RISC OS web developers' group opensBy Ian Chamberlain. Published: 8th May 2004, 15:00:37 | Permalink | Printable
Go forth, and discussWhile RISC OS is used in some very specialised areas of computing, including sonar and radar equipment and television programme production, it also has applications in an area that's much closer to home: 2D graphics and desktop publishing. Just about every RISC OS user has a preferred graphics and DTP package, and even ex-RISC OS users fondly recall their ease of use. With web bloggers hailing the web as a new publishing frontier, does it therefore necessarily follow that RISC OS is a powerful tool for the production of websites?
To help answer this question, Drobe spoke to Mark Syder, a web developer, who was responsible for setting up the RISC OS Web Designers' Group earlier this week. Mark first explained what his group is about: "I know there are general web designers' groups, but I wanted to set one up just for RISC OS users so we could include topics such as using Artworks 2 and Photodesk in our graphics design."
"I generally prefer using RISC OS to Windows because it is more user friendly and faster," added Mark, justifying why he designs sites on RISC OS and not Windows. "Also, R-Comp produced HTMLEdit which meant I could learn while I designed. It is simple enough for the beginner.
"Another reason is that I want my sites to be accessible to as many people as possible. I'm usually confident that if a site works on RISC OS, it will work on other platforms."
However Mark, like many other users in the past, condemned the RISC OS browser situation. "It's awful. I know we're always going to be behind the PC market for browsers, but I sometimes feel this excuse is trotted out too readily." In the same tone, Mark seemed frustrated that there were no development tools for technologies like Flash from Macromedia.
Cynically, you could argue that Flash is a flimsy substitute for what a website needs more than anything: actual useful content. However, Flash and similar technologies have their uses and this is where one begins to question the validity, and indeed the practicality, of using RISC OS as a web development platform. Even RISC OS' latest, and supposedly up-to-date, browsers seem to lack compliance with some of the most widely spread standards.
Despite these set backs, there still seems to be an amazing enthusiasm for using our platform for web development; Mark tells us that his group has attracted a lot of interest, having already gained (at time of writing) 48 members. So just what is the elixir of RISC OS in this field?
The platform's lasting affair with graphics and desktop publishing software has proved useful, for much of this software is now used in the field of web development. Programs like ArtWorks 2, Composition and Photodesk are popular tools in the RISC OS web developer's armoury; and along with your favourite text editor, you've got most, if not all, of what you need to build an accessible website.
And perhaps our operating system's most powerful, yet most underrated, virtue is the community itself. RISC OS users create their own solutions to problems - problems they discuss, quite often, with other like-minded users - indeed, many freeware tools have been created out of this process.
However, the reasons behind Mark's protests will not disappear without strong action. We need to address the short-comings of our current catalogue of software if RISC OS is to remain a viable alternative in this fast moving field. And in the tradition of dialogue finding solutions, let's hope that Mark's new group will promote the wishes and needs of its users. Companies and developers need to know what we want, so let's be sure we tell them.
Updated at 03:24 9/5/2004
You can find some simple Flash making tools here, from Henrik Pedersen. With these, you can create Flash 3 files from scriptfiles and drawfiles.
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