Reflections and Projections

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 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] or myself (derek[at]

Thanks in advance,

 Derek. 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, 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'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.'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 IRC channel. If you are interested in helping out with the development of 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 2.0.

Our IRC channel can be found on the Freenode network, and the channel itself is

Commercial Presentation Applications

So, we've been developing 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.


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 copied someone's interface, it would be EasyWorship's. Of all the applications, EasyWorship's interface is the most like'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, 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 and EasyWorship, but not quite as intuitive.


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.


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

Happy Birthday!

Tomorrow, the 17th of February is a very special day. It's'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, as you can see by our roadmap.

Join us in celebrating's birthday by making sure people at Church know what is. 1.0 released!

YES! The moment has FINALLY arrived!

We are very proud to present 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 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 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

    • 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

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 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, 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 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, 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

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 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.

Getting bookstores to distribute

I've been formulating a professional e-mail to some of the Christian bookstore chains here in South Africa, and I decided to make it available to the community. This letter basically just talks about what is, what open source software is, and why we want them to distribute it.

I've created a forum topic with the letter in it, and I encourage you to look at the letter, translate it into your language, and decide amongst yourselves who should be the " representative" for your country. Just remember to keep it sounding professional.

Derek and I have been looking at how much it will cost to print labels for CDs and give those CDs away. We came to roughly 1 US dollar per CD. This isn't a lot, and you're welcome to investigate doing this yourself. I'll post CD labels and other packaging and promotional things later, so that you can print out and use these things. So if your letter is successful, you'll be able to download official labels and print them out, and give the bookstores professional looking CDs.

But don't stop there. Why not print out more labels and CDs and hand them out to folks from other Churches that you might know, so that they can also benefit from open source software?

Roadmap: 1.0, 1.2, and beyond...

I was going to reply to the Cairo graphics library topic in the discussion forums, but my answer started getting too long, and I decided to rather blog about the roadmap of, since in essence that's what was being proposed in that forum topic.

Full steam ahead for version 1.0!

So, our top priority at the moment is version 1.0, and getting it out the door at the end of this month. We have indeed worked long and hard on, to get it to a state where it is a stable, reliable, feature-full application that contains the features that 90% of churches out there are going to need on a Sunday.

So, no more features, just bug fixes, and then out the door with version 1.0.

Version 1.2: Featuritis is the name of the game!

Next up on the list is version 1.2. Internally, there are a number of improvements that can be made to While they won't necessarily seem to make a difference externally, it will make our lives developing and maintaining easier. Once we're done with the code clean up, we'll start entertaining feature requests again.

Of course, we will do our best to incorporate as many of the new feature requests as possible, but some will fall by the wayside. We need to be realistic. Once again, version 1.2 will only run on Windows. We realise that there have been a large number of requests for a cross platform version, but the current version of is tied down to Windows. There's no way we can convert it to a cross platform version.

Cross platform, coming right up in version 2.x!

A while back I started thinking about a cross-platform version of However, I didn't see that much of a demand, and since I was rather involved in getting version 1.0 going, I was glad I didn't have to think about it.

Over the years, however, we've had request after request:

  • "Does it work on Mac OS X?"

  • "I downloaded, but I can't run it in Linux"

So, we're definintely going to develop a cross platform version. There's just one problem: it has to be from scratch. As I mentioned before, currently is not portable at all. It's glued firmly to Windows.

The cross platform version will most probably be written in C++, although I've entertained the idea of using Python. We're not there yet, so I'm still thinking about it (and I'd love to have your input on it, if you've got anything to say on the matter). We'll also use one of the cross platform graphics libraries, like SDL or Cairo, so that becomes truly platform-independent.

Update: At a developer meeting we decided to use Python, as it would be simpler and easier to implement a plugin system.

Of course because we have to rewrite from scratch, 2.0 is going to take a long time to develop. If you are interested in helping out with the cross platform version, please contact me. I'd actually like to get it started now.

So where does that leave us? 1.2 is once again going to be a while away. I doubt we'll have anything beyond beta stage by the end of this year. There's a lot of work that needs to go into it, and since none of the team is devoted to working on it full time, things will no doubt take a little while. I hope to have the first alpha release of 1.2 (i.e. 1.1.0) in about June of this year, although we'll see how far we get.

After a couple of alpha releases we'll have a minor code freeze (no more major features), where we will start working towards a final product. This will be our beta release phase, and after a few betas we'll have a full code freeze (no more features, end of story) and enter into the release candidate phase.

After the release of 1.2, the 1.x branch of will go into maintenance mode. This means that we won't have any more major releases, only bug fix releases. In fact, once 1.2 is out, we will only perform major bug fixes on 1.0, and once 2.0 is out, only major bug fixes will be done to 1.2.

Final words

I hope this clears up things for people. I know that at times some folks have wondered where might be going in future, so this should answer those questions.

Please remember that over and above, has a feature-based release cycle, not a time-base one. We will release each version as and when we see fit, with the features we are happy with, and when we're happy that they are bug-free. That might sound a little dicatatorish, but at the end of the day it's us the developers who have to decide what we can and can't do. We do this in our spare time, and we aren't paid for it.

Some Interesting Statistics

The other day I decided to check what our project activity on looks like. I was quite surprised to see that our activity is sitting at just over 99% (they rate it up to 2 decimal places), so I went to go and have a look at how many times RC6 has been downloaded.

What a pleasant surprise! As of this blog post, RC6 has been downloaded 614 times. That equates to 5.21 gigs of data being downloaded. Wow. I didn't realise it was that much!

Last week,'s activity was 99.73%, and by close of day yesterday we were ranked 517 out of 166,587 projects. That's no mean feat, especially since we don't have a particularly large project!

If we can get over 600 downloads after only 3 weeks, just imagine how many downloads we could amass after the launch of version 1.0!

In other news, we've just started Test Phase 1, to see if we can catch as many of the remaining bugs as possible before we launch version 1.0. If you'd like to be part of these test phases, please e-mail me.

Lastly, I'm still trying to single-handedly write all the documentation myself. As of yet I *still* haven't had anyone who has actually done anything more than offer me empty words. If you really have more than just good intentions and hollow words, please let me know.