Making QL Software More Accessible

Anything QL Software or Programming Related.
RWAP
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Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby RWAP » Sun May 05, 2019 9:19 pm

Whilst Dilwyn's site remains the mainstay of QL software for download, we could realistically do with a new approach to make it more accessible.

This could possibly be made a part of the QLWiki which could have a freeware section and provide direct links to the software titles, along with descriptions and screenshots.

However, the main focus of this discussion is about how to make the software itself more accessible.

The problem is that the majority of software on Dilwyn's site is stored as zip files created on a QL; which some users still struggle to download, get to the QL and unzip.

There are of course several formats and perhaps people could upload or add the formats when they do convert them.

We have:

.mdv (Microdrive images for use with vDrive mainly)
.zip (Windows zipped files for use with q-emulator)
_zip (QL zip files - need to be unzipped on a QL or within an emulator)
.img (Floppy Disk image files)

Whilst there are of course the QubdIDE, TDI and QL-SD methods of storing files, there is not really a format suitable (so far as I can see) for downloading a single program and inserting it into the hard disk QXL.WIN container used by these, or QPC2 etc...
Last edited by RWAP on Tue May 07, 2019 5:32 am, edited 1 time in total.


Tuna
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby Tuna » Mon May 06, 2019 2:34 pm

That's sort of the problem I was looking at when I started on the QLFiler program - being able to read the various formats and ultimately interchange them.

It's possible to read QL _zip files and write them to .win containers on a standard PC. All of the needed information is there.

Historically, the biggest problem has been that archive software (like emulators) has been written for very specific platforms - so you can now only run some PC tools by first starting up an emulator to emulate an older version of windows. And most existing QL owners are only interested in solving the problem in their very specific circumstances, so there appears to be little appetite for general solutions. Worse still, when this was discussed last, a bunch of people chime in with "I don't need that, I have the perfect set up to do this already, using a 15 year old PC and a hardware interface I built myself", which is fine for them, but of no help to people starting out with the QL or trying to emulate it in new environments (such as the FPGA emulation which looked promising but appears to have been abandoned).


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Cristian
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby Cristian » Mon May 06, 2019 7:56 pm

Personally I prefer by far disk images (.img) instead of zip files. They can be read by emulators, or directly written to real floppies through a 10 euros modern USB floppy drive. No need of QL unzip softwares ecc.


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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby swensont » Mon May 06, 2019 8:11 pm

I'm still in favor of QL zip files. Other versions of zip can read the QL zip files, so I can extract README files or other text files from the native OS.

To use the software, I put the zip file in to a directory that is accessible by an emulator. Fire up the emulator and extract the zip file to RAM1_ and then decide where I want to put the files (or just tinker with the software). In the days of having a BBQL, I would put the zip file on a MS-DOS disk, then use mtools or other tool to copy the file to RAM1_ and go from there.

Other formats can be unusable if you don't have specific hardware. .mdv requires vDrive. With .img files, I'm not sure if they are usable on emulators. Are they just another form of QLX.win file or a floppy image? Using zip files that were created under non-QL systems does not retain the header info on the exacutables.

With the zip files, Rich said "which some users still struggle to download, get to the QL and unzip." Maybe a good tutorial might be helpful. There is also the issue of recent folks buying BBQL's with no disk interface and then to get data over via the serial cable. To be usable, a BBQL really does need to have a disk drive.

Tim


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mk79
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby mk79 » Mon May 06, 2019 8:23 pm

One of the most compatible formats, except ZIP, is actually the .WIN format. It can be read by QPC, SMSQmulator, QemuLator, QXL, Q68, Qx0 and original QLs using QL-SD. .WIN files can be as little as 1MB for small distributions (and further ZIPed if needed to make them only a few kb big). Or you can put whole collections on them. Take my QL-SD distribution (which can of course also be run on other systems): it is ready-to-run, no setup needed. All games have been patched to use the SUB device so their actual directories can be anywhere. It's of course pre-configured for the places they are now but can be copied to a user disc and easily altered to match any different directory structure.

The only one left out unfortunately is QubIDE, which is now the Betamax of QL partition formats.


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mk79
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby mk79 » Mon May 06, 2019 8:25 pm

Tuna wrote:(such as the FPGA emulation which looked promising but appears to have been abandoned).
Which one are you talking about?


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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby Ralf R. » Mon May 06, 2019 8:28 pm

mk79 wrote:The only one left out unfortunately is QubIDE, which is now the Betamax of QL partition formats.
And not to forget the three "real" harddisk formats, one on the Atari ST (the first one from TT) and one on the Qxx and the Miracle harddisk. These are the only real harddisk formats. The rest is just a container format (XXX.QXL), leaving Qubide out, which is very special, as you said. Also Dirk Steinfeld's harddisk is a real one (seems to be the very first) and of course the one from CST inside Thor.


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Cristian
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby Cristian » Mon May 06, 2019 8:41 pm

swensont wrote: With .img files, I'm not sure if they are usable on emulators.

Yes, with Qemulator at least. Also the PC software "Floppyimage" can directly read QL floppies, create the .img file which can be used to write another QL floppy disk.
Everyone who tried to unzip files with a basic QL surely knows that it may require a lot of extra RAM. And surely requires a lot of time and patience!


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mk79
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby mk79 » Mon May 06, 2019 8:44 pm

Ralf R. wrote:And not to forget the three "real" harddisk formats, one on the Atari ST (the first one from TT) and one on the Qxx and the Miracle harddisk. These are the only real harddisk formats.
Umm, .WIN is just an image of at least one of these "real" formats.


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mk79
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Re: Making QL Software More Accessible

Postby mk79 » Mon May 06, 2019 8:49 pm

On further look that the Miracle Harddisc was called "WIN"chester is also no coincidence. I'd be astonished if the Atari format also wasn't just the QLWA format, so that would be 3 out of 3 format are just another form of .WIN (or rather QLWA) format. The only difference is that for easier handling these days it's mostly "QLWA on FAT32".



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