Developers divided over RISC OS 4 code checkingPublished: 4th Jun 2006, 20:13:55 | Permalink | Printable
ABC users get surprised [Updated]Opinion is divided amongst developers over the decision to enforce the strict checking of applications in the latest version of 32bit RISC OS 4. The checks will prevent any programs that are not properly constructed from running. While this decreases the chance of poorly written software from crashing the entire desktop, the move has come as a surprise, some say, especially to users of ABC, Castle's BASIC compiler tools.
Software generated by ABC is handled by a module called LegacyExec, provided by AdvantageSix, to allow the code to be executed. Third party developers can also produce their own components to hook into the system to provide support for additional executable formats. However parts of the ABC compiler itself are not correctly flagged as being 32bit compatible, causing them to fail on the A9home.
One Iyonix and A9home user, Chris Hall, said: "The !compile part of the Archimedes Basic Compiler (ABC) package is reported as not 32 bit compatible although it runs OK on the Iyonix so I am having difficulty on the A9.
"The ABC compiler was the main reason I bought the C/C++ development CD, in order to allow an application written in BASIC to run on the new 32 bit computers - the A9 and Iyonix."
Discknight and Armalyser author David Ruck said software authors should talk to Ad6 and ROL.
He said: "It was their decision to prevent hundreds of 32 bit applications from working on the A9 just before it was released, with absolutely no warning to developers."
MW Software's Martin Wuerthner said, for now, the software should be compiled with ABC on the Iyonix.
He added: "With hindsight, it would have been a good idea if [Castle's] RISC OS 5 had introduced such a check - back then, it would have been an ideal moment to do so because all executables had to be changed anyway to make them 32-bit compatible. It would have saved users from seeing a lot of crashes typically experienced when inadvertently running a 26-bit executable.
"When buying software you never get the guarantee that it will run on future OS platforms although sticking to the programming guidelines should maximize the likelihood of running on a new platform."
RISC OS 4.42, shipped with A9homes, will reject any software that doesn't carry a valid signature, known as an AIF header. This declares, amongst other details, whether or not the application is 32bit safe and how much memory it is likely to use. AdvantageSix and RISCOS Ltd took the decision to knock back software without correct AIF headers in an attempt to tighten up stability on their side of the RISC OS platform. Ad6 admitted at the recent Wakefield show that their clients regarded RISC OS as a 'toy operating system' for previously allowing any code to execute on it unchecked. Acorn mandated the AIF header standard 10 years ago, in 1996.
Chris Evans of CJE Micros, who sell and support the A9home on AdvantageSix's behalf, said the AIF headers "offered a number of other advantages which would increase reliability."
• To disable the checking on RISC OS 4.42, users should investigate the AIF module.
*help AIF will reveal the settings required to disable the checking, although this isn't recommended unless you know what you're doing.
Update at 12:26 10/06/2006
Alan Glover, who maintains the ABC package, has told Iyonix users: "I believe that the insistence by the A9's OS on AIF headers is a misguided move.
"My position is that there's no incentive to make the changes to ABC. It doesn't make money, and hasn't for many years now. Nor is the fact that it doesn't run on an A9 affecting me in any way."
He added that he would be willing to make the necessary changes if they didn't prove to be too difficult - we understand that this will not be the case. Alan also revealed that his software company, Pineapple, was close to winding up at the time of the Iyonix launch.
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