As usual, there were hourly talks in the lecture theatre. Speakers included Jack Lillingston of Castle Technology and staff from Advantage 6 demonstrating the A9. John Cartmell gave a run-down of the articles in the latest edition of Qercus magazine. These included a review of Netsurf, and the recent return of Star Info and Yellow Pages. A new series on Lua programming will be starting in forthcoming editions. He talked about the problems they have had producing suitable postscript for their printers and apologised for the resultant delays, and assured us that things were running more smoothly. After handing out free copies to the audience members, Cartmell urged us to use it when advocating RISC OS. Presumably pretty pictures speak louder than over-zealous rants.
Paul Middleton spoke next. He told us that the accusations of RISC OS Ltd having done no work were not true, and that they have been busy making RISC OS 32bit ready. However, he also said that Advantage 6 had funded the development for Select on the A9. So, personally, I'm left wondering what subscribers, very few of which are A9 owners, have actually paid for.
Until prompted by an audience member, Paul Middleton made no mention of the topics he spoke on last year: PDF desktop rendering, unix-style filesystems and HDTV. When prompted by an audience member, he merely said that such areas are still being looked at. Middleton would not estimate a release date for Iyonix Select, but did say that 80 people had registered an interest, but that RISC OS Ltd would require more market demand for the project to be financially viable. The version of Select running on the Iyonix seen on RISC OS Ltd's stand, Middleton pointed out, was in fact RISC OS 5 with a number of softloaded Select modules. He demonstrated one feature that allows the user to manipulate files using only the keyboard. Unfortunately, it is necessary to Alt-Click the filer window to give it focus, before cursor-key navigation will work -- hurrah!
Going into the technical aspects of Iyonix Select, Middleton explained that, unlike Castle's RISC OS 5, RISC OS Select does not have a HAL. Instead, it has hardware support built into the kernel, or loads required modules from the host machine's ROM. He went on to say that RISC OS Ltd would like to exploit hardware such as the nVidia GPUs and other lower cost hardware. Personally, I would have thought a HAL was necessary if one wanted to begin supporting a wider range of hardware, or different hardware configurations.
Ian Chamberlain was manning the Drobe stand, busy subscribing people to the Unix Porting Project. Somewhat oddly, the stand was also home to Netsurf, which Ian was demonstrating alongside the latest Firefox beta. Ian let us all down with the noticeable lack of confectionary at his stand.
Martin Würthner had Artworks 2.5 running on his stand, demonstrating the new PDF export. It's a pity that Artworks can now export PDF 1.4 and SVG, neither of which can be viewed on RISC OS. I also asked Martin about XaraXtreme -- the new open source version of Xara X. He said that the move by Xara Ltd came as a surprise to him. Asking him whether he could use any of the code from the application, Würthner thought that it might be possible, but that the GPL license could be problematic.
Castle had a beta version of Oregano 3 for punters to try. Richard Brown said that it would have better web standards compliance and a better UI. The browser will also come with an integrated Flash 6 viewer, but will not have any generic Acorn Plugin support. He said Castle were not concerned about Firefox or Netsurf encroaching on their market share but, rather, the browsers complemented each other.
CJE had a number of A9 boxes on their stand. Advantage 6 would not say how many units they have already shipped to developers, or when they were going to start selling the product. So no big "One more thing..." announcements for the A9, sadly.
In summary, another pleasant show with some promising improvements to applications including Geminus and Artworks, and a good attendance.