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Punters to vote on TechWriter future

Published: 4th Nov 2006, 22:24:31 | Permalink | Printable

I'm a coder, get me out of here [Updated]

A happy Martin WuerthnerFuture features of EasiWriter and TechWriter will be decided in a public poll, developer Martin Wuerthner revealed this week. ArtWorks and TechWriter coder Martin, pictured, told users of the popular word processing application family that they will be able to vote on the direction of future development. Just like housemates on Channel 4's hit reality show Big Brother are voted off by the masses, punters will be able to decide what features will go into the "next major release of EasiWriter and TechWriter".

As well as posting a list of potential features, he also called for users to suggest other major bullet point additions for the software. But he ruled out PDF import, support for Microsoft Office's new 'Open XML' format, and multi-stage undo.

Explaining the difference between a major and a minor feature, Martin told users: "Imagine the headline of the press release: 'EasiWriter 8.7 does X'. Anything that works in place of X is a major feature. 'EasiWriter 8.7 allows the window size to be toggled to the document width instead of the screen width' does not quite work, but 'EasiWriter 8.7 offers automatic references' works."

The proposed features include improved headers and footers, the ability to watermark documents, a style selector dialogue box, automatically updating page and heading references, auto-numbering of figures, tables and equations, OpenOffice-compatible file export, Microsoft Word 2000 export, improved HTML export, a tree view of a document's structure, and the ability to mix landscape and portrait page layouts.

Update at 15:51 17/11/2006
The voting process has started - see this webpage for more information.


EasiWriter and TechWriter proposed new features Icon Technology website

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may I ask why Microsoft Office's new 'Open XML' format has been dropped?

This is a feature that I would see as valuable...as its the format that Microsod are now using?

My university now uses 2007 Beta in some areas, and to communicate with this advanced version would be a major selling point?

BUT I am just glad that there is development, so good one Martin! :@)

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 5/11/06 10:30AM
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open office Open Document Format would be essential.


 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 5/11/06 12:50PM
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Import and export. bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 5/11/06 12:51PM
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em2ac: Simply because I have never even seen a document in Microsoft's OpenXML format, because it keeps changing and because Office 2007 is not out yet, so there would be little point in my starting to do the work now. Besides, people will continue sending .doc Word files around for quite some time to come because not everyone will upgrade immediately. So, by not being able to read MS OpenXML files we will not be worse off than the vast majority of Windows users.

When there is sufficient demand for reading OpenXML files support for it will be added.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 5/11/06 1:08PM
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It would be good if the file format for EasiWriter and TechWriter documents could be published. I have lots of old documents in this format that I can only read if I fire up my old A7000+, and exporting them as TeX files doesn't seem like a good way to make their contents available again.

Doing this might also make it practical for people to write their own import and export tools.

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 5/11/06 2:10PM
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The current version of EW/TW (8.64) does an excellent job of exporting as a pdf file. This is not just a plain vanilla export, but allows the structure to be maintained in the pdf format - a first for a RiscOS programme I believe. Passwords can also be easily added to the document.

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 5/11/06 3:57PM
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davidb: Sorry, there is no way the EW/TW document format will ever be published. It is highly complex, its documentation is the source code and even with the code it would take anyone not familiar with the program weeks to work out the format.

It is highly likely that some future version of EW/TW will have an XML-based export format.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 5/11/06 4:32PM
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"It is highly likely that some future version of EW/TW will have an XML-based export format."

That would, of course, be much better. :-)

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 5/11/06 4:58PM
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In reply to wuerthne:

As for the future XML based export format: Will that perhaps be OpenXML since that will come on the list when appropriate anyhow as far as I understood your other posting here.

 is a RISC OS Userhzn on 5/11/06 5:02PM
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Good list of possible enhancements. As already discussed, import and export are continuing necessities so a better quality MS Word export (around graphics especially) will be welcome.

The other feature that I have long wanted (and which is on MWs list) is Style definition by dialogue rather than by example (as it were). It may just be because I'm used to doing it that way but I find it easier when initially planning a document to specify styles rather than create examples. I guess both methods have their place and, if this is implemented, we'll have both.

I would also like to add my support to the thought that continuing enhancement/maintenance of this strategically important program is actually the most valuable feature of all.

 is a RISC OS UserTonyStill on 5/11/06 6:09PM
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Delighted to see the mixed landscape and portrait included, as importing Word files from The DfES standards site contains many files in that format.

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 5/11/06 6:44PM
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hzn wrote: "As for the future XML based export format: Will that perhaps be OpenXML since that will come on the list when appropriate anyhow as far as I understood your other posting here."

Couldn't that be kept separate? These standard and pseudo-standard formats are monsters with specifications running to hundreds of pages. I'm sure EasiWriter documents could be described using a fairly simple XML format.

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 5/11/06 7:43PM
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Posting here partly because it's easier (and I know Martin reads Drobe!)

The improved headers option would be greatly appreciated - just this evening I've encountered the same problem of setting up headers from Page 2 onwards and not being able to remember how to set it up. Word has many faults, but I've always found its header and footer handling quite intuitive, whereas setting up headers and footers in TW just seems somewhat harder. Landscape / portrait pages would also be very useful. In my view these are worthy 'priorities' because they're features seen in many other similar packages, and are 'expected' in a package such as TW / EW. I totally agree with you with regard to OpenXML.

The second idea I've found is a problem that Word itself doesn't handle very well. I often use TW to write scientific papers (medical ones, or ones for my MSc). All the work has to be referenced with all the references provided as endnotes. Occasionally you re-use the same reference twice, so need to link to the same footnote. I've found no way to do this on any word processing package (and usually resort to inserting a figure in superscript manually - then having to remember where it was). It would be hoped a mechanism to do this should be fairly straightforward (insert endnote could probably be joined by an option of 'link to existing endnote'.)

On a more advanced level, as TW is a scientific manual editing tool as much as a pure word processor, tools to insert a formatted scientific citation in a set order would be very nice. At present, citations of the form:

1. Hill A. Exercises in talking rubbish. Br J Rubbish. 16(6):Nov 05.p62-65 2. Drobe. Punters to vote on Techwriter future. [link] (accessed 5th November 06).

Contain several different sections or styles, each of which needs to be individually formatted which is quite time-consuming, in particular if you ever have to change the reference style. A tool to input references specifically (including online references) would be handy. However, I do appreciate that sort of use of TW is more specialised and may not be as popular with non-academic users of the package (in the employment sense, not the intellect sense!)

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 6/11/06 1:18AM
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Oh - and an additional request. Even if the full header/footer overhaul didn't go ahead, would it be possible to have the same rules for footers applying to headers - i.e. so you can set 'all except title page' headers?

Replying to myself (above): Pedants may of course pick up the referencing error that is: 2. Drobe Newsdesk. Punters to vote on Techwriter future. Drobe. http:// ... etc.

 is a RISC OS Usermd0u80c9 on 6/11/06 1:23AM
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md0u80c9: Sorry, there is no way to link to an existing footnote/endnote, it is not only not straightforward as you hoped but pretty much impossible as it would violate the most basic principles behind footnotes. For citations, you really want to use a different mechanism. Have you ever had a look at !Citations? It is said to be very powerful and it is also able to apply different formatting styles to different parts of the reference.

As for your second comment: "have the same rules for footers applying to headers - i.e. so you can set 'all except title page' headers?" Sorry I do not understand. You can set "All except title page headers", so what is the problem?

Finally, for general feature discussions, please use the mailing list because then, things are all in one place and your requests will be in the list archive, whereas here, they will end up hidden.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 6/11/06 8:49AM
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I think many people will be happy to purchase updates because it gets better and better rather than for any specific 'killer' feature.

MW has done a good job of balancing features against time needed to implement.

ODF support would add to TWs ability to communicate with other platforms so I personally hope he will add this.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 9:48AM
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OK, whilst I'm fairly sure this'll get slapped down pretty quick quickly, but here goes... Techwriter to run on MacOSX - please, I'm begging ya here - even if it requires a full additional license. Having moved to MacOSX at work (and progessively at home too) there's just a 2-3 apps that I really miss (ironically 2 of them by Mr Wuerthner) - MS Word on Mac bugs me as much as it does on windows and even OpenOffice.org seems slugish (always wondered why OO feels much nicer on windows than on any platform) - Techwriter is light, nippy and has decent structuring - currently have my RiscPC stashed at the office purely for documentation work on TW - but it's getting harder to maintainn interoperability with colleagues.

I know a platform change is a no-small thing - but surely it's not entirely beyond the realms of possibility - and would open up a sizeable new market (wasn't TW originally based on MacAuthor anyway - kind of a full circle thing ;-))

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 6/11/06 11:37AM
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There were previous attempts to port TechWriter to MAC OS and windows which got nowhere.

If TechWriter could save out as PDF, reasonably good word and ODF format would that not provide extremely good ineroperability? Unless you want to move totally to MACOS in which case you would indeed need to get someone to port it or run something like VirtualRPC (which runs under Parallels on the latest MACs).

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 11:57AM
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Outputting to PDF is both not a problem (with gs/pdf printerdriver), and (unfortunately) of little use in terms of interoperability :-( My current move is drifting closer to MacOS - and running VirtualRPC/rpcemu under virtualisation (or even natively) is far from ideal - the best case would be a file-compatible, native, MacOS version of Tech/Easiwriter ;-) - what with that, and OvPro ported to MacOS - closely followed by Artworks, and of course StrongED - well, given all, one might expect RISC OS's greatest strength (it's fine array of software) to flourish unimpeeded (sp?) ;-) Despite various OS-shifts in the past couple of years I (personally speaking) still rank many RISC OS packages as world class ;-)

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 6/11/06 1:03PM
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If the programs you want to use only run on RISCOS, why are you moving to the MAC?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 1:07PM
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Without the intention of drawing this out into lengthy OS bashing/advocacy issue.. MacOSX is very enjoyable platform to sit down and use - it's only the 2nd OS I've enjoyed using a computer just for the sake of it. Not all the programs I wish to use run under OS X - I assume Eclipse is still not available ;-) RiscOS lacks a large number of software I need (good diagramming tools - Visio/omnigraffle-esque, certainly beyond DiagramIT ;-), MySQL server, functionally usable webbrowser comparable to one I develop for on embeded devices (ie. firefox)), modern Java, Palm pilot connectivity, Exchange mail server access (native), playback/encode of H.264 media the list goes on I'm afriad :-( And I like to be using an OS which I know gets regular upgrades both minor and major, provides me a high level of integration in my workplace/home and is as stable as any 'mainstream' desktop OS I've used.

(And it looks darn pretty ;-))

Regards, Ryan

 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 6/11/06 1:26PM
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Eclipse has been available for some time, apart from the annoying problem of the broken SWT-AWT bridge. IDEA is also available (which is a much nicer Java editor in IMHO).

You still have the problem that Apple maintains its own Java so it is always behind and has some nasty bugs :-(

I don't see why you have to choose - I do my Java development on MACOS/Linux and use RISCOS for email, TechWriter and Artworks with various tools on both platforms. With Samba and a KVM switchbox they all mesh together nicely.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 1:58PM
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markee174: "There were previous attempts to port TechWriter to MAC OS and windows which got nowhere."

That's cutting it a little short, isn't it? Like drjones69 said, surely it's possible. Though ofcourse financially speaking it could prove difficult. TechWriter is an excellent application and it deserves to be ported to an excellent platform such as Mac OS X. If the port were to be succesful, I'm sure it would receive a fair deal of recognition and could certainly enjoy a larger amount of business which in turn would mean increased development.

"If TechWriter could save out as PDF, reasonably good word and ODF format would that not provide extremely good ineroperability?"

Well, it certainly would provide a layer of compatibility, but it would also demand the use of RISC OS specifically for that task. Now I realize this statement may upset some people, but the harsh reality is that RO can only fullfill increasingly limited roles in modern work situations - most tasks can be done equally well or better on Macs and Windows PC's, though perhaps not with quite the same elegance or ease. Needless to say many tasks performed on current Macs & PC's can hardly be done on RISC OS...

I believe RISC OS as a serious and capable desktop platform is in the process of ending, even though optimists may disagree seeing the advances made in recent times. Personally, I simply can't afford to continue solely on RO as in the past and have therefore finally put in an order for a Mac yesterday evening (which took me weeks to justify to myself after almost 20 years of sole Acorn use). Many people would say RO is mostly lacking in the application space, and that's true, but as an OS it has also become dated and handicapped compared to its contemporaries, even to other minority systems. The recent 32-bitting of arguably the most developed strand of RO is a commendable achievement, but also a rather insignificant one in the bigger picture. Never before has the OS been so dated compared to its contemporaries, never in its history has it seen so little application development or size of market. To see a next generation of application evolution, the OS would probably have to be rewritten for the most part or even entirely. Simply put - the technical and logical reality is that from here on the functionality of the OS and its applications will deminish, save for a handful of fanatics. Ofcourse, if you believe in miracles, they can happen.

I therefore feel the time is now to start porting the remaining professional applications to other alternative platforms, ideally Mac OS X seeing its current market position and resemblance to RISC OS in several ways. Again, some could regard this as heresy, but it would ensure these applications have a larger chance of survival and even flourishment. Any succes abroad could even be made to use in the RO market, for the benefit of those still insisting on its exclusiveness. Several applications of RO descent have made quite a succesful transition in the past.

The way this market is sustained is like a family keeping their relative alive through an artificial life-support system and a great deal of affection. Though a noble approach, I believe it's also a morally questionable one certainly seeing the needs companies like ROL require.

Naturally, it's anybody's free choice to keep using RO, but I suspect most already have PC's or Macs to compensate for increasingly serious shortcomings. In the end it is a tool. Is RO condemned to live on as a rather expensive geek's toy?

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 6/11/06 2:02PM
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Saying that there have been previous attempts to port TechWriter is stating a fact of historical fact - its i perfectly theoretically possible to port it. Whether anyone will do it or not is a different matter.

If you want maximum compatability, you may as well standardize on Office 2007 running under Vista.

If you find RISCOS no longer meets your requirments, you are welcome to move elsewhere, although I think you may find your hopes that the MAC is totally compatible with the PC world to be over-optimistic (so invest in a copy of parallels).

What I don't get is this dual argument that RISCOS no longer custs the mustard and then arguing its programs need to be ported to other platforms because they are better - it contradicts itself.

If Techwriter is to be ported, it would make sense to port it to the largest possible market (and MAC OS is behind Windows and arguably Linux on market share).

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 2:20PM
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If you want RISCOS type functionality with a wider range of applications, why not switch to Linux where you can run ROX?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 2:28PM
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Quick error correction : Not all the programs I wish to use run under OS X - I assume Eclipse is still not available Should read : Not all the programs I wish to use run under _RISC OS_ - I assume Eclipse is still not available (hence my need for a platofrm other than RISC OS).

Markee174 - I do not see how saying 'RISCOS no longer cuts the muster, and arguing that the apps need to ported' contradicts it's self - there is a definite between an OS and an Application (last time I looked anyway ;-)).

Also (fwiw) I've always been of the impression that a port of something from RISC OS stands a better chance in on platform not quiet under such a stranglehold - hence a thumbs up for Linux & Mac - I feel on Windows, any competition is stands such a small chance of capturing a noticable percentage of users as to slip under the radar :-(

I do find myself agreeing with hEglia - in that I would rather continue usinng powerful apps ported from RISC OS, rather than using the OS it's self just an expensive toy - I (speaking personally) do not feel that that is a fitting legacy for RISC OS.

OK, one final comment - then I promise not to take my oar out ;-) All this switching to linux malarky - now what's it all about? fwiw my eventual switch to MacOSX came from using linux (mix of Gentoo, FC and Mandrake [sic]) - whilst I do like the concept of ROX, it is at the end of day an interface - and one which I never felt captured to real benefits of RISC OS - in fact there is very little RISC OS type functionality I ever found in Linux (font handling in X is a disgrace, inconsistant window interfaces, lack of proper drag and drop, much software very sluggish) - I tend to now just use it as a CLI for appropriate tasks - I've often found that an OS based on text-base precursor always carries with a lot of excess baggage in the GUI world.

Right, definately done now.. umount -l /mnt/soapbox ;-)

Regards and hope I didn't bore (too much).


 is a RISC OS Userdrjones69 on 6/11/06 3:07PM
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Eclipse and Java depend an awful lot on the grunt of the processor so even if ported it would not run terribly fast compared to other platforms.

I meant RISCOS as a platform for running Apps. You want to switch to the MAC because RISCOS does not support the applications you want and then say its a shame that they are only on RISCOS.

I still don;t see why you have to drop RISCOS to use OS X. I have a MacBookPro, a PC running Suse 10.1/Windows XP and an Iyonix here all working together happily.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 6/11/06 3:17PM
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Bob Pollard, the late software writer for TW/EW was in the process of making a Mac version. (After all the programme started life on a Mac).

Like others here - I would love to have both TW and Artworks on the MAC.

Maybe something will come out of the Xara stable for the Mac.

 is a RISC OS UserEddie on 6/11/06 4:18PM
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OKay here goes.

I know what I have seen with my own eyes. Just before Bob dies he got techwriter to work on MacOS (not sure if it was OSX or OS 9.2). I wanted to buy a copy and I saw it running. Just after he died I was told "It works perfectly with one problem. Everything is upside down". Unfortunately the source was 3e10^6 lines.

If the file format was available I know some people who could make a Win/maxOSX/Linux version. And yes I am one of them but it would have to be a team. Then they would say....what is the point or wher eis he market.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 6/11/06 5:43PM
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hEgelia wrote>"I therefore feel the time is now to start porting the remaining professional applications to other alternative platforms, ideally Mac OS X seeing its current market position and resemblance to RISC OS in several ways. Again, some could regard this as heresy, but it would ensure these applications have a larger chance of survival and even flourishment."

And what if, hEgelia, such hypothetical developers look at the massive number of Windows PC's and compare that to the much smaller number of MacOS machines and decide the logical place to port to is Windows? Just because you've become a fan of MacOS X doesn't mean that they'd be swayed and opt to follow your route - they may use common sense and opt for WindowsXP (or Vista) which is where the numbers are.

There is, of course, the other point - that basically PC/Mac users are familiar with the apps they already use and are unlikely to switch in significant numbers to use TW/EW (no matter how good they are). Microsoft took years, for example, to shift WordPerfect users over to MS Word (both by discounts and even by providing Keypress compatibility with WP). If MS found it tough going - I wish you the best of luck switching people from their incumbents choice of WordProcessor to TW/EW/Ovation Pro etc., The only likely outcome I can see from all of this is that the *only* people who'd heard of these RISC OS apps would be RISC OS users and therefore all you'd succeed in doing is moving RISC OS users to MacOS X (or whatever).

Look if you want to move to Mac OSX/WindowsXP/Linux or whatever fine that's your choice - but in your going could you *please* not kill the RISC OS platform that the rest of us want to persist with, please leave us our unique apps thanks.....

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 6/11/06 10:19PM
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md0u80c9: Would Citation fit your requirements? I used it for my PhD thesis with OvationPro. From memory, the pathway is something like this: Create your citation database by transferring formatted data, or retyping (or both) Put your references into the text by drag-and-drop - you insert something of the form ([#0001]Hill, 2005) When you're done, save as text, and give it to citation. It works out which references you've used. Design a format by specifications (edit a text file, give to Citation) Output your used, formatted citation list as html, or whatever. Import this into your document where you want it. Global search and replace [#xxxx] with nothing, and you're done.

I found it worked very well with ~200 references. Certainly better than people find Endnote on the PC. The only thing I found was it didn't output in quite the right order (which can vary by style as well), when there were references with similar authors (the rules are sometimes not exactly alphabetical). And it would be harder to create numbered references in-text.

I don't know whether it is still available, 32 bit or what.

 is a RISC OS UserLoris on 07/11/06 8:12PM
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AMS: "The only likely outcome I can see from all of this is that the only people who'd heard of these RISC OS apps would be RISC OS users and therefore all you'd succeed in doing is moving RISC OS users to MacOS X (or whatever)."

That is not the case with ArtWorks. Judging by the talkgraphics.com forums, some of the top users of XaraX are American.

Xara has clearly gained enough of the market share on Windows or else it would have gone bust long ago. The recent open source debacle suggests things have gone pear shaped, which could have something to do with them sitting back on their arses and letting XaraX fall by the wayside. I see a connection with RISC OS there...

Sibelius has been even more successful. It is the number one in it's field.

Personally, I agree with the point of view that decent RISC OS software should be ported to Windows and/or MacOS. RISC OS is nice and still does a good job. However, we all know very well that only the most undemanding user could use RISC OS as their sole machine. Standard computer users cannot justify buying two computers. It's ridiculous to have to buy a second machine because RISC OS companies are used to being propped up financially by loyal users. That's why I switched to Windows. I hate Windows, but it has all the software I want. I love RISC OS, but it has almost none of the software I want.

A fitting tribue to the system and to the fantastic programmers who wrote for it would be to see the good RISC OS apps succeed on a modern platform. Remember, Windows is a massive market - you don't need to think in terms of a percent market share. You need to think in terms of income. If 20000 people bought your software, it would not be noticed by the masses and the media, but you would have a very healthy income...

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 09/11/06 12:39AM
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Let us not forget here that software is a tool to make life easier or do something that could not otherwise be done. Therefore the following applies (or should) select task, select appropriate software, obtain machine to run that software. All in an ideal world of course. I use Risc OS etc. because it is the appropriate tool for the task. If that software/tool was available on another platform I may not use Risc OS. Thus far I am sticking with Risc OS but if the opposition improves I may find that I can meet more of my requirements on another platform.

 is a RISC OS UserMart on 09/11/06 3:08PM
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I would use RISC OS, too, if I could. I would quite like to know what requirement of yours are met on RISC OS but not on Windoze or MacOS X...

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 09/11/06 6:08PM
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!Citation is still available but I dont think it is 32 bit. It is writen using S-base Developer.

It is a nice app, however, cite as you write via endnote is way better than the manual riscos way. I think citation is excellent though. The only drawback is the auto-integration.

Cheers Bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 09/11/06 6:25PM
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Have you noticed that the applications you mentioned earlier, and others, have all ceased development on RISC OS when the company concerned moved to creating Windoze versions.

We lose are best apps when this happens, unless a 3rd party manages to get the rights to develop the RISC OS version, i.e. Artworks.

We are still waiting and hoping for Impression to be further developed, and Sibelius is dead in regard to further development.

Think about the rest of the RISC OS users when you put forward your wants.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 09/11/06 7:00PM
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Andrew Banks: I could as well tell you to consider the developers of the applications who will likely make far more money selling to Windows users. If you think any comment I (or anyone else for that matter) make on here will cause developers to follow a certain business path, then you are residing in your own cosy little reality. Money will decide whether something is ported to Windows or not.

Would you rather see your favourite software die along with RISC OS?

You should consider WHY companies ported software to Windows in the first place. Was it perhaps out of bitterness? No, it was to make a living.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 09/11/06 8:28PM
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And Textease... sadly no upgrade or support for RISC OS for Textease CT. In April next year I too will have to succumb at my school and 10 Risc PC SA's will be retiring (one will remain to manage part of the academic network). Time moves on and sadly the essential software of web browser and plug ins hasn't coped with change - another reason for adding more PCs instead of RISC OS.

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 09/11/06 9:34PM
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Apologies, my last post was way off beam - I use Easiwriter and we have it at school too - copes very much better with Word files than ever before and with some great developments to come.

 is a RISC OS UserDaveW on 09/11/06 9:35PM
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Of cause companies and developers will do what is best for themselves.

My comment was about your stated wishes, that could help to bring about the death of RISC OS for everyone else.

Ref. your statement "Would you rather see your favourite software die along with RISC OS?" . Removing software from RISC OS will hasten its death.

 is a RISC OS Userajb on 10/11/06 10:11AM
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it's already dead from a commercial software point of view, I can think of no app that could be written from scratch to provide enough income to a programmer to rely on it as their livelihood. There's a few oportunities left in supporting existing apps, where the income will outstrip the effort.

There's not enough users left, and those that remain are divided, bitter, jaded, desperate, vocal and have been burnt too many unfulfilled promises.

The only advice I have for those people relying on RISC OS for their income is diversify, be it into other products, support for other OSes, other markets, and to be honest do whatever it takes to pay the bills and remember that if RISC OS falls it's not your fault, that's been on the cards for so many years now.


 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 10/11/06 11:40AM
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What I have initially proposed is to port certain professional titles to other alternative platforms, not necessarily Windows, since those markets could be more open to software from another alternative platform like RISC OS. I also think RO ports would enjoy more attention and visibility there. Ofcourse, for its sheer numbers, Windows is also very interesting.

My point is this - it would not necessarily have to mean such ported titles would move. Increased sales could be used to help develop the native RO versions of these titles. The ported versions could even attract more attention to RISC OS, since most reviews and such would probably indicate where these ports came from. My main point is that I don't believe the RO market by itself is sufficiently large enough to sustain our favourite applications. Having multiple versions for several other OS's could in effect better our chances, so to speak. However, it would have to mean that developers will not be lured away from RO and only continue doing business on these other platforms, since that would surely mean the end for the RO native versions.

By the way, I am not leaving RISC OS. It was never my intention to make that impression. I run a small home studio on RISC OS and, despite several shortcomings, I love it. It lets me produce music in and through ways simply not possible on mainstream platforms, mainly due to RO's UI and apps making efficient use of that. Starting up fast also helps ;) It's just that for general home computing requirements, such as browsing, RO won't do anymore and therefore I've ordered a Mac.

 is a RISC OS UserhEgelia on 10/11/06 12:09AM
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ajb: "Of cause companies and developers will do what is best for themselves."

Well, RISC OS isn't exactly some extravagant rich man's club where the users' nostalgic indulgences can be bankrolled indefinitely. Of course companies will make the jump when they realise that their business plan, unviable on RISC OS due to a combination of market size and the backward state of the platform technology, might actually pay off elsewhere. I recall the makers of Vantage being told that their application might go down quite well on GNU/Linux/UNIX, despite the usual stories of reluctant spenders on those platforms, but they just weren't interested in aiming high and wide; if they had, Vantage users might still have some level of support, even if it were just occasional fixes and the ability to get the install media replaced. Instead the RISC OS platform got its exclusive copy-protected killer app in one final, sealed-shut binary-drop - hardly a victory for the users, but I'm sure some cheerleaders thought it to be still worth bragging about.

 is a RISC OS Userguestx on 10/11/06 12:20AM
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Andrew Banks:

"My comment was about your stated wishes, that could help to bring about the death of RISC OS for everyone else."

I do not wish anything, since RISC OS as a system failed me long ago. When my RiscPC failed, I paid both CTA and Castle to fix it, despite their failure to do so under warranty, and finally this combined with the growing problem of Internet software forced me to flee to the dark side. I did not want to. I felt pushed.

My favourite major applications - ArtWorks, Ovation Pro and Sibelius - are all available for Windows and are under active development. Since RISC OS is clearly a lost cause, surely the best thing to do is to salvage some great software and make it available on modern platforms.

"Ref. your statement "Would you rather see your favourite software die along with RISC OS?" . Removing software from RISC OS will hasten its death."

True, but that is missing the point. You need to consider why porting software needs to be considered in the first place. There are many reasons for this:

* Thousands of Acorn customers abandoned the platform thanks to Phoebe, Omega and RiscStation * Many remaining users do not often invest in new software or equipment * The hardware is slow * Users will continue to leave due to a lack of capable Internet and multimedia applications

I could probably enlarge that list but it's all been said before. Clearly these are all reasons why development has slowed dramatically. When development slows, so users will leave and so the cycle continues.

I really thought Castle had it cracked with the IyonixPC but they failed, along with the other major developers, to capitalise on the new hardware by plugging software gaps and/or promoting new development. You'd need a pretty amazing machine to bring that opportunity again.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 10/11/06 5:56PM
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What exactly do you mean by 'the hardware is slow'. You can compare raw MIPS but its usable power to the user which counts. For something such as multimedia encoding, lack of raw grunt and floating point may be an issue but my Iyonix still beats my 2 gig MacBookPro in usage for many things....

If you want to 'port things' would it not be better to port the whole OS onto commodity hardware?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 10/11/06 8:17PM
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"If you want to 'port things' would it not be better to port the whole OS onto commodity hardware?"

Well, this is what I have been saying for years, now. Also once we had RISC OS running on x64 hardware, we might be able to use something like WINE (www.winehq.com) to run Flash-plugins and such stuff.

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 10/11/06 11:13PM
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Mark Stephens wrote: "If you want to 'port things' would it not be better to port the whole OS onto commodity hardware?"

Initially, I thought the same way, but an OS port is no use without the applications unless you're using some kind of compatibility layer between them and the ported OS for the ones you can't recompile for a new architecture. If you consider doing all that work, you tend to ask yourself whether it's worth it, and which applications you really need to keep running.

Once you get to that stage, you start to feel that it's only those compelling applications that are worth porting, and that it's not worth bring the whole OS along just for some niche applications that you could either find better replacements for, or run under emulation instead.

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 10/11/06 11:29PM
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markee174: If you want to 'port things' would it not be better to port the whole OS onto commodity hardware?"

Would it be better? From the remaining commercial players point of view [1], it's probably not so great, commodity hardware means little profit for the hardware manufacturers as they can be easily competed against, driving down prices. The software developers would have to do lots of recoding work based on a CPU architecture change (many times the amount of effort the 26->32 addressing changes required) and have absolutly no guarantee of the 'massive increase in potential users' that porting their software to Windows would bring.

It's not a bad idea, it's interesting technically and kind of fun, but I wouldn't expect lots of companies in the RISC OS market to push for it.

[1] And just the commercial developers point of view, from a users point of view faster and cheaper hardware is great.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 11/11/06 00:30AM
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JGZimmerle: You and Mark both seem to miss the point that we have a RISC OS port on industry standard hardware already. It is called RedSquirrel/VirtualRPC. In contrast to a native port of RISC OS it can even run standard RISC OS software, so is infinitely more useful. Even if it was possible to port RISC OS to a different processor there would be precisely zero benefit from having such a port since it could not run our software.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 11/11/06 11:09AM
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I'm not actually in favour of porting - I'm suggesting that if you buy into the initial proposition it seems to lead to porting the OS rather than just applications. I would rather see ROL extend the hardware range so we can see some kind of ARM based portable.

I think Artworks and TechWriter are more alive than they have been for some time thanks to your efforts. Multimedia support and browser support needs to be better on RISC OS but I'm not in agreement with the 'doom and gloom' merchants. Maybe you have some suggestions for these areas?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 11/11/06 11:46AM
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Martin>"we have a RISC OS port on industry standard hardware already. It is called RedSquirrel/VirtualRPC"

It appears ;) [Meaning it's an emulation - RISC OS hasn't been ported at all]

That nit having being picked - much as I am against emulation - it (actually) would be preferable to simply porting all the good native RISC OS applications over to windows and letting RISC OS die - but then, of course, if the only way RISC OS were to survive was under emulation I don't think I for one would particularly want it. Yes in all of this I am deliberately ignoring MacOS and Linux as targets to port to for the simple and somewhat obvious reason that Windows is on the bulk of hardware and (as if that's not enough) I believe long term DRM and content will be so tied into Windows that *nothing else* (not even MacOS) will have a look in. People wanting to use MacOS X, Linux or RISC OS will have to satisfy themselves that they will simply *not* be able to do everything windows can. Is this fair - nope.

Some may view RISC OS' inability to do certain thing as it "failing them" - but if the playing field is well and truly tilted against you what do you expect.

Martin Wuerthner asked>"Maybe you have some suggestions for these areas?"

Even as a non doomsayer I can come up with a few positive suggestions. The problem, as I see it, is that *content* and web based multimedia is too "locked" into Windows OR to closed proprietary standards. If *we* were to implement a cross platform set of multimedia servers either using "open" or even RISC OS based formats (DrawServer anyone) and provide the *server* side software as open source (or for a nominal but small fee) with free plugins for RISC OS (and other) browsers then that might be a way of levelling things. Yes I know SVG exists (for example) - but Draws simplicity might make it more appropriate as a vector format (it's also pretty compact) - or possible (ahem) even Artworks (which can also be rendered on RISC OS). A "Flash" replacement might include sequences of "Draw" format images with timing, looping, fade and other information interleaved, sound I'll admit is a bit more complex - but you can see where I am going with it.

If these were developed in a way that benefitted *all* platform users it might even encourage supporters from *outside* the RISC OS camp to help with it (as it would benefit them too). If it means putting it under GPL or BSD (or some new fangled license) to do it then so be it. Just my tuppenceworth.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 11/11/06 4:46PM
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Annraoi wrote: "I believe long term DRM and content will be so tied into Windows that nothing else (not even MacOS) will have a look in."

So why bother? If you take that view, you might as well give up now and get used to it! Maybe it helps to know that there are groups and organisations that try to protect the interests of the general public and oppose the erosion of our rights in these matters:

[link] [link]

"Yes I know SVG exists (for example) - but Draws simplicity might make it more appropriate as a vector format (it's also pretty compact) - or possible (ahem) even Artworks (which can also be rendered on RISC OS)."

I don't want to be negative when you're being so positive but I don't think that Draw is really suitable as a cross-platform format; not unless you convert all the text to paths before saving each file, at least.

 is a RISC OS Userdavidb on 11/11/06 6:36PM
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"What exactly do you mean by 'the hardware is slow'"

Well, I mean it is not fast. For those rare tasks, such as watching DVDs, recording music, encoding MP3s, editing photos... oh, wait, they are all COMMON tasks these days. I guess that means that RISC OS hardware is slow.

Not only is RISC OS missing a modern bitmap editor, but it is also missing a RAW converter/editor. It is also missing a vaguely modern music recording/editing application, not to mention a DVD player and multimedia player. What about editing digital video? In all cases the hardware is not up to the job, before you even consider the issues of the software.

That is the problem. It is no use saying you can't compare Mhz to Mhz. For basic use of the OS, RISC OS is very zippy, but for most daily tasks, it is now rather slow and in many cases simply not capable.

I use to be a RISC OS optimist. I sold my Windows PC and switched to RISC OS exclusively and that was just before the Kinetic RiscPC was released, so I think I qualified as being an optimist back then. Since then I've been forced to sell up due to the complete lack of significant progress in comparison to other, more popular computer systems ie. WindowsXP and MacOS X.

 is a RISC OS Userarenaman on 11/11/06 7:13PM
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So why are you still even interested in RISCOS anymore? Maybe it does have something to offer. I've gone the other way in outlook. RISCOS still has holes (as you point out), but there are some clever people taking it forward. TechWriter looked dead in terms of development after the sad and untimely death of its programmer and now it goes from strength to strength.

The thing I find most bizarre is that with virtualisation, the idea of running multiple OSes seems to be much more acceptable, along with the idea that MAC OS, Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc all have strengths and its nice to be able to mix and match.

I have Parallels on my MacBook Pro and I switch between systems to use the best tools for each job. But I still prefer my Iyonix for mail. Watching OS X Mail while it waits to bring up an email - now thats what I call slow....

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 11/11/06 8:50PM
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