Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

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laurentd75
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Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by laurentd75 » Mon May 07, 2018 11:37 pm

Hello guys,

I have good news and bad news for you concerning Oric Explorer by Scott Davies...

I'll start with the bad news... About a week ago, I sent a email to Scott about the current state of development of Oric Explorer, because it had been more than 2 years since he removed the tool from the downloads area of his site (http://oric.mrandmrsdavies.com/) so I wanted to know whether it was still actively developed or whether he'd just abandoned Oric development.

Anyway, Scott very kindly (and very promptly!!) sent a detailed reply to my enquiry (I quote his full reply below), explaining basically he could not afford to spend much time on this project anymore unfortunately, and that he'd had many enquiries similar to mine and had been considering opening his code to the community.

And so, the good news is I now have the full source code for his project, complete with the technical details Scott kindly provided in his message below: :D
Hi Laurent,

Thank-you for your enquiry regarding Oric Explorer. I've had a number of enquires this year of the same nature so it's probably time I let people know the current situation regarding any new versions.

The version that was online was uploaded by mistake and was probably more of a V1.5 than a V2.0. I took it down once I realized that it was available however by that time some people had downloaded it.

The development of Oric Explorer V2.0 has been on hold for sometime now, due to family and work commitments I just don't have the time to do any development other than little bits here and there. Because of this I've been thinking for some time now about releasing the source code to the Oric community to see if anyone would like to take on development so your enquiry has finally made that decision for me.

I'm more that happy to email you the full project source code along with an executable for V2.0 as it stands at the moment or upload it somewhere. This would prevent the development of Oric Explorer coming to a complete halt if someone was to carry on development.

There are a number of things to note.

The code has been developed in C# using Visual Studio 2015/2017.
It requires the .Net V4.5.2 framework to be installed.
The code is not the best code in the world so may be difficult to follow in some areas.
Likewise some areas are not extensively commented other areas are not commented at all.
The project includes an installation script that uses the NullSoft installation application (not fully tested).
The code is far from complete and therefore will certainly contain bugs as well as incomplete features.
The main thing that is missing is code to write to .dsk files.
The 'FormsControlLibrary.dll' is a one that I have written (source code available on request), all the other dll's are third-party ones.
There is currently no readme file or help text but installation can be done simply by copying the bin/Release directory to wherever you want it.

I think that's it for now, there is one thing I would ask, if anyone does decide to take on development, that they could make a reference to myself as the original author in the About information, if that's okay.

If you could let me know where I could upload it too then I’ll do that asap.

If you need any further information or details then please don't hesitate to get in touch and I will help as much as I can.

Regards

Scott Davies
So, as explained this project is developed in C# with the Microsoft .Net platform and requires Visual Studio 2015 as a minimum (mainly because it uses C# version 6, which is not supported in the stock VS 2013 version). For information, the Community edition of VS2015 or VS2017 can be freely downloaded from Microsft and used to develop Windows applications without any restrictions (of my knowing...).

Unfortunately, being primarily a Java specialist I am myself not very familiar with the .Net platform, although I know enough to be able to understand most of the code and of course edit and compile the project. But I am clearly not the ideal candidate to take over and pursue development of this awesome tool...

... So I am hereby calling any candidates for taking on development of Oric Explorer, please let yourselves known!!!

I will shortly publish the full code on Github (as Scott is not very familiar with it and has neither the time nor much interest in taking charge of this), so that anyone interested in the tool will be able to easily fork the project.

Of course, anyone taking over will be expected to give due credit to Scott not only in the "About box" of the programme as humbly requested by himself, but also in the source and documentation of the project, as elementary courtesy and respect require :) I would also add to please credit him if you create any derived tools using part of his code... I'm only mentioning this for the form of course, as I reassured Scott we were indeed a small but very friendly and courteous community of people who value and respect very much the work of others, so he need not worry about anyone not giving him due credit or worse stealing or appropriating his original work or ideas!

Another thing of course, if you do intend to take over the development of Oric Explorer, please state it clearly in this thread so that everyone knows who will be "in charge" from now on... Of course, it is possible (and actually preferrable) to have more than one candidate so future development can be handled by a small team... I actually would very much like to participate in the future of this project, but I am really hoping that someone with good (or "sharp" ? :D) C# / .Net skills can apply as "technical lead" on the project!

In any case, I do not fear for lack of candidates with such a wonderful and useful tool!!!

One last piece of good news:

Compared to the "v2.0" that was momentarily released on Scott's site, and also distributed with, and reviewed in the CEO magazine back in 2016 (the version that Scott refers to as an interim 2.0 version that was more like a v1.5);, the current version as it stands is greatly improved and is very pleasant to use (and doesn't seem to have many bugs in my experience).
I will detail the major changes of this current version in a separate message, hoping it will get you drooling a bit... :D I have to admit I feel very privileged to be the first amongst you to be able to enjoy it, as it is indeed very pleasant to use and more convenient and powerful than ever!

Stay tuned!! :)

Laurent
Last edited by laurentd75 on Tue May 08, 2018 12:47 am, edited 3 times in total.

laurentd75
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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by laurentd75 » Tue May 08, 2018 12:12 am

Here is a quick list of the welcome changes/additions I noted so far in Oric Explorer (compared to the interim 2.0 released circa 2014/2015):

- it is now possible to tell oric Explorer to search tapes/disks in subfolders of the chosen directory (we were really missing this!)
- new dark theme (love it)
- new information pane at the right (quite nice since we all have 16:9 screens these days so it makes sense to divide panes horizontally rather than vertically). What's more, in the previous version the information that was displayed in the top pane was often cropped, so this won't happen anymore.
- new preview option in the Data Viewer tab for displaying data as "CHAR" (for fonts) - this is really cool especially since Scott added the grid for individual chars and the ability to add an offset in case there is a header to the font data
- the "open with emulator" menu now allows you to select to launch the emulator in either Oric-1 or Atmos modes (I suppose it will be quite easy to also add Telestrat or Pravetz modes)
- in the Data Viewer modes, for HIRES pictures the zoom window has disappeared, now you can select different zoom levels for the entire picture (nice, but I noticed that the zoom appears blurry, I suppose it must be because of the use of some OpenGL library or similar that applies a transform to the image, hence the blurry "videocard processing" effect?)
- Redesigned Screen viewer dialogue (previously called Image viewer) now showing thumbnails
- new "Raw Data Viewer" dialogue
- redesigned "Disk information" tab that is now a pop-up dialogue. I noticed the pie chart for "Disk usage" disappeared (I quite liked it but well, it's still available as text info, which is OK although maybe needs changing colors as I find black text on red is not much legible...I also noticed that (unfortunately) the Print option for the Directory Listing is still grayed out so must not be implemented yet.
- For individual files on tape or disk, new "Extract to" menu with more options (as tape, as text file, as raw data) replaces "Save as TAP file" option.

In addition to these features, there is one I didn't test (it existed in the "v2.0" release before but I never tested it then):
The "Tools > Convert Text File" option (maybe someone knows what it's supposed to do and can comment on this ?)

Also, I noticed a couple of enticing options that look unfortunately unimplemented at present:
* for disks:
- Create New disk...
- Format disk...
- Convert to tape...

* for tapes:
- Convert to disk...

Finally, on the bug side, I didn't experience much worrying behaviour.
The only bugs I noticed so far are:
- When you select a ROM file in the treeview, one of the contextual menu items is (strangely) "Edit tape". Selecting this option will cause a (recoverable) exception in Debug mode (and probably an unrecoverable mode in the 'Release" version). Maybe this is just a left-over from the Tapes contextual menu that just needs to go away.
- I was unable to have the programme show me the BASIC source for the disk version of the Detective Story game. Mind you, this disk seems slightly bugged anyway so maybe this explains why (looks like the DSK version was created from a faulty TAP file, as there are graphics bugs and also bogus characters in the Basic code that cause runtime errors and are symptomatic of a faulty transfer).

That's all for now, more soon!!

Cheers,
Laurent

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NekoNoNiaow
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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Tue May 08, 2018 6:34 am

Oh, nice. This looks like a very useful program!

C# coder here (among others ;)).

I cannot guarantee that I will have time to be full time maintainer but I can definitely spend some time making sure the sources compile fine and can be used to produce a functioning executable. If needed, I can also give a hand setting up the repository on Github.

If the sources allow I guess I could also test to build a macOS version with Visual Studio Code (I have a Mac and PC at home).

Once the project is up and ready on GitHub for everyone to use, then it will certainly find a dedicated maintainer. ;)

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Symoon
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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by Symoon » Tue May 08, 2018 1:04 pm

Oric Explorer is a wonderful tool, I use it quite often.
Glad Scott allows it to get a new life, respect! Thanks for all this Laurent.

laurentd75
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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by laurentd75 » Tue May 08, 2018 1:21 pm

Hi NekoNoNiaow and thanks for your interest!

The project compiles and builds OK, and the produced executable works fine. I just need to have a look at the installation script (it uses the Nullsoft installer) to see if I can produce an installation package (.msi or .exe) though this is purely cosmetic as you can just make and distribute a ZIP of the "bin/Release" directory that can be used as a "portable" application without installing (though it will require the .Net framework v4.5.2 to be installed on the target machine -- I'm not quite sure how the .Net framework works with respect to versions so I'm not sure wether you require this exact version or if any later version will do, but my understanding is that with .Net you require at least the exact major version to be installed, i.e. v4.5.x in this case).

I'm quite used to Github so I will be OK on this side too, but I'm just trying to make some documentation and having a try at the install script before publishing the repository for the project, but I promise I will make this happen very soon :)

Regarding a port to the Macintosh, AFAIK it is impossible as only the .Net Core part of the framework is available for macOS, and this only allows you to build Console applications or Web apps using ASP.Net (see https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/dotnet ... -on-mac-vs).

Oric Explorer is a full-blown Windows application using .Net Windows Forms, and is also using a custom assembly ('FormsControlLibrary.dll' ,see Scott's message quoted in my first post) so it will only run on Windows, and can't be built for the Mac as it requires the full .Net framework.

However, if you do want to make a Mac equivalent of the software you can always try to port the code to Objective C using XCode but this will of course be a lot of work, and my opinion is that it would probably make more sense for Mac users to just run the software in a Windows virtual machine under VirtualBox or Parallels Desktop for Mac.

In any case you are of course welcome if you want to help with maintaining the Windows version, thanks again for your interest!

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by christian » Tue May 08, 2018 3:15 pm

Hi,

NekoNoNiaow, I can start OricExplorer v2, reviewed in CEO, on Linux with Mono, so maybe you can start it with the Mono port on Mac OS too.

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by iss » Tue May 08, 2018 3:22 pm

Great news about resurrecting OricExplorer!
Actually, I was one of the few lucky to download sources when they were available on the main site.
So I have since long time sources of both versions:
Screenshot_20180508_163336.png
Screenshot_20180508_163336.png (10.93 KiB) Viewed 1180 times
Maybe you have something which is more recent.
Else about the portability: the project opens and buils just fine with Monodevelop under Linux
and I don't see reason to not work under macOS as christian just noted.
Screenshot_20180508_171052.png
I'll be glad to contribute in development too, but no very actively - I already started so many Oric projects...

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by laurentd75 » Tue May 08, 2018 3:58 pm

Thanks for the input, it's good news then if it can build on macOS and Linux!

I was unaware that Mono allowed compatibility for GUI applications I thought it only catered for Console apps, like .Net core !

So thanks for clarifying this, as I said I know little about .Net especially about the latest cross-platform developments :D

As to the sources, I have a more recent version than yours as many source files were modified last August, or last October, and there are even sources or forms that were modified in January this year.

And thanks for your interest, as noted the more we are to maintain this software, the better!

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by NekoNoNiaow » Wed May 09, 2018 5:02 am

laurentd75 wrote:
Tue May 08, 2018 3:58 pm
Thanks for the input, it's good news then if it can build on macOS and Linux!

I was unaware that Mono allowed compatibility for GUI applications I thought it only catered for Console apps, like .Net core !

So thanks for clarifying this, as I said I know little about .Net especially about the latest cross-platform developments :D

As to the sources, I have a more recent version than yours as many source files were modified last August, or last October, and there are even sources or forms that were modified in January this year.

And thanks for your interest, as noted the more we are to maintain this software, the better!
Microsoft bought Xamarin (and alongside, the Mono team) and transformed it into "Visual Studio Code" (which runs on macOS) some time ago and did invest a few efforts into making .Net more portable across platforms as well. So there is now a very well fledged C#/.Net development environment on the Mac.
And I am quite glad that this is the case because I like C# much more than Objective C, which is now super dated. Swift is nice but it is too different from C# to make porting interesting or worth the effort.

It is a shame though that Oric Explorer uses Windows Forms, as IMNSHO this library is really bad compared to WPF, but I guess adapting it to WPF would be a nice exercise. Moreover, this would make it easier to extend Oric Explorer with new data visualizers.

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by ibisum » Sun May 13, 2018 11:34 am

Is there likely to be a release of this some time soon .. I could really use it right now - unless someone knows some other way to extract a text file listing (to my Mac or Linux systems) from a .COM in a .DSK file?

EDIT: n/m I'm an idiot and just rediscovered the "LLIST" trick, which suffices for my needs...
Last edited by ibisum on Tue May 15, 2018 7:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Oric Explorer v2.0 is up for adoption!!!

Post by coco.oric » Mon May 14, 2018 9:18 pm

Yes, this news about Oric Explorer is a very good one.
I think that when source code will be publised on github and available for improvement will be a great day. Thanks to Scott Davies for sharing his code and allowing the oric community to use this modern tool
coco.oric as DidierV, CEO Member
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