Reflections and Projections

openlp.org 2.x Developer Meeting #2

We're arranging another developer meeting in the #openlp.org IRC channel to discuss openlp.org version 2.x. We've tentatively arranged it for Monday 19th May at 20:00 GMT. Since I know that time zones have changed recently in some countries, if an alternate time would suit you, please let us know on the openlp-devel mailing list or in a private message to me on the site.

On a side note, we're fixing up the last few bugs in 1.0.1 and are hoping to release it soon. I know I've said that a few times already, but both Derek and myself have been really busy and tied up with work recently, and haven't had much of a chance to work on openlp.org. As you know, we do this all in our spare time, thanks to our very patient wives and families.

Please keep Derek in your prayers, things at his workplace are not that great, resulting in him sometimes still being at work at 9pm in the evening. I'm really impressed that he manages to get time to work on openlp.org, and I'm really amazed at his level of dedication.

Happy birthday Derek!

It's Derek's birthday today folks, so why don't you drop him an e-mail and congratulate him?

His e-mail address is derekscotney[at]openlp.org

BugFix release coming soon...

Hi folks,

When we released openlp.org 1.0, we hinted at a bugfix release soon after, to clear up any bugs that were still in that release, and true to our word, we've been working on openlp.org 1.0.1. We got our testing team to mercilessly attempt to break openlp.org in a bid to find as many bugs as possible. And we got them...

After a few rounds of test -> fix -> test -> fix, I think we're almost done, and I'm hoping to release openlp.org 1.0.1 in about 2 weeks time.

After 1.0.1 we're going full steam ahead on version 1.1, the development version of 1.2. As we go along, we'll have a few releases (1.1.0, 1.1.1, 1.1.2, etc) so that those who want to run a bleeding edge version of openlp.org can. For the rest of you who prefer stability and reliability, we would suggest you stick with 1.0.1 until 1.2 itself comes out.

We've also had offers from another 2 folks to help us out with 1.1, and so we're looking forward to a slightly faster development pace, although we can't make any promises.

That's all from us for the moment. In the mean time, click on the Ohloh.net button at the bottom of the left hand column of the site, and let the world know that you use openlp.org by signing up and "stacking" openlp.org!

Calling all Windows ME users

Hi All.

Due to the fact that neither Raoul or myself have Windows ME installed, we are looking to all you eager volunteers who do have Windows ME to give us a hand.  We have a reported bug where openlp.org V1.0 doesn't install the packaged themes properly on Windows ME, and then on exiting throws some nasty errors.

If some of you kind people could verify whether this occurs on your Windows ME installation we would really appreciate the input. Whether you experience the bug or not, please include some info about your system in the mail to us, such as version of MsOffice installed or any other possibly relevent info.

Mail can be sent to either Raoul (raoul[at]openlp.org) or myself (derek[at]openlp.org).

Thanks in advance,

 Derek.

openlp.org to the Rescue!

This morning I was not on sound/data projector duty at church, so my wife and I decided to take it easy and arrive just before the service (instead of an hour or half an hour beforehand, as usual). However, unbeknownst to me, but beknownst to my pastor, the people on duty didn't rock up. So on our way to church, my wife gets a phone call from said pastor.

"There's no sound coming out of the speakers... how do we fix  that?"

So I had to trouble-shoot remotely via my wife. Of course this never really works (at least not in my experience) and so I had to hurry to church (while keeping to the speed limits along the way of course), instead of taking a leisurely drive. Somehow I knew that if there was a problem with the sound system, then chances were that there would be a problem with the data projector as well.

We got there 10 minutes before the service was due to begin, and I saw that not only was the person on sound duty not there, but the data projector was unattended as well. Thankfully, a friend who operates the sound from time to time had stepped in and was helping out there, so I quickly hopped in at the computer, opened openlp.org, and started setting up the service.

Unfortunately the service started before I had selected all the Bible readings for the sermon (our pastors like having the verses up on the screen while they're preaching), but I wasn't worried about that. Whenever I got a chance, I'd just add the next verse selection. No problem with openlp.org's everything-in-one interface.

The part which took the longest was not setting up the service, but rather finding the correct verses. Our pastor that was preaching this morning has a habit of saying he's reading one verse, when he's actually reading 3 verses on, or in a different chapter altogether!

This reminds me of another service, where the preacher had not given me a list of all the verses in his sermon, and I was pulling verses on the fly. Wow. I would not have been able to do that with another projection application. openlp.org's interface makes it easy to show adhoc things on the fly.

Have you got a story to tell? Why don't you comment on this post and tell me your story.

Developer Meeting in IRC on Monday

Hi folks,

We've decided to hold a developers meeting on Monday at 20:00 GMT in the openlp.org IRC channel. If you are interested in helping out with the development of openlp.org version 2.x, then please feel free to come and see what we're chatting about.

If you're not a programmer, then please don't worry about this. We're just going to be chatting about our plans for how to develop openlp.org 2.0.

Our IRC channel can be found on the Freenode network, and the channel itself is #openlp.org

Commercial Presentation Applications

So, we've been developing openlp.org for a few years now, but to be honest, I've never looked at the commercial offerings. I know about them, and I know that most people seem to hear of them first, but I've never actually installed them and tried them out.

So last night I installed 4 applications:

  • EasyWorship
  • SongShow Plus
  • SongPro
  • Sunday Plus

I basically just installed everything, and then opened each program and tried to figure out how to use it without looking in a manual.

Installation

Apart from SongShow Plus, the applications installed in apretty straight forward manner. SongShow Plus, however, was a nightmare. It has a whole bunch of "components" which you can choose to install, only each and every component is an installer in and of itself. This means, that with a default install (pre-selected components), you install 26 components, and you have to click buttons on each installer a minimum of 3 times... that's a minimum of 78 clicks! It took about 15 minutes to install SongShow Plus, thanks to all their installers. I was not impressed with SongShow Plus after that.

First Impressions EasyWorship

If you wanted to say that openlp.org copied someone's interface, it would be EasyWorship's. Of all the applications, EasyWorship's interface is the most like openlp.org's. For me it was simple and easy to see what to do and how to do it. EasyWorship is also written in Delphi, like openlp.org, but it uses the archaic Borland Database Engine.

SongShow Plus

SongShow Plus has a very flashy interface, with a silver look and little effects here and there. However, as my wife pointed out, all the icons look the same. It's interface is somewhat similar to openlp.org and EasyWorship, but not quite as intuitive.

SongPro

Eyesore. That was my first impression of SongPro. It doesn't look good. The backgrounds of the text boxes are turquoise or yelow, and I couldn't initially figure out how to put together an order of service. The buttons are all too big, there's too much whitespace around certain elements, and it really looks like it was hastily put together with no regard for how it looks.

Sunday Plus

Bizarre, just plain bizarre. When you open Sunday Plus, it shows you  a small window in the middle of your screen that looks more like a calculator than anything else. From there I was absolutely baffled as to what to do. How do you set up an order of service? How do you add/edit/delete songs? I couldn't figure out how to use Sunday Plus after 5 minutes, so I just decided to leave it.

Some Thoughts

Features are not king. If you application doesn't look good, and isn't easy enough to figure out how to use, then people will not be impressed with it. From what I've read in forums on the Internet, a lot of people like EasyWorship because of it's smart, not too simple but not too complicated, and easy to use interface.

I think it's important to have a decent set of features, but it's more important that your interface looks good (but not flashy) and that your program is easy to use, without having to read the manual.

Comments

If you think I'm right or wrong or missing something or overlooking something, please leave a comment.

Happy Birthday openlp.org!

Tomorrow, the 17th of February is a very special day. It's openlp.org's 4th birthday!

We've come a long way in four years, and even managed to get a major release. We're excited for the future of openlp.org, as you can see by our roadmap.

Join us in celebrating openlp.org's birthday by making sure people at Church know what openlp.org is.

openlp.org 1.0 released!

YES! The moment has FINALLY arrived!

We are very proud to present openlp.org version 1.0. We've waited a long time for this, and I'm not going to lie to you, we're very excited about this release. Over the last few years openlp.org has transformed from a small and seemingly insignificant open source application, to the most featureful open source lyrics projection solution (or so I've been told).

For those of you who are eager to get hold of it, you can download it from our download page.

Some of the features you'll find in openlp.org 1.0:

  • Projection of:
    • Songs
    • Bible verses
    • PowerPoint presentations
    • Videos
    • Images
  • Custom slides
  • Timed congregational alerts
  • Themes:
    • Solid colour, gradient, and image backgrounds
    • Text shadow and outline effects
  • Translatable interface
  • Importing:
    • Themes
    • openlp.org Songs
    • OpenSong songs
    • Bibles from CSV
    • Language translations
  • Exporting:
    • Themes
    • Songs
  • Setting up, saving, and loading of orders of service

Please take this opportunity to spread the word about openlp.org.

Finally, I personally would like to extend a BIG thank you to Derek Scotney (my partner in crime, I mean, development), Jonathan Corwin (he likes to break openlp.org and report the bugs to us, hence becoming our lead tester), David Bunce (heading up support, taking time to respond to people's questions about openlp.org), Richard Banks (web hosting, and this brilliant new site design), and all the rest of the folks in the community that have helped us get to where we are today.

And finally, a word from the Word of Life:

 33 Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
          How unsearchable his judgments,
          and his paths beyond tracing out!
 34 "Who has known the mind of the Lord?
          Or who has been his counselor?"
 35 "Who has ever given to God,
          that God should repay him?"
 36 For from him and through him and to him are all things.
          To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Romans 11:33-36 (New International Version)

Getting ready for version 1.0

Well, it's 2 days before the release of openlp.org 1.0, and I am proud to say that we have almost all the issues resolved. It was a bit touch-and-go earlier, with a few of the bugs being potential show-stoppers, and with solutions seeming to be unavailable, but fortunately we have managed to either fix them or work around them.

The one thing that unfortunately is NOT complete is the user guide, otherwise known as the documentation. We'll be releasing with what we have so far, and after the release, we'll work on the documentation, and release 1.0.1 with the complete documentation. There is enough in the documentation for the user to be able to get to know how to use openlp.org, so it's not a big deal.

For those who don't know, Hannah and I have also been moving these last two weeks, so things have been really hectic. I'm really grateful to Derek and Jonathan Corwin for stepping in and taking up any extra slack when I've not been able to get work done on openlp.org.

Derek and I have also been investigating getting CDs printed. This is a slightly expensive affair, as you no doubt can imagine, but if there is enough interest, we'd like to pursue that option. I'm thinking of doing something similar to Ubuntu's Shipit, except that we don't have the millions that Mark Shuttleworth has, so we'd be asking you to pay for CD production and shipping costs. Of course, buying in bulk reduces the cost of the CDs, and in a minor way, the cost of the shipping too.

And lastly, don't forget to subscribe to the openlp.org newsletter! This is where we'll announce new releases and important events. Don't worry, we won't spam you, and you won't get lots of mail.