Reflections and Projections

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.

Testers required

Hi All

We are fast approaching the planned release of v1.0 at the end of this month, and we would like to put together a group of about 10 testers to put the software through it's paces to help us iron out any last issues. We would like to have a test release available by the middle of next week, and then run quick update cycles when issues are found and corrected.

If you would like to take part in this activity, please mail Raoul (raoul[at] to indicate your availability, as well as the specs (OS/CPU/RAM/VIDEO etc) of the test platform you intend to use. That way we can try and spread the testing over a range of platform configurations.

***Please only apply if you are willing to put in the necessary time to do thorough testing and submit to us detailed fault scenario's to reproduce any bugs that come up, so that we can squash them a.s.a.p.

We look forward to hearing from you.

God bless,


A Christian response to Microsoft

As you may or may not know, my primary desktop system runs Kubuntu Linux. I do this because Linux is far more stable, it's virus-free, it has far superior security, and in general is more user friendly. It's also updated frequently (every 6 months in the case of Kubuntu), any security flaws that are found are patched immediately (including my system downloading and installing those patches), and it's 100% free to boot. As such, I like to promote Linux as an alternative to Windows.

Recently I came across a "rant" - a person venting their frustration - on a Dutch chap's site. It is unlike a normal rant because not only is the length of a dissertation, but it's also well thought out and well written. Most rants are irrantional, illogical and full of insults; this rant was the complete opposite. And what was the rant about? It was about Microsoft.

I urge you to read this document. You can find it at: It's a very honest and factual essay on Microsoft. As you read it, I encourage you to think about what a Christian response to Microsoft would be. Should we as Christians actually be using their software? Should we be endorsing a company like that through using their software?

It says in Philippians 4:8-9: "8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. "

My question is this: Is Microsoft a company you want to associate with as a Christian, as a member of the Church? Are they "true, noble, right, pure lovely or admirable"?

I would recommend that you show print out this document and show it to your pastors and those involved in the leadership of your church. Ask them to think about what I've said.

Advertisement Flyer

I've busy with a few things marketing-related for lately, including creating a flyer for people to print out and hand out, or put in local Christian bookstores (with their permission, of course).

This flyer is done in Scribus, and the page size is A4. In South Africa our standard paper size is A4. I don't have any Letter size paper, so I can't test that flyer out. I've attached both a PDF and the original Scribus file to this post so that you can download it and print it out, and if you have an alternate paper size, you can edit it to fit your paper size.

If you do print it out from the PDF, make sure that it disregards the printer margins when you print it out. I've sized it on the page so that it fits well inside the physical bounds of the pieceof paper. It's 3 columns, so that you have 3 flyers per sheet of paper. Don't forget to flip the paper over and print the second page on the back!

Joy To The World

Nothing sums up Christmas like the following song:

Joy to the world, the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room
And Heaven and nature sing.

I pray that you and your families would all have a very blessed and Christ filled Christmas. May we never forget the reason why Christ was born to us, and His gift of Grace.

Yours in Christ,


Kids, don't try this at home!

I've done what any developer should NEVER do. I've released RC6 with a few bugs that we know about.

Well, I wanted to give everyone a nice little Christmas present. The latest version of, with quite a few bug fixes. There are also two new import/export functions.... one to import songs, and one to export songs. Of course you can download from the Download page. Bug reports in the usual place.

Here are some of the bugfixes we made:

  • Importing and exporting of songs database.

  • Corrected various issues in theme management, including previews and vertical align.

  • Ability to hide the display screen completely, enabling other applications to display on the second screen.

  • If you edit a song, the song remains selected, and the list doesn't scroll out of view (partially fixed).

  • Added an option to select whether or not you want to be prompted every time you load and the screen is blanked.

  • Bible formats changed and Bible CSV Importer Wizard improved.

  • Show/hide options for the media manager, order of service, and theme manager.

  • Various other song, Bible, etc. display fixes.

One last bug...

Well, according to our bug list, we have one last bug to fix. And in the traditional style of bugs, it's proving to be the most elusive. Derek and I are both working on it, so we're hoping to have it solved pretty soon.

One thing to take note of is that the XML format for the themes has changed slightly. Fortunately this is not a big problem, and will cause at most a minor inconvenience. The simple way to "upgrade" your themes from the older to the newer format is to edit them and save them with their original settings.

These last few changes will be the last ones for 1.0. After RC6 we will clean up any additional bugs in, and then release the final version.

We're hoping to have RC out in the next week or so, and then 1.0 final by the end of January. It's a little later than Derek or I expected, but then again, we didn't expect our day-job workloads to be that much either...