PmView - The Award Winning Application!

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By Kim Haverblad - 12/11/2000

Since Peter Nielsen has released version 2.14 of pmView. What better could it be to followup with a nice interview.

Peter45x50.gif

Q: Where are You located (city and country)?

I'm currently located in Turku, Finland. I plan on relocating to Wilmington, North Carolina, USA in 2001.

Q: What is Your occupation/profession?

Software Developer and Student. I got my B.Sc. degree in electrical engineering & systems automation from Vasa Swedish Institute of Technology in 1992. In August the same year I moved to Turku to study computer science at Åbo Akademi University. This is also where the story of PMView begins. Summer 1992 I got OS/2 v2.0 and I tried to port my simple assembly GIF viewer to v2.0. However, the palette manager did not yet work in v2.0. I only worked on this small project sporadically. In Turku I had inexpensive Internet access for the first time, and started to spend quite some time on Internet and learned about the OS/2 newsgroups. In October I posted a question to Usenet news regarding the OS/2 palette manager. Raja Thiagarajan answered the mail and was curious about what I was doing. I sent him a copy of the simple viewer, which was called "ShowGIF" at the time. Raja was amazed by its speed and convinced me to enhance it and release it as Shareware. The rest is history... Of course the PMView work has slowed down my studies to a crawl, but I can finally see the end of it and plan on finishing my thesis next spring and get my M.Sc. degree in computer science.

ShowGIF v0.70

Early release of ShowGIF that turned into what most of us knows as pmView.

Q: What is Your family status?

I'm married, no kids.

Q: Describe Yourself in couple sentence for the readers?

I'm 32 years old. Technology-addict. Workaholic. Perfectionist. I love good food, Spanish wine, and German beer. My hobbies are home-theater, music, and electronics.

Q: Was pmView the first application that You manage to get out on the OS2 "market"?

PMView was the first application I put out on the OS/2 market. During 1990-1992 I developed half a dozen command line applications for finding and deleting files, etc. These applications were all so called "bound" applications that were able to run on both OS/2 v1.x and DOS (The executable contained two copies of the code!).

The applications never made it beyond the College network (at that time the college did not have Internet access). I'm still using a few of these applications today, although they are a bit outdated since they can't cope with long names.

Q: How can it be that You actually held back pmView as a beta for so long?

The PMView v0.xx versions never were beta versions, really. I was using Unix-style version numbering where v1.00 would be the final feature complete product. Unfortunately many PMView users never understood this, and that's why I switched over to the version numbering used in the "Windows world".

Q: How long have you been using OS2 (version and year) and what version are You currently using?

The first OS/2 version I used was Compaq OS/2 v1.1. I got this in 1989, but I never really used it actively. In October 1990 I upgraded to an IBM Model 95/486 system and installed IBM OS/2 v1.3 EE as my primary operating system. I've been using OS/2 since then. Until I got WindowsNT4 in fall 1996, I had never installed or used Windows on any of my own machines.

Currently I have three different OS/2 versions installed on my OS/2 server. Most of the time I use "Warp 4 advanced server SMP" (This is basically the Warp 3 UI with SMP and LANMAN). Sometimes I boot over to "Warp 4", especially if I need to check how things look in the new Warp 4 UI. However, I seldom use Warp 4 due to the lack of SMP support. Finally I have the "Warp Server for eBusiness" (Warp 4.5) beta installed. I almost never use this because it crashes hard whenever I stress the file system (note that I have RAID hardware).Thanks to the generosity of www.os2world.com I now have an official copy of WSeB which probably will fix this problem and work flawlessly.

Q: Was this also the first operating system that You started to develop for?

No. I wrote my first lines of code on a Commodore VIC-20 back in 1981. In 1983 I got my own Commodore SX-64 and wrote my first complete programs.(The SX64 is the "portable" C64 with built-in floppy drive and 5" CRT). I began my PC programming career on DOS 3.3 in 1988. OS/2 v1.2 was the first OS with a real GUI that I stared developing for (June 1990).

Q: When did You start to make the NT version of pmView?

I started working on it in November 1996. The first beta was out in January 1999 and in November 1999 it was ready. Although the file reading/writing in PMView v1.x was fully made in C++, all the user-interface code was still in C (with the standard "switch" message processing loops etc.) Most of the work needed for PMView 2000 was to port all this code to C++ using the OCL user interface classes. At the same time all memory allocation, string handling, and object handling were encapsulated in classes. That's why it took three years ;-)

Q: Which OS to prefer to develop for?

I prefer to develop for OS/2. However, I prefer to work on WinNT since my preferred development tools work better there. (For instance my copy of Brief 3.1 for OS/2 works BETTER on NT than under OS/2).

Q: What do you think are the most important factors for an OS2 software to have commercial success?

A reasonably stable and good-looking application and, of course, a lot of marketing. I guess it's the same regardless of what platform you are developing for.

Q: Would You survive without the Windows market?

I believe I could survive without the Windows market. However, I never could survive with the OS/2 market alone and I don't expect this to change. This makes it very important for me to provide PMView on other platforms and that's why I'm currently working on a Linux version.

Q: Piracy, is that a problem that You have? Has it any impact to pmView as product?

I guess all software developers have a problem with piracy. However, in the case of PMView, I think the major problem is that people don't understand what Shareware is all about. I'm offering a free, fully functional, evaluation of PMView that can be used for 31 days. Unless most other shareware, the PMView evaluation is actually valid for testing on 31 different days, not consecutive days. This really means you can legally use the unregistered Shareware version for 31 weeks if you only run it one day of the week! Also, even if you pass this limit PMView will not disable itself. Still people seem to think that it is necessary to use a pirated key or cracked versionof PMView. In the long run the impact of this is probably that I will do like many other developers and abandon the Shareware concept and only offer a boxed retail version.

Q: pmView is the product that we know about. Is there any other software that You develop?

Since 1989 I have developed at least a dozen programs (ranging from embedded systems to DOS and Windows software) for a company in my hometown (www.beamex.com). I was recently told that one of the end user Windows applications I coded in 1996 has been their most successful software ever.

This year I've also done a lot of Y2K support programming on an old OS/2 dental program from the late 80's called "Odontolog 2000".

Q: Regarding pmView and Blueprint Software Works, Inc. There was an announcement of partnership made back in May this year. What is the exactly idea behind the partnership?

I will be taking a position as President of Product Development at Blueprint Software Works, Inc. You can read more about in the [pressrelease].

Q: What tools and utilities are You using during Your daily work?

Solution System's Brief v3.1 editor (16-bit OS/2 application, works great on WinNT4).
Lugaru's Epsilon 10.02 editor
IBM C++ v3.x for OS/2 and Windows
MASM 6.00B
PMDiff for OS/2 and Windows Netscape

Q: Any new software projects in pipeline?

Not unless you consider PMView for Linux a separate project. PMView keeps me 100% busy.

Q: What system are You using for Your development?

I'm currently using four IBM PC Server 704 machines (with four CPUs in each server, i.e. a total of 16 Pentium Pros) and a Thinkpad:

4x200MHz PentiumPro, 512Mb, 12x4.5Gb ServeRAID, Matrox G200/16Mb
Windows NT Server 4.0 (SP6)

4x200MHz PentiumPro, 256Mb, 12x4.5Gb ServeRAID, Matrox G200/16Mb
Bootmanager
OS/2 Advanced Server SMP v4.0 (Fixpak 43)
OS/2 Warp 4.0 (Fixpak 12)
OS/2 WsEB (Beta)

4x200MHz PentiumPro, 256Mb, 12x2.1Gb Mylex RAID, Millennium II/16Mb
Linux RedHat 7.0

4x200MHz PentiumPro, 256Mb, 12x2.1Gb Mylex RAID, Millennium II/8Mb
BeOs
Windows 2000 Server

IBM Thinkpad 765D (166MHz/64Mb/3GB)
Bootmanager
Warp 4.0 (Fixpak 12)
Win 95 OSD1
Win 98 SE

I use a 2x8 digital matrix switch to switch between the 704s. This way I can manage with 2 monitors and keyboards that can be switched to any of the machines I like. I use two Nokia 21" monitors and, two good old unbreakable IBM PS/2 keyboards and two Intellimice.

All machines are of course networked (100TX) and connected to Internet via 3 Mbit DSL.

Original set of IBM 8595-AKD that was used to develop the first version of ShowGIF that later turned into pmView.

Q: Any drivers to non supported hardware for OS2 that You are missing that You would like to see for OS2?

Right now I have all the drivers I need for OS/2. Currently my old HP 4C scanner works fine for all my needs. However, the day I upgrade the scanner or purchase a digital camera, I guess I will really miss drivers. This is definitely the area where I would like to se more and better drivers for.

Q: What is Your favorite OS2 software?

I guess it has always been Solution System's Brief 3.1. Originally Brief was made by a company called Underware. I guess I'm one of the few that were lucky to obtain the last (maybe only?) update made by Solution Systems, which among other things included full long file name support. Thanks to this, I've been able to use it until now. (Only a few months after Solution Systems sent out the update, Brief was sold to Borland in [1991]. Borland later released their "Brief 3.1" version. It had no new features and had several strange new bugs that caused big trouble under OS/2).

Brief is a 16-bit native OS/2 application that works in text mode (VIO). Back in the early 90's I used to run it in a 132x60 text window on my IBM model 95. This was very nice at that time. When I started using NT, I got a great surprise: Brief worked - and it worked in a text window (cmd.exe) of arbitrary size! Because of this, I soon started to do all my work on NT in a 180x110 text window. This is still not possible under OS/2 that limits me to 132x60.

Unfortunately Brief is not able to handle Unix (LF-only) text files, so I am slowly trying to switch over to Lugaru's Epsilon. It's a very configurable editor and is available on all systems I currently need: OS/2, Windows, and Linux.

The new IBM VisualAge v4.0 could easily have become my favorite if it only had worked better. The biggest problem with this product, for me, is that IBM has not enabled SMP support for parallel compilation. Because of this, it can only use one of my CPUs and compiling PMView takes more than 50 minutes. Imagine that! I have to wait 50 minutes to test a small change. So, I continue to use the old command line ICC 3.x. It takes my 4 CPUs about 4 minutes to compile PMView with this compiler. Quite a difference.

Q: What application would you like to be made/ported for OS2?

KAI C++ or Comeau C++. This would let me switch over from the now obsolete and non-ANSI compliant IBM ICC v3.x.

Q: You did not attend Warpstock Europe 2000 this year. Why not?

I considered it, but unfortunately It did not fit my schedule.

Snap shot from www.pmView.Com

For thoose of You that still haven't used pmView - Well this is how the application looks like!

Q: pmView was one of the nominated applications and You also came out as a winner! How do You feel about that?

It makes me feel like a winner! Seriously, I'm very happy for it and it definitely encourages me to continue to develop for OS/2. A big THANK YOU to everyone who supported PMView!

Q: Anyone in the OS2 community You think should get mentioned for excellent work?

Anyone that continues supporting OS/2 and especially those who make programmer's tools. For us programmers it is crucial that we have access to good tools. IMHO the makers of programmer's tools (editors, compilers, debuggers, etc.) have a very high impact on the quality of the rest of the software produced. Without good and up-to-date tools, there won't be any good application software.

Q: Any other comments regarding the OS2 community?

Live long and prosper!

Q: And the final question: What is one of the first thing You do when You get up in the morning?

I check and answer my mail. If I'm in the middle of some programming task, I usually continue programming right after that.

More information regarding pmView can be found at pmViews homepage www.pmview.com. I also would like to say thanks to Peter to let me do this interview with him and wish all the best in his future work of pmView and his new job at Blueprint Software Works, Inc.