Reflections and Projections

Upcoming ALPHA Release of OpenLP 2.0

Hi folks,

It is with great pleasure I announce the release date for the first ALPHA version of OpenLP 2.0: Sunday 28 March 2010.

What is an alpha release? Well, it's a release to say, "hey, we're not yet done, but you can look at what we've done so far!" Some features are missing, some are incomplete, and some are buggy, but you can look around and play around!

It has taken us a year and a half to get to this point, an initial release of OpenLP 2.0, but this is because we have been rewriting OpenLP from the ground up. There is not one single small piece of code from version 1.x in version 2.0. Rewriting OpenLP from scratch has given us a chance to fix design mistakes in 1.x, add more flexibility, and give you much much more in version 2.0 than we could have ever given you in 1.x.

I'd like to extend a huge thanks to my fellow developers, testers and other members of the community for their help, encouragement, and commitment to a brand new version of OpenLP!

Calling all translators!

So you've been hearing all this noise about OpenLP 2.0 coming out, you've seen screenshots, and you're wondering if this new version will be available in your language. Perhaps you're wanting to contribute, but you're not a "computer person"?

Well, with OpenLP 2.0, we'd like to be more open, and that includes translations. If you speak a language other than English, and you want to help translate OpenLP 2.0 into your language, please take a look at the Translations section of the developer wiki.

Note: We're still in the process of setting up the translation tools, but we will feature an online tool, so you don't need to install anything on your computer, nor do you need to be able to do anything terribly technical.

Service Item Notes

The latest version (723) now has the ability to store Notes against a service item.

Right click one the item title and select "Notes" .

OpenLP and PowerPoint viewer

Raoul posted a screenshot of OpenLP 2.0 and OpenOffice Impress a few days ago, and for an open source application, this is a great pairing. In addition I've also been working on getting PowerPoint Viewer support working in Windows...

"Why?" You may ask. Well there are times when a visiting preacher pops in 5 minutes before the service with his PowerPoint created presentation, and you find that he's using LatestWhizzyUnnecessaryFeature(tm) which just doesn't format correctly in Impress and you don't have time to fix it. Since PowerPoint costs money better spent elsewhere, and native PowerPoint viewer doesn't support dual screen, this hasn't left many options.

So I spent some time trying to automate PowerPoint viewer. This will only work on Windows of course, and since the viewer isn't designed to be automated, it may have the occassional quirk. However I have managed to get basic support working in 2.0 as you probably can't see too well in the small low quality screenshot above!

Also a useful tip for Windows 7 dual screen users. Sometimes you may want to display something on the projector which OpenLP doesn't yet support, maybe a webpage. However dragging it across the screen in full view of the congregation isn't very professional and is a bit hit and miss. I've discovered that Windows 7 has a new key combination to assist with this. If you press the Windows key, the shift key and the right cursor key all at the same time, this will move the current window to the other screen/projector. If you then press Windows key and up arrow, this will maximise the window... although some apps also support "F11" for fullscreen.

Alert Framework

Over the last few weeks the alerts framework has been extended, adding new requested features.

These features include.

  • The ability to change the alert Font size.  The Background will resize to fit.
  • The ability to place the alerts at the Top or Bottom of the screen
  • The ability to store all alerts issued.
  • The ability to add / amend / delete from the alerts history.
  • The ability to select and resubmit an existing alert.  This does not re-save it unless the text has been changed.

SongUsage Plugin

In version 2 of there is a pluging called "SongUsage" which records all Live songs and when they were used.  This is to help with the production of yearly usage returns.

The Plugin geneates a CSV file which can be procesed using OpenOffice.

This can replace the existing utility which extracts the data from the service files. Impress & OpenLP - destined to be together!

As you can see our Impress integration seems to be working pretty well. This was just a small test I did this morning to see how well it worked, and I was pleasantly surprised. Well done to gushie for all his hard work on getting this working!

200 and Counting!

The milestones for OpenLP keep on coming. Today we reached 200 Facebook fans! Excitement is building for the release of version 2.0, and version 1 has been receiving some nice improvements over the last few months. There have also been some comments about users leaving high priced software and coming to OpenLP. With the economic situation today more and more churches are turning to OpenLP because of cost. After turning to OpenLP many are being pleasantly surprised at how well it competes and in many cases performs better than its high priced alternatives. With the buzz ever increasing we look forward to the next 100 fans and enabling more churches to enhance their worship and their ministries.

If you're not already a fan, why don't you head over to ourFacebook Page and become a fan! Don't forget to follow OpenLP on Twitter, and add the RSS feed to your aggregator! We also have a group on Facebook, and a group on LinkedIn.

Revision 700 and the Better Bible Plugin

Well folks, we've reached another milestone with OpenLP 2.0 - revision 700. And not only have we reached a big revision, the Bibles plugin is now better than before!

The importer has been reworked, both interface-wise and code-wise. It features a Wizard style interface, well known in computer interfaces these days, making it faster and easier to use the importer. The code has been changed fairly dramatically now as well, to facilitate a pluggable import system, where developers can easily add new importers with little hacking.

General searching has also been improved. We've reduced the number of times verses are pulled from the database, opting for an all-in-one-go approach, which should speed up the displaying of Bible verses, especially when displaying dual verses.

There are a few other fixes hidden in there too, but the work on the Bibles plugin is the most prominent feature of this revision.

Where are all the OpenLP users?

A few days ago, sjpslabbert asked the question in a forum post how many people are using OpenLP? As I said in the reply, it's close to impossible to answer that question. All we know is that we average 100 downloads a day, there were over 16000 downloads of version 1.0.1, this site has over 2500 registered users and we are approaching 200 fans on facebook.

What we don't know is how many of those downloads are new users who go on to use OpenLP regularly.

So I thought perhaps we could add a page to our wiki where users could add their church, if using OpenLP. However since the wiki is currently focused towards v2.0 development it wasn't really appropriate. Also as good as a list is (e.g. see Drupal's) it needs to be maintained and not everyone knows their alphabet. I know this from my churches pre-OpenLP days trying to keep our large box of OHP transparencies in order!

So then I wondered if we could use google maps. I had seen the map of OpenLP developers locations on launchpad and investigated doing the same for OpenLP users.

The keen eyed among you will have spotted the Worldwide Usage on the left hand menu. If you a regular OpenLP user, or hope to be, it would be great if you log into your Google account, head over to the map, click the edit button. Then just drag a placemarker to your churches location (you might want to zoom in a bit) and put a little comment with the name of your church and how you use it.

Over time this will then give us an idea of where the regular users are and perhaps might even help us know which translations or culture specific features will benefit the most people.

And whilst I'm blogging... As some of you know, I maintain a few utilities to help do a few things with openlp which are not currently built in. You'll be pleased to know that the 2.0 team are doing a good job at incorporating some of this functionality into the new version. However a new budding utilityist has wandered onto our shores, cowjam. He has written a web-based OpenSong converter, which I'm sure will be easier to use than mine and helps add functionality to the opensong importer built into 1.2. If you have need to import opensong songs or bibles, please check it out.