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Richard Russell
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xx A change of direction?
« Thread started on: Nov 26th, 2016, 9:04pm »

It's now just over a year since I started work on a version of BBC BASIC (x86) which would run on platforms other than Windows - specifically Linux (86), Mac OS and Android (86) - based on the Simple DirectMedia Layer (SDL). It seemed to me at the time that this was the best way that I could try to broaden the BBC BASIC user base, especially given the number of times I had been asked for such versions over the years.

A year on, the project has been a technical success - BBCSDL works well on those platforms and provides a reasonably good degree of compatibility with BB4W - but from a user uptake point of view it has been a complete disaster. Not a single person has admitted to using BBCSDL (well, that's not strictly true, one person tried it on an Apple Mac but for various reasons was unhappy with it)!

Quite why there has been such an extreme degree of apathy is hard to say. It may simply be that those people who had earlier requested versions for the other platforms gave up waiting and moved on to something different (I have to admit that for a long time I was pessimistic about such versions ever being created, and had it not been for my discovery of SDL they wouldn't).

It may also be that the inevitable incompatibilities between BBCSDL and BB4W are offputting. Looked at from the perspective of BBC BASIC in general (starting with the 6502 version on the BBC Micro, then Sophie's ARM version and my Z80 and 8086 versions - and a few others like Brandy) the compatibility between BB4W and BBCSDL is excellent. But for those who have never used anything except BB4W the absence of Windows API calls and some other detailed features may be too much of a challenge.

This seems to be a familiar tale. I tried to expand people's horizons a few years ago by writing the D3DLIB library to make it straightforward to write full 3D programs in BBC BASIC. But apart from one demo, nobody else ever took up the challenge. Then I tried again with BOX2DLIB, to provide access to that Physics Engine (used by Angry Birds) but again there was next to no interest from users.

But we are where we are. There's no point flogging a dead horse and in the total absence of any enthusiasm for BBCSDL I have put it firmly on the back burner. That leaves me in something of a vacuum as regards how I can most usefully spend what little time I have left before my progressive dementia makes any kind of software development impossible.

Richard.
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michaelgallup
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #1 on: Nov 27th, 2016, 02:02am »

You would have to look at the posts on BBC4W forum.

Many people including David Williams and myself uses BBCSDL. In fact, most my work is focused on making programs for it. I have been doing that shortly after I started leaning BBC.

I like reinventing the wheel..

Also, I do talk to other people about BBC Basic... although its probably best to not confuse the keywords, as BBC Basic in the search engine doesn't send a person to BBC4W.
That could be a problem.

Its more likely, that people would casually just try it and not say anything. Also, its not like BBCSDL would have had any real degree of exposure to the public.
« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2016, 05:33am by michaelgallup » User IP Logged

Richard Russell
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #2 on: Nov 27th, 2016, 10:13am »

on Nov 27th, 2016, 02:02am, michael wrote:
Many people including David Williams and myself uses BBCSDL.

That's the first I have heard of it (I don't read the BB4W forum as I'm not welcome there; the last post I read contained personal remarks which I found upsetting). The only 'feedback' I have received about BBCSDL from members of that forum is that it's a waste of my time and effort.

Quote:
BBC Basic in the search engine doesn't send a person to BBC4W. That could be a problem.

It depends on what country you are in. If you do a Google search for "BBC BASIC" (in quotes as shown) from the UK the very first hit is bbcbasic.co.uk so I can't ask for better than that! The I Search From site suggests that this is currently the case also for a search from the US, but I don't know how reliable that tool is. But either way I don't think you can say that my site is poorly linked!

Quote:
Its more likely, that people would casually just try it and not say anything.

I can't really agree, because I have repeatedly asked for feedback. I have also asked for assistance in writing the documentation, creating a Help Viewer, and writing/porting libraries and add-in utilities. Not a single person has offered to help in any way (except of course Andy Parkes with his phenomenal IDE).

Quote:
Also, its not like BBCSDL would have had any real degree of exposure to the public.

Of course not, but it's not the "public" who are expected to react to a software product at an alpha-release stage. It's the knowledgeable and experienced user-base that are found on the various groups and forums.

I am in a race against time, so it is essential that I prioritise my work according to what people want and need. If I get no feedback I think it's right to conclude that I need to change direction.

Richard.
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michaelgallup
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #3 on: Nov 27th, 2016, 12:13pm »

Lets say, that the majority of people who come to this forum do not become members, and those that do, have a membership only at times browse without logging in.

Anything you post in GENERAL doesn't show in the current post, and I even have noticed that.

Perhaps the reason you don't see a reaction to your posts in GENERAL is because visitors cant see the posts unless they log in.

In fact, they cant even see what the post is if they look directly at the GENERAL link. They would just see who was posting , but no topic.
You would need to change your forum settings so visitors can view the GENERAL tab.

Also, the unusual warm weather (at least in Canada) would affect peoples time spent on computers.

Of course other issues, like the existing projects that the BBC4W members are working on may affect the attendance in general, even on BBC4W forum.


« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2016, 12:25pm by michaelgallup » User IP Logged

Richard Russell
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #4 on: Nov 27th, 2016, 2:22pm »

on Nov 27th, 2016, 12:13pm, michael wrote:
Perhaps the reason you don't see a reaction to your posts in GENERAL is because visitors cant see the posts unless they log in.

I have no idea why it was set that way, it wasn't intentional. I've now changed the settings so that guests can read the General board.

But it's primarily the Groups.io and Wiggio groups that I would have hoped to get a reaction from, since the membership there is very much higher than here, and people get alerted to posts by automatic emails (if they have subscribed to that service).

Richard.
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michaelgallup
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #5 on: Nov 27th, 2016, 9:08pm »

I am currently working on making a HELP tool data base maker.
When I am done, anyone can use it. I am hoping to get it set up much the same way your BBC4W help files work.

This of course will be compatible with BBCSDL

I am thinking it will be a tool you can just copy/paste into any program and a user can modify the help screens as needed.

Also, I want to attempt to make it so the help screen can be compact, yet expandable. This way, if say you wanted to make it handle some custom subjects for BBC4W or BBCSDL or some other reference need, it doesn't get in the way.
I hope that will help.

« Last Edit: Nov 27th, 2016, 11:31pm by michaelgallup » User IP Logged

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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #6 on: Nov 28th, 2016, 7:17pm »

Richard

Unfortunately, we are a very lazy lot and invariably leave it to someone else to comment.

I have tried BBCSDL on Windows using Windows 10 (not really the best place because we already have BB4W) and on Mac OS X (El Capitan). The latter I have tried on my second hand Mac Mini and my wife's MacBook. It works very well. It's nice to be able to use it on a Mac because usually the programming languages are a bit complicated for someone as long in the tooth as myself. What would be very nice is if a standalone file could be produced, but I do appreciate with the Mac that can be a little difficult because you probably have to use XCode to do it.

I do hope you continue with development of BBCSDL.
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Richard Russell
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #7 on: Nov 28th, 2016, 8:53pm »

on Nov 28th, 2016, 7:17pm, RNBW wrote:
What would be very nice is if a standalone file could be produced, but I do appreciate with the Mac that can be a little difficult because you probably have to use XCode to do it.

Well, as a Mac owner you probably know more about this than I do, but I thought there was no such thing as a 'standalone executable' file in Mac OS. You will have noticed that the Mac version of BBCSDL is distributed as a .dmg file; inside that there is an application package (which is a compressed container like a Zip file) and inside that are a large number of separate files.

My, admittedly very limited, understanding was that this is the normal way for Mac applications to be distributed. If so you don't need any modifications to SDLIDE to create such a package from a BBC BASIC program, it's something you can do quite straightforwardly at the command line or - and why not? - by writing a BASIC program to do it! If I've misunderstood something and this isn't correct please let me know.

If you do write some code to create a 'self contained' Mac application from a BBC BASIC program please consider incorporating it in SDLIDE (which is itself a plain BASIC program as you know) and letting me have the modified version for possible inclusion with future releases.

Richard.
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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #8 on: Nov 28th, 2016, 9:16pm »

Richard

I wish I had the knowledge and expertise do what you suggest, but it's way beyond my capabilities. Although I own a Mac, I bought it cheap to play with. I must confess to know little about how it puts things together, other than it sounds a lot more complicated than Windows.

I'm afraid it's the blind leading the blind on this!
« Last Edit: Nov 28th, 2016, 9:17pm by RNBW » User IP Logged

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xx Re: A change of direction?
« Reply #9 on: Nov 28th, 2016, 10:37pm »

on Nov 28th, 2016, 9:16pm, RNBW wrote:
I'm afraid it's the blind leading the blind on this!

What I know (if indeed it's right) I gleaned from Google; you could do the same. I have no special insights or skills that have made it any easier for me than it would be for you (a year ago I knew nothing at all about Mac OS). Get searching!

Richard.
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