Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Quick answer to the guy who used yesterday's Form Experiment to ask what's happening with SdiDesk ...

Here's the status report :

1) In the last couple of weeks I quit my job and moved back to the UK ... which has been taking up quite a lot of my time and energy.

2) Once we've settled in, I hope I can get some time to focus on my projects ... including SdiDesk (and GeekWeaver, MTC etc.) The good thing, no more distractions from my previous demanding day-job. The bad thing, after a brief holiday I need to find work in the UK. (Offers, tips and suggestions are, of course, welcome)

3) SdiDesk was converted to VB.NET this year. And the source-code in progress is available on Google Code.

4) I am NOT a VB.NET programmer, and frankly, from the little I've played with it so far, I'm not very excited about getting more involved. I admired VB exactly because the combined language + IDE made Windows programming mindlessly easy. Throw away that virtue (as VB.NET seems to have done, and I'm blaming the new, incredibly sluggish and cluttered VS2008 as much as changes to the language) and it has little to recommend it against other languages.

5) On the hand, I'm a pragmatist and often able to find something interesting pretty much anywhere. I also know that in a recession I may not be able to be too fussy when it comes to getting a job. So I will be spending a bit more time over the next month or so tidying up the VB.NET codebase, fixing some egregious issues, and making an installer. It's going to be useful to me to be able to say that I can operate in the VB.NET world, and produce working products.

6) Longer term, my preference and commitment is still to a Python SdiDesk-like thing. And most-likely a Python server with UI in the browser (javascript etc.) I've cooled towards the idea of Flex (mainly because my trial copy expired and I remembered all the problems of depending on proprietory software)

The attraction of anything other than the browser has always been the vector drawing in the network diagramming part of the software. But I'm sure that if I just wait a little bit longer, the browser will eventually be able to handle this too.

7) As always, I'm not unaffected by user feedback and other things going on in my life :-) ... if there's suddenly a surge in interest or demand for a VB.NET SdiDesk then I may reconsider.

8) Joe Question asks : "how risky is it to commit myself to SdiDesk.NET then? What about all my pages?" Answer : SdiDesk.NET reads your existing PageStore files. There may be some issues with the size of the diagrams, but everything works. If it doesn't, tell me.

However, you can't even try SdiDesk.NET currently unless you're a VB programmer because it's only available in source form. There will certainly be a build for end-users this year and it will read your existing PageStore. The main reason you want this is if you're an existing SdiDesk user who has moved (or will move soon) to Vista where the old VB6 version won't run.

I'm always committed to upgrade compatibility. You'll be able to move your existing SdiDesk pages to SdiDesk.NET, and you'll be able to import them into a future Python version.
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