Printers+ really open sourcedBy Chris Williams. Published: 1st Jun 2003, 01:49:08 | Permalink | Printable
Castle Printers 1.67 also on riscos.com [Updated 22:43 1/6/2003]After intially heralding their first incursion into the open source world last October (those wacky, pre-Iyonix days), RISCOS Ltd.'s ambition to release their Printers+ software on Source Forge has this weekend been fulfilled.
Maintained by Dave Marston, you can now download the Printers+ sources via CVS and build your own version (if you have the right tools). Pre-built versions are available via the Select scheme and the project is released under the Mozilla Public License.
"Printers+ is an enhanced front-end for the RISC OS Printing system", explained Dave in the source code release note. "Printers+ provides a number of enhanced features over the standard RISC OS Printers application, including support for remote network printers, and some advanced printer features."
The key point to note here is 'front-end'. The behind-the-scenes printer dumper modules are not covered in the open sourcing of Printers+ although RISCOS Ltd. state that they "happy to co-operate with any developer who wishes to receive information on the PDumpers system in order to support new Printing systems and computer models". Relevant documentation and mailing lists are provided alongside the open sourced Printers+ release, which is always useful.
Open sourcing Printers+ throws open the opportunity for users to directly contribute to the way the RISC OS printing system interacts with end users and it also passes the support baton over to Dave. It's only a matter of time before the Style Guide Pedants Patrol return from their nightly rounds and begin auditing Printers+.
We're not sure if future development work on Printers+ is expected to be driven by RISCOS Ltd. staff, Dave himself or from user contributions, so questions have been asked. Getting third party developers to add to Printers+ would certainly lighten the work load on the core OS developers. Also, and this may seem funny, but releasing source code like Printers+ gives a glimpse into the kind of software developed at Acorn and later, RISCOS Ltd. Perhaps also, if there's enough interest in the Printers+ source code, RISCOS Ltd. could be inclined to open source further 'satellite' applications, although RISCOS Ltd. stressed last year that RISC OS certainly isn't going to become completely open source.
Also popping over
Earlier this year, Castle Technology unveiled their USB based printing system with the intention of allowing RISC OS 3 and 4 users to get their hands on it too. This was confirmed this weekend with the public, free release of Printers 1.67 on the RISCOS Ltd. resources site (the download link says version 1.66 but the version running on the iconbar says 1.67).
Undoubtedly, the OS development and USB driver splits weren't enough, as it seems as we've now facing a printer system split. Printers version 1.67 (that ships with RISC OS 5 and now available on the RISCOS Ltd. website) has various features Printers+ (now open sourced and pre-built in RISC OS Select) does not have, and vice versa. Printers 1.67 has pop-up USB support, printer cloning, support for long control strings and other features. Printers+ has the ability to connect to a "wide range of networked printers".
Despite this, we have to agree (for a change) with Iconbar.com in saying that seeing Castle's printing software hosted on RISCOS Ltd. website is a refreshing and welcomed sight.
Dave Marston got back to us, answering our questions on the future direction of development of Printers+. Dave told us that for a while now, he's been in contact with someone who is keen to look at a few things for Printers+.
"There are some other obvious things", added Dave, commenting on what's likely to be in store for Printers+, "like making use of the new printer identification features in Select 3, and getting it running on Iyonix, that I imagine will be looked at.
"Since sourceforge provides a way of tracking enhancement requests I think we'll make use of that, see what suggestions people have, and take it from there."
Printers+ Source Forge project
We've learnt that RISC OS Select users may be experiencing a difficulty with Printers 1.67 and although Paul Vigay suggests a largely DIY hack job to correct the problem, users may have to wait for an official fix.
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