Written by Henry Sobotka
The past few months have brought a squall of major releases, confronting developers with the far from casual decision of whether or not to change compiler.
First came VisualAge for C++ 4.0 with "orderless programming", incremental builds, makefile elimination, automatic template instantiation and globs more for roughly US $800 (first-time buyers) or US $225 (upgrade from 3.0).
Then just before year's end, Eberhard Mattes released version 0.9d of the emx runtime library and development kit. The upgrade to gcc 2.8.1 is a mixed blessing: a free compiler with new features yet a version widely reputed as buggy. The assembler is gas 2.6 and the kit includes libstdc++ 22.214.171.124 and libg++ 126.96.36.199a.
The new emx environment has since spawned the release of pgcc 1.1.1, Andrew Zabolotny's port of the Pentium-optimized distribution of egcs (experimental GNU compiler system), along with binutils (including gas) 2.9.1.
In addition, Jens Glathe has recompiled the 1995-vintage Project Manager with emx 0.9d and issued version 1.05a.
The OS/2 version of the Free Pascal compiler has been upgraded to version 0.99.10.
Fulfilling a promise made at Warpstock '98, the developers of Visual Prolog have released their full Professional product as freeware for home and educational use. Prolog, which can crosscompile GUI and text-mode programs for OS/2 and all flavors of Windows, comes on CD for a US $30 media and handling charge (shipping included). While the Prolog Develpment Center plans to put the package online, its size (200+ MB) likely makes opting for the disk a smart choice.
Meanwhile IBM has refreshed its free Device Driver Kit (DDK) for OS/2. The site now carries the source for the USB (universal serial bus) base, keyboard, mouse, audio and modem drivers "so those brave enough might attempt porting some linux usb drivers to os/2 for devices not already supported. :-)". The printer, clock, and comm port device driver files have also been updated.
If you can read German, you might be interested in OS/2 Only, a new magazine published by C.-E. Fischer Buchverlag. Its coverage spans news, hardware, software, configuration/operation, programming, networking and multimedia. The all-inclusive price per copy is DM 24.80 in Germany and DM 26.80 (EUR 13.70) elsewhere, with a 14-day trial period. The debut issue appeared in December with the second due out shortly. Visitors to the magazine's unfinished site will also find a software download area and variety of links.
The Russian Underground/2 website now carries an Apache for OS/2 Maintenance Page created by the server support team to share its expertise. They run a customized current build with PHP and JServ modules, charset support and other useful enhancements.
IBM has opened a new VisualAge Bookstore with a recommended reading list, featured courseware and a comprehensive collection of VisualAge books, training material, Redbooks and web resources for developers.
Recently updated sites include the OS/2 Netlabs Developer Corner and the The mSQL PC Home Page. Also on the web, www.OS2.org (formerly http://www.OS-2.de) is back online with both German and English pages now, while the Software Developers Guild, makers of WarpAMP, has new web and email addresses.
Atlanta, Georgia was recently picked as the venue for Warpstock '99, the next annual gathering of Warpies now slated for October 16th and 17th at the Georgia International Convention Center.
For your system-tweaking pleasure, IBM has released Corrective Service utility version 1.40, which adds several enhancements for FixPak installation without diskettes. Or you can give Stefano Zamprogno's freeware SimplyFix v.4 with its user-friendly GUI and wizardlike design a spin.
Another alternative is to use a CD for applying upgrades. Mensys is now distributing MB10, a roundup of the latest Warp fixes, Java and Communicator updates, and "a wealth of information".
Newer yet is Indelible Blue's WarpUP! for Warp 3.0 and higher, Warp Connect and Warp Server. The package uses a browser-like interface and includes IBM's latest FixPaks and tools, plus popular applications and utilities. It examines your system, displays current levels and update options, installs your choices and keeps a record of updates.
Recent releases include Peter Meerwald's port of Craft 3.5, a Warcraft-like multiplayer game for XFree86/2, and version 1.4 of Mastermind/2, the classic logic-game ported to OS/2 by René Auberger (freeware with GPL source code).
Free introductory courses to Java and Java Beans are online at the IBM Education website.
Two new alphaWorks technologies have come on line: Mapuccino from IBM's Haifa Research Lab for dynamically creating visual maps of websites, and the ExcelAccessor JavaBean Suite for visually programming a Java application to access and modify the contents of a Microsoft Excel worksheet. Other recent alphaWorks releases include Bean Markup Language 2.1, updates for Jikes and Speech for Java, and IRC Client v1.40.
Among the new downloads available from IBM are Graph Foundation Classes for Java and Lightweight JavaBean which filters Java code files, formats them for easier viewing and analysis, and cleans up machine-generated code.
IBM's OS/2 Java Virtual Machine running on Aurora topped the speed tests in Javaworld magazine's recent performance and scalability comparison. alphaWorks and IBM have several Java technologies nominated for the Java Developer's Journal Readers' Choice Awards; you may still be able to vote for your favorite.
Recent releases from Java developers outside Big Blue include njPipes 0.47, the latest version of Ed Tomlinson's unofficial port of the CMS/TSO Pipeline product to NetRexx and Java.
Slava Pestov has issued jEdit 1.4, an open-source multi-feature text and source-code editor written in Java and distributed under the GPL as part of the Giant Java Tree project. Included with the release, which requires Swing, is a .cmd file for launching the program in OS/2.
From Martin Farrent comes word of version 0.5 of jpub, an integrated application/publishing framework for intranets. It too is free, open-source Java software under the GPL. The latest release includes an initial set of tools for webmasters and extension developers. Although not yet tested on Warp, the developers want feedback and promise that "if there are problems with OS/2, we'll set up an OS/2 machine to fix them."
JamochaMUD is a full-featured Java-based MUD/MUCK client by Jeff Robinson. The current beta 2 version, source code (GPL) and language resource bundles are available at the program's homepage.
GSView, the Ghostscript Viewer for .ps and .pdf documents, has been updated to version 2.7.
The OS/2 port of mySQL by Antony Curtis is now at version 3.22.19b. The next refresh will include binaries for alternate charsets.
Akira Hatakeyama has released version 1.03 of ShapeWindow, a custom control for creating nonrectangular windows (actually transparent-background bitmaps) on the PM desktop. The distribution includes sources (GPL) and samples, one of which is an X-eyes variant. It is the basis for Osuwari Multi, a popular Japanese desktop accessory which seats a cute little blinking greenhaired pixie on the top edge of the active window with legs dangling over the title and menu bars.
Daniele Vistalli has completed an OS/2 port of gifsicle 1.10, a GIF manipulation tool.
Steve Carter has ported Ken Lunde's Japanese code-manipulation utilities to OS/2. JConv, JCode, and JChar are command-line tools for converting and inspecting Japanese text codes and generating Japanese code sets. All three support JIS, Shift-JIS, and EUC.
Hung-Chi Chu has released a new version of the BSD ash shell for OS/2 based on the port by Juan Jose Garcia Ripoll.
The latest additions to the extensive repertoire of REXX tools for developers include Michal Necasek's and Daniel Hellerstein's DLL for converting truetype fonts to bitmaps, and Bob Eberle's code formatter (US $15 shareware).
New versions of two longstanding OS/2 utilities have surfaced quietly in recent weeks.
Ray Gwinn has released a beta of version 2 of his SIO serial port drivers, which have been completely redesigned by separating the logical and physical functions. Registration will cost more than the US $25 charged for version 1, but registering version 1 now will entitles you to a free upgrade to version 2.
Albert Shan has updated his RAMdisk program, Super Virtual Disk. The Vdisk ceiling has been raised from 16 to 128 MB, and HFORMAT now works with Warp 3 FixPak 37 and Warp 4 FixPak 7 or higher. Pricing is US $8 for an update and $40 for the full version.
From IBM comes Version 9.17 of BootOS/2, a utility for creating bootable floppies or partitions with any version of OS/2.
ConfigMaint/2 by Kai Evers and Klaus Staedtler, the free successor to Rick Meigs' ConfigInfo, has been upgraded to version 0.98.
Jan van Wijk has released version 2.91 of DFSee with its abundant array of FDISK, HPFS, FAT and NTFS commands for exploring, tinkering or doctoring hard drives.
If you're interested in file systems, you might want to check out the Pegasus Optical File System for OS/2 with its clustering approach for document management. Pegasus is "enthusiastic about working with software developers, especially those involved with imaging solutions".
If you have both Linux and OS/2 on your system, you might be interested in a read-write HPFS driver for Linux. The one normally distributed with Linux is read-only.
IBM has issued updates (dated 99/02/12) of both the standard and strong-encryption versions of Netscape Communicator 4.04 for OS/2 Warp; the Plug-In Pack remains the same. The new release includes Java 1.1.7 support.
Link Guard Solutions has produced SafeFire Firewall 1.0 for OS/2. The security application is designed to work with any type of LAN-to-LAN connection.
The Addon and Utilities area at the ICE website has been updated. There you'll find a variety of free extras for Nick Knight's email client for OS/2.
Holger Veit has released version 188.8.131.52 of XFree86/2.
From Asbjorn Pettersen comes an XFree86/2 port of Glade 0.4.1b, the free user-interface builder for GTK+.
If you want to run X applications remotely without installing XFree86/2, you might try WiredX, the beta release of an X-Window System server written in Java. Apparently it has not yet been tested on OS/2 and guinea pigs are wanted.
Akira Hatakeyama's Xvnc server for OS/2 is also designed to create a working X environment on your PM desktop.
Please send news items to firstname.lastname@example.org.