I am quite proud of the DC++ window manager, which restores the session to the way it was before the program was closed. This goes with the menu of recent windows in the toolbar.

  • What was the most fun thing you have done with DC?

Hard to say, it’s always fun and a unique sensation of accomplishment that only a developer can know of. :) But I guess ADCH++-PtokaX is pretty fun in its own ironic way.

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