Public bzr branch of FreeGuide

On the subject of distributed source code management, Dan Watkins has just informed me that the launchpad team have created a bazaar branch of FreeGuide’s code, so if you’re into that kind of thing, you can download the code from that instead of our central subversion repo.

The link is here:

If you’re into git, I’d suggest git-svn. It’s what I use for FreeGuide development now. Let me know if you have trouble getting it working.

FreeGuide updated to latest XMLTV, and bug fixes

Check out a release candidate here: .

So far I’ve only uploaded an RPM, but hopefully there’ll be a Windows exe and some other packages soon.

Update: Windows installer now uploaded too.

Test it! It’s got better capturing and reporting of download errors, more sensible “download in background” and “show output” behaviour, and its list of XMLTV grabbers is synched with the latest XMLTV (0.5.50).

However, apparently XMLTV 0.5.50 is causing problems in FreeGuide for at least some people, so it may not be a flawless experience…

I really must make a one-button build for Ubuntu .debs, like I have for RPMs. I have been using Ubuntu for some time now…

I’d forgotten to update the version page on the FreeGuide web site for 0.10.5, so users weren’t notified of that release. I’ll do it for 0.10.6, and hopefully get some stats together to find out how many people are using it. Now that the stats are working, we may be starting to get some better information.

Yes, I couldn’t sleep tonight.

No, I won’t be very clever tomorrow.

But hey, I was clever tonight – dipping into some of the spaghetti that makes FreeGuide tick these days and not only making a change that works, but also making things a tiny bit better – _that’s_ an achievement.

FreeGuide 0.10.5

After over a year, and several U-turns, the next version of FreeGuide is out.

I was dead-set on getting recording functionality into it, and when some students turned up asking to help, I directed them towards doing that. They produced a reasonable framework for how to do it (without any of the dirty details of actually recording stuff), but we ended up throwing it away in favour of the way Alex wanted to do it, which was as an extension of the current reminder code.

This way of doing things never reached a stable state, so the trunk was festering for a long time with broken code in it that lost your settings, and tried to record programmes but started too late, and with loads of other usability bugs that I’d hesitate to call minor since any one of them could put off someone trying the program for the first time and persuade them never to come back.

In the end, since this just wasn’t getting fixed, I decided we needed to give up on recording and get back to what we’re good at, which is being a TV guide. There is, of course, quite a lot of overlap in these two functions, but I just didn’t have time to think through properly what a recording program should do, and how to move FreeGuide over to a sensible model.

So, I reverted the recording code, and it’s there in the SVN history if anyone wants to resurrect it.

Meanwhile, the thing that motivated me to do this and actually get a release out was the fact that the US listings provider Zap2It has wound up their service, and it’s been replaced with a new one, called Schedules Direct, for which you have to pay money.

Hopefully, any US and Canadian users of FreeGuide should be able to download the latest version of FreeGuide (and update to the latest XMLTV if they’re on Linux) and start viewing their listings as soon as they’ve paid for them from Schedules DIrect. Do let us know on the mailing list if this isn’t the case.

So, hopefully the crisis has been averted, and now we can get back to doing things right. I’ve implemented the Benevolent Fascist Dictator rule, and so far, trunk is better than 0.10.5, and we could make a release from it any time. I plan to make one every couple of months, to keep things ticking along.

FreeGuide 0.10.5 contains millions of small features and bug fixes, that I didn’t manage to keep up with while trunk was broken. The next release will be after a much shorter delay, and will have a much better change log.

FreeGuide SVN now useable

Why not try the latest SVN version of FreeGuide, which contains lots of bug fixes over 0.10.4? There are detailed instructions on how to Build FreeGuide from SVN, and do ask on the developers’ list if you have problems.

I’ve fixed the horrible bug that deleted all your preferences, and I think the code’s in pretty good shape, with all the recording code gone, but lots of nice additions put in over the last year.

Try it out, and let us know on the developers’ list how you get on – good or bad.

FreeGuide – putting recording on hold

FreeGuide has been stalled for about a year because the basic code for recording programmes has been sitting in SVN, but it contained far too many bugs to be useable, even by the developers. This kind of situation completely takes the wind out of development, since any little bug fixes or features people want to send it are either against very old code, or never get written because when they download the latest code it doesn’t work.

I am more and more of the opinion that the code in your trunk (or HEAD, in CVS terminology) should ALWAYS by _better_ than the latest release. I.e. it should only contain bug fixes and properly tested new features. Anything else (i.e. code that is still being knocked into shape) should live in a branch. Branches are pain, but not as much pain as your project dying because new developers who try and do the right thing (download the latest code) are confronted by non-working code and move on to something more fun.

So, I’ve reverted the recording code. If we want to resurrect it, we can branch from just before where I reverted, and then merge from the trunk into that branch any other fixes that apply.

The next release of FreeGuide will be from the trunk, and will contain bug fixes and small new features submitted by a couple of people who have stepped up to do the work. I hope, when my life settles slightly, that I might even be one of them.

New baby resolution: never allow non-completely-working code in trunk. Without new developers, your project will die.

Small hypocritical extra note: I completely broke the code in trunk by reverting the recording code, so now it loses all your settings when you exit. Use with extreme caution. This, of course, completely breaks the above resolution. I will fix it when I can, and in the meantime, Rick is looking into it, so hopefully it will be fixed soon.