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News in brief

By Chris Williams. Published: 8th Aug 2005, 18:53:46 | Permalink | Printable

South East show, Cybervillage plans plus software news

We've received word that the South East RISC OS show, usually held in Guildford, will take place this year on October 22nd. Booking forms should be in the post to previous exhibitors sometime soon. Last year's event saw VirtualRiscPC running on Linux, and the launch of Geminus amongst other things.

Updated Cybervillage layoutThe RISC OS Cybervillage, or just 'The Cybervillage' as it now prefers to be known, is gearing up for a relaunch on August 15th. Editor Dave Bradforth says he has rounded up five volunteers who will be aiming to update the site daily with ebay links, news, features and reviews. So far the website has seen a mild facelift and will eventually move over to using separate pages per article.

On the subject of media, we've learnt that Qercus issue 276 is currently at the printers. The monthly magazine has so far managed to post 3 issues to subscribers this year. Meanwhile, disc based magazine RiscWorld has compiled a DVD edition, which features an archive of the past five years of RiscWorld. The disc also includes a search application to help readers locate those more elusive articles.

Stewart Brookes, author of the Easi/Techwriter and Artworks mini-button bars, has created a new toolbar for RiScript. "If you've always wanted buttons in RiScript for 'Export as PDF/Draw/Text', or a shortcut to open the generated fonts folder, then 'RiScrptBar' is just for you. Yes, you," quipped Stewart. "It makes the perfect companion for version 5 of RiScript (though will work with older flavours too). Pick it up now, while stocks last."

MW Software has told its Artworks 2 users that adding an 'export to PDF' feature may not be possible. Martin Wuerthner commented, "This has been on my list for a long time, but it would be very expensive to implement - judging from the 2.4 sales figures, I do not think it could be economically justified." The current maintainer of Photodesk, Niklaus Weiss, has said he's currently investigating memory access bugs in the bitmap graphics package. Niklaus says he's being careful to fix faults, rather than introducing new ones. He added, "When the memory access problems are solved and the bugs are fixed, I will consider about some little improvements on Photodesk. Please understand, that I do not want to promise too much. In my opinion it is better to promise nothing, but to do the best though."


News? Comments?

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I find Martin Wuerthner's comment thought provoking.

I guess all software developers face a dilema over how much time to invest in enhancing existing software as opposed to creating new product.

And, of course, it's quite possible that more financially rewarding opportunities outside of RISC OS altogether come along to steal a developer away from the platform.

I reminds me of a David Pilling comment, quite some time ago, about how he realised there was a point at which an existing product was best left alone for a while and a new project developed instead.

A lot of ArtWorks users will be disappointed it ArtWorks has hit this situation. Or, perhaps, it is just that PDF support, in particlar, is difficult and time consuming to add.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 8/8/05 9:25PM
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I was keenly waiting for the Export to PDF but, perversely, the export directly to JPEG that Martin *has* added mostly satisfied me. I realised that I just wanted a widely-readable, compact output.

Now this is not the ideal, vector output that PDF represents but it suffices for my needs. In the future, of course, we may get PDF through another route (RiScript).

So, hands up those who would be keen for Martin to add some new and fancy graphic effects to AW instead. I think it might be time for some flashy front-end things instead of good solid "back end" engineering.

For those who have not looked closely at AW lately, it has evolved a lot in AW2 form. Martin has added a number of very useful facilities, like very flexible text block handling (not to mention transparency) and fixed a *lot* of bugs. It's not cheap but it's a very serious tool that produces high quality output.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 8/8/05 9:48PM
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What is this nonsense about "leaving an application alone" about and which "situation" has ArtWorks "hit"? There are hundreds of feature suggestions and it should be obvious that not all of them can be implemented. In the quoted comment I have replied to one specific feature request made on the ArtWorks mailing list. This is a perfectly normal situation - I have commented in similar ways on dozens of other feature suggestions in the past.

Besides, the above wording "MW Software have told its ArtWorks 2 users" in the editorial is misleading. Making a comment on the mailing list is very different from "telling my customers" - the latter would happen in an official newletter or a press release.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 8/8/05 10:27PM
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I may have missed a trick here, but presumably using the recent PDF printing solutions for RISC OS and then printing to a file isn't entirely satisfactory - I'm thinking of comments Martin has made in the past especially in respect of color and bitmap conversion through the printing system.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 8/8/05 10:57PM
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I could not decide whether this was on- or off-topic. Having had some inconsistent results with ps2pdf, and not knowing when Riscript would arise anew, I found that my already-installed UniPrint could send RO output to Adobe Distiller in Acrobat on a PC. Not elegant perhaps, but accurate readable .pdf files result. Perhaps AW2 can be enticed to produce pdf files in this way also, for the cost of Acrobat.

 is a RISC OS Userhexa0503 on 9/8/05 12:22AM
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In reply to wuerthne:

Thanks for the clarification - I and, I guess, the article stand corrected.

(And am perfectly happy that that should be so)

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 9/8/05 12:39AM
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Your "solution" using UniPrint does not really help much because all it does is create a gigantic bitmap, which is then wrapped in a PDF by Acrobat. You could do just as good using the TIFF export in ArtWorks. You can do much, much better under RISC OS already by creating a PostScript file and feeding that through GhostScript (ps2pdf), RiScript or even Acrobat. Steven Fryatt's nice PDFPrinter utility allows you to create PDF files using a printer driver (it uses GhostScript).

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 8:16AM
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Yes, you are fully right. There are various things that no other output format supports, most notably *masked sprites, *CMYK colours and *all transparency types offered by ArtWorks - the three most irritating limitations in PostScript. Direct PDF export would solve all these problems at once. It is the only format that can produce a 100% accurate vector representation of an ArtWorks file.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 8:19AM
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Sorry, two mistakes in my reply to hexa0503: It should have read "Stephen Fryatt's nice PrintPDF utility".

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 8:23AM
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Of course, there's nothing stopping someone else doing their own Artworks2PDF. Sure, it might not be as nice as an integrated feature, and it might take longer if someone else did it, but it could be done. And if it was, then in time, Martin might be persuded to integrate it.

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 9/8/05 10:09AM
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Out of interest, are the features you cite not supported by SVG?

I always had high hopes for SVG, but unfortunately it still doesn't seem to be widely supported (outside of RISC OS even).

Is there any sensible way, for example, to include an ArtWorks file in a Word document?

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 9/8/05 10:21AM
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It is practically impossible for anyone else to do an external ArtWorks2PDF utility.


SVG only supports RGB colours and SVG only supports "Mix" transparency. Besides, font mapping is a nightmare in SVG, so even if you have got the same fonts on the target system they are not guaranteed to be used. The only thing SVG does from the above list is proper support for masked sprites (again, RGB only).

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 11:29AM
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You can include any file in a word document..using Word just "insert object...from file" and it will be embedded into the document.

However, you will then need software that can render the file when you try and open it. Techwriter may be able to launch Artworks to do this, although if the file has been created on a PC, its likely that the fact its an Artworks file will have been lost as part of the embedding process.

On a PC, Xara used to be able to import Artworks files, although I presume this only applies to the pre-MW versions of Artworks, and wont support any of the great enhancements Martin has made.



 is a RISC OS Userspellinn on 9/8/05 11:32AM
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The only sensible way to include an ArtWorks file in a Word document is to use TIFF (or GIF) export from ArtWorks. That would not change with direct PDF export since I do not think you can place PDF files in Word documents.

Under very restricted circumstances you can use EPS files (no bitmaps, no transparency, text converted to shapes) but Word prints these to PostScript printers only.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 11:35AM
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The "Insert object..." method does not allow Word to display an embedded PDF file, so if it does not even work for PDF, for which there is a viewer, how would it help for ArtWorks files? Besides, there has never been any piece of software on a PC that could read any type of ArtWorks file. Xara's products can read some sort of ArtWorks EPS in a very limited way.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 11:41AM
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Yes - it was Artworks EPS - you are correct, it was along time ago!

As long as you have a PDF viewer installed, I cant see why you shouldnt be able to open an embedded PDF file - I certainly can!

But this is getting OT.. :)



 is a RISC OS Userspellinn on 9/8/05 11:45AM
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wuerthne: Is an Artworks2PDF utility practically impossible because the Artworks file format is not publically available? Beyond that, I can't see any reason why it couldn't happen.

Are current Xara and AW2's native files read/writeable on both programs?

Is there a chance you'd be willing to pick up CC's AudioWorks in a similar way you picked up ArtWorks? ;)

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 9/8/05 1:41PM
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In reply to hEgelia:

AudioWorks seems to be part of the APDL stable, it's certainly listed on the APDL software pages on their website.

 is a RISC OS UserVirtualAcorn on 9/8/05 2:33PM
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The fact that the ArtWorks file format is not publically available is only one of the various reasons. More importantly, rendering some parts of ArtWorks files requires sophisticated algorithms, most notably blends. There is no way anyone else could write blending code that would lead to identical results as the blending code in ArtWorks.

Regarding file formats: Neither is the case. Xara can neither read nor write ArtWorks files. ArtWorks can neither read nor write Xara files.


Yes, you can *open* PDF files embedded in Word files, but they are not displayed as part of the Word document. Inside Word, you only see a box with the filename of the PDF file, so that kind of embedding is pretty useless.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 9/8/05 2:57PM
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As Ghostscript works so well, is it not possible for Martin to automate the process i.e. saving as PDF is the same as printing to a postscript 2 printer, producing a file that Ghostscript turns into a PDF that is then shown as the save dialogue result. Obviously printer driver and Ghostscript would have to be in place. Or is that too simple?

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 10/8/05 2:29PM
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DaveW: That's already been answered:

"There are various things that no other output format supports, most notably *masked sprites, *CMYK colours and *all transparency types offered by ArtWorks - the three most irritating limitations in PostScript. "

 is a RISC OS UserSimonC on 10/8/05 3:44PM
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DaveW: The functionality you describe is provided by PrintPDF, as mentioned above. [link]

 is a RISC OS Useradamr on 10/8/05 3:54PM
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It's been a decade since I looked at the PDF format, but is PDF significantly harder to create than Postscript? It seems to be that Draw maps fairly well onto PS - would ArtWorks too? If so, how much work would it be for AW to generate its own Postscript without using the printer driver? Then you could run this through ps2pdf - which has many, many options for things like ways to encode images, colour mopels etc, even if most people don't know they're there.

 is a RISC OS Usercaliston2 on 10/8/05 8:09PM
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wuerthne: "There are various things that no other output format supports, most notably *masked sprites, *CMYK colours and *all transparency types offered by ArtWorks - the three most irritating limitations in PostScript."

This is not correct. Masked sprites map perfectly to masked images in PostScript 3 (not to be confused with imagemasks), CMYK colored objects can be done in PostScript Level 1 with color extensions. Of course the transparency features is PDF only (including for sprites with alpha channel).

The statement is probably rather made for the RISC OS PostScript printer drivers, and not for the PostScript language but it does mean that if AW would produce its own PostScript output, it can implement two of those three "irritating limitations". Whether the investement to go for own PostScript file generation would be better than own PDF file generation, I would doubt it.

 is a RISC OS Userjoty on 10/8/05 10:21PM
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Obviously it's Martin's call but I think it may be time for a different sales model to help Artworks development. I bet there are lots of RISC OS users out there looking rather enviously at what Artworks can do but not prepared to pay the not so insignificant sum required. RiScript may show the way.

Market a 'lite' version of Artworks for a paltry sum (less than 50 quid) but without the latest modules. The sell the extra modules at a price which should be able to subsidise more development. I can't justify 150 quid all in one go - but I could envisage spending something approaching this spread over a period. Furthermore, I bet there are quite a few like me.

 is a RISC OS UserSkyPilot on 12/8/05 5:35PM
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