Dead software and OvationProBy Chris Williams. Published: 5th May 2003, 21:49:17 | Permalink | Printable
View from the launchpad [Updated 18:16 6/5/2003]Editorial Bank holiday Monday, looking eagerly online for RISC OS related news and who are we kidding? Hopefully developers and users alike will be spending the day relaxing ahead of the forthcoming Wakefield Show this weekend. So this humble view from the launchpad and editorial (ok 'waffle') is mostly driven from a pick of emails readers have sent us this week, which is good because we're bound to miss some interesting events and we consider all news tips.
Respect the dead
Firstly, Robert McCann contacted us to help publicise his efforts to revive old software, dust it off and re-sell it. R-Comp and ProAction have recently been doing this, digging up SQL database DataPower 2 to make it 32 bit compatible and re-releasing Clares packages respectively. Rob himself rekindled Enterprise Accounts.
"I am trying to find all the old and un supported commercial software that has been produced for the Acorn/RISC OS platform over the years in an effort to keep this software alive", Rob told us. We have to admit it's a nice sentiment to bring back old classics from Computer Concepts, Minerva and Oak, applications reanimated from the digital grave in a nostalgia fuelled crusade to reconstruct the Acorn era.
However, we feel that unsupported deceased software should be left that way. It sounds harsh but RISC OS needs new software, not 1993 throwbacks and we'll assert again our hope that R-Comp and ProAction are using cash from recycled software products to fund development of new applications. How about a new spreadsheet, DTP editor or CAD package? Original apps like CocoGnut, Artworks 2, Vantage 1.10 and Oregano 2 all help to fill in the software deficit plus there's no harm in bringing portable modern software from other platforms across too.
Windows of ovation
Speaking of bringing software across, Dave Pilling as the developer of the most excellent RISC OS DTP package OvationPro, has sneaked out a Windows version of his software. Ryan Hitch spotted the online Windows PC demo, commenting to us that, "it looks so much like the RISC OS version".
We're not going to roast Dave for porting his software to another platform as he needs to pay bills and earn cash besides we want to give Windows users a real dose of DTP, however applications like OvationPro migrating to Windows opens a serious question: What will it take for users to stop using RISC OS and pick up another platform entirely? When RISC OS Select was first launched, RISCOS Ltd. said at their press conference that a non-RISC OS computer can make a great addition to a RISC OS powered office and some users need a second PC to do work and activities not possible on RISC OS (3D gaming springs to mind). It's one thing to use RISC OS for its desktop environment and user interface, but another to use it primarily for killer apps like OvationPro, StrongEd and Artworks. AcornUser magazine recently touted details of a new killer app it had an exclusive on for an upcoming issue. We'd like every month of AcornUser to feature a new big application.
We all know of the story between Castle Technology and Linux and that they admitted to using code in RISC OS 5 that was based on Linux kernel sources. Finally, Neil Whiteley-Bolton has located a good write up of the SCO vs. IBM feud (on silicon.com) arising from accusations that IBM sneakily embedded protected Unix source into the open source Linux kernel. Does it seem familiar? Well perhaps not the billion dollar lawsuit side of it.
Clarification [Updated 18:16 6/5/2003]
We've been told that our reporting of R-Comp's DataPower 2 is misleading and to quote R-Comp's Andrew Rawnsley, "it's garbage". Having spent two months making the application 32 bit (which required re-writes of the source code) and ripping out the copy protection system, R-Comp say future development of the database app is dependent on current sales. It strikes us that surely all products rely on present sales to secure future development but in any case R-Comp stress that they're not simply re-releasing old software.
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