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Technology choices

March 10, 2006 development has taken a break recently. And it’s going to stay on hold for one or two more weeks. Why ? Because I’m exploring new technologies.

The next version of Windows, called Windows Vista, is expected for this year. With it comes a new programming interface, called WinFX. For your information, current Windows applications are programmed on top of something called Win32, which is now approx. 10 years old.

Right now, I’ve put the core OCTGN development on hold because I’m considering porting it to this new technology. There are many advantages to that, let me name a few:

  • WinFX is a lot richer visually. It allows to create lots of niceties and effects that I would love to put into OCTGN, but which are just impossible to do in the current version. And this is a big point: although I don’t write much about it, there are many great things to buy here.
  • Not only its possibilities are better, but they are also a lot easier to program and deal with. And this means many things for you, the players: would be completed faster, there would be more features, the overall quality (i.e. bugs) should be better, and maintenance and evolution easier.
  • On top of this, this new platform is hardware accelerated (the current is not), which means that all of this should come with better performances.

Of course, nothing comes for free, so here’s my current list of drawbacks:

  • Nobody has this installed yet. Using it creates an additional requirement for OCTGN users. Honnestly, this is something that annoys me and in the past I’ve made several choices to keep as much  dependency-free as possible.
  • It narrows the possible platforms. WinFX will ship with Windows Vista and as a library for Windows XP. But not for older systems like ’98. I guess time works on my side for those 2 issues, but I understand some people won’t be happy today.
  • There’s no equivalent for the docking system I presented in an earlier post. And building one is a big task, especially since I don’t know the new platform very well… My take on this one is that for now, I’m dropping the docking system and I go back to a more static layout. 😦 Later, I can incorporate whichever solution seems nice.

To be honest, porting OCTGN to WinFX was on my mind from the very beginning of this project. But at the time, WinFX was in a very distant future, and I thought that 2.0 would get completed a bit faster. Things didn’t go that way, and now I’m thinking that it’s not worth finishing the current version and porting it later. I think I should better spend my time switching to WinFX right now.
I apologize if this was a quite abstract post for most of you, but I wanted you to know what’s going on. If some of you have an opinion about this rather technical topic, feel free to leave a comment!

Have a nice day,