Drobe :: The archives
About Drobe | Contact | RSS | Twitter | Tech docs | Downloads | BBC Micro

App development plans to be hatched at Wakefield

Published: 27th Apr 2007, 20:42:40 | Permalink | Printable

Plus, should open source coding be charity-supported?

Can I get you a drink?A group of RISC OS users will hold a 'fringe meeting' at Wakefield to discuss how to fuel future software development. The gathering are set to prop up the bar at the event in May, while bashing their heads together to plan how to take RISC OS forward. All visitors to the show are welcome to join them.

The meet-up was arranged during a drobe.co.uk discussion thread that stemmed from the cancellation of the Oregano 3 project. It is hoped the group will thrash out ideas on how to spur on development of new software, which may not be necessarily commercially viable to produce.

Drobe contributor Paul Stewart said: "The idea of the meeting is to discuss the best way forward to bring new software developments to RISC OS.

"Many of us either complain publicly or in private about the lack of certain software and the lack of updates to other pieces of software. Here is your chance as a member of the RISC OS community to sit down with like minded people and see if we can get involved with creating a brighter future for our platform."

The meet-up is set to take place at 2pm on the day of the show in the bar area.

• Graham Shaw has suggested creating a charity specifically to fund and promote the development of open source software on RISC OS.


The thread that started it
Wakefield show website Email Paul (paulstewart [at] phawfaux (dot) co (dot) uk) to confirm you want to attend, or want a particular point discussed.

Previous: New release of family tree file editor
Next: The houses that RISC OS built


Viewing threaded comments | View comments unthreaded, listed by date | Skip to the end

(why does drobe sometimes say Nothing to be Done when I submit comments?)

The frustrating thing is that I have ideas/resources for projects but not the programmer time to bring them to fruition. I guess most of the remaining programmer-types are otherwise occupied, which stiffles development :(

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 27/4/07 11:11PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

It's a slightly unusual use of the term 'charity'. Surely referring to it as a 'foundation' or 'initiative' would be more conventional?

The intentions behind the charter are reasonable and I realize that nothing is set in stone at this point but I hope that the organizers make an effort to look around the net for existing resources. One of the best lessons of FOSS is that collaboration and reuse of facilities is usually better than creating from scratch. I wonder what facilities are out there on the web that could be reused?

For example, riscos.info has started a list of projects that need help and perhaps that could be expanded?


There are probably a few RO resources of this sort that could be tidied up, improved and united under a common banner.

Perhaps some of the mainstays of open source development (such as Sourceforge and bugzilla) could be utilized in some way?

 is a RISC OS Userkillermike on 28/4/07 2:49AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


Could your list of ideas be added to the riscos.info wiki? Something might inspire someone to start a new project.

 is a RISC OS Userkrisa on 28/4/07 7:26AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to killermike:

The proposed organisation doesn't have a name as yet, although there are a number of ideas on the table from those who have helped me to develop the idea.

('Foundation' is already taken, although I'm not convinced that it should have been - my understanding is that it is normally reserved for use by charities and similar bodies, which ROL isn't.)

Anyhow, for now I'm using the word 'charity' because it has a specific legal meaning, and because it conveys better than any other word how the concept differs from any other RISC OS-oriented organisation that has existed before.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 28/4/07 8:03AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

krisa: Surely, what Andrew had in mind were ideas for commercial software? Those are usually kept secret until the product is ready to be announced. A good product idea is a valuable commercial asset.

 is a RISC OS Userwuerthne on 28/4/07 9:49AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

What would be very valuable would also be to try and get the source code for products no longer being sold out into the open (such as Vantage) so people could possibly pick these up.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 28/4/07 1:57PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to markee174:

That's already covered (buying out closed-source software) - see the last paragraph of the 'incentives' section.

You're right that the focus here should be on software which is no longer being sold - partly because it will be more affordable in that state, and partly to reduce the risk of displacing commercial development.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 28/4/07 2:32PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I think there should also be encouraging more communications from developers so we know what is being developed. Too many RISCOS developers lack publicity which must impact sales.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 28/4/07 4:16PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


Have you though of offering prizes to achieve something as happened with the contest to get Windows to run on the Intel MACs or the X prize to get into space.

Both those stimulated a lot more development than just paying one person to do something.

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 28/4/07 4:19PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to markee174: Back on he original Oregano3 thread, offering a bounty has been mentioned has a means of incentive. Whether there will be enough money to pay for a full time progammer is really pie in the sky at the moment.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 28/4/07 5:19PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to markee174:

I've used the word 'bounty' rather than 'prize', but the concept is very similar in principle to what you've described.

Where there might be a difference is size. I don't think offering a single, large bounty to (for example) add full Javascript support to Netsurf would work very well because it would take too long. The tasks need to be small and manageable, and achieving that is probably the single greatest challenge.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 28/4/07 5:38PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


The more you comment the more it looks like you have been carefully thinking this out! I wish it every success.

I think 'charity' is the wrong word - foundation would be a better term.

There are several programmers who do contract work as well as developing RISCOS software and there is also the ROOL team. Have you contacted them to see if they have any ideas/opinions?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 28/4/07 7:35PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

I can't really see how a bounty would motivate me. I mainly do stuff for RISC OS now because it something that interests and stimulates me, unlike the stuff I have to do in day job.

If I started thinking about getting my hands on a pot of money at the end of a task, I'd envitably consiider of the much greater sum I could gain for a few hours of extra contratc work for other playforms.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 28/4/07 7:56PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


So what could people do to encourage/help you to develop things for RISCOS?

 is a RISC OS Usermarkee174 on 28/4/07 8:04PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to Druck:

There are no doubt many RISC OS programmers with similar views to your own - I never imagined otherwise. The questions I am looking to answer are: - whether there are programmers for whom either a nominal or a substanial reward would make a difference, and - whether there are tasks which need doing which would not otherwise be done because they are not sufficiently interesting to those who program purely for intellectual enjoyment.

(I'm obviously hoping that the answer to these questions is 'yes', but I can't prove it yet and it is very useful to hear what people think. I also take Druck's point that we need to be careful not to demotivate existing programmers. That's one reason why it would be essential for the organisation to be democratic and transparent.)

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 28/4/07 8:27PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Be nicer to developers and each other.

There is nothing that saps the motivation more than having a mental picture of your user base as being a bunch of ungrateful argumentatibe tossers.

Of course the vast majority of RISC OS users are good people, who are well worth sacraficing any form of social life to write software for. But unfortunately they aren't the ones you see when reading the newsgroups.

 is a RISC OS Userdruck on 28/4/07 8:27PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to druck:

I'd agree with this wholeheartedly. In particular, we (meaning all of us) need to learn how to have technical arguments without it becoming personal.

Would this be a good opportunity to draw a line under old differences? I don't expect us to magically agree on the right way forward, nor would that necessarily be healthy, but we can at least start to be nice about it.

(Taking this a step further, I'd be interested to hear what others think about the codes of conduct which are used in communities like Groklaw and Ubuntu. Not something you can enforce in the newsgroups, obviously, but may be of some benefit elsewhere.)

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 28/4/07 8:47PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Here is my 2p worth...

One thing RISC OS badly needs is users to actually purchase new products. So many comments on forums follow the line 'I haven't upgraded because..." or "I still use my 10/12/16 year old RiscPC..." and the users actually sound proud of the fact when they announce it.

Software authors cannot live on royalties 12 years on, users must upgrade in order to keep development moving. Another issue is that new products and software upgrades are driven by the market - if the users do not request products, then no-one can blame the authors for not producing them. I have seen this myself with RiscCAD - no user has requested a single feature in well over 12 months - so where is my motivation to improve or modify the software.

I consider myself a competent programmer, but a programmer needs to feel their creation is going to be used otherwise where is the motivation. I have all but ceased writing for RISC OS, for several reasons, the main one is available time. However, what would have been useful when I was is help locating things such as technical specs, file formats etc, which are sometimes hard and time consuming to find - all of which reduces the time left to code anything. I think this is where non-programmers could really help coders.

In retrospect, are products like Aemulor such a good thing, as they limit the incentive of users to purchase upgraded software.

I think that too much discussion is being placed on the browser issue. Many people have access to a browser, whether on RISC OS or not. What is needed is a vibrant software/hardware market. Once this is in place, there is a chance software companies will look again at the platform, or at least home grown programmers may evolve from the userbase with enough time to develop things further.

I said it was my 2p worh, and it's probaby worth every penny :-)

 is a RISC OS Userdemondb on 28/4/07 9:37PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

" One thing RISC OS badly needs is users to actually purchase new products. So many comments on forums follow the line 'I haven't upgraded because...' or 'I still use my 10/12/16 year old RiscPC..."' and the users actually sound proud of the fact when they announce it."

Yes. This is absolutely right. No-one would expect a PC or Mac software company to support 10-year old software on modern hardware, or hope to run modern applications on RiscPC-era computers. People who run ancient machines and never spend a penny on new releases and *still* moan about the pace of development are a pain.

On the other side of the coin, however, RISC OS developers need to market things much better. Good, smart websites, secure online payment, regular updates and good communication are essential, but rare. I'd really like to see sensibly graduated pricing as well: I'm very happy to pay the upgrade costs for ArtWorks (and will upgrade again when 2.7 is out) because at each stage the cost is small and the benefits are clear. Not all products out there follow this sensible pattern.

 is a RISC OS Userlym on 28/4/07 11:05PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

"One thing RISC OS badly needs is users to actually purchase new products. So many comments on forums follow the line 'I haven't upgraded because... ' or 'I still use my 10/12/16 year old RiscPC... and the users actually sound proud of the fact when they announce it. "

As lym as commented, this is absolutely right. However it is not all the user's fault. Surely these days, some 6 years (or more) after RISC OS 4 being available, developers should write software that only supports RO4 or later OS. Or now we have 2 32bit machines available, how about developers only supporting the newer versions of the operating system. Something like this would force users to upgrade both OS and Hardware in order to run the lastest version of their favourite application and encourage new hardware to be developed.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 28/4/07 11:16PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

sa110: As a commercial programmer (or non-commercial one interested in as many people using their software as possible) you program to the minimum version that support the features you need. In the case of 3.7 -> 4.02 the API differences are small enough that any requirement for 4.02 would seem very artificial, to the programmers and knowledgeble users.

'Forcing' users to upgrade sounds like a brilliant way to annoy them into looking for another platform. Give them positive features instead and they'll upgrade. Similaly make new OS versions have useful APIs for programmers and they'll write programs that use them.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 29/4/07 12:27AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

sa110: I agree with Peter (flibble). Unless the newer operating system can do something for the programmer that an older one cannot (which could include saving development time), there is no reason to limit code to the newer version.

The same goes for hardware; in fact, if I found myself using using FireFox regularly on my RPC, despite it running like treacle, I would probably go for a faster computer. Since it doesn't run well enough to be practical (note, I don't mean fast enough, I'm quite patient), I can't see anything that an Iyonix or A9 can do for me

RISC OS software is somewhat hobbled by the fact that it tends to be written to do a particular job well, which means that it's rare that a new version of something will have existing customers clamouring for an upgrade, but would you have it any other way?

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 29/4/07 9:13AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In response to some of the feedback I've received I've added some information to the proposal about how a charitable organisation could become involved in non-charitable activities if necessary. (I don't think this is would in any case be a major limitation in practice - for example, both of the browsers currently under active development are already Open Source, and if Java isn't already then it will be soon. There would be plenty for the organisation to do without stepping outside these bounds, but it may be of some reassurance to know that it could do so if needed.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 29/4/07 9:23AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Hmm. Right-click on the Show help button in NetSurf posted my incomplete message!

I can't see anything that an Iyonix or A9 can do for me that an old computer can't. I would pay for the ability to edit digital video from a camcorder and generate DVDs. I would pay for the ability to watch YouTube videos and DVDs (in which case the new computer might replace my DVD player in the living room). I might even pay for the ability to watch and store DVB-T transmissions via a USB device, but I already have a device that does that (Siemens AV740).

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 29/4/07 9:25AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to Stoppers

How about running FF2 Rlse2 for starters.

But you just higlight the problem when people try to move away and support things,people with 13 year + hardware just won't let them. With Virtual RISCPC , Iyonix and A9 there is a sizable element of the market that can support and should support newer applications.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 29/4/07 9:44AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Sorry hit preview with Netsurf and it added before I completed.

Anyway, If people wish to continue with older hardware then fine but don't complain that certain features are not in RISC Os when those features may require newer and faster hardware to make them effective. There are obviously certain apps that can still be developed using the older hardware and I wouldn't advocate stopping those but there does come a time when things have to move on or else if we didn't we would all still be living in a far less technolical advance society. Like VHS the RISCPC has had it's day and a good one at that but now it is in the twilight of it's product lifecycle.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 29/4/07 10:06AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Just to reiterate what demondb said - my very first reaction reading the article was 'how about supporting the programs that are already available'. There seems to be a feeling that somehow supporting open-souirce projects (although I think we've yet to see any source to things like the firefox project) is worthier than supporting the various commercial companies / developers. I guess it depends what market people want to see in 2 or 3 years time, but shows like Wakefield or Guildford, and indeed the print-magazines aren't likely to survive without the commercial companies that still exist. My feeling is that the any "inititives" need to recognise both aspects as being extremely important.

Actually one area that such an inititive could help with is running "petitions" (actually, more like "totalizers" if anyone watched Blue Peter as a kid) for chargable software updates, to give developers some idea of how much desire there is for updates. For example, lets say 500 people signed up for an Ovation Pro upgrade or something, it might be helpful. It would also allow developers to plan accordingly.

Finally, next time you want some hardware device etc (eg. high end DVD player, monitor, hard drive, TV) why not phone a RISC OS company and see what they can do. We do a fair bit of home electronics/cinema stuff (it is a pet hobby of mine) for people who are interested. We actually "cross fund" some RISC OS stuff that way - selling stuff to non-RISC OS types, but investing the results in RISC OS software development.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 29/4/07 11:00AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

bluenose: I was trying to highlight the problem, so I guess I succeeded!

I'm not stopping anyone from producing newer applications and hardware, I'm just saying that , if they do, and they want me to buy it, it will have to do something I want to do but can't at the moment.

FF2 Rise2 runs on Windows 98, by the way, I just tried it on an old (400MHz) PC. It let me watch YouTube videos. Does that work on RO yet? Will it ever?

Sorry if I sound negative, but I've been treated like a charity by RO companies already, to the tune of several thousand pounds, now I'd like to be treated like a customer.

 is a RISC OS UserStoppers on 29/4/07 11:07AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to arawnsley

Totally agree and it could be that one thing discussed is how any initiative could take some of the commercial risk out of a potentially new or updated software product. Things like "pledge" lists have a very real place and gives developers some idea of what is required.

At the end of the day the end result has to be that people are willing to pay for upgradst o existing packages or to say a yearly software service in order for the market to survive. If say a new software package filled a gap in the market and it also enabled this to filter through to people purchasing newer hardware or virtual hardware then this could only be good for everyone.

 is a RISC OS Userbluenose on 29/4/07 11:45AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to arawnsley:

I would not want my proposal to be seen to be anti-commercial in any way.  On the contrary, I hope I've made it very clear that I'm in favour of cooperation between commercial and non-commercial developers.

Where I make no apology is for focussing on one particular part of the equation in a way that hasn't been tried before (within the RISC OS community).

If some form of complementary initiative could be taken in on the commercial side then I think that would be fantastic. What I don't have is any particular vision as to how this could be brought about, whereas for Open Source I do.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 29/4/07 2:00PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

In reply to Stoppers:

Being a customer in a small market is inevitibly a very different experience from what you would normally come to expect as a consumer. In particular, there is a much greater degree of inter-dependence. If suppliers want to sell then they need to respect and care about the customer - but if customers want to retain the ability to buy then they must care about the supplier.

If we try to avoid this reality then I think the market will simply disappear. On the other hand, it is clear that some users - rightly or wrongly (and probably a bit of both) - feel exploited by the current situation.

Where I think we can and should change is to improve transparency and accountability, because it is the lack of these which causes much of the current frustration that we see. This is one of the key points that my proposal is intended to address.

 is a RISC OS Usergdshaw on 29/04/07 2:41PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]


We tried the 'totaliser' thing for an Iyonix version of Select. We even hit the target figure given by ROL. And then what happened?

 is a RISC OS Userstevef on 29/04/07 4:36PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Stopper wrote>"FF2 Rise2 runs on Windows 98, by the way, I just tried it on an old (400MHz) PC. It let me watch YouTube videos. Does that work on RO yet? Will it ever?"

The plug-in for Firefox to do that is *separate* from FireFox itself (just having Firefox is *not* sufficient you need the relevant plugin too). It's the plugin that provides the support (so whether it runs on Win98/2K or XP is neither here nor there). If the plugin (or protocol used by YouTube) were publically available then it *would* (theoretically) be possible to display video on the more current RISC OS hardware (and possibly the faster versions of the older ones - e.g., StrongARM based ones). Remember YouTube is using a relatively slow connection (compared to DVD) and at probably lower resolution - so is less stressful than decoding DVD.

In *all of this* it is neither a limitation of RISC OS - or even the hardware - just a lacking of either information to produce the plug-ins required or lack of developers to do these. The OS can't be faulted on this surely?

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 29/04/07 4:39PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

We have to be careful to distinguish between the OS "core" and an OS "release". The former is what we would expect on the ROMS the latter is inclusive of the support CD. In Windows world the whole lot comes on CD or rather DVD these days. However, using a car analogy, despite the CD player in the car not being necessary to its functionality, you would expect one in a new car these days. Likewise with an OS release you would expect a core of applications that make your hardware useable "out of the box". A useable computer these days has to be able to jump onto any website, such as the BBC, and start watching a video clip or jump onto a website for a band and one of their tracks will play etc etc.

So the problem with RiscOS is not the core OS but the support applications, which should be included with an OS release. The biggest obvious holes being the web browser plug-ins that all browsers need these days and the multimedia (video) support. I find it very frustrating that way way back when I first got my RiscPC I was able to watch replay movies....multiple replay movies whilst the PC world was struggling with icons and fonts! Yet today I can't watch a single video clip in a web page.

 is a RISC OS Usermripley on 30/04/07 08:40AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Steve Fryatt - try not to get bogged down in the things that haven't worked out. For a start the Iyonix Select thing was dependant upon two companies code-cooperating, and that is always going to be problematic. What I had in mind was (for example) letting developers see how many people want upgrades to specific products, at different price points. It is a small thing, but it helps us get a handle on what we can expect to see in terms of return on investment etc. This allows better planning, and most efficient use of resources. It can also bolster enthusiasm if a large number of people enthuse about something.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 30/04/07 11:10AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Whilst it's counter-productive to try to force users to upgrade their hardware it's possible to do so if new software works across the board but does more with new hardware. At the simplest level that could simply be by running faster - but software writers may find more possibilities than that.

As regards making use of older software that is no longer promoted it would be wrong to attempt to force all down the same path. Some, eg from magazine cover discs, may simply need to be identified, updated, and made available for download or on CD. Others may best be sold commercially by someone willing to continue to develop them. By all means try to 'rescue' software - but don't then leave it to wither because there's no one interested in keeping it up to date.

 is a RISC OS Userjc on 30/04/07 3:10PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

John Cartmell wrote>"Whilst it's counter-productive to try to force users to upgrade their hardware it's possible to do so if new software works across the board but does more with new hardware."

Agreed. Trying to "close options" off on people is a bit shortsighted (a bit too much stick and not enough carrot). The more positive approach of stating that the software works better on/runs faster on/can do more on "X" rather than legacy kit should move people forward.

The other side of the coin though has this *really* worked? Many people still use RPCs (some haven't even upgraded to the StrongARM). And bear in mind SA gave an x5 improvement in performance (surely enough of an excuse)

The real kicker is that software can be *limited* by the hardware it runs on - and that often means more imaginative/flashey type applications doesn't get written and then people can't see a point in upgrading their hardware (a sort of vicious circle).

I'd agree with you also that there may be many "small" utilities and applications that *could* be resurrected to run on 32bit hardware some as free/shareware others as commercial products.

 is a RISC OS UserAMS on 30/04/07 6:03PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

So what happened at the meeting then?

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 24/05/07 00:06AM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

flibble: "So what happened at the meeting then?"

A name was decided on (RISC OS Connect), and there are apparently plans for a wishlist, and also a list of available resources (in terms of who is able to do what, if you see what I mean).

I wasn't there, so don't have any more details than that.


 is a RISC OS Userdgs on 24/05/07 7:25PM
[ Reply | Permalink | Report ]

Please login before posting a comment. Use the form on the right to do so or create a free account.

Search the archives

Today's featured article

  • Cross platform development
    Building RISC OS Programs on Windows
     47 comments, latest by EasyKees on 07/10/04 8:05PM. Published: 24 Sep 2004

  • Random article

  • Clares classics relaunched
    ProAction at the helm
     4 comments, latest by andypoole on 19/4/03 6:58PM. Published: 17 Apr 2003

  • Useful links

    News and media:

    Top developers:
    RISCOS LtdRISC OS OpenMW SoftwareR-CompAdvantage SixVirtualAcorn

    CJE MicrosAPDLCastlea4X-AmpleLiquid SiliconWebmonster


    RISCOS.org.ukRISCOS.orgRISCOS.infoFilebaseChris Why's Acorn/RISC OS collectionNetSurf

    Non-RISC OS:
    The RegisterThe InquirerApple InsiderBBC NewsSky NewsGoogle Newsxkcddiodesign

    © 1999-2009 The Drobe Team. Some rights reserved, click here for more information
    Powered by MiniDrobeCMS, based on J4U | Statistics
    "I must put drobe.co.uk on the blacklist of UN USER FRIENDLY ACORN WEBSITES"
    Page generated in 0.3953 seconds.