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Dead software and OvationPro

By 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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I agree that RISC OS needs new software. The other side of the argument is that PC users - in education - need PC versions of "old" RISC OS applications! Viewpoint - the latest version of DataPower is extensively used in education. There are Oak applications (from Snap Happy to Apollonius) that would be very successful in PC versions. The problem was that in many ways RISC OS software of the 1990s was ahead of it's day. Some staff in school are now asking for the PC equivalent of what was available on RISC OS 10 years ago.

Perhaps the real money will be made by porting "dead" RISC OS applications to the PC world!

 is a RISC OS Usercardav on 5/5/03 10:32PM
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I can't complain about Ovation Pro for Windows, but it is slightly disturbing (though unsurprising) that it is a lot quicker on my P4 2GHz laptop. :o| -- Simon Wilson, Boulder, Colorado

 is a RISC OS Userksattic on 5/5/03 11:01PM
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Killer Apps on RISC OS? Are there any?

I am of the opinion these days that the only killer 'app' is the GUI. RISC OS just works differently and that's what I like. You can do everything that you can on RISC OS on other machines but just not in the same manner.

What do others think? -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 5/5/03 11:24PM
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I want RISC OS on the latest 3Ghz Intel/AMD/? machine. That'd be bliss - high speed and usability. I can dream...

For now, I stick with two machines - RISC OS and WinXp - on my desk and a shared network server ... that's Linux! :-)

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/5/03 1:45AM
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I think Sibelius is the only killer app that has ever been on RISC OS, StrongED is pushing it a bit! ;-) It'll be very interesting to see this new app in AU, but I fear it'll be a let down, as the term 'Killer app' is so over used these days.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 6/5/03 1:54AM
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Why do we need a new CAD package when we've already got ProCAD+? Incidentally, that's also available for Windows - just like Ovation Pro.

Authors should not be slammed for doing this - indeed, look at Textease! There can be very few schools in this country with RISC OS kit capable of running the latest version at sensible speeds - yet Softease continue to support us, even though they have a Windows and MacOS version.

Recall the development of TechWriter for the Apple - this was aimed at providing enough income to subsidise further development under RISC OS.

It all seems very sensible business sense to me. -- Andrew Harmsworth, Cambridge. www.gcse.com owner and author

 is a RISC OS Userharmsy on 6/5/03 8:24AM
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The windows version of Ovation Pro is nice and nippy, and (in the rather short test-drive I just gave it) faithful to the original document layout. All it needs is anti-aliased text and an Artworks renderer ;-)

 is a RISC OS UserMerlinTHP on 6/5/03 8:39AM
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I'm not sure that Artworks 2 could be described as an 'original' app, since it was first developed by Computer Concepts.

I would disagree with spriteman and thegman about killer apps -- surely Impression, Artworks and Zap ;) are all killer apps.

 is a RISC OS UserHertzsprung on 6/5/03 8:41AM
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Same for me as spriteman - I just like it :-)

Actually thats not quite true - I love it :-D

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 6/5/03 9:46AM
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Hertzprung: I though the definition of a killer app was that you bought the computer specifically to run that bit of software, while the products you list are good, they don't justify buying a computer for. Zap and StrongED are OK, but BBEdit on the Mac is a in a different class (on sheer features, let alone usability), albeit an expensive one if you want the full version. Artworks, never used it, but I doubt many Mac users have ditched Freehand or Illustrator to use it. Actually while we're talking about apps, why are there very few demos of software on RISC OS, i need a good vector drawing package, but cannot get demos of Artworks or Vantage to try them out, and I'm not parting with 100+ to find out the software is not suitable for my purposes. I'm like spriteman too, I just like RISC OS, that's why I use it, not because of the apps.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 6/5/03 10:14AM
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You ccnat slate DP for OVpro on windows. NOW at last I can swap files between the two as never before. Time to consider a RISC OS machine for home now. If I can swap fils completely without transl;ation then that is idea.It is time the RISC OS market realised that you need compatability with windows. Ohhhh I feel a bit of a flame coming on.

cheers bob

 is a RISC OS Usernijinsky on 6/5/03 10:53AM
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No-one should flame you for that, nor hold anything against DP, the guy has to make a living, I think everyone here accepts that.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 6/5/03 11:21AM
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One of my clients will probably convert their whole office to RISC OS, now that Database and DTP files from RISC OS can be used on Windows computers as well. Some of the employees regularly take some work home, and there they still have Windows machines.

-- Julian G. F. Zimmerle

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 6/5/03 11:52AM
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Remarkable, good to see RISC OS can still pull in new users.

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 6/5/03 11:58AM
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Oh hurrah, another person wanted to collect the rights to old software to resell it. I would like to appeal to any software authors whose work is currently out of print/distribution to release it into the public domain, for no other reason than altruism.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 6/5/03 12:34PM
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I'd like to stop this ballony that what we've done with DP2 is just re-releasing old software. I've seen this said in two or three Drobe articles, and it's garbage.

We've employed someone full time since Feb/March working on the Iota apps, and very few RISC OS companies can claim such a commitmant to their products. DP2 has been one of the most complex 32bit updates that we have undertaken - large chunks have had to be re-written or re-worked. It is telling that the original authors (who are still around) didn't wish to tackle it!

Additionally, the infamous protection system has been largely dispensed with, making life for users much easier.

Similarly with Image outliner.

Ongoing development is likely, but will be determined by sales of what we've done so far.

Obviously I can't speak about APDL/Proaction stuff, but I know that pretty much every product we've taken on has been developed further (eg. EasyClip, AddressIt [til Royal Mail pulled the plug], DP2, Image Outliner and so on....

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 6/5/03 2:20PM
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So how's WXL 2 coming along ?

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 6/5/03 5:02PM
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flibble, you nasty man ;-) -- Spriteman.

 is a RISC OS UserSpriteman on 6/5/03 5:09PM
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Registered WXL users are kept up to date with free updates as and when they are ready, flibble! There is another one due this week in fact - thanks for reminding me. This latest one includes support for Natwest online banking, amongst other things.

I feel it is important to continue to provide free updates to browser users, because a browser's functionality is determined by pages created by the rest of the world. If you start charging lots of money for updates, you put people in a bad position - pay more money, or it's "game over" for the product they bought previously.

 is a RISC OS Userarawnsley on 6/5/03 5:24PM
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So, when WXL2? -- Ian Hawkins (g0tai)

 is a RISC OS Userpiemmm on 6/5/03 5:27PM
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That's good to here but ... my flatmate bought WXL at SE show in 2002 and has received no mails/updates/notices. Should I suggest he get in contact with you to discover what's wrong? sounds like an administrative cockup somewhere.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 6/5/03 5:29PM
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I hope R-Comp push forward with WXL, my last go of it was not encouraging, but 100 for O2 is taking the piss!

 is a RISC OS Userthegman on 6/5/03 5:29PM
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So who's going to 32bit !Browse?


 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis@work on 6/5/03 5:46PM
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I'm sure WebsterXL 2 will be released when it's ready and hopefully not before like Oregano 2 was/is. Andrew Pullan remains committed to developing the browser. WXL 1 is still being developed, enhanced and bug fixed and at the same time WXL2 is also being developed, no easy task for one person.

To keep up to date with the latest versions and progress updates, all users of of WXL should subscribe to the WXL mailing list by sending an email to websterxl-subscribe@smartgroups.com If you sign up to R-Comps priority support scheme then updates will be sent to you by email as and when they occur. Failing that, if you speak to R-Comp they will probably ask to to return your original discs to them for upgrading (you'd need to confirm this with them though).

Even with the extra cost of the Priority support scheme, the price still doesn't come close to that of Oregano2.

Incidently though, I was unable to post this with Fresco (couldn't login), Oregano (doesn't like long posts) or WXL (doesn't like your message boards). Thank heavens for Mozilla! Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 6/5/03 6:55PM
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Who gives a toss about 32bit -- I'd just like to see Browse available for all again. IMO it's the best browser on RISC OS still.

 is a RISC OS Userimj on 6/5/03 6:58PM
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The Doctor: If the <form> on this page was changed from method="get" to method="post" then O2 could post long messages, there is a limit on the length of the URL in O2, that limit is 4k, the same as IE.

 is a RISC OS Userflibble on 6/5/03 7:35PM
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It's damned annoying whatever it is. I did try O2 but couldn't paste the text into the comments area (no way was I typing it all again!) (I only have the demo of O2). I normally use O1 or WXL. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 6/5/03 7:41PM
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get the full version... :-)

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

& longer

see what I mean?

 is a RISC OS Userepistaxsis_RISC OS on 6/5/03 10:22PM
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Not really. As I understand it, it's not the length of the post that stiffs !O but rather the size (in kilobytes) Anyway for me to buy the worlds most expensive web browser I would require it to be rather better than it currently is. I'm keeping an eye on it. Cheers!

 is a RISC OS UserThe Doctor on 6/5/03 10:52PM
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Wow. I think Mr Pilling could really be on to something here. It's really strange to be able to use OvnPro on windows. It looks a bit rough at the moment but the functionality is there... This software really could fill a gap in the market between the totally rubbish MS Publisher and superb but very difficult to learn Adobe programs. Yay!


 is a RISC OS Userpeprice on 6/5/03 11:52PM
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Yeh, everyone I've spoken to is impressed with OvationPro for Windows.

(btw, hi pete ;) )


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 07/05/03 01:27AM
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And as usual Windows conspires to lose my text, let's try again.

O-Pro-dow: Good, unfinished, crashes occasionally, odd, like using unix X progrms on RISC OS. There are a few Windowsy GUI bits, but mostly it's much better, I thought I found a non resizable dialog box that could have used a resize button, but I can't find it now. Needs either instant update of things like zoom, or the ability to press Adjust. Toolbars seem to go missing, think they might be off the bottom of the screen.

There are print borders, woohoo, but they don't seem to work, in fact printing anything seems to go wrong, d'oh.

With a bit more work it could be the best program on Windows, ever, 2! Although I haven't played with Windows Textease, the RISC OS verison is very cool though, I love the instant wrapping of text around graphics as you drag, every DTP program needs this.

As far as its impact on the RISC OS version goes, I see it as a benifit, previously everything else had to be compatible with Windows, now the tables have turned.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 07/05/03 11:30AM
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Dave Pilling's told us that the OvationPro for Windows is unfinished and still in development despite a time limited demo being online.

We'll hear more when he finishes it.


 is a RISC OS Userdiomus on 07/05/03 12:16AM
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Porting software to windows can be a good thing. (Providing the original is not abandonned as has happened with some software). It makes it easier to have RO at home while work has windows (or even vice versa). It also means that users can invest time in a program knowing it's fate isn't tied to a platform, which is likely to strenthen the position of RO.

 is a RISC OS Userjess on 07/05/03 1:37PM
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