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                 OpenTemplot - where next?
     
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1st message | this message only posted: 4 Sep 2018 06:04
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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It is now 3 months since I released Templot as open source. I spent a lot of time preparing the code to make it suitable for publication, and capable of being compiled in a readily available compiler.

Then when there was some disagreement about the actual form of publication I spent more time splitting it into two options -- a conventional collaborative open source project (OpenTemplot), and a "home" version for users to tinker with for their own use (TemplotMEC).

For a long time I had been reluctant to publish the code for Templot, fearing that it would create a flood of questions about the workings of the code, and requests for help in modifying and compiling it. Which on top of the usual help requests from users would be just too much to cope with.

In the event I was completely wrong, and the actual result has been almost total silence. I know of no-one working on or with the code, or at least if they are doing so they are keeping very quiet about it.

Which leaves me wondering where we go from here? There is still a lot missing from the open source version, including the PDF exports and the entire sketchboard function. Should I be spending time on solving these issues? They are no 5-minute tasks. Or just leave the existing open source where it is for anyone who wants it and otherwise forget it?

There is also the question of open sourcing my more recent work on Templot2. I am in the middle of a big update to the DXF exports for the 3D rendering and possible 3D printing of bullhead chairing. The code for that will need a lot of explanation and commenting to make it sensible for others to read, and I have not yet done a user interface for all the many settings or any user help notes.

It seems that open sourcing everything creates a lot of extra work, and from the level of interest so far I'm not sure that it's really worth it.

cheers,

Martin.

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2nd message | this message only posted: 4 Sep 2018 13:19
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Rob Manchester
Manchester



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Hi Martin,

Sorry you feel a little frustrated with the lack of interest in OpenTemplot :( Despite my programming experience in an earlier life there is virtually no hope of me delving into the code and making changes ( for me or for others )... there is too much else to do with modelling related subjects. It is anyway highly unlikely I could produce anything that improved on your monumental efforts with the code :)

My thoughts over the past years has been that damn bus that charges round the country looking for innocent targets. Now we have a ( non internet checking ) downloadable version of Templot all we have to worry about is that the Windows platform doesn't change. We would all like you to take care near the roads though.....

Others may have different views of course.

Rob


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3rd message | this message only posted: 4 Sep 2018 19:39
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Trevor Walling
United Kingdom

 

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Hello Martin,
                  I think you releasing an open version of Templot that does not require an internet connection has provided a fallback for everyone should you find that bus that people keep mentioning.
We will all continue to use your Templot2 till such times as it is no longer available. The reason for that is because Templot2 is one of a kind and if we want to do track planning their are no alternatives.
Also I believe anyone doing anything with OpenTemplot would not care to burden you with their efforts as you made clear that users would be on their own. People will always use the best option available to do something and at the moment that is you and Templot2. It is maybe a good thing you are left in peace to do as you like when you like with Templot2 without being burdened by OpenTemplot as well. I think you answered your own question as below.
Best regards
Trevor.:)
Or just leave the existing open source where it is for anyone who wants it and otherwise forget it?

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4th message | this message only posted: 4 Sep 2018 22:12
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Paul Boyd
Loughborough, United Kingdom

 

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Hi Martin
For me, the main interest was in having the possibility of running Templot without having the internet check.  In the event that for whatever reason that gets switched off, all our work is made useless at a stroke.  Whatever the software, I feel nervous about relying on something outside of my control to be able to continue using it.  Even with my reluctant switch to the subscription model of Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop I can still fall back on an older standalone copy if necessary, and I have an XP box squirelled away as a last resort for when Microsoft do something stupid to stop my ALPS printer working, or parallel printer ports on PCs disappear completely.

The idea of being able to tweak things to make my own version does appeal, although it’s been a long time since I’ve done any programming.  Regarding the work you’ve done to split it into two versions, I do feel you were bullied into that to some extent, but obviously you could have said “no”!

To be honest, in your shoes I wouldn’t spend any further time on it, having released it so it’s available if necessary.  You may like to do the occasional big update now and then though!  I would hate you to think you’ve wasted your time though - as a way of being able to continue using Templot in the event of the proverbial bus changing its timetable, or nuclear Armageddon wiping out the servers, it would be reassuring to know that we can still access all our work!

Cheers,

Paul

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5th message | this message only posted: 5 Sep 2018 00:24
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Hi Rob, Trevor, Paul,

Thanks for your thoughts. I did say at the start that I would open-source Templot and then leave it to others, while I get on with Templot2 in my own way. So in theory I have no reason to be frustrated by any lack of feedback.

But the point I'm making here is that I haven't yet finished the first part of that. There are still significant chunks of Templot2 not yet included in OpenTemplot. The fact that none of you picked up on that, and that there has been total silence about it, makes me wonder if it is worth spending my time on the significant amount of work still needed.

The biggest task is in open-sourcing the sketchboard. Apart from licensing issues, the sketchboard is based almost entirely on Windows metafiles -- which are not supported in Lazarus. So open-sourcing the sketchboard means either completely rewriting it to use other mechanisms, or creating TMetafile support in Lazarus. Either way is a massive amount of work, at least it would be for me. I'm assuming that those already working on Linux or other platforms may have solutions, but no-one has popped up to say so.

Likewise the PDF export. To find an open-source replacement ought to be easy. But I haven't found one. Writing one from scratch would be another major task. There is the option of using a virtual printer application instead of the dedicated export, but they are all focused on standard paper sizes and can't produce the large single page PDFs which Templot's dedicated PDF export can create for wide-format long-roll printing.

The alternative approach to both these issues would be a half-way house in which OpenTemplot makes use of a pre-compiled Windows helper executable. I have already adopted that approach for the screenshot maps, there apparently being no other easy-to-use embeddable browser other than the Windows I.E. control. In that case I have open-sourced the (Delphi) code for the helper exe, but that wouldn't be possible for the PDF or sketchboard. The big disadvantage with this method is that it will always be Windows/Wine only, and it might stop working in future versions of Windows and/or Wine.

So I have to decide whether to try to get the full Templot2 functionality into OpenTemplot, or whether to leave it as it is now? The total silence about any of this, or offers to assist with it, leaves me assuming that no-one is much bothered?

cheers,

Martin.   

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6th message | this message only posted: 5 Sep 2018 16:50
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Trevor Walling
United Kingdom

 

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Hello Martin,
                  I think as long as it is possible to print the actual Templot track images for building track with OpenTemplot all the other stuff in Templot2 is not really needed. The extra work you would make for yourself if you felt obliged to do so would end up taking all your time. We all appreciate what you have provided for already without adding to more work for yourself. I think your enjoyment developing Templot would become an unwelcome ordeal if you ventured down that path.
Best regards.
Trevor.:)

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7th message | this message only posted: 6 Sep 2018 10:01
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madscientist
 

 

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Publish it all on GitHub. Then leave it into the wild , no support After all you can’t take it with you !

Dave
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8th message | this message only posted: 6 Sep 2018 11:00
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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madscientist wrote: Publish it all on GitHub. Then leave it into the wild , no support After all you can’t take it with you !Hi Dave,

It is already on Sourceforge:

 https://sourceforge.net/projects/opentemplot/

However, the latest release is not on there, it's here, please use this zip file instead:
 
 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3292&forum_id=26

(waiting for Adrian to update the Sourceforge repository with this).

For instructions on what to do with it, see:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3283&forum_id=26

Martin.

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9th message | this message only posted: 27 Mar 2019 16:11
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rynd2it
Stalham, United Kingdom



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Hi Martin,
I think you need to consider the number of modellers out there who use Templot2, then what % of those have programming skills, what % of those have the time and what % of those who want the responsibility and I think you'll get a very small number indeed. Sort of like a reverse of the Drake equation :)
You've put it out there, let it be and carry on supporting us on Templot2 as long as you are willing and able.

Thanks for all you do

David
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10th message | this message only posted: 11 Jul 2019 08:16
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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See: http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3454&forum_id=1

Martin.

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11th message | this message only posted: 12 Sep 2019 06:00
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John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Martin,

I welcome the move to open sourcing Templot, however I am confused by what seems to be two separate OS versions which are different from the main Templot which you continue to develop as a closed-source project. My understanding of OS is that the whole product is open-sourced including all the build methods etc. In such a model everyone is able to contribute and you in effect would become one of those contributors. In my opinion having two separate versions that are not part of the main product roadmap gives little incentive to participate.

This link may provide further info on the open source philosophy - especially the section Understanding Community Expectations:
https://opensource.com/article/17/6/what-know-you-open-source-your-project

John

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12th message | this message only posted: 12 Sep 2019 08:23
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Hi John,

Thanks for your thoughts.

The original motivation for open-sourcing Templot was to ensure that it remains available if the grim reaper comes looking for me on a bus.

The whole of Templot cannot be open-sourced because it contains some non-OS licenced components, and some Windows-only functions (metafiles) which are not supported on other platforms. A full OS version of Templot therefore requires that these components be replaced with new code. Which means that the existing closed-source version (Templot2) needs to remain available until someone comes forward to do that (you?).

My original intention was that a cut-down version of Templot would be open-sourced as a conventional collaborative project on SourceForge (OpenTemplot). However, many users said that they were not interested/skilled enough for that, and simply wanted a version of Templot which they could dabble in to understand how it works and learn about coding.

I therefore released a separate source version called TemplotMEC as a zip attachment here on the Templot Club forum, and provided some instructions on how to get started with it on a free compiler, see:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3283&forum_id=26

The actual interest turned out to be near-zero. After 12 months not a single contribution had been made to the SourceForge project, and very few references to TemplotMEC here, with no actual new code posted.

I therefore deleted the collaborative stuff on SourceForge and left it as a simple zip download of TemplotMEC for anyone who wants it. I have also decided not to spend any more time on it, and to concentrate on further developments of Templot2 only.

having two separate versions that are not part of the main product roadmap gives little incentive to participate. This link may provide further info on the open source philosophy - especially the section Understanding Community ExpectationsTemplot2 is not a product and it doesn't have a roadmap -- I ceased trading 8 years ago. It is now simply a hobby project of mine which I'm happy to share with anyone who wants it. After 20 years of public Templot I think I have a good understanding of users' expectations.

cheers,

Martin.

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13th message | this message only posted: 12 Sep 2019 09:00
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from:
John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Martin,
Thanks for your reply. Yes I can appreciate that licensed components do mean that Templot2 can't be opensourced in its current form. I was speculating if the lack of any collaboration is because it is not the main project, however it could equally be that there aren't enough people with the time, skills or inclination to participate.

Templot is a wonderful piece of software, unequalled in its functionality and I would hate to see it disappear, however I know I am not alone in finding a struggle to use at times. When I do finally retire in a year or so I would be interested in contributing to development especially with regard to usability, but only if it were the main project - as you may recall I did build a UI wrapper for Templot a while back. I have over 40 years experience in delivering highly usable commercial software solutions some of which have been in use by 1000s for their daily work for over 20years. 

John

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14th message | this message only posted: 12 Sep 2019 10:06
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from:
Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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John Clutterbuck wrote: ...I know I am not alone in finding a struggle to use at times. When I do finally retire in a year or so I would be interested in contributing to development especially with regard to usability, but only if it were the main project...Hi John,

I don't understand what you mean by the "main project". Clearly you can develop a project based on the OS Templot code, but I'm puzzled how you could require anyone else to regard it as the main or only project?

Open-source programs often fork into several different versions. Some Templot users may be looking for different usability, but others may be happy with the existing usability and more interested in adding functionality -- such as say a "make outside-slip" tool, or including the UK vertical 1432mm double-curved flat-bottom switches in the available switch presets.

If you are struggling, you may find these pages helpful:

 http://templot.com/companion/origins_intent.php

 http://templot.com/companion/basic_working_methods.php

cheers,

Martin.

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15th message | this message only posted: 13 Sep 2019 05:28
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from:
John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Martin,
What I meant  was that I wouldn't want to contribute to an OS project whilst there was a separate main project (currently closed-source Templot2) being extended with new functionality. 

John

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16th message | this message only posted: 13 Sep 2019 10:22
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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John Clutterbuck wrote: Hi Martin,
What I meant  was that I wouldn't want to contribute to an OS project whilst there was a separate main project (currently closed-source Templot2) being extended with new functionality.
Hi John,

My original intention was that any developments in Templot2 would also be posted to SourceForge as part of the OpenTemplot project.

But it is not a 5-minute task to convert them from Delphi code to compile in Lazarus, and remove any references to the non-OS components. If there was an active OpenTemplot project I would be happy to do that. But while active interest in OpenTemplot appears to be zero, my time would seem to be better spent elsewhere.

You seem to be suggesting that I should stop developing Templot2 and work only on OpenTemplot? I'm not going to do that while it would mean abandoning significant chunks of functionality. If you can find a means to support the missing functionality in Lazarus I would be happy to consider it. I have looked long and hard without finding anything usable.

Also at present .BOX files from Templot2 are not compatible with .OTBOX files from OpenTemplot. That's because they are binary files (in a format unchanged for over 20 years) and Lazarus does not support the 80-bit Extended floating-point data type which is used throughout Templot2. I have tried to create a conversion utility, but it's messy and needs modifying for every program update, so it is currently commented out. What is needed is an entirely new file format based on XML or similar. That's very definitely not a 5-minute task, although there are XML components available which might help, and one such is already used for the .SK9 files from the sketchboard. If someone wanted to contribute to OpenTemplot, creating a new file export/import format in XML would be a massive step forward.

cheers,

Martin.

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17th message | this message only posted: 14 Sep 2019 06:13
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from:
John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Martin,

I am certainly not suggesting you stop work on Templot2. I was simply trying to find a way that others (including me) could contribute and help improve and ensure the continuation of the wonderful program you have created.

Am I correct you are now developing Templot2 using Delphi? If so surely anyone could download the Embarcadero Community Edition and would have the means to contribute to Templot2 itself. All that would then be needed is to host the Templot2 code on SourceForge, GitHub, etc. and use commits and pulls to get/submit changes, with branches for new features such as the import/export facilities. There would be no need for alternative OS versions, conversions, Lazarus, etc.

John

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18th message | this message only posted: 14 Sep 2019 07:35
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Martin Wynne
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John Clutterbuck wrote: Hi Martin,

I am certainly not suggesting you stop work on Templot2. I was simply trying to find a way that others (including me) could contribute and help improve and ensure the continuation of the wonderful program you have created.

Am I correct you are now developing Templot2 using Delphi? If so surely anyone could download the Embarcadero Community Edition and would have the means to contribute to Templot2 itself. All that would then be needed is to host the Templot2 code on SourceForge, GitHub, etc. and use commits and pulls to get/submit changes, with branches for new features such as the import/export facilities. There would be no need for alternative OS versions, conversions, Lazarus, etc.
Hi John,

If only it was that simple! Templot is now an old, old, program and it shows.

Thanks for drawing my attention to the Delphi Community Edition. It seems to have been introduced only 12 months ago in July 2018:

 http://blog.marcocantu.com/blog/2018-july-delphi-ce.html

i.e. unfortunately that was after I made the decision to make a version of Templot available as open source in May 2018. Hence my decision to go with Lazarus:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3189&forum_id=1&page=2#p24831

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3288&forum_id=25

However, the actual version of Delphi which I'm using is Delphi5 from 1998. It will likely need a lot of work to compile in modern Delphi, not least because that now uses 16-bit unicode for the basic string type, whereas earlier versions of Delphi use 8-bit ascii strings (as does Lazarus with 8-bit unicode). In Pascal strings can be treated as character arrays, and Templot uses that for byte arrays, including in the binary .box files. So that's going to mean a lot of conversion and testing work.

I will look to see if there is any advantage in switching from Lazarus to the Delphi Community Edition, but that doesn't change the fact that so far no-one has been actively interested in contributing to the project:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3454&forum_id=1

:(

It also doesn't change the fact that Templot2 can't be open-sourced as it stands, because in includes paid-for non-OS licenced components.

There is slightly more interest in the TemplotMEC idea of a version for home dabblers in coding, who are unlikely to want to commit their efforts to a full Open Source Project.

I will also look at switching Templot2 from Delphi5 to the Delphi Community Edition. Although after using Delphi5 for over 20 years I'm very comfortable with it and not really looking for change, especially if it doesn't advance the actual program functionality one iota. I would rather go for a walk:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3228&forum_id=5&page=11#p27708

:)

cheers,

Martin.   

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19th message | this message only posted: 14 Sep 2019 12:55
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from:
John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Martin,

Helping move Templot2 to the latest supported Delphi platform would certainly be something I would like to help with, but it will have to wait for my retirement in a year or so. I fully understand your issues with data types and storage having had to back in the 70s write everything (databases, screen drivers and plotter drivers, etc.) for 2 & 3d seismic mapping software. This was used by most major oil companies around the world as well as the UK Dept. of Energy and BGS.

Today I would recommend moving to JSON for file based storage, settings, etc.

John

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20th message | this message only posted: 14 Sep 2019 17:46
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from:
Martin Wynne
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John Clutterbuck wrote: Hi Martin,

Helping move Templot2 to the latest supported Delphi platform would certainly be something I would like to help with, but it will have to wait for my retirement in a year or so. I fully understand your issues with data types and storage having had to back in the 70s write everything (databases, screen drivers and plotter drivers, etc.) for 2 & 3d seismic mapping software. This was used by most major oil companies around the world as well as the UK Dept. of Energy and BGS.

Today I would recommend moving to JSON for file based storage, settings, etc.
Hi John,

I have now installed the Delphi Community Edition and tried opening Templot2 in it. Needless to say there is a pageful of errors and warnings to work through. That will have to wait for now.

It's the full complex Delphi Studio interface -- I can't see TemplotMEC users preferring that to Lazarus. Also the licence is free now but has to be renewed annually -- there is no guarantee that it will always be free, Embarcadero are clearly using it as a loss-leader with nags about upgrading to the full versions.

I was also a bit surprised that I had to override the dpi-aware setting manually to get a crisp display.   

I prefer XML to JSON. I can't cope with untyped languages -- javascript drives me nuts trying to second-guess whether I'm dealing with a string, an integer, floating-point or whatever, and getting the quoting right. Also being case-sensitive is a real pain.

cheers,

Martin.

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21st message | this message only posted: 16 Oct 2019 05:02
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Graeme
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Hi All,

Although I am a new arrival here, it seems I am a bit late joining the party (about a year late, in fact!)

Please forgive the following introductory ramble (I did not know where else to put it) and a possible minor flurry of postings in reply to the conversation so far...

TL;DR
1. software developer since the dark ages
2. new to railway modelling
3. new to Templot
4. open source supporter and keen to help OpenTemplot flourish

Although new to Templot, I am not new to software development (around the same vintage as John Clutterbuck, I would guess) and have made several (admittedly rather modest) contributions to open source projects. In fact I did work with Delphi a little, back when it was new, but I have not touched it since then. That was back in the Spring of 1792, I think. :-D

I have also been interested in (digital) electronics for a long time and the recent emergence of very affordable micro-controllers combined with a software background (and a long-dormant interest in art - specifically painting water colours) led somehow to railway modelling as the perfect way to waste my ti... er ... hobby.

The path from there will no doubt sound familiar, as model railways (and real railways) started to consume all my time - to the extent that for the first 3 months of this year I wrote no code at all!

Devouring rail topics like crazy led me inevitably to Templot, and I was delighted to discover it had been open-sourced, then dismayed to find the experience was so disappointing that Martin was having doubts as to whether the whole exercise had been worthwhile. :-(

On that point, one of Martin's early concerns was that open sourcing would lead to more work answering questions on the code. In fact it should have led to LESS work as the effort of answering questions should have been taken up by the community.

My goal in this is to help the process of making OpenTemplot work as an open source project. I do not know yet how many developers we have in the community, and have not yet given the code much more than a cursory glance, but I am sure that I can at least help replace the areas that are tied to proprietary/closed components.

Cheers,

Graeme
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Graeme
Bangkok, Thailand

 

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Martin Wynne wrote:there is no guarantee that it will always be free, Embarcadero are clearly using it as a loss-leader with nags about upgrading to the full versions.
Absolutely! Not to mention that at some stage upgrades may not be available for free. With Lazarus keeping them honest, it is more likely that Embarcadero will behave themselves, but as you say, there are no guarantees.

Apart from which, it would be strange to have the project as open source and then have it depend on a closed platform.  :-)
I prefer XML to JSON. I can't cope with untyped languages -- javascript drives me nuts ...
Personally, I think YAML is preferable to both of them (more elegant and readable) but I have no wish to start a religious war - personal preference only. In use they all have libraries in all the major languages, so there's not much to choose between them. For me, readability is the only significant differentiator. (And please, no comments that 'you are not supposed to read it'.  Hands up all those who have written a file and never wanted to look inside it! I thought so.  :-) )



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Graeme
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Martin Wynne wrote: ... two options -- a conventional collaborative open source project (OpenTemplot), and a "home" version for users to tinker with for their own use (TemplotMEC).I am not clear of the difference between these two versions. I get the feeling that:
  • OpenTemplot is a 'dump' of the Templot2 source - including calls to missing (because closed) components and therefore not working, but complete - for developers to work on, and
  • TemplotMEC is a cut down (i.e. without the bits 'broken' by having calls to non-open components) but what-is-there-is-working, for 'hobby'/part-time/less-experienced developers to twiddle with
Is this anywhere near the truth or am I way off beam?

Every link I follow seems to lead only to TemplotMEC, though. Are they in fact one and the same thing?

Thanks,

Graeme

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John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Hi Graeme,

I'm glad someone else is interested in helping ensure Templot lives on. You seem to have got further than I have in actually skimming the code.

I don't have a strong feeling about JSON, YAML etc. - I was only suggesting that one of the modern data formats would be better and I agree being readable is a massive advantage.

I'll help where I can but with two jobs (paid + Narrow Gauge & Industrial) I have little time until I give up the first.

John
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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Graeme wrote:Every link I follow seems to lead only to TemplotMEC, though. Are they in fact one and the same thing?Hi Graeme,

Welcome to Templot Club. :)

Thanks for your offer to help with the open-source version of Templot.

Yes, they are one and the same computer program, apart from the name.

In fact currently there is only TemplotMEC because 3 months ago I deleted all the OpenTemplot stuff from Sourceforge because of the total lack of activity after being on there for a year.

The reason for making Templot available in an open-source version was to ensure it remains available if I get run over by a bus or am otherwise unable to continue supporting it. I'm 71 years old, with a failing memory -- which is not good bearing in mind that I have been working on Templot for 40 years and a lot of the early code is still in there.

And also so that someone will be able to update it if necessary to make it compatible with future versions of Windows if I'm not able to do that.

Assuming that is that anyone still wants to design and hand-build model railway track -- the hobby's demographic has changed a lot since I released the first public version of Templot 20 years ago.

It's important to bear in mind that I'm an oily-fingered toolmaker, not an IT professional. I suspect that most Templot users are in the same boat. IT professionals tend to sprinkle their posts with abbreviations and terms that go over my head -- it's no good coming on here talking about GITs and YAMLs and VMs because hardly anyone here will know what it's all about, especially me. :)

OpenTemplot was in a conventional collaborative code repository on Sourceforge. Adrian offered to help with the maintenance of that, but has not been seen here since. As instructed I installed programs called Tortoise and Mercurial on my system (I'm still not clear if I need only one or both or which), but there was nothing I could do with either of them which didn't result in an error message. :(

Whatever, there didn't seem much point leaving it on Sourceforge if no-one was interested

TemplotMEC is exactly the same thing, but in a simple ZIP download. For users who would like to understand how Templot works, and maybe tinker with the code for their own use, but wouldn't want or feel confident to contribute to an "official" open-source project.

Where we go from here I haven't the faintest idea. The code for a workable version is out there for anyone who wants it. It compiles in Lazarus and runs on Windows. I can't now remember if it runs on Linux/Mac under Wine (Templot2 does). There have been several new functions in Templot2 in the last year. I could add them into TemplotMEC, but it's not a 5-minute task, and there doesn't seem much point if no-one is interested.

For some background to all this you might like to start reading at this post from Paul Boyd:

 http://85a.co.uk/forum/view_topic.php?id=3290&forum_id=25#p25030


cheers,

Martin.

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Rob Manchester
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Hi Martin,

I would be keen that TemplotMec is updated on a regular ( but not frequent ) basis. I have both Templot 2 and TemplotMec on my taskbar but obviously just use Templot2 for my planning etc. There have been many nice features added to Templot2 in the recent past and it would be good to have them available in TemplotMec and for it to be updated to Templot2 standard ( minus the bits you have to leave out of course ) maybe once a year or whatever you can manage without lots of extra work.

You may think me odd but I actually have two copies of TemplotMec stored safely off-site in case my house burns down :D

Rob


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Bernard Haste
 

 

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Hello Martin,


I`m somewhat concerned by your message.

Could you look at my tandems before long please?

Bernard
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Graeme
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John Clutterbuck wrote: I don't have a strong feeling about JSON, YAML etc. ... Absolutely agree! Which one is actually used is the least of the concerns at the moment. :D

(BTW we seem to be of a similar vintage. Best just left at that, perhaps.  :thumb:)

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Graeme
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Rob Manchester wrote: ... I actually have two copies of TemplotMec stored safely off-site in case my house burns down :DMy God!!! GR on a bus, houses burning down. You ARE an accident-prone lot!!! :shock: :shock: :shock:

What am I getting myself into? 


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Mark Barry
Australia

 

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Graeme and John - please add me to the list of potential helpers.   I think it has already been mentioned, it is a matter of timing.  Once the paid work is out of the way, I can then get stuck into something of real value - helping keep Templot alive for many, many years to come.

Finding a replacement for Martin's encyclopedic knowledge is a much harder challenge!!

Mark

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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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Rob Manchester wrote: I would be keen that TemplotMEC is updated on a regular ( but not frequent ) basis.Hi Rob,

So would I. But the idea was that someone else does it, rather than me. :)

It's encouraging that there is some new interest in open-source Templot, but nevertheless the fact remains that 15 months after I released it, not a single line of code has been posted by anyone*.

So I shall wait and see. I'm happy to post here the code for the recent changes in Templot2, but I'm minded to leave it to someone else to do the work of incorporating it into TemplotMEC.

If you are actually using TemplotMEC in anger, the most pressing need is to do something about the lack of file compatibility with Templot2.

I did write a conversion utility, but it was based on modifying floating-point formats and wasn't entirely successful. It would also have needed updating for program changes. It is currently commented out.

Templot2 does include an XML engine, NativeXML, it is used for the SK9 files from the sketchboard which can be seen if they are opened in a text editor. I originally purchased a licence for that, but Nils has since stated his intention that it should now be open source, see:

 https://www.simdesign.nl/products.html

But all the files still contain his original strict copyrights with no mention of an open source licence. Unfortunately his brain injury has left many of his projects in limbo, including the Templot sketchboard.

In any event I'm not convinced that it would compile in Lazarus.

However what does compile in Lazarus is the old-fashioned Windows INI files format, which I used for the SK1 preferences files. It works just fine, so I'm tempted to use it for a new compatible BOX file format, rather than XML or any of the other fancier suggestions. That way I can go ahead and get something working soon for users of TemplotMEC. It's still a lot of tedious work though. :(

*Adrian posted a minor housekeeping change to the way the two program names were handled, but that's all. I'm not even sure that it is still in the release. I remember being not entirely happy with it -- for what reason I now forget, like much else.

cheers,

Martin.

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John Clutterbuck
 

 

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Martin Wynne wrote: It's encouraging that there is some new interest in open-source Templot, but nevertheless the fact remains that 15 months after I released it, not a single line of code has been posted by anyoneHi Martin,

I think these things just take time to gain traction. There's now three of us that have the desire to help - we probably all have different skills and aspects we can contribute to. But in my opinion the aim should be all four of us contributing to a common future version. Perhaps I've misunderstood previous posts (easily done) but it seemed to me the MEC version was a spin-off from the main code which was continuing to be developed as closed-source - and then there was a separate "open version". This was the reason for my reticence to look at the code in detail thus far.

John

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Martin Wynne
West Of The Severn, United Kingdom



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John Clutterbuck wrote:Perhaps I've misunderstood previous posts (easily done) but it seemed to me the MEC version was a spin-off from the main code which was continuing to be developed as closed-source - and then there was a separate "open version". This was the reason for my reticence to look at the code in detail thus far.Hi John,

Just to repeat, there was no difference between OpenTemplot and TemplotMEC. The code and files as originally released were exactly the same.

The difference is that the OpenTemplot files were in a collaborative code repository on SourceForge, and the TemplotMEC files were and still are in a ZIP file as an attachment here on Templot Club. It is also available as such on SourceForge in case this Templot Club site is no longer available.

If and when there were changes and new functions posted to OpenTemplot, my intention was to include them in an updated TemplotMEC ZIP file here, for members to download if they wished.

If anyone posted new code for TemplotMEC here, it would be for members to include or not in their own copy of TemplotMEC as they wished.

That's all a bit academic, because no-one has in fact posted anything, and I have therefore deleted the OpenTemplot repository from SourceForge. It could be re-instated, but not by me -- I've had my fill of trying to make head or tail of how such repositories work. Against my better judgment I installed two plug-ins to Windows Explorer for the purpose, but still got nothing but error messages when I tried to access it. Why can't it all be done via a browser? -- I can edit the entire Templot web server that way in Firefox.

In the meantime there is Templot2 which cannot be open-sourced in its entirety, and which I shall continue to develop while that remains the case and some functionality remains missing from the open-source version.

cheers,

Martin.

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Graeme
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Martin Wynne wrote: Welcome to Templot Club. :)Thanks, Martin, and thank you too for the clarification on OT and TMEC. All clear now. :)

Before I go further let me first make an ...

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER
I do not do grumpy. Imagine at all times I am typing this with a smile on my face. It is all to easy in the written word to use an expression which can be read with different inflection producing very different meanings. I do try to be careful with my writing for this very reason, but we all slip up sometimes, so if what I have written sounds in the slightest 'off' please look for other possible meanings and choose the one that sounds most courteous, respectful, helpful and reflects a genuine desire to contribute. That is almost certainly the one I meant.  :thumb:

... and with that out of the way ...

In fact currently there is only TemplotMEC because 3 months ago I deleted all the OpenTemplot stuff from Sourceforge because of the total lack of activity after being on there for a year.
Yes, this is also loud and clear. Until I produce some code my reputation score (and sincerity) currently stand at nil. Fair enough too! After your experience to date I would also want to see something concrete being produced. Please bear with me for a short while as I am coming new to Lazarus and dredging up long-dormant memories of Pascal/Delphi and my journey through your code is currently taking place on a bicycle with trainer wheels!

BTW, I will refer to the open versions as OT (partly because I don't think I know what MEC stands for - hahha) and I hope you don't mind me using the name T2?

-- it's no good coming on here talking about GITs and YAMLs and VMs because hardly anyone here will know what it's all about, especially me. :)
Guilty as charged. :(
Ironically, I have spent the last couple of decades presenting (sometimes very) technical ideas to senior banking executives who would adopt glazed-over eyes at the drop of a hat (or acronym).  I allowed myself some leeway here as I thought this thread was primarily read by developers. I will take more care in future.
(And I always feel the term "IT Professional" , although conveniently vague, sounds a bit pompous for my liking - unless I am trying for street cred with bank executives. In truth, I prefer to think of myself as an oily-fingered toolmaker of software. Similar job - different raw materials. :D)

The reason for making Templot available in an open-source version was to ensure it remains available ... <and> ... so that someone will be able to update it if necessary to make it compatible with future versions of Windows if I'm not able to do that.
.....

Where we go from here I haven't the faintest idea.

OK let me put my consultant hat on briefly and give you my view on it.

First, opening up 40 year old code to the world was clearly very much appreciated by the community - and in my opinion very courageous. I have been coding a little over 40 years, and I know how I would feel about my code from back then being aired in public!

However, simply putting it out there is not enough. It has been mentioned already that it needs to be kept up to date. Nobody will want to go back to the version from a year ago, especially with you adding new features like a mad thing.

Apart from which we are already talking about changing the file format. Once that is done, do people have the lifeline they wanted for their old designs? Well, yes, to some extent, but without any new features. So realistically, to survive OT HAS to be kept up to date with all your latest and greatest changes.

BUT as you have already found - converting T2 code to OT is a lot of work. So much so, in fact, that it is impractical to keep doing it. As a one-off exercise, yes, but as an ongoing task, definitely not.

In my experience, if we have two 'versions' of the code the open source project simply will not survive.

This leads me to the conclusion that T2 and OT must be the same thing.

NOW ... a lot of things stand in the way of that, proprietary components, Windows meta files, Delphi/Lazarus differences, and another bagful I am sure that I am not even aware of, but none of these scare me. Provided we are doing them as a one-off exercise we will get through it.

The big question for me is, would you have the appetite to work that way? I understand that your recent experiences may have given you the impression that working with others in a collaborative way is a pain in the proverbial, but honestly it does not need to be. You may have picked up much of this already, but perhaps I can try to outline how it looks for the benefit of others ...

A repository is really just a collection of source code bundled up. You will not go far wrong thinking of it as a kind of zip file. It is downloaded just as easily. And like a zip file you need a tool to extract the source. In the case of a zip file you need Zip. For a repository you need another tool. The big two are called Mercurial and GIT. (There are others, but for our purposes, we can ignore them.)

Unlike a zip file, a repository contains a history of the code. You realise you have messed up and you want to go back to last week's version? No problem. As long as you stored it in the repository, you can just ask for that version to be extracted and bingo! A time machine. :)

The main benefit of the history, though, is that the tools don't just pack and unpack versions of your files. They can also take two sets of updates (maybe from different people) and find a common ancestor and figure out how those two sets of changes can be merged together into one coherent version. This can then be pushed up to a central site for everyone to gain the benefit of the changes. Or you can get the tool to "cherry-pick" and extract one change from somewhere in the past and apply just that feature to your private version.

And this really pinpoints the key point of where (I believe) we need to get to. At the moment, we have the released code like the trunk of a tree and we can take copies and work on them, making new branches as we go, but we are left "out on a limb" -  it is hard work to bring them back together. If one of us does some good work on OT - so good that you want to include it  (and sooner or later one of us will  :shock: ) it would be annoying beyond measure to have to convert it backwards to fit the T2 environment.

With a collaborative way of working, it is more like the tracks which branch into a double-ended shunting yard, where the trains can be taken apart, added to, modified etc and then brought together again to go on their way at the other end enhanced with the work that's been done.

Note I am not considering personal copies for 'fiddling' here at all. This is really only for the mainline development. The hobbyists/learners can still take a copy of the zip-on-steroids repository and unpack it on their machine and fiddle - it just needs a different unpacker.

So I can feel, if not hear you saying "Yeah. Yeah. All well and good. Nice picture, BUT so far not one line of code has been contribu...". I know. So I will get off my soapbox and do some work. I think the part I am likely to show quickest progress with is moving the file format from binary-based to text-based (of whatever flavour) mainly because that seems to have the shortest learning curve for me - not many external dependancies. However, I am happy to take input if you have other ideas.

The main thing I need to know is, assuming we get to that point (and I am submitting that your time and knowledge are far to valuable for this kind of work - the rest of us need to get us there) but once we ARE there, would you be happy for there to be one Templot? This is not a trivial question. After caring for your baby for so long I could well understand a reluctance  to share the care of it with others. Would you be happy accepting the contributions of others into your code?

Best regards,

Graeme


BTW I have read the post from Paul Boyd that you referenced. Actually I read all the posts in the 2 development forums for 2019. Then I realised that much of the action had taken place last year when you made the announcement, so I read all of those too.  :D

I saw Adrian was a prime mover back then. It is a pity he dropped from view. He seemed to be doing good things, but it has made the credibility hurdle that I have to climb over that much higher. :roll:

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Graeme
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Mark Barry wrote: Graeme and John - please add me to the list of potential helpers.Welcome! ... and thanks for the offer of assistance.  Many hands, and all that.  :)

Finding a replacement for Martin's encyclopedic knowledge is a much harder challenge
Never a truer word spoken!

Graeme

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Martin Wynne
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Hi Graeme,

Many thanks for your replies.

Please don't spend any time on a new file format, or at least not yet. I've spent the last few days on that and I'm close to having something usable.

If you are looking for something to have a go at, how about the file viewer function? That's currently missing from TemplotMEC only because it uses old, old, Windows directory-list controls which aren't supported in Lazarus. I'm sure there are newer controls to do the job which are currently supported and would work just as well, I just didn't get round to making the change. I can't remember if the files are included in TemplotMEC, if not I will post them here.  

It's early morning here and I won't be able to spend much time on the computer today, so just a few quick points:

I don't do grumpy either. Even when feeling less than jolly I try not to let it show here. :)

This is a forum, not a personal conversation. I try always to remember that I'm writing for everyone to read, not only the person who asked a question. And that whatever I do write will be indexed on Google for 100 years and read by folks in 10 years time who are new to the whole thing. We are not trying to be Facebook, where today's post is tomorrow's chip paper.

I do understand how Sourceforge works, or is intended to work. I just couldn't get the access functions to work at all. If that's the case for me, I suspect it would be the case for many others here. We need something a lot simpler for those who just want to dabble in the code, hence the TemplotMEC zip file.

I'm set in my ways. For example, anyone who wants me to change to CamelCase from underscore_separated_all_lower_case is going to be sadly disappointed.

For me functionality is king. If someone were to post say an automated function to create an outside-slip, I don't care how old the code, how crappy, how inelegant, how sub-optimal, how non-compliant with someone else's self-appointed guidelines, how non-intuitive the user interface, or whatever strange language it is written in. The one and only thing that matters is that it WORKS without errors and adds some useful new functionality to Templot that wouldn't otherwise exist.

Templot would never have got where it is if I'd had to write every line as if expecting someone to come along and mark my homework. :)

cheers,

Martin.

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