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Vantage users hope for adoption as Cerilica site vanishes

By Chris Williams. Published: 15th Dec 2005, 15:15:56 | Permalink | Printable

Every cloud should have a silver lining

Vantage logoThe Cerilica website has, like its flagship application, sunk without trace, provoking calls for Vantage to be adopted by its userbase. The online home of the commercial software publisher expired last month, marking what is believed to be the final chapter for the application that showed so much promise.

The vector graphics package, developed by Simon Birtwistle and released in 2001, was last updated in 2003. In 2004, it was relieved of its copy protection code and Simon admitted that he had been offered a 'dream job' which took him away from Vantage support. He initially built the software in 1994 for his own design company and Cerilica was formed to turn it into a full product, retailing initially at 240 quid.

Kris Adcock, who runs the independent Vantage mailing list, argued, "I think fans of Vantage have been under little illusion regarding its current status: that the domain has expired really means very little."

Wishing Simon luck for the future, Kris added that he would be delighted if the Vantage author contacted the software's users again to broker a deal to secure future development.

He said, "There are a lot of people, myself included, who would love to adopt Vantage, make it 32 bit neutral and give it a new lease of life. David Buck's sterling work on RiscCAD has shown how successful such a project could be - whether it is kept as a commercial product and sold at 'pocket money' prices, or whether it could even be released as freeware to give all RISC OS users a fantastic illustration package for free.

"As a programmer, I am always in awe of anyone who has both the skill to write software of that calibre and the stamina to see it through to release. If the Vantage source code is just languishing on a hard drive doing nothing and Simon has no further plans for it, isn't that a crying shame?"

Simon Birtwistle could not be reached for comment.


Simon's Nemo Graphic website (RISC OS files)

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As an owner of a copy of Vantage I sincerely hope that Simon allows someone else to take over and let them deliver a stable, workable copy to those of us who paid up cold, hard, cash. Even if we had to make some contribution for the stable copy to be released.

 is a RISC OS Userrmac on 15/12/05 3:36PM
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I concur with rmac, I would cough up some money towards 32 bitting! Simon Birtwhistle dream job was supposed to be in 'Cambridge' but nobody around here has seen or heard of him!

 is a RISC OS UserMcSpoons on 15/12/05 4:17PM
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Is there any prospect of the software being released as open source?

I'm not a Vantage user myself, but it always sounded like a great product with much potential. It could be quite groundbreaking for the RISC OS scene if Simon were willing to make an open source version available.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 15/12/05 5:39PM
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With all the ArtWorks development that Martin's been doing for the last few years, what does Vantage have that AW doesn't? This isn't a rhetorical question.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 15/12/05 5:55PM
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A major selling point of Vantage was always its "Truism" ink simulation system. I've never played with a copy, but apparently you could specify the exact properties of the inks in the destination printing device (including number thereof and opacity) and it would simulate the results on-screen. Wysiwyg printing basically.

 is a RISC OS UserCogs on 15/12/05 7:12PM
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I used to be a Vantage owner but sold my copy due to instability on my Kinetic. However, on a RISC OS 3.7 machine it ran like a dream. If it was made 32bit and stabilised, then it would be a great product, worthy of a decent price tag. It's unlikely to be given away due to the TRUISM technology. What is needed is for a capable developer to take it over and market it as an appropriate price (ie. 100 UKP or above). However, I challange anyone to locate and speak to Simon.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 15/12/05 7:53PM
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I always think about ice skating rinks. Company comes to town, spends a lot of money building an ice skating rink. No one will pay the price to go in. Company goes bust.

Town folk then say "give us the ice skating rink".

So if it was your money would you give it away...

 is a RISC OS UserDavidPilling on 15/12/05 7:54PM
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Another thought... a bitmap package based on the same TRUISM and Vantage anti-aliasing technology would be a boon. I guess if Vantage actually did get open-sourced or someone took over development, that could be a distinct posibility...

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 15/12/05 7:57PM
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DavidPilling: Nic left Cerilica to take a different job and now Simon has done the same. The company did not go bust as such. But no matter the finances, to sell a premium product which was not stable enough to use for many people and then to just disappear, ignore emails and fail to organise any sort of support or continued development is, to say the least, morally and professionally questionable.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 15/12/05 8:00PM
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DavidPilling: If the icerink company went bust, then it owed its creditors money that it couldn't repay.

In your example, it's entirely likely that the town (and its folk) helped to build, promote, or otherwise facilitate the icerink.

This would often be in the form of loans, or sometimes money handed over in return for promises of certain things being done.

It's a very apposite example.

Have the promises been fulfilled?

Did the icerink company actually go bust? Or did they think it more profitable to go elsewhere?

If the latter, do you think they should refund the money that they themselves demanded and collected, using promises that were not met?


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 15/12/05 9:23PM
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You're right of course, and I didn't want to give the impression above that Simon had any obligation to open source the product.

Whether it's open sourced or not, I do hope that *something* happens to the program, since it seems there are still users who would benefit, and it had a lot of good features. It would be a shame for all that work to be "lost".

Was the TRUISM technology patented by Cerilica?

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 15/12/05 9:24PM
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There are genuine plans to build an ice rink in the north of Cambridge in the next year or so. Irony?

 is a RISC OS Usermrchocky on 16/12/05 2:58AM
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David: I understand both views on this. I think the complaint is about wasted resources and opportunities. I know there were contingencies made to allow the product to continue should Cerilica go bust but the current 'limbo' situation wasn't considered. In RISC OS (and obviously elsewhere) there are products that cannot be developed (copyright) but cannot be used (out of date/bugs) and for which the authors have no other use. That's a waste. It means current developers have to constantly re-invent the wheel instead of producing genuinely new products. Whilst Vantage has an alternative (ArtWorks) TableMate doesn't. I can understand authors no longer wanting to spend their time promoting products in a niche market but I'd like to see them give others the opportunity to do so on their behalf.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 16/12/05 10:42AM
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It would seem to be the ideal solution... licence the software you no longer maintain. Someone else can develop it and sell it, but you get royalties. If you've given up on it, then what's the problem? It seems that the engine in Vantage is finished technology, in that it does what it was designed to. It just needs work to make it stable. Vantage itself could do with improved import/export and a quick look at Xara Xstreme and Adobe Illustrator suggests there's always a new useful feature to add!! At least in the end Xara Ltd had the decency to hand over development of ArtWorks and Impression to 3rd parties, rather than leave people with ageing products.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 27/12/05 10:10PM
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I was kinda hoping that someone would see this who knows where Simon is at the moment, and would show it to him. He might have taken pity on me, and got in contact. I presume no-one knows where he is, then? Ah, well.

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 30/12/05 2:21PM
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