niedziela, 2 sierpnia 2015

AMIcast - Text Interview 1 - Fabio Falcucci

Sadly, not everyone wants to make audio interview. There are so many great people in Amiga community, so there is one solution: I would like to present you a traditional version of interview
First with genius of Hollywood - Fabio Falcucci. I hope in future will be possible to have this type of interview beside of my main activity - podcasting. :)
Fabio is an author of great apps for Amiga systems:
1. Your first contact with computers. And it was Amiga or something else?

My very first contact with computers was around 1985 when I prayed my parenteralny for a Commodore 64 :) The C64 was my first love and to be honest I'm still in love with it even if I don't own this mighty machine anymore.

2. Your first Amiga. Type and configuration? There were some other models too?

My first Amiga was few years later the Commodore 64, when the Amiga 500 was released I was shocked by the features it had, I was already experimenting with programming. I saw Amiga as a way to vent my creativity, especially in music.
The Amiga 500 was a great change in my life, it helped me to understand the programming basics and have unleashed my music creativity and also my darkest programming desires :)
After some years, when the Amiga 1200 was released I sold my A500 to buy this shining AGA machine to continue my exploration in computer programming and in electronic music world. I'm very grateful to Commodore to have made these machines because they have changed my life letting me enter in the programming world. I still have my A1200 in my office!

3. When and why you switched to NG systems? Which Amiga are you using now?

Unfortunately around the year 1990 I left the scene because I started to work and my free time was reduced to almost zero. On the work place I was using an MSDOS machine and my interest for the dark side was forced by the real life. I was still studying m68k assembler but after some years I gave up for Windows computers.
Just before knowing about the AmigaOS 4.0 I was experimenting with AROS because it was possible to use it on x86 machines but the temptation to have an evolution of my Amiga was irresistible and I decided to buy a Sam440ep. The second step was to buy Hollywood and the last step was to start programming from where I left in the 90’s.
Actually I do not have the Sam440ep anymore, the power supply was gone and I've decided to sell the machine due to its low specs needed for development, but thanks to Hollywood cross-compiling abilities I can easily build for any machine.

4. Tell us something about your work? You are well know as a master of Hollywood. ;)

Thank you for the "master of Hollywood" title but it's just a matter of time, I've only two hobbies: music and programming (with Hollywood) :)
I think you are talking about my work with Hollywood and not my real job :) I've many, really many projects goin' on with Hollywood and each time a new version come out I have new ideas and I start a new project! Right now I have some big projects with Pascal Papara like the AppStore client, the AmiCloud client and a few more, but I've several projects also on my own: the biggest one yet unfinished, but fully usable, is HGui, an entire GUI tool kit to build interfaces with Hollywood with the great advantage of full cross-compiling possibilities because HGui does not use any external library or plugin. Just to mention a few running projects, I'm working on a game framework (actually I'm converting the code base to use hardware accelerated graphics thanks to the openGL plugin), a demo tool kit, a remake of Moon Patrol and some top secret projects :P

5. Why Hollywood is good? What advantage and disadvantage has this package?

Hollywood is an incredible development tool, getting more powerful and modern with each release. Before starting to code with Hollywood I was learning LUA, a well known scripting language, fast, easy but extremely powerful; Hollywood shares
some concepts with LUA, it uses some LUA core libraries, and have a very similar approach with data types, tables and syntax. So when I started to code with Hollywood it was a „joke” to start coding something more then an "Hello World" :)
Talking about advantages: well Hollywood best features are cross-compiling, execution speed, language syntax but after the latest release I have to add: accelerated graphics thanks to the openGL plugin and open plugin system so that anyone with skills in C language can code external plugins for Hollywood.
Disadvantages? No jokes, Hollywood has no disadvantages! Before the latest release I would have said "slow graphics" but this is not true anymore.
But yes, if you want to know my hidden desire for the next Hollywood versions, is the ability to build for Android without using the Android Hollywood player, this could lead Hollywood programmers to monetize their work and make some real cash easily. I think this could increase Hollywood visibility and extend the user base.

6. In my opinion Hollywood is "our future”, because is platform independent. It's right?

Yes you are right, as I've already said the cross-compiling feature is what keep me goin' on with it. The latest added build target was amazing: ARM Linux can be targeted and Hollywood can build for Raspberry Pi/Pi2! Almost all OSes of this world can be targeted by Hollywood! Isn't it enough to say that this package is a must have?

7. If it is possible to make software in Hollywood not only for Amiga systems, but also other like: Windows or OS X? Can it be a future for our developers to get some money in this way?

Yes, Hollywood can easily build for Windows and OS X, an example is the AppStore client I'm developing for Pascal Papara and his IndieGo! project. The AppStore is a complex program that talk with a remote server and manage user purchases and it's available for all supported platforms, so it is definitively possible to make serious programming for "foreign" platforms.
Targeting Windows and OS X platforms can increase the users base, it's a fact, so it can be also a way to make some bucks, but I also think that this could put Amiga programmers in competition with the outer world, and in my opinion it's a good thing to stimulate coders to make better products.

8. Hollywood with Designer looks like a good starting point for easy development of software. Is it true? Is it worthy to using Designer to produce software or is better to learn Hollywood language?

I'm an old guy who likes things done in the old fashion, so I like to code, type routines, make libraries and so on... that's to say that I don't have Designer and to be honest I don't even ever tried it. But from what I've read in Internet many users are using it with good results.
My personal opinion is that if someone want to make programs must learn to code to have the maximum degree of liberty while coding, but if someone is interested in a visual tool to make presentations or even some programs quickly than Designer is the way.

9. Can I create simply application like player for MP3 or text game in Hollywood Designer?

From what I've seen yes, I can speak for myself because as I said I do not have Designer, but if you have a look around in Internet you will find some nice projects developed with Designer.

10. There is opinion Hollywood is slow, is it true? There is also opinion that  it's not good way of programming. What you think about this?

Hollywood is a fast language, as fast as LUA, a for-next loop of 100.000 loops takes only 40 milliseconds on my development machine, a 6 years old notebook equipped with an i5 processor. The only part where Hollywood was slow was the graphics but thanks to the openGL plugin this is not true anymore, I'm writing a game framework with openGL support and, well..., it's unbelievable the framerate you can achieve now!
About the second question I really don't get the point: why Hollywood is not a good way of programming? Hollywood is based on LUA a very well known scripting language, famous to be lightweight and simple to understand yet powerful and Hollywood is the same! Who is saying Hollywood is not the way for sure does not have even tried it :P

11. Your biggest successes in Hollywood? The best application? How much time you spent to develop it?

I have several projects developed on Hollywood but the most complex are the ones that I love, for example HGui is the successor of ScuiLIB, a complete GUI tool kit. It shares some concepts with MUI like for example the gadgets hierarchy, and comes with a complete set of gadgets. I'm aware that there is already MUI Royale out but HGui have the great advantage to be compatible with all target systems supported by Hollywood since it uses only the Hollywood command set without external libraries or system dependant code. I'm currently writing documentation and I'm implementing a few missing classes, I'm working on this project from 2009 and I will release it to the public for few bucks.
Another project I like and I will renew soon is G.E.M.Z., a puzzle game I wrote a couple of year ago. For this game I've used original manga style graphics and I've written a complete original soundtrack, I've received many good reviews but unfortunately I've sold only few copies of it, not enough ever to recover the money invested for the graphics.
I want to mention the AppStore application developed for Pascal Papara and his IndieGO! project. It was a great challenge for me because I've never developend a client that "talks" with a remote server and handles the received answers. AppStore GUI uses another GUI tool kit I have developed during the last years and it's a system that can be configured and themes with external text files, supports many transitions effects and is more "eye-candy" than HGui.
This tool kit is called SimpleGUI and support natively the GUI rescaling so that screens at different resolution are automatically managed without user or programmer intervention.
The last application I'm proud of is AMC, a Media Center application for AmigaOS4 and AROS systems. AMC uses mplayer to play video and audio streams and and is able to manage all media files like pictures, videos and music files allowing the user to catalog all his stuff and find quickly what he need to view or listen. An update with a new version is planned.

12. Our community is divided: AOS4, MOS, AROS and classic Amiga? This is not so good for Amiga future, can be something done? Can we reunite again?

I think much can be done in what remains from the old good days. I know that maybe someone will hate me but this is what I think and I'm not used to lie :)
The first step is to accept that the old good days are gone, forever. What we have now it's a different OS with different hardware, and the only thing that has not changed is the "Amiga" name in the Operative System. Once we have accepted this fact we should stop the wars between factions and try to collaborate each other without preconceptions. I will make an example I've faced myself: when I started to code using Hollywood I've also started to publish my first programs like LookHere!, a picture viewer, and HFinder, an utility to search files in local media storage, when I've announced these programs one of the very first questions I was asked was "what you have used to develop these applications?" And when I answered Hollywood I was attacked by some developers simply because I wasn't a C programmer: this was sad because instead of being happy that a new programmer with fresh application has joined they was complaining about the language used! I've stopped to post my thoughts on forums because I like to talk about programming, performances and hardware but I dislike to make wars for... nothing! :)
Behaviours like these put people away rather than bringing them closer, I know that most of the people are not like these but what remains from the scene is only a small group with very few developers and we have to help each other instead of fighting each other for stupid things, we should focus on getting more developers and encourage new programmers and ivolve them in the Amiga, AROS or MOS scene, doesn't matter which platform from my point of view because I see them as three brothers (or sisters) born from the same mother.
I don't think we can reunite AROS, AmigaOS4, Classic and MOS, simply because of the nature of these OSes: AROS is GPL while AmigaOS4 and MOS are commercial and closed source, Classic is to hold to think at it for the future unless we are talking about emulation and retro-computing, even if I'm still having fun with it!
So we have AROS, OS4 and MOS but how they can be reunited? I have no idea, sorry but at least could we try to reunite the user base? If people start talking each other peacefully and developers try to collaborate maybe one day, hopefully before extintion, we could reunite again :)
Some sponsored events could help, like code contests or trying to give the Amiga scene a boost with prizes, it's just an idea, of course when I'm talking about Amiga scene I mean AmigaOS4, Classic, MorphOS and AROS.

13. In this divided situation how we should develop software? For example MUI is different for AmigaOS and MorphOS, AROS has Zune. Maybe we should have one core team for MUI/Odyssey etc., and then port software for tree main systems?

This problem is part of what I've said just few minutes ago: the main problem that prevent AROS, AmigaOS4 and MorphOS to reunite are the different licenses.
For example how a free OS like AROS could share the same code base of AmigaOS4 which is commercial or vice versa? From my poin of view it's impossible unless AmigaOS4 becomes open source but still remaining commercial. This could be a possibility.
This splitted situation make progresses slower because of the few developers splitted in these three realities, and each improvement in the OSes is done three times, and everytime with a custom implementation! It's crazy! :)

14. Lack of time = lack of software or development. For example Odyssey. Great browser not developed for two years. Operating system without good browser is not useable at all. What you think about this?

I'm agree with you, an OS is nothing without software, at least from an user point of view. Some specific software are a must have for every OSes including a web browser, an office suite with an email client, a media player, a text editor and a good shell.

15. A lot of Amiga user said: ports are not solution. Are you agree with that? Isn't better to use QT and port modern browser instead of developing all from scratch?

I'm agree in part with this sentence. I think that porting application isn't bad because allow users to make use of some application relatively quickly than developing an app from scratch, but this should not be the definitive solution.
An OS should have its own ecosystem with its own implementations and its own original applications born from original ideas or it's just a clone! Try to think this way: I'm an user who known Amiga but have never used it and today want to give it a try: he starts to play with it and find that the available applications are identical to the ones available on Linux or Windows have, so he is asking himself why he should setup an Amiga OS if with a cheaper machine he can do exactly the same things... we should think as users before thinking as developers :)

16. For newcomers. What Amiga can you advise? Classic or maybe NG? Or emulator?

Depends on how much money they have! Personally speaking I'm more oriented on AROS and Amiga classic, but also AmigaOS4 and MorphOS have their own charm :)
Emulation is the cheaper solution, I use it often when I want to test my applications quickly without switching from one machine to another.

17. AmigaOS 4 under WinUAE is a great success. Instead of PPC hardware maybe better solution is powerful Intel with emulation?

Yes, it was a great success and as soon as I will have some free time I will try it, but if we want to seriously speak about Amiga future there are no alternatives: Amigans must start to think about x86.

18. Our future? Community and future of Amiga? We are getting older, is there any chance to put Amiga in more usable form?

Who knowns the future? I'd like that the philosophy behind Amiga will never die because if I'm a programmer, like many others I suppose, it's because of Commodore and their products that have opened the doors to people creativity, listening people saying "Intel outside" or "Winzozz" in 2015 it's really sad and I hope they can open their eyes to the outside world to take the good points and bring them on the platform they love.
For me the best experience that a hypothetical user can have, is taking the road of emulation, but I would love a new hardware with the old Amiga fashion, something new, powerful and simple, able to unleash user's creativity and able to revolutionize the computer history once again :)

19. Which software would you like to have on the Amiga? Dropbox, Spotify or Skype?

To be honest I would replace one of my Windows computer with an Amiga but actually it's not possible for several reasons, once for all the development environment I'm using right now and Virtual Box I often use to run Linux and AROS hosted.
However something like Dropbox is coming and it is called AmiCloud.
AmiCloud is a Pascal Papara project, I'm working on the client and it will be awesome just because people can have a service like Dropbox even on classic machines!

20. Greetings.

It was a pleasure answer your questions! Greetings to you and your public and long life to all Amiga platforms still around!

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