If you are following the Capistrano preview releases, you may have noticed a new dependency. Capistrano now depends on HighLine, an open source input library by yours truly.
The reason for the switch is that Capistrano needed a reliable way to grab passwords in a cross-platform way. That turns out to be a lot harder than you might guess. On Unix, termios can make short work of such challenges, but that’s an extra C extension install and it doesn’t work on Windows.
HighLine combines the knowledge of several platform gurus to use the right solutions in the right place. Even with all that knowledge as an advantage Capistrano’s maintainer, Jamis Buck, still had concerns. termios can’t be made a HighLine dependency, since we want to stay cross-platform and when defaulting to stty HighLine was a little flaky for the way Capistrano users might need it. Jamis and I discussed these concerns and HighLine was patched with better support for Capistrano’s needs. Jamis later added the dependency and HighLine benefited from another round of expert knowledge.
It still impresses me how much we can accomplish with the super friendly open source model of development. Thanks for the input Jamis!