Lots to tell, lots to say, lots of space to do so

As I’m sitting here listing to old 60s TV show tunes (yes, someone has to do it so might as well be me) I can’t help think of the creative efforts that went into something that seems so superficial. If you were an accomplished musician in the 60s and asked to put together music for a theme song for a TV show what would you think? That your career just took a nosedive into the crapper or that some 30 odd years from now your music would be the focus of entire showcase albums being listended to by eccentric programmers that write tools for games. Who would have thunk it?

Anyways, things are moving forward at the blue house here even though it doesn’t look like much of a change since the weekend. The site still lacks most content but I’m hoping to get everything back online by the end of the week for download. So where are we going now is the big question on your minds now.

As for the site, I’m hoping to get some entries from you on a site design. So far nothing and the topic has spawned a somewhat large and out of control thread in the newsgroups aguing the merits of HTML vs PHP vs ASP vs CSS (not that they’re competing technologies) and how nobody can seem to put together anything simple these days without having to resort to some server technology. So we’ll see where things go but it looks like it’s the simple life for awhile. No matter. It’s not the wrapping that makes you come back to this place, it’s what’s inside. Right? You can also try out the new commenting system here and add your pithy observations to my posts. Rude and obscene comments will be deleted and your IP will be blocked so play nice with the other children.

So besides the fact that we’re missing the soft, chewy center here right now what is going on with the blue portion of my life. As I said, things will come back and in full swing. There are a few initiatives that I need to get going here now. First (and foremost) is to get all the tools updated to support the latest expansion pack (and perhaps future ones). I’ve externalized most of the necessary smarts of the programs to all look at a single XML file to get it’s quirky expansion pack info so hopefully when the next one comes out (Making Magic) it’ll be a simple download of an extra file and you’ll be up and running with all the new goodies. There are some other externalizations that are happening as well.

Since blue started going pro last year, I did a little re-architecture to the system. All of the programs (more or less) use the same bits and bytes of logic to read, write, and navigate through IFF, FAR and other Sims files. One thing that I started to do (but never saw to the end) was to build an SDK (Software Development Kit) for blueprint. This was to allow 3rd party authors to be able to write plug-ins to the system. blueprint is heading that way as everything that makes up the program is now split out into itty bitty pieces. These pieces are now in large, managable chunks and with the remainder of the work I need to do, can be consumed by other apps. In other words, I’m exposing the functionality of blueprint to other apps like ObjectCloner, SimExplorer, etc. but in doing so it means that they can also be exposed to anyone else interested in writing add-ons for The Sims. This will do two nice things. First, all of my apps will shrink down as most of the functionality is broken out into a series of DLL files. Once you’ve downloaded the core files, you just download the individual apps and everyone reuses the core files. Second, with an extra stub library anyone can write an application to read and use these files (any programming language that can read a DLL file and they’ll be bindings for various languages I’ll provide). This will accelerate (and ease) on the updates to the programs here and hopefully open up some more tools as I’m not that good to write everything. There’s also an auto-update feature that I built for blueprintPro that will be going into all tools so you can stay up to date with everything if you’re connected to the internet.

So in a nutshell first the site will go back online this week with the existing content that we already have. Hopefully by the end of the month or the first few weeks in October I’ll have done the updates to all the other apps to make them more modular and updated for the latest expansion pack. Expect a flurry of updates to come and downloads to fill up your hard drives. I’m also taking what new functionality I can from my big wishlist and incorporating the main features people have been asking for. If you’re looking for something in particular, please post it in the forums so there’s a record of it and I can prioritize it.

Yes, you heard me right. There are some dates in this message. Even though I’ve been on siesta for the past few months, I do have a day job and have honed my skills in software development using some XP (eXtreme Programming) techniques to make my software development process (yes, even one person can have a process) more agile. This will deliver more frequent updates of working software and each release will have a series of automated tests to ensure quality. Most of this doesn’t amount to a hill of beans for some people. They just want software that does stuff. I just like to deliver quality with my work as it’s something that people use everyday and needs to be there when you need it.

Whew. You’ll probably notice that I’ll babble on for some time with these posts. Sorry but I don’t have a readers digest version so you can either tune me out or try to skip through the noise to get to what’s important to you. I’ve been blamed in the past for not keeping people informed so I’m rectifying that and hopefully involving you in the software creation process as much as I can. After all, the tools are for you so they need to be what you want, not what I want.