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Ovation Pro on Windows overtakes RISC OS original

By Chris Williams. Published: 26th Jan 2006, 18:25:26 | Permalink | Printable

Author 'could've been a contender', adds features to Windows port

Screenshot of Ovation Pro on WindowsSome six months after shipping the first CDs of Ovation Pro for Windows, lone programmer David Pilling has described his progress as slow going but gradually rewarding. You could be forgiven for not being aware that the DTP package is now available on general release; there has been no big announcement or widespread coverage of David's crossing of the platform boundary, although about a couple of hundred upgrades have been sold to date.

"My feeling is that if you've used Ovation Pro on RISC OS, or other RISC OS software whose files it handles like Impression and Draw, then it is pretty good," enthused David.

"I was happy recently to be able to open Ovation documents from 10 or more years ago on Windows, and all the graphics be right and so on. However for people with no past link to Acorn it is still missing features. So work goes on."

He continued: "Another aspect is that the Windows version is now moving past the RISC OS one. For example it can generate its own PostScript. It can use ICC colour profiles. Next week I will announce Unicode support. It is a pity, all these would be so nice on RISC OS, but I'd be mad to expend the time. I tried to drum up some support for ICC on RISC OS - because OvationPro on Windows uses the RISC OS file formats - but failed."

Originally published by Beebug, the application started out life in 1989 as Ovation for Acorn's early RISC OS kit. Work on Ovation Pro began in 1993 and the application was finally released in 1996. The development of the Microsoft Windows port kicked off in 2002, and in July last year, David began posting CDs of the software. Users can alternatively download everything they need, from program files to documentation and tutorials, from the Internet, but will need to purchase a registration to use the software beyond a time limited trial period.

Ovation Pro now joins the ranks of other applications that have successfully migrated to pastures hopefully greener, which includes Messenger Pro in the guise of Gemini, Sibelius, Graham Jones' OCR software for music, educational and classroom software such as Text Ease, and so on. The DTP application manages to retain the same appearance on the Windows desktop as the RISC OS original, including the design of the toolbars, tool icons, dialog windows and error boxes.

Quoting the Marlon Brando 'I could've been a contender' speech, David then joked: "You know, I regret not doing Ovation Pro for Windows in 1993, or maybe 1989, or perhaps if I'd never got involved with RISC OS."

He added, "Frankly if I'd departed the scene in 1989 and just done Spark and nothing else on the Mac and Windows platforms I'd have been made."


David's website Ovation Pro updates for RISC OS - and other news

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It's a shame that the updates couldn't be rolled into RISC OS one way or another. I have used the Windows version, but find the RISC OS version far easier to use, possibly because the layout and use of window tools feels non-standard on MS Windows.

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 26/1/06 6:56PM
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So now it seems like most of main apps which were the mainstay of the market witha few excepts seem to have move over to other platforms. This is sad for the RISC OS market, but also a reality. It begs the question just how long can the market survive in its present form.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 26/1/06 10:34PM
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What I cannot understand is that with Techwriter and Artworks both getting regular commercially priced upgrades, why the same isn't happening with Ovation Pro. I know David often resorts to doom and gloom about RISC OS, but I'm pretty sure the vast bulk of OvPro owners would gladly pay up to (say) 50ukp for a new Ov Pro. But there is no opportunity to do so! Also, quite a few OvPro users didn't know about things like the CD release, and hadn't upgraded (we come across them when they get 'cubes, because they need to update because of protection etc). This suggests that perhaps more direct communication is needed to let those people know (if possible) that paid for updates are available. Whilst it may not make David a millionaire, is David really so glum about RISC OS that he's prepared to thumb his nose at (probably) a 5 figure sum?

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/1/06 10:43PM
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Translation - Martin W has proven there is a healthy market for pro-end design software on RISC OS, all it takes is a bit off effort to make sure people know you're active and that updates are available!

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 26/1/06 10:46PM
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As a club we intend to run a David Pilling software night showing off his wide range of commercial and freeware software in a few months to promote it more. But directly regarding Ovation Pro, there are still far more Impression Publisher users out there then Ovation Pro and people then to stick with what they know and are familiar with.

 is a RISC OS UserWakeman on 26/1/06 11:09PM
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I used Impression quite extensively (not in a professional printing capacity, admittedly), but as soon as I first used Ovation Pro, I switched immediately. It does far more, far easier, far more pleasantly.

It's a marvellous piece of software.

 is a RISC OS Usermoss on 26/1/06 11:24PM
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odd - RO5 has unicode built in.

So the windows version is that much ahead?

 is a RISC OS UserROHC on 26/1/06 11:57PM
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I recall that Ovation Pro imports Impression files, I quite liked that feature.

A year or two ago, I was very tempted to to buy Ovation Pro but I did not in thinking that it may soon lack upgrades compared to it's Windows version development and so ended up in wait for the Impression-X version as an Impression enthusiast I am.

Well, today I am still procrastinating in wait for Impression-X and the finale of RISC OS Ovation Pro is still looking good in it's fine limbo state.

The many features of Ovation Pro is not the the main attraction for me, but to import and export files to Windows DOC is a most useful feature.

 is a RISC OS UserSawadee on 27/1/06 6:42AM
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If he had decided to turn to the WIn/mac platform he would have been lost in the sea.I remember getting a free DTP package with MacFormat around 1998.There are some many competitors out there that even if he would have done it.He probably would be working for some firm with a regular paycheck and that firm would own the rights to Ovation Pro.

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 27/1/06 8:06AM
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Its obvious what David should do now, continue enhancing the Windows version wirth some useful features, then bring them over to RISC OS and sell an upgrade. If there is no interest then thats the end of if on this platform, but I guarentee RISC OS OvPro users will be biting his arm off as there hasn't been any upgrades for so long.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 27/1/06 9:16AM
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highlandcattle: Don't forget that even though Pilling's work could have been lost in the Windows sea of software it's very likely that he could have been selling tens of thousands of copies, even more on that platform. In 1993 he probably would have been early enough to catch the first waves of Windows 3.1 users giving him a good position and a whole lot better than he ever could get from the RISC OS market.

There are thousands of software releases for the Windows platform that most people will never hear of but still the makers of many of these applications live a good life maintaining only one application. Some shareware developers probably make more sales a year than Pilling has made through his entire RISC OS commitment and with applications you'd never even guess could sell.

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 27/1/06 11:01AM
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David says that he tried to get support for ICC profiles on RISC OS. If you are serious in trying to interest people in something you need to go out to them and make it impossible for them to miss the issue. David hasn't done that. It's not too late. I think David is wrong and there would be interest in OPro for RISC OS and people would pay for upgrades that David could transfer back to RISC OS. Perhaps we could get him to change his mind? It would take lots of individual requests to David - possibly with ideas for upgrades. If you use OPro (or would like to) then the solution could be in your hands.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 27/1/06 12:51PM
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I completely agree. I certainly wasn't aware that David had tried to "drum up support for ICC" or other OvPro developments.

 is a RISC OS Userfylfot on 27/1/06 1:36PM
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gulli in the Article it says tha Ovation Pro was released in 1996 one year after Win95 what early Windows 3.11 users are we talking about?

 is a RISC OS Userhighlandcattle on 27/1/06 1:46PM
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highlandcattle: I guess we are talking about "David Pilling's software" and not exclusively about OvationPro. In the article, David himself refers to Spark as one possible product he could have done quite early on in the history of MacOS and Windows.

Seeing how much money is generated today by tools like WinZip, I am inclined to agree with him. Other obvious candidates include I****M*****, ArcFax, Ovation and Hearsay.

Unfortunately, the Drobe Article has missed the IMHO most important part of David's analysis of cross plattform work: there are a lot of things that are quite easy on RISC OS, but hard on Windows. There are also a lot of things that are quite easy on Windows, but hard on RISC OS. If you develop your software on both systems, you have to do all the hard stuff on both systems. I can understand that this is a highly frustrating thing.

 is a RISC OS Userhubersn on 27/1/06 3:21PM
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Well, we don't need to speculate too much about what might have happened had DP released OP on Windows much earlier. Consider Computer Concepts: they did ArtWorks for Windows (sort of), had to do a distribution deal to get the attention (which sort of worked, although I imagine Corel really wanted everyone to buy CorelDraw instead), did quite well after the Corel deal expired (or when Corel screwed up, whichever came first), have done nicely since. They aren't Microsoft, but they've kept the manor house.

Perhaps DP has his eye on a manor house...

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 27/1/06 3:24PM
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You see what happens if you spend too much time on those two words "if only". Two of the most dangerous words in the english language when used together. Far better to work on maximising what you've got now, than thinking what might (emphasis on might) have been.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 27/1/06 3:36PM
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I think some of the problem here is yet another example of "vapour-ware" fouling up other products. This is what Sawadee was alluding to in that Impression-X was promised ages ago and I like many others are still hanging on waiting for it to appear. Had I known that nothing would happen it is quite likely that I would have migrated to Ovation-Pro once the Impression import was in place. Anyone any idea of where Impression-X is as the website does not appear to have been updated in ages...latest news says October 2004 ;-(

 is a RISC OS UserMart on 27/1/06 9:53PM
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OvationPro has received regular updates since the CD version; currently 2.76 of 5.12.05, mostly bugfixes for which we are very grateful. I don't think it is helpful to suggest otherwise. However, yes, it would be good to see new features, and yes I would be delighted to pay for a chargeable upgrade every now and again. Just like ArtWorks and Easiwriter. If there are no upgrades, David has to exist solely on new sales, and of course these are drying up; it is the 'Product Life Cycle' in action. It doesn't mean RO is dying, it just means it isn't expanding. Most of the users who would benefit from OP2 have already got it.

The Windows version is very good, and being on the 'up' slope of the Product Life Cycle it will inevitably exceed sales of the RO product for a while. The real test is the extent to which it makes conquest sales to brand-new users though; I suspect that the majority of current sales are to users who already have the RO version.

The smart thing to do is to have a set of new features ready to sell before the income starts to run dry. This would rejuvenate the RO version IMV. A wider range of import/export formats, (especially Word, PDF) would be highly marketable; friendlier printing options would be good, and so would easier colour editing (more geared to colour lasers, and less to colour plates).

 is a RISC OS UserGML on 28/1/06 12:00AM
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jc: My guess is that David trying to drum up support for ICC would have involved in him talking to Castle (Pace) or ROL or most likely both since such tools should be within the OS (in my opinion at least). Maybe he even spoke to other developers involved in graphic applications, posting on Drobe, Usenet or some other public forum would be somewhat barking up the wrong tree. Don't get me wrong, I know customers would benefit from it but those that need it have probably been asking David about them already.

Mart: It's true about the vapourware thing but one would think that people might actually be starting to learn that lesson by now!

highlandcattle: I was referring to David's comments, quoting from article: David then joked: "You know, I regret not doing Ovation Pro for Windows in 1993, or maybe 1989, or perhaps if I'd never got involved with RISC OS." He did the original Ovation in 1989 so that would have given him a little time to meet the Windows 3.1 deadline in spring 1992 ;)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 28/1/06 12:35AM
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Thanks for the comments. Something to think about. "Shoulda woulda coulda are the last words of a fool ..." Does it mean "seize opportunities" or "don't look back". I meant a similar amount of work outside the Acorn world *might* have got me further. Quite right, if you do both platforms you get to do whatever is difficult on both of them. ICC profiles. All I wanted was an agreement on how they'd be implemented - e.g. this is where the profile is going to go in a Draw file. I accept there is no chance of ROSL or Castle actually supporting them in the OS. However I can have sprites or Draw files with ICC profiles in tomorrow - but on Windows. It is a pity because with the open source colour management systems e.g. LCMS using them is easy. Unicode in a way goes with PostScript, because I doubt Unicode works with the existing PS drivers. A bit like ICC it is something that could expand bit by bit and create interest - open the way to lots of new fonts for example. My aim has been to conduct an honourable exit from the market - hence no paid for upgrades. You have to lead or be ahead of the customers with products not follow. That's the theory. In fact the vast majority of the customers have already gone to Windows or the Mac.

 is a RISC OS UserDavidPilling on 28/1/06 7:06PM
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How much use would ICC profiles be under RISCOS if the OS itself doesn't support colour management? Unless Artworks, Draw Photodesk and the PS printer drivers used profiles and there was some way of calibrating the monitor it would still not be possible to originate profiled work on the system so would it be worth the effort?

 is a RISC OS Useraquin43 on 28/1/06 8:18PM
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Actually market size has been flat since 2001ish in terms of people buying upgrades to products etc. Contrary to popular belief, people do buy software to run on VRPC so even people buying PCs doesn't stop sales etc. It's only depressing if you make it so! (And yes, I am being provocative, because I feel quite strongly that part of RISC OS' problem is that of gloomy users/devs)

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 29/1/06 3:57PM
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Question to david - what do you need to add native postscript export to the RISC OS version, both in terms of tech and cash. I'm guessing, but Windows doesn't include standard libraries for that (as far as I know), so I assume it is stuff that you have added. Lets ignore ICC and Unicode (things that, I suspect, most RISC OS users neither fully understand nor use) for now. I appreciate you want to "exit gracefully", but why bother exiting at all? Name your price.... (gentle smile)

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 29/1/06 4:02PM
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well done andrew id like to see david not exit nice to see a positive feeling for riscos, i hope david does not exit the scene but stays & give us some new fetures for his brilliant software & yes id pay for an upgrade willingly with or with out support

 is a RISC OS Userccw on 29/1/06 4:22PM
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It's a sad day when someone who has contributed as much as David feels it necessary to exit. However, he is above reproach because of that contribution and because we clearly all need to earn a crust.

However, I tend to agree with Andrew that there is still a demand in the market and one that is prepared to pay real money. David (IIRC) kindly updated all his software to be 26/32-bit neutral at no cost to the users; I appreciated that but maybe, in retrospect, it would have been better if he had charged for the upgrades.

I try to buy upgrades for two reasons: There is the obvious one of obtaining new features but also the less obvious of keeping the software 'current'. Current can mean big things - like running on new generation hardware - but also little things like keeping up with changes to the WIMP or Style Guide (solid drags, perhaps, is an example of something that makes old software look dated).

I very much would like to see David's software stay current; if that means chargeable updates then so be it.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 29/1/06 6:08PM
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I agree with TonyStill. Like him, I buy upgrades for the same reason. Latest Mpro, although I don't expect to utilise any of the latest features, I still bought the upgrade because I would like to see it being developed. Same with EasiWriterPro. Intending to upgrade that at the SouthWest show. I don't believe people have a problem paying to for an upgraded product. It's more of a case of price. The price Rcomp are charging for their Mpro upgrade is in my opinion compative price, when you consider it is not just the software now your getting, but all upgrades thoughout the year. Also RComp have a proven track in providing upgrades for MPro. RO Select, recently re-subscribed to that too. Although nothing was delivered for past 12 months, I think the work ROL have done on the 32bit version for the A9 and what they have sofar commented on with regards Select 4 for me makes it a worth while investment(although I do think their lack of communications for months on end is very of-putting).

Getting back on topic. From what I have seen of the demo version, Ovation Pro is a highly capable package. Although it is not something I currently have a requirement for. I do think it would be a shame if it were not to be developed further. Perhaps a rolling upgrade scheme similar to that of RComp could be used to fund any further devlopments for the product.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 29/1/06 7:58PM
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I also agree with TonyStill, and I would be fully prepared to pay for OvationPro-Upgrades. We have a site licence for the RISC OS version, but if we were to move to another platform, we would probably stick to open source software where ever possible, so there is not much of a chance for us to move to the windows version of OvationPro.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 29/1/06 8:41PM
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I would also appreciate the opportunity to pay for/subscribe to Ovation Pro updates. When David took back control of the software in July 1999 he mooted such an idea in a posting to the Ovation Pro mailing list:

From: [link]

> Near future > ----------- > [...release version 2.52...] > > Middle future > ------------- > Put upgrades on the web site which have new features. > > About 6 months hence > -------------------- > Produce a paid for upgrade on CD ROM, incorporating the new > features, and with the revised program manual. > > Repeat the last 2 steps once a year as long as there is interest.

I am waiting for the opportunity to buy my next CD.

 is a RISC OS Usersaffron on 1/2/06 2:11PM
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Well, my quotation didn't format very nicely, did it? It looked fine in the preview. Apologies all.

 is a RISC OS Usersaffron on 1/2/06 2:13PM
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