To someone that hasn't gone deep in MAME design and how it has evolved over the years, being a single exe, looks monolithic and less "modern".
There are other multi-emulation attempts, the prefer the use of "cores".
Of course in reality MAME is super-modular in almost its entirety. The single exe just hides that.
This has advantages and disadvantages.
- A single package is usually more portable.
- A single package is cleaner (*).
- A single package forces the update of all critical components (that cooperate), at once.
- External modules allow the evolution of separate components independently of core system.
- External modules organized in folders are cleaner (*).
- External modules allow for easy customization.
- External modules allow for partial implementation (for example someone might just want to use the components that make up Atari home consoles and nothing else - something that now can only be done with customized compilation).
(*) Yes, both, depending who you ask.
I wonder how easy it would be either switch to a design where modules are external (for example a folder with "CPU", a folder for "peripheral IC", a folder "storage peripherals" or whatever - all with separate libraries -, even a folder "machine" that each file describes the set of components from other folders needed to comprise the machine and its variations), or be able to use when those exist (over the internal). After all MAME already supports plenty of folders for its content.
To clear things out, I am not asking anything to be done NOR saying one is better than the other - I just wonder if this has been discussed and what is the current team's "take" on the matter - just a subject for casual discussion.