Almost forgot a few important (and not so important) things. I must be getting senile already…
First, the installer version of SIFBuilder is up and on the software page. This is just the installation version of the same program. No changes but now it puts it into the blueprint directory (and blueprint menu) along with the other blueprint programs and will allow you to uninstall it should the need arise (but we know that won’t happen right??).
Also the developer pages are fixed (some of the links were referring back to my hard drive and not the website DUH!) so just reload the pages if you’re having navigation problems. Also the news archives page is fixed (why didn’t anyone tell me??) so news posts back to my humble beginnings here at SimFreaks is there for your viewing pleasure. It’s been 20 weeks of work on blueprint now (including SimExplorer and other programs/things mixed in there) and I think I’ve come far. Of course, it’s never enough for some people but soon my agony will end and then starts the new process, support!
Whew. Another day and I’m still kicking. I was going to post a new object made with blueprint tonight, but the zbuffer generation still isn’t there 100% so I didn’t want people walking through this object. I’m working on it as I type this (ok, not exactly AS I type this but I have the compiler up and will get back to it once I’m done here). Anyways, I’ll post that as soon as I get it working. It’s also the acid test as to whether or not blueprint is creating a correct object.
I’ve also updated the developers section to start the CMX, SKN, and CFP spec publishing that I’ve been neglecting. If you’re a programmer and want to know how these files are put together or just want to know what’s going on for creating custom meshes (Maxis doesn’t officially support custom CMX files so be careful here) then this is the place to be. I’m about 1/3 of the way through the CMX files and just starting the others. I’ll let you know when that’s complete as I find a few minutes here and there to work on them. Enjoy!
Hi ho. So another day passes and my email continues to grow. I’ve started a thread in the forums about open sourcing SIFBuilder and would like some feedback on it. You can find the thread here. LIke I mentioned yesterday, there’s a toss up of adding IFF functionality to SIFBuilder like extracting the description from it or generating a JPG preview image vs. open sourcing it and letting anyone make modifications to it.
On the blueprint front, work continues as I fix up the 3DS importing and add some other needed features. One thing to note is that I’ve dropped the idea of user definable plug-ins for the moment. The design I had wasn’t very flexible and I was constantly changing it trying to keep up with the needed functionality in the main program, so half my time was just maintaining that syncronicity. So for now I’m just hard-coding the import formats. At some point in the future I will revisit that and create a new SDK that will cover not only importing but being able to write any plug-in for blueprint (for example, a plug-in to build an entire set of stairs or a table based on some user options). I just need to get blueprint out first and then re-think the SDK strategy. That’s it for now.
Okay, so the news post that says Monday below is really from Sunday. Just ignore my rantings and chalk them up to a programmer gone mad. In any case, I’d like to pose a question to you out there in Sims land. SIFBuilder 1.0 is out and might be a useful tool but could it be more useful? One of the things that immediately popped up on my ICQ list was someone wanting to do a German version. That rocks and I’d love to support it. So I was considering releasing the program under the GNU General Public License (in other words, releasing the source code so you could do whatever you want with it including translating it). This does raise a couple of quesitons though. First, I was thinking it might be nice to allow you to pick an IFF file to create a SIF for, and the SIFBuilder would automatically read the IFF to get the name and description for you (it seems silly to me now that you should have to type it in twice). If I added this functionality, it would mean I wouldn’t be able to release the source code (it would mean having to release some of Maxis’ source code and I’m not in a position to do that). So do you want to see that functionality added at the cost of not having the source code to the program? I know this doesn’t mean much to the average user, but someone might want to see how the program is put together (trust me though, it’s a VERY basic program reading the input and spitting out a text file so there’s no magic here). Also the question of releasing the source opens up the issue of having a few derivitave versions out there. The purpose of establishing a standard SIF file format is so they’re all the same and anyone can build a program to read them (say in Perl for displaying on a website, hint, hint). Having variations out there doesn’t help this cause.
On a side note, I noticed that Sim-Heaven has released their own SIF program called SIFPro Suite. I took a look at the output and it really deviates from the standard that we were trying to propose here. I’m not knocking the program as it’s useful, but like I said, the whole point of having the SIF files is not to just inform but to inform in a consistent manner. It’s like having those dang MS tags in HTML that only Internet Explorer can recognize. Oh well. You can check out the SIFPro Suite program here.