Fun with Icons on Linux

Peter Alcibiades palcibiades-first at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Dec 19 02:07:48 EST 2006


This may not mean a whole lot if you are not using RR for Linux, because you 
probably have all the artwork and fonts in the world to choose from and are 
wondering what on earth the problem could be!

There are two problems, and they are identical whether you use the MC or the 
RR IDE.

The first is the icons supplied are miniscule and don't apparently scale.  So 
you can make your buttons bigger, but they still have tiny artwork in them.  
You also cannot seem to get rid of minimum 10 point font text under the 
artwork, which displaces the icons upwards.  You can only replace it with a 
space, which increases the ratio of white space to artwork on your buttons.  
This means that if you want one of the old scaleable forward/backward arrows 
that used to come with Hypercard, you have to either dig out the old 
diskettes -  or make your own from scratch.  Hence Richmond's generous 
gesture.

The second problem is that there are two and only two fonts that will permit 
the use of larger than 24 point sizes.  These are bitstream charter and 
courier 10 point.  However, they, like the others,  do not render properly, 
so they look pretty terrible.

The font issue seems to occur because RR uses a now obsolete method for 
getting fonts, and so does not have access to the system wide fonts used by 
the other applications - and presumably this is the rendering issue as well.

The good news is, the font issue is to be fixed in the next release.

One can see this is a difficult decision for RR.  I don't know how many copies 
of the Linux version have been sold, but would guess fairly few.  The market 
envirnonment is different.  Unlike for other platforms, there are lots of 
excellent free open source development competitors.  For instance, in the 
Python based lot, there is PythonCard, PyQT, TKinter, WXPython, the whole K 
development environment.  Free database front ends/rapid developement 
applications are springing up like weeds.  FlameRobin, Glom, Dabo, Kexi, 
Knoda, Rekall - and that's only a few.  OO Base is probably going to improve 
and will ship with every Linux distro.  So its not clear, even if the Linux 
version is cleaned up and totally slick, how many copies will realistically 
sell at a few hundred a copy.  

There is also nothing like the old Hypercard user base to sell into, as you 
have in long term Mac users.

In addition, the database functionality offered by Valentina doesn't come in a 
Linux version.  All the usual suspects in databases are automatic installs on 
Linux - you will have Mysql, Sqlite and so on at the touch of a button, along 
with ODBC drivers, so probably there is not much of  a premium to be had in 
the Linux world from altsqlite.  The database packages above come with 
connectors to all the database servers you could ever want.  Knoda is 
particularly rich.

And finally, the Linux development people don't seem, my casual impression, to 
be very oriented towards RR type stuff.  They are much more hard core.  
Whenever you read the FAQ on the rapid development packages, they always seem 
to start out by noting key contrasts with C.  So its not clear if there is an 
appropriate RR Linux developer market.  

It is difficult.  That said however, if one is going to sell it and ship it at 
all, the fonts do have to work....  

The good new is, they are going to.

Peter

Peter



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