Version control

I've been reviewing messages in the old Templot Club, and there are several that I feel need to be continued/actioned.

The first one that I think is critical if Templot3 is to go ahead as an open-source project is establishing a version control repository and determining who will have rights to update code in it.

I see that SourceForge supports several flavours of version control: subversion, mercurial or git. At this stage I think it is a done deal in the IT world that git has won (sadly), so I would suggest that git be adopted as the version control system of choice. It's not a simple system to use, but it is very powerful and as a distributed system it is very easy to fork or move to another host if that is ever required.

I've not worked on open-source projects before, but my understanding of the normal workflow is that a small group of people (maintainers) are given read-write access to the repository. Everybody else in the world only has read-only access.

If someone who is not a maintainer wants to make a change to the code, they can submit a "pull request" containing their changes. A maintainer can then review the code, and if it is acceptable, they can then merge the code into the repository. This can potentially be quite a bit of work for the maintainers, but is essential to prevent random vandalism of the code :-(

So the action items from here are:
  • create a git repository in SourceForge and populate it with the current Templot3 code
  • nominate maintainers, and provide them with developer access to the repository.

From looking at the old messages, my immediate thoughts for possible maintainers (beyond Martin of course) would be Graeme in Bangkok and Andrew Hunt who appear to be people that have taken a serious interest in the code recently. I would also happily offer myself as well, but I am very new here so I wouldn't expect to be accepted immediately :)

Regards,
Alistair W.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Alistair,

Welcome to Templot Club. You've been a member for 4 years, but I think this is your first post. :)

We have had assorted Tortoises and Git repositories on Sourceforge at least 3 times, and I always ended up deleting them in sheer frustration.

Have you read this topic:

https://85a.uk/templot/archive/topics/topic_3652.php#p29499

That was 9 months ago now. It looked promising, but neither Graeme nor Andrew have posted since, and neither of them have registered on this new forum. Previously we also had Adrian, but he also disappeared. Do you detect a pattern here? :)

I suspect what happens is that coders who are not actually Templot users discover the T3 code on Sourceforge, and get all enthusiastic -- until they realise just how much work will be needed to convert a program developed piecemeal over 40 years, using a 25-year-old compiler, into anything resembling a modern open-source project. :(

I'm willing to have yet another go at setting up a version-control repository on Sourceforge, but I need to have it explained in terms of nuts and bolts, not pages of acronyms and terminology I don't understand. I need some convincing that the time and trouble will be worth it, and that anyone will be taking any interest in it in say 6 months time.

At every turn when looking in the Help, I was told that I must enter X, but never ever told WHERE I must enter it. Every likely-looking box was always greyed out and disabled. It was almost impossible to understand whether I was interacting with a program running on my computer, or code running on the server, and sometimes both at once. In the end it all got so frustrating that I threw it out of the window and deleted the lot. That has happened no less than 3 times now.

I suspect that a lot of the problem is that a program which has no overall design or structure is impossible to convert to a modern modular project. Templot developed over 40 years, originally for my own use only, by bolting bits on as and when I needed them, and then unbolting them, or bits of them, and bolting them on somewhere else, or something else in their place. Some bits were tied on with string. It's the original Meccano tea trolley which morphed into a combine harvester, with bits of hovercraft attached, and it's all still exactly the same. :(

Time for a boiled egg.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,

Yes, I can see you've had a somewhat unfortunate history of setting up version-control repositories.

I suspect that a lot of the problem is that a program which has no overall design or structure is impossible to convert to a modern modular project. Templot developed over 40 years, originally for my own use only, by bolting bits on as and when I needed them, and then unbolting them, or bits of them, and bolting them on somewhere else, or something else in their place. Some bits were tied on with string. It's the original Meccano tea trolley which morphed into a combine harvester, with bits of hovercraft attached, and it's all still exactly the same. :(

It is clear from looking at Templot that there is a vast amount of knowledge embedded in the code (I found it interesting that the Wikipedia page for Railroad Switch refers to Templot!)

Converting it to a "modern modular project" is a simple process - just long and tedious. It is simply a process of picking one little piece at a time and "fixing" it so it fits into an overall idea of what the design should be... I've done this sort of thing before (for work) and it is certainly tedious, but it is quite possible.

One of the major problems with this approach that you need to be aware of (and ok with), is that once this process starts the code will rapidly diverge from where it currently is, which will make any form of code mobility between Templot2 and 3 very difficult.

I'm willing to have yet another go at setting up a version-control repository on Sourceforge, but I need to have it explained in terms of nuts and bolts, not pages of acronyms and terminology I don't understand. . I need some convincing that the time and trouble will be worth it, and that anyone will be taking any interest in it in say 6 months time.

I'm willing to have a go at helping set this up, but it will be learning experience for both of us :) I'm quite familiar with git (I was "volunteered" at work to be a "git evangelist" when we converted from Subversion to git), but SourceForge is new to me.

I have just gone through the process of registering on SourceForge (my username there is award65) and setting up an SSH key.

I don't have a project on SourceForge to play with, so I'll be guessing a bit, but the basic steps required will be:
  1. Create an SSH Key and enter it into SourceForge (if you haven't already done this in the past).
  2. Create a git repository on SourceForge.
  3. Optionally, change the default "master" branch name to something else (usually "main"). Not strictly necessary, but an important step for inclusivity - master has bad connotations for many people.
  4. Clone the empty repo to your PC.
  5. Copy all source code files to the repo directory.
  6. Create a .gitignore file. A sample .gitignore for FPC/Lazarus can be found at https://github.com/github/gitignore/blob/master/Global/Lazarus.gitignore. This file tells git what files should *not* be saved into the repository.
  7. Commit the project to your local repository
  8. Push from your local repo to SourceForge
While I would like to say that I absolutely will still be here in 6 months time, I can't guarantee that (I could beat you under that bus :) ), but what I think I can say is that without a proper repository the chances of any outside development happening are slim to zero.

Please let me know what additional help is needed if you want to try setting up the above. If you want me to do any of those steps for you, I can also do that. Steps 1 and 2 must be done by you. I could do the rest if given developer access to the project (and you're happy with using the source code from the zip file as the initial commit).

Regards,
Alistair Ward.
 
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Martin Wynne

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Create an SSH Key

Hi Alistair,

Here we go again. What is an SSH key? If I ever knew, I have forgotten.

I think SourceForge was originally set up for Tortoise/Mercurial, and only later added Git.

Of the two, I found the Mercurial thingy marginally easier to grasp, and Git utterly unfathomable:

https://www.mercurial-scm.org/

In fact, I seemed to be making some headway with the 3rd install of Mercurial, although depressed by the sheer amount of time and work needed, which would contribute not one iota to the actual functionality of Templot. When there had been no activity on it for several months I decided it would be time wasted, deleted the whole thing and left a simple download zip for anyone who wanted it.

To be honest, I have latterly tended to regard T3 as a dead-end backwater of Templot, left purely as an insurance fallback against that dreaded bus. There have been so many developments in Templot2 over the last 3 years that simply getting T3 to catch up would be a massive effort in itself, not to mention all the still-missing components from the original. I have a further update of T2 in the works with several new functions which will further widen the gap.

But first I have the fallout of the move to a new forum and server to deal with, including creating a searchable archive of the old forum. There are straws in the wind which suggest the old web site may vanish into thin air sooner than I was expecting. This awful Covid thing is affecting everything.

Until it is all moved and running smoothly, with no dead links or lost info, everything else is on the back burner.

But if T3 could be resurrected as an active ongoing project, and fully up-to-date with T2, that would be great. But I fear it is something of an impossible dream after so many false starts.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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What is an SSH key? If I ever knew, I have forgotten

An SSH key is actually a pair of keys, one public and the other private. You keep the private key secure for yourself and put the public key onto SourceForge. Whenever you use SSH (Secure-SHell), these keys are used to establish that you really are you :) Because only you have the private key, this can be used in place of usernames and passwords.

Of the two, I found the Mercurial thingy marginally easier to grasp, and Git utterly unfathomable.
I completely agree - Mercurial would have been my personal choice a couple of years ago, but sadly the "war" has been won by git. Even bitbucket (set up by the creators of Mercurial) have dropped Mercurial support and switched to git.

But if T3 could be resurrected as an active ongoing project, and fully up-to-date with T2, that would be great. But I fear it is something of an impossible dream after so many false starts.

It is clear to me that you have been burnt too many times, and don't have the time or energy to put into T3, and this is quite understandable.

I have a proposal for you. I will create a "fork" of T3, and set it up as a new project, probably on github as it has a few more services available. I'll include appropriate links back to Templot.

Lets give it 6 to 12 months to see what progress happens, and if it looks like it is making progress that is of interest to you, then *at any time* you can pull it back to SourceForge and continue with it as an "official" Templot project.

No effort or time required on your part, except maybe keeping an eye on what activity there is (and occasionally being asked questions about the code).

Regards,
Alistair Ward.
 
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Martin Wynne

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I have a proposal for you. I will create a "fork" of T3, and set it up as a new project, probably on github as it has a few more services available. I'll include appropriate links back to Templot.

Lets give it 6 to 12 months to see what progress happens, and if it looks like it is making progress that is of interest to you, then *at any time* you can pull it back to SourceForge and continue with it as an "official" Templot project.

No effort or time required on your part, except maybe keeping an eye on what activity there is (and occasionally being asked questions about the code).

Hi Alistair,

That's fine by me. :)

In fact it is what I expected to happen when I first made Templot open-source, that everyone would create their own "fork" of Templot and develop it in line with their own particular interests. Not necessarily on SourceForge, I know some members here are, or at least were, interested in learning to code and tinkering with Templot on their own computer just for their own use. This fun aspect all got rather lost when talk of SourceForge and version control systems started.

I do wish to make clear that regardless of what happens to T3 I intend to continue with Templot2 development and release non-open-source updates, at least until the obstacle of replacing the licensed components is overcome. Templot users do need the Sketchboard and PDF exports, for example. On top of that, the NLS map captures are an essential function for many, so we need an embeddable browser which returns the current URL. And Windows EMF metafiles are essential to the working in several places.

I will email you about the Sketchboard problem, which also affects the current XML engine.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Paul Boyd

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This fun aspect all got rather lost when talk of SourceForge and version control systems started.

Hi Martin, that's what happened with me, I think. I don't know if I'll ever be able to do any tweaks to my own version of T3, but I sort of lost interest when someone came along and seemed to want to take over control of everyone's projects and all the acronyms and unfamiliar names and processes started appearing. I hate TLAs! The idea of sharing bits of code that we could patch into our own copies does still appeal though.

The other factor was Templot no longer needing the internet lookup in order to run - I was previously worried that if the proverbial bus came along and a train crashed into the server room, that I'd no longer be able to get at my designs! Of course, that worry is no longer relevant.

I'll be keeping half an eye on this thread!

Cheers,
Paul
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Alistair,

I've read back through these recent posts, and I think my tone might have seemed a bit less than enthusiastic.

I'm sorry about that. I do really welcome your new interest in T3 and the possibility of getting something going again.

The dream would be to have a thriving project of Templot3 which was a fully functional equivalent to Templot2. The latter could then be retired, while I sink slowly in the west after all these years, knowing that Templot is in capable hands for the future.

The snag is that it seems an impossible dream at present, with so many obstacles to progress, and so many loose ends.

In the previous attempts, I felt that a lot of the problem was that those involved weren't actual model track builders or Templot users, being more interested in coding for its own sake than actually using the program. I was a bit surprised when after posting several chunks of code, Graeme said he had never actually used Templot and intended to learn it.

At least I know that you have been reading about railway track on Wikipedia. :)

Welcome again to Templot Club, Alistair.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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graeme

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Ahhhhh - so THIS is where you've all been hiding! I somehow missed the fact that I needed to re-register. :rolleyes:

I was keeping a gentle eye on things (i.e. reading the latest postings when I got an email) but when it all went quiet I just assumed everything ... well ... had just gone quiet! hahaha

OK - lots of things to answer ...
  1. Hi Alistair. It's great to see you are interested in carrying this forward.
  2. Absolutely happy to help out with the repository. I have just one request - I have a repo already that is based on an old version of Martin's source code. As I have based my PDF development on it (around 20-30 commits, as I recall) it would be great if we could use that as the base, so we are all working from the the same starting point. (Actually that should read "so it's easy for me to integrate the PDF work". :) ) I don't meant to say that I am particularly interested in owning the "original" Templot 3 repo. I do have a Templot3 repo in Github, but I will be happy to delete that and re-fork from yours if that is what you would prefer.
  3. I have contributed to a few open source projects (nothing major, I hasten to add) and the process you outline is spot on.
  4. "Converting it to a "modern modular project" is a simple process - just long and tedious" - absolutely agree, though your approach (not to mention your definitions of both "long" and "tedious") is likely to temper as you expose yourself more and more to the code. As Martin says, 40 years-worth of layers upon layers is a lot of unravelling. :) Anyway, you seem to have made a good start to plumbing the depths so here's to much happy tedium🍻.
  5. Martin : "Graeme said he had never actually used Templot and intended to learn it." This should not have been a surprise. In my intro message I did try to make it clear that I was a developer who had just 'found' Templot (rather than a railway guy who wanted to learn to code) and was interested to help. I seem to recall that at the time you were bemoaning the fact that, having bowed to requests from users you had open-sourced the code 6 months previously, and in that time not one single line of code had been contributed. In my enthusiasm to show you that you had made the right decision, I contributed code.
Anyhoooooooo ... great to be back in the land of the living (although as the UK climbs back out of lockdowns, we seem to be just starting to get covid here in Thailand 😕)

Alistair: with regard to point 2 above, I have given much thought to how we can keep T2 and T3 working side-by-side (in particular, the mechanics around the git/github perspective) but I would like to bounce my ideas off you, if you don't mind. As this is virtually certain to overstep the Geekiness Event Horizon I suggest we take it offline. I'm not sure if posts to your profile are 'private' messages, but I have posted my email address there.

Cheers,

graeme
 
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Martin Wynne

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I'm not sure if posts to your profile are 'private' messages, but I have posted my email address there.
@graeme

Hi Graeme,

Welcome back. :)

Everything on Templot Club is public to any registered member who is logged in.* I have removed any form of private messaging between members because I don't see it as my function to provide such a thing, and there are legal issues.

That's what email is for. If you wish to make your email address visible to other members, it's best to go to:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?account/account-details

Scroll to the bottom of the page and enter it in the About you section.

Any member will then be able to find it by going to:

member_about.png


It won't be visible to non-members or search engines.



* the exception to this is this section:

https://85a.uk/templot/club/index.php?forums/my-notes-and-files.30/

Anything posted there is visible only to you. But even there, any posted images will be visible to all via the Media gallery. It is primarily intended as an easy private backup of Templot data files.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Martin Wynne

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graeme

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After some discussion with Alistair, we believe have a basis for moving forward. The only item outstanding is the ongoing changes to T2. Clearly we need to occasionally fold these into T3 so that it can stay current.

Martin, I know that you are not interested in learning the intricacies of git, so Alistair and I need to take that task onboard.

I recall that you made a number of changes to T2 to create T3 in the first place. However, going forward, it would obviously be wasteful for you to either keep making those changes to T2, or applying your updates to T3. The easiest course, if you are able (and willing :) ) would be to provide the unadulterated T2 source, from which we can determine the changes and apply them to T3.

Obviously the whole of the above is on the understanding that certain units (PDF, sketchboard and maybe others) contain proprietary code, and would be specifically excluded.

Is this workable for you?
 
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graeme

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... but I sort of lost interest ...
That's a shame. The whole beauty of open source is that ... well ... the source is open! 😄 You can copy it and change it in any way you want. It's entirely up to you. Git is just one of the tools used to make it easier to merge others' bits of code into our own copies, but if you prefer to do it a different way, have at it! If you have some changes you would like to make, the source is there. Just grab a copy and tweak away.

Above all, have fun doing it!

Cheers,

Graeme
 
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Martin Wynne

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Martin, I know that you are not interested in learning the intricacies of git, so Alistair and I need to take that task onboard.
@graeme

Hi Graeme,

Good to hear from you.

I'm not necessarily uninterested. But I do need to have it explained and discussed in ordinary English, not a stream of acronyms and abbreviations -- I don't do IT-speak. :)

The easiest course, if you are able (and willing :) ) would be to provide the unadulterated T2 source, from which we can determine the changes and apply them to T3. Obviously the whole of the above is on the understanding that certain units (PDF, sketchboard and maybe others) contain proprietary code, and would be specifically excluded. Is this workable for you?

Well maybe. But first things first:

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER AM I PREPARED TO WORK WITH SPACES AROUND OPERATORS.

I just can't do it and won't do it. I read and write abc:=123;.

My brain just can't assimilate abc := 123; without a constant and tiring struggle. I'm too old to change now.

Nor can I do any form of cAmeL casE. Fortunately Pascal is case-insensitive, so I can happily write all lower case with underscores.

Just doing a dump of the T2 source isn't feasible. The comments include swathes of my old notes and years of emails about railway track and other stuff. Not to mention great chunks of old code commented out. To create the original T3 files I spent a couple of weeks going through it and removing all that stuff. So I would need to do all that again. Many of the files have seen a lot of changes in the 3 years since I did it the first time.

If there had been an active T3 group during that time I might have posted each change as I made it, but seeing the lack of significant interest it just seemed extra work for no practical gain.

I've just had a torrid few weeks trying to get the latest 227b version of T2 finished and released, and I still have some release notes to write. After that the weather is at last improving after a washout May and I'm hoping to catch up on some community gardening. So it might be a week or two before I can post anything. You might find the files come in dribs and drabs.

p.s. have you got anywhere with solving the issue of excessive CPU activity when T3 is running outside the Lazarus IDE?

cheers,

Martin.
 
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graeme

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Hi Martin,

I'm not necessarily uninterested. But I do need to have it explained and discussed in ordinary English, not a stream of acronyms and abbreviations -- I don't do IT-speak. :)
That seems to be akin to asking for an explanation of how Templot works but without any 'railway-speak'. Just not possible. That is why our starting point in trying to find a way forward was that it must not necessitate you learning git.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER AM I PREPARED TO WORK WITH SPACES AROUND OPERATORS.
I just can't do it and won't do it. I read and write abc:=123;.
My brain just can't assimilate abc := 123; without a constant and tiring struggle. I'm too old to change now.
Crikey, Martin, where did this come from? o_O This is not about code formatting. You and I agreed long ago (Dec 2019) that such discussions were a pointless waste of time. In fact, as I recall, you wrote a little utility to format code the way you like it. Formatting is not even mentioned in my post, so no, nobody wants to change your coding style.
Nor can I do any form of cAmeL casE. Fortunately Pascal is case-insensitive, so I can happily write all lower case with underscores.
The same applies. I don't understand where this is coming from.

What I WAS trying to do was find a way for you to continue to work without change on T2, and Alistair and I undertake to fold those changes into T3.

Just doing a dump of the T2 source isn't feasible. .......
Physically this is indeed doable. I believe my git-skills are such that we could go back to your original efforts, have git extract the changes you made and re-apply them to the new version(s). It could be made to work, I am sure. HOWEVER, if I remember correctly, there are some private communications in amongst all those comments and emails that you do not want made public, which is certainly understandable. That does indeed seem to scupper that plan. :(

More thought required, it would seem. :unsure:

p.s. have you got anywhere with solving the issue of excessive CPU activity when T3 is running outside the Lazarus IDE?
OUTSIDE the IDE? :oops: That's a scary world out there!

No, not even close to it yet, sadly. The focus at the moment is mainly finding a way we can work together and replacing the missing components.

Cheers,

Graeme
 
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Martin Wynne

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@graeme

Hi Graeme,

Sorry if my previous reply was a bit stroppy. You caught me in the middle of trying to get a new T2 version released after a gap of 12 months, a move to a new server, and quite a few tangles. The last thing I wanted was yet more things to do.

I think you were the one who wrote a utility to modify my formatting. It's not something I have ever done.

Perhaps I misunderstood what you were asking for? There is no way I am going to publish my T2 code files verbatim. To prepare them for the first T3 release I spent a couple of weeks removing private stuff, old code which I have kept for reference, years of assorted notes and comments, and general tidying up. Some of them have been in existence for 30 years and frequently edited, so you can imagine how much junk they have accumulated.

Also, I had to remove all references to the licensed code components which I can't open-source, and in the process I moved some chunks of code around between the units to make things more logical. I tested it in Lazarus and made some changes to allow it to compile without errors. And finally added the open-source legal stuff.

That was 3 years ago (2018). Since then I have continued to develop T2, added several new features and additional files, and made dozens of changes all through many of the old files.

So as far as I can see it means starting again, going through them all again, and maybe in the process creating T4? That's quite a lot of work, and I can't see me having time to do it over the coming summer months.

If things had been different after the start of T3 we might not be here. But there was so little interest from anyone wanting to actually work with the T3 code that I rather forgot all about it and just carried on with T2 as before.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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Hi Martin,

What Graeme and I are looking for is a way to keep T3 moving forward, and matching new features that you continue to develop in T2, *without* requiring significant effort on your part.

The easiest way to do that would be for you to make the unadulterated T2 source (for each release since the T3 split, including the base release) available to a trusted (I know, big ask :) ) person, who can then pull out diffs, and merge those diffs into T3. Note that this is specifically *not* publishing the T2 source. It would remain entirely confidential between yourself and the trusted person.

Asking you to keep preparing "open source" versions of the source as you did for T3 is imposing a huge amount of work on you, and is clearly not a sustainable approach.

If we don't do something about this then T2 and T3 will inevitably diverge.

Cheers,
Alistair.

PS. I have been having a bit of a look at the CPU usage issue. I found your post on the Lazarus forum from several years ago :) I have some ideas for pursuing it, but it's not an easy one... :-(
 
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Martin Wynne

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Hi Alistair,

Thanks for your thoughts. It's not often I say no to anyone, but I'm afraid there is no way I'm going to share my private T2 files as-is with anyone. They not only contain 40-years-worth of my accumulated Templot stuff, but also licensed code and keys which were licensed to me on the understanding they are not for publication or transfer to others.

See also para.11 at: https://85a.uk/templot/companion/terms_of_use.php

If stuff can't be posted publicly here on Templot Club, I don't want to know about it. That was the prime reason I made Templot free 10 years ago. The volume of communications from what were then "paying customers" (and therefore couldn't be ignored) just got too much for me and made me ill.

I'm willing to go through the process of cleaning up and publishing my current files for open-source T3/T4 once more. After that if (big IF based on past experience) there is active interest in the actual code (not just endless talk about Gits and Mercury and Tortoises) I would be willing to post the code for each change in T2 as I make it. I intended to do that before, but when the T3 discussion goes silent for months and months on end, there was no incentive to bother. Also I would be posting the files here on Templot Club as ordinary text attachments. Anyone who wants to diff, commit, merge, pull or push them into some other system would have to do that themselves.

Having finally got T2 update 227 released after a long gap caused by the server change and moving to new forum software, I can now draw breath and think about what comes next without any great urgency. So cleaning up and posting my files won't be the burden it would have been a month ago, and I will make a start on that shortly. They will come in dribs and drabs at a speed which will depend on whether it's raining or the sun is shining. :)

I will do a couple of the smaller ones later today, so that you can say yea or nay to proceeding this way.

cheers,

Martin.
 
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graeme

Member
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Bangkok
Hi Martin,

I understand what the cleaned-up files would look like. (Pretty much like T3 originally did, I suppose, but with some improvements.)

What is rather less clear is what the updates will look like when you release them. I can see two options:
  1. Release the whole .pas file again. This appears to imply either:
    • another clean-up exercise (clearly unacceptable) or
    • applying the changes you have made to T2 to the cleaned-up version,
  2. Alternatively would you publish just the diffs?
  3. something else? (OK, perhaps there are more than 2 options :) )
I'm just trying to get a feel for how this will work and what steps we will have to take inT3 after your releases.

Also, rather than go through the whole clean-up exercise again, would it be easier for you to post the updates made since the last time (was it 2.90?). We could easily take those and apply them to the old T3, if that would be easier for you.

Just a thought. Whatever's easiest.

Cheers,

Graeme
 
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