NOBLE APE MAILOUT - APRIL 2003
This month has been quite productive. The Simulation's development is now actively being tracked by Sourceforge. The illusive Windows version is working through the thin Generic Platform Interface. The iON development and Java implementation of the Simulation are actively hosted on Sourceforge. Noblemake - the tool used for grouping the Noble Ape source - has also been published on Sourceforge.
At the start of this month, Sourceforge listed the Noble Ape Simulation without any activity. Although I make roughly three source changes a week and logged this with Sourceforge, the activity rating stayed at 0%. After some correspondence with Sourceforge, I changed the way the development was hosted with Sourceforge - opting to use Sourceforge for the delta-changes, bug tracks, feature requests and most importantly unique source hosting.
By changing the way the development worked with Sourceforge, the development moved from 0% to more than 95% - rating the Noble Ape Simulation in the top 300 projects developed on Sourceforge. This pushed the Simulation into the front page of all of its categories and increased the Simulation's visibility.
The main topic of development this month has been the Windows GPI - a time consuming but ultimately rewarding development. I hope to increase the Sourceforge visibility of the development with a new version hopefully within the next month or so - linking interest in Freshmeat.net with the Sourceforge development. I am also reworking the Java version of the Simulation - although more on that in next month's mailout.
Following the Radio 4 interview, I received a number of requests for a Windows version of the Simulation. Regulars to the Mailout will remember this has been a topic of discussion and development for more than a year. Through the Generic Platform Interface - which allows for all the Noble Ape software to be ported in one go - this Windows port is not just the Simulation but also Planet Noble Ape and soon the iON development too.
The methodology of the GPI is one born of frustration more than anything. Existing porting frameworks are quite cumbersome and rooted in particular academic philosophies of programming rather than practicality. The GPI has its roots in my experiences cross-porting to Mac and PalmOS in 2000. The interface is basic and almost totally skin to be added over well-formed platform-independent code.
The Windows GPI has existed in a partial form for Planet Noble Ape over the past couple of months. The additional work to move the Simulation to a GPI compatible form and then fix a single symbolic bug took a large part of this month - but now with an executable and a list of features to add, the Windows version of the Simulation will be available for the next release. The version will be akin to the look and feel of version 0.656 of the Simulation - the GPI is minimalist. But it should have the complete Vector feature-list - potentially with file handling too.
Over the past month, I have used the opportunity to finalise the Windows GPI development to revive a crucial multi-platform development tool Noblemake. I started developing Noblemake when I first arrived in Wilmslow. Reworking the original Nervmake code reminded me of how much my development has changed over the past eighteen months.
In technical terms, Noblemake is a pre-compiler - it clumps source code together, but the novelty in Noblemake is the source code contains the rules of clumping rather than an external file. Originally Noblemake was compiled pointing to the starting file, but with some added code, Noblemake can now create multiple versions and multiple output files. As an example, Noblemake can parse the source code to create Windows and Mac versions of all the Noble Ape software in source code from a single run.
Noblemake is also platform independent. The source code is open and simple. It doesn't suffer under the compilation and implementation problems with proprietary or more complex open source alternatives.
Languishing behind the other Noble Ape developments has been the iON. Over this month, I have reworked the source and listed it on Sourceforge;
Like the Simulation, the iON currently has tasks relating to it and the continued development will be tracked on Sourceforge. In the next couple of months, I hope to have the iON assembler also on Sourceforge and a brief manual to enable interested folk to begin creating their own iONs. A suite of development tools featuring drag-and-drop and debugging tools will bridge developers, artists and enthusiasts.
Hope all is well with you all,
Tom Barbalet, 27 April 2003.