The new emerging NLE for GNU/Linux
State Final
Date Fr 05 Oct 2018 15:05:58 CET
Proposed by Ichthyostega <>

Change the names of the three Layers into Stage, Steam and Vault.


The Lumiera code base is organised into three software layers, which is considered adequate. However, the names we use for these layers, the way they emerged during the early days of Lumiera, are not really convincing, given our current understanding of the architecture. We treat the layers as a conceptual grouping device, yet as such they are not entities within the architecture — the actual entities are the subsystems. Each of the existing layer names is ill-guiding do some degree.


The graphical user interface seems an obvious pick for a desktop application. However, there could be a command line interface alongside, and there will be a script runner. These might even be active simultaneously. And even within a classical GUI, there is more than just a bunch of widgets: there is some kind of presentation model, there is presentation state and there is a binding and communication facility to connect to the lower layers. So clearly the “upper layer” is more than just a GUI, it involves some kind of backstage machinery.


The name implies processing; we might conclude the video is rendered here, while in fact, only metadata is processed and transformed within this layer. Everything revolves around the tension between two models, a user domain model, and a technical processing domain model. Overall, this layer is much akin to a language compiler — and if you ever encountered the internals of such a compiler, it always remains somewhat nebulous where and when the actual magic happened.


We all know database backends, distributed storage and graph processing backends. The name implies the backend can be switched, and the application is meant to be backend technology agnostic. And while certainly true — Lumiera is not tied to any media processing framework — this is rather not what happens in our Backend layer. Rather, you’ll find a very specific processing core and intricate input/output adaptation pipelines, operating within a highly conditioned environment, deep down and shielded from the outside world.

The proposal is thus to abandon those conventional names, and replace them by some artificial, yet evocative terms: Stage — Steam — Vault


  • find convincing new names (✔ done)

  • update and add documentation (✔ done)

  • adjust source folders and namespaces (✔ done)

  • adjust build system and library names (✔ done)

  • fix textual usage in code and documentation (✔ done)



  • the new names are strange and distinct enough to stick

  • they allude the bombastic vibes of magic, theatre and horror movie

  • each can be linked to a quality actually present in the code base, between the lines

  • the names are compact and of equal length (5 letters)

  • they sort close together in the alphabet, and in proper order

  • all names are one-syllable, and yield a smooth cadence


  • bikeshedding

  • wasting brain cycles on mere names.

  • changing those names now, in a code base > 100 kLOC, is a lot of work

  • GUI, processing and backend are well established computing terms

  • just by themselves, those new names don’t imply what they are


Instead of fancy names, we could try to find precise, descriptive names

  • interaction layer

  • translation layer

  • adaptation layer

However, experience shows that most people perceive a repulse towards abstraction and prefer not to use a concept at all, over using a concept that feels involved. Sweet names can be used as bait to get new concepts into circulation.

Another alternative would be do downgrade the importance of the layers altogether, and to rely primarily on the subsystems. Each subsystem would then use its own namespace, and reside in a separate subdirectory. The net effect would be to flatten the architecture hierarchy altogether.

However, the author of this RfC rejects that idea, because it means to loosen the “architectural grip”. Lumiera is supposed to become a heavyweight and complex system, and thus needs a strong presence of architecture, not just a weak pro-forma ordering scheme. In the extreme, we could end up with subsystems as plug-ins, floating in an amorphous soup where each part calls and uses what seems to fit. We had a battle revolving around that architectural idea, and we turned towards building a monolith, because building a monolith is heavy-going, not snappy.

Finally, there is always the alternative not to care at all and continue with the detail work. This is fine, yet at some point we’ll face the necessity to explain our structures to other people, and then the names do matter.


Better now than never; changing and readjusting such fundamental structures becomes harder with every line of code added. The existing names are a half-way misfit, and the new names at least mitigate the situation.

And, after all, it is not a problem to paint the bikeshed. In fact, you should do so, to show you care for your stuff. The problem is to discuss the colour of the bikeshed. Thus I exploit the opportunity to pull this off, without having to consult anyone, since — right now — I am working alone on the code base.


Mail Thread
Subject: Re: Aw: Re: Session
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2018 10:29:11 +0200
From: Benny Lyons <>
To: Ichthyostega <>
 > On 14.09.2018 22:37, Ichthyostega wrote:
 > Du bringst hier einen Punkt zur Sprache, der mir auch schon länger durch den
 > Kopf geht, Benny. Eigentlich sind die Namen für unsere Layer etwas "daneben".
 > Sie sind nicht wirklich gut. Zum einen klingen sie etwas dröge (vor allem
 > "Proc"), und etwas, mit dem man so viel arbeitet, sollte doch auch inspirieren ;-)
 > Ein anderer Ansatz, der mit auch immer mal wieder durch den Kopf geht,
 > ist, ob wir nicht sogar metaphorische, oder symbolische Namen wählen sollten.
 > Etwas, was man vielleicht auch nicht gleich versteht, was aber die Phantasie
 > anregt. Meine Favoriten wären da (Du weißt, was für Filme ich mag....)
 > - Stage
 > - Steam
 > - Vault

Die finde ich sogar gut, sogar sehr gut. Warum nicht! Wenn wir die Meinug sind, dass wir keine zutreffende Beschreibung in einem Wort finden können! “Stage” wurde erfogreich in Git von “Index Area” umgenannt. Stage und Vault sind sehr gut, Steam obwohl gut, erreicht nicht die Hohe von Stage und Vault, meiner Meingung nach. Können wir etwas finden die eine Verbindung zwischen Stage und Vault herstellt, sowas wie Backstage (wollen wir natürlich nicht), Make-up, Props, … alles natürlich nicht gut, aber Du weisst was ich meine.

Aber Du sprichst eine sehr guten Punkt an. Mit “Backend” könnte jeder etwas darunter vorstellen, aber “Proc Layer” war nicht besonders gut. Hmm! ist aber wichtig, das können wir nicht nur hier machen. ABER übliche Namen, die im alten Schneiderraum benutzt wurden, müssen immer fanatisch eingesetzt werden. Alte Profis müssen sich sofort wohl finden.

State → Final

This is not really a “RfC”, to be honest. Rather I am pulling this off now. I am working solitary on the coding, which has the benefit that I can settle such global matters without much further ado…


2018-11-15 19:38:32 +0100 <>