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By Chris Williams. Published: 16th Dec 2003, 21:05:49 | Permalink | Printable

Christmas offers, Excel, Viewfinder, CLib problems and more

round up logoMW Software are running what is probably the first Christmas special offer of the season. When purchasing Artworks 2, or an upgrade from AW1, you can knock 10 quid off the normal price and get a fine, free 64 page printed manual or alternatively knock a full 25 quid off the standard price. The offer lasts from December 15th 2003 to January 15th 2004.

Windfall Engineering have somewhat attempted to make their Viewfinder card upgrade scheme less complicated this week. John Kortink of Windfall announced today the online release of version 1.60 of the graphics card's firmware and said the firmware subscription system had been "withdrawn". So forget the subscription scheme, it's all wonderfully straight forward now. Version 1.60 of the firmware for non-Radeon Viewfinder cards contains just bugfixes and no extra features. Version 1.60 for Radeon powered Viewfinder cards, however, has the old subscriber only features like bank switching and overlay support as well as Radeon only features, like dual head operation and TV out.

Gerald Fitton of Abacus Training, which distributes and supports Pipedream and Fireworkz, has warned users to not upgrade to Castle's CLib 5.46 and instead use 5.45.

"We do not want to force current users of PipeDream or Fireworkz to upgrade their version (of PipeDream or Fireworkz) because of a change in the way the CLib works", Gerald said earlier today on the Archive mailing list. "Whilst we are not averse to rewriting the code for PipeDream or Fireworkz in order to 'work around' a change in the way the new CLib treats the int() function, we do not like the idea that we would then have to charge those who wanted to continue to run PipeDream and Fireworkz under the new CLib."

Abacus Training, therefore, could release an update to Pipedream and Fireworkz, but they would have to charge for such work to be done on the applications' source code. Instead, they insist users step down to CLib 5.45 and hope that the next release of the SharedCLibrary module will correct the problem affecting the two spreadsheet packages. The "serious bug" apparently only arises for users of 26bit RISC OSes with CLib 5.46 loaded.

RISC OS users can now view Microsoft Excel documents, thanks to Anton Reiser's recently developed and released ViewXLS software. ViewXLS can open Excel 4 to Excel XP files for your viewing pleasure and also export in TSV format. There are a few limitations, such as inability to handle password protected spreadsheets and Excel files that employ Unicode or RTF formated text. Despite this, Anton believes his program will "close a long outstanding gap of RISC OS software" and his app was able to handle Excel workbooks I had to hand to throw at it.

"I was annoyed about not able to open Excel files with RISC OS programs. So about two years ago I started to examine XLS files", Anton told us in an email, earlier this week. "The result was something like 'xls2csv', written in BASIC. But I was not very happy with it, I had the feeling that C would be more suitable. So I started to learn C and ViewXLS was the result.

"Fortunately Excel saves usually the result of formulas in the file and ViewXLS need only display this pre-calculated values. A book, written by Gunter Born about file formats and published by Galileo Computing, was very helpful for me. I'm not sure if it is available in english.

"Occasionally, questions in comp.sys.acorn.* showed me that there was a demand for such a piece of software and I decided to publish ViewXLS in its current incarnation: 'far from perfect'. Now I'm very impressed by the great interest and the very positive feedback from ViewXLS. This is a good reason to do some further development, but don't expect too much."

Screenshot of ViewXLS
Too bad ViewXLS can't make financial reports more exciting

In Brief
John Tygat has taken over development and support of Dave Appleby's CCres software and also placed it under the GPL. Version 1.09 can be downloaded from here.

Composition is up to version 1.22f and this week's patch release sees bugfixes and support for libraries in Composcript. Lenny is also credited for his help in updating the Composcript manual. Eddie Lord has released his IP address calculator. APDL/ProAction are touting special offer educational Sherston Software titles via ebay. ProAction aka Alligata Media, have also accquired Topologika Software's RISC OS line of products, more details on that when they're made available.

And finally, we've learnt that some major bugs in GCC 3.3 have been fixed and the team are near release.


News? Comments?

Previous: Christmas and winter usergroup meetings
Next: MyRISCOS re-organisation details leaked


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Hang on, so people with the older VF cards can no longer upgrade their firmware to get bank switching, even though it was available before (for a fee)?

Have I misread something, or does this mean that customers that paid for the last non-Radeon VF firmware should not upgrade to 1.60 or risk losing bank switching?

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 16/12/03 9:31PM
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ViewXLS is great. Handles sheets from Mac Excel very well. Does the author have any plans for a full-blown spreadsheet with excel compatibility at its core?

 is a RISC OS UserJessFranco on 16/12/03 9:32PM
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ksattic: I *think* it simply means that both the Radeon and non-Radeon versions of the VF software contain *all* the features previously available only in the paid for version, but that the Radeon software is the only one that will *continue* to be developed. So, 1.60 doesn't provide anything extra over older versions (for non-Radeon owners). Possibly. :-p

 is a RISC OS Userbarti on 16/12/03 9:51PM
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Please note..

Anton did email us back but his email may have gotten eaten by my over zealous spam filter: Anyway, the article above originally said Anton didn't reply but he did and I've quoted some interesting bits.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 16/12/03 9:55PM
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barti: I couldn't quite tell from the wording on the Windfall website:

Quote: "There is no more 'pay' version of the software with 'extra features' (like bank-switching and overlay functions). [...] The non-Radeon version contains no extra features and will not be developed any further (unless it needs bug-fixes)."

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 16/12/03 9:55PM
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ksattic: it seems from the mailing list that yes, if you paid for 1.5x non-Radeon, then you lose the extra features when you "upgrade" to 1.60, which appears to be a free bugfix release rather than a free "lets just let them have everything for free" release.

This does seem weird as that means that if you paid for 1.5x then you can't ever get the fixes that went into 1.60 added to your 1.5x functionality without upgrading your card to a Radeon. Kind of a weird end of life firmware I guess....

 is a RISC OS Usersimo on 17/12/03 12:49AM
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WRT not being able to open Excel files with RISC OS programs: Textease has been able to open modern XLS files for a number of years. It doesn't keep much formatting but it shows all the data just fine.

Phlip. Commenting. On RISC OS. Ouch.

 is a RISC OS UserPhlip on 17/12/03 6:39AM
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Philip: Textease, even at v 5.93, dies horribly when any multipage Excel workbook is thrown at it. I also hate its spreadsheet, which is massively unintuitive. I wish they'd stuck to the core of the product, rather than trying to be all things to all men. And I've said as much to Geoff.

 is a RISC OS Usermikeg on 17/12/03 7:48AM
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Please get the facts right. ProAction is NOT aka Alligata media. They are different companies and (generally) do different things.

 is a RISC OS Userapdl on 17/12/03 8:18AM
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Thanks, Anton, for ViewXLS which I've just downloaded from your site. Like it or not, Excel is pretty much everywhere these days. ViewXLS provides a valuable addition to the list of filetypes I can decode under RISC OS. I'm looking forward to tying it out and seeing what it can cope with.

 is a RISC OS Usermartin on 17/12/03 10:53AM
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Thanks Anton, ViewXLS has enabled me to read my uni documents on RISC OS, I have been saying that this is the type of app we needed, and all I got was "We dont need to be M$ compatible!"

Didnt realise Textease opened XLS files?

Question is, can it open files wwith multiple sheets?

btw anyone see : [link]

SUN win in a way! :D

 is a RISC OS Userem2ac on 17/12/03 2:04PM
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