Forums Historical Software Bisque Blogs Daniel R. Bisque’s Blog Lock Up the Developers!

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    Daniel R. Bisque

    “It’s now December 2009 and TheSkyX Professional Edition has not been released!  How is this possible?  Your developers must be a bunch of monkeys that sit around and Facebook all day… it is high time to lock those guys up and release TheSkyX Pro already!”  -Anonymous Customer

    Harsh assessments like the above can be a good thing.  They make us take a hard look at what we’re doing and where we’re headed.  Yes, despite our best efforts, and blue sky release date estimates, TheSkyX Professional Edition is not shipping.  Stepping back, there are many reasons why.   

    Have you noticed the computer industry is rapidly changing?

    On the Windows side of the world,

    • Windows 7 is showing promise as a viable replacement to XP Pro.  Is it time to finally upgrade your ageing observatory computer?
    • Windows computers with 64-bit processors (so that the 64-bit OS Editions can be used) are now particularly affordable and really, really powerful. 

    SB purchased a brand new Dell “box” from Micro Center last weekend.  It came with 8 GB RAM (remember, 32-bit applications cannot access this much RAM; 64-bit apps can), 1 TB HD, a relatively fast  ATI video display adaptor (critical to OpenGL applications like TheSkyX), and Intel's new Core i5 quad core processor running at 2.66 GHz.  (Four processors can do lots more work than just one!) 

    All for $800.00.

    The new Windows operating systems (both 32- and 64-bit editions) mean there's new technologies we're trying to exploit (like concurrent processing that takes advantage of every core in your computer) and extensive testing to be done.  This takes time.

    On the Mac side of the world, or should I say “universe”,

    • Snow Leopard (OS X 10.6) is now 64-bit end-to-end and includes many exciting new technologies like OpenCL and Grand Central Dispatch.
    • Apple's coming out with (and selling) so much new killer hardware it makes my head spin. 

    Again, wrt TheSkyX Pro, here's yet another new OS with new features and technologies to use.  More time finishing TheSkyX Pro.

    Then there’s the software development tools side of the world:

    •  TheSkyX is built on Nokia’s Qt, IMHO the world’s best development environment.  The trolls at Qt Software just released version 4.6 of their latest framework yesterday.  This latest framework has tons of features and powerful technologies for  Windows 7, Mac OS X, 64-bit hardware, scripting, and on and on and on. 
    • Qt 4.6 (and the previous recent release of Qt 4.5) on the Mac side is based on Cocoa (the future of Mac application development).

    TheSkyX Pro, when released, will be built on the latest version of this powerful new framework.  We hope to offer true 64-bit versions for both OSes, too.  Did I mention this takes time?

    Then there’s the TPoint Add On side of the world:

    • Patrick Wallace recently released a new version of the venerable TPoint Telescope Pointing Analysis Software.  Among the exciting new features is the ability to create the “ultimate super model” from your pointing data, with a single button click.  No more guess work adding terms when building a model.

    We're busily trying to incorporate this new version into the TheSkyX Pro's TPoint Add On.

    Then there’s TheSkyX Serious Astronomer Edition side of the world:

    • TheSkyX SAE users are providing great feedback.  Thanks everyone!

    All the suggestions, changes and improvements in TheSkyX SAE go directly to TheSkyX Pro.

    So, in the end, incorporating and digesting all the exciting new technologies into TheSkyX Pro has conspired to delay its release.  Should we be locked up for trying to make our products better in this rapidly evolving climate?  Hopefully not.

    But the answer to the $64,000 question, “When will TheSkyX Pro actually be released?” will have wait until after the new year.

    At the end of the day, we cannot express how much we appreciate everyone's interest in TheSkyX Professional Edition.  Thank you.  We hope you have a merry Christmas season and a happy new year. 



    So what does all that have to do with the original statement that you developers should be locked in a room and fed through a slot. :)



    Really I just upgraded to Windows 7 64 bit on my desktop and now have 6 gig of memory. I only got 2 cores though. But it was pretty neat to watch CCDStack load in over 40 8M byte images and not choke like it used to when in the 32 bit world. I don't know if I'll cahnge my observatory or laptop over just yet. 32 bit with 4 gig seems to be enough for now.


    Matthew Ota

    Hey Bisque Bros, I would rather wait patiently for a bug-free Pro version than to have you guys rush out an unfinished product…just make sure it runs on WIndows XP…please.



    The Sky 6 Pro & Orchestrate work just fine on my upgraded Win7 laptop (Celeron1.86, 2 gig ram and a measly 80 gig HDD).

    Sky6 Pro starts faster and delivers stored images quicker than when I downgraded from XP to Vista. So I can wait for SkyX Pro as the Sky6 Pro does everything I need at present.  I now have 3 Supernova discoveries  2008fa, 2009J(independant discovery) & 2009gd and I would like to acknowldege the terrific assistance and patience that Daniel B gave me in writing out a script that allowed me to place my reference images directly into the Sky6 Pro. This was so very valuable with my ability to quickly check galaxies in real time. These guys know what they are doing, put your faith in them – they do it well and they support it like no other.

    Happy to wait for the best of the rest..

    Peter Marples


    Daniel R. Bisque

    Congratulations on the supernova discoveries!  

    We really, really appreciate the positive comments.  

    (Although, In this case, I can't take credit for the support; Matt and Tom are the 'guilty' parties.)



    I am sure that the wait will be well worth it.  But, PLEASE, make sure it runs effectively on Windows Vista as I don' plan to upgrade to Windows 7 anytime soon.

    Clear skies,




    It is now February 2010 and no update to the release date….

    Please keep us betterinformed.


    Daniel R. Bisque

    Please visit TheSkyX Professional Edition page for the latest information regarding its release.…/TheSkyX-Professional-Edition.aspx



    Old jokes:

    1) In the life of every project there comes a day when it's necessary to shoot the engineers and start shipping.

    2) The first 90% of any software project requires 90% of the time scheduled, finishing the last details requires the other 90%.

    My days of program management are (thankfully) a fading memory, but I understand the challenges with anything as complex as this rewrite — keep plugging, quality is more important than schedule.

    A larger issue for me concerns the proliferation of task-specific software for astro imaging. Mounts, cameras, focusers, guiders, domes, weather stations, roof/dome controls — this scene is becoming the software equivalent of a rat's nest! Under Sky6 and WinXP, my experience is not positive when more than three devices are involved in the lash-up. Is there a goal that SkyX will eventually integrate and improve the reliability of this tangle?


    Daniel R. Bisque

    trimil wrote:


    Is there a goal that SkyX will eventually integrate and improve the reliability of this tangle?


    In short, yes.  TheSkyX's new driver arch. tries to address this mess (in a cross-platform, standard driver model sort of way).  

    As you surely know, the hardware must be up to the task, too.



    @trimil:  My take on the software tangle is rather different.  I think the approach of one single huge all-singing all-dancing application to do everything is the wrong way to go about things.  I'm an *advocate* of the proliferation of task-specific software.  I'd like an application that controls my CCD camera — but that's *all* I want it to do (because it's a big-enough job as it is).  I don't need it to also be an image aligner, RGB stacker, image processor, plate solver, etc.  Put all of that stuff in *separate* applications; interconnect them if you'd like.  The same sort of thing is true of the program that runs my mount.

    Huge monolithic programs that take years to upgrade or port, and are so hugely complex that all of the bugs are *never* gone, are just not the way to go.  Development cycles measured in geological ages make people yearn for alternatives, and as a vendor, that's NOT what you want them thinking!

    Additionally, interconnecting these programs should not rely on large, complex, ultra-magical glue software, no matter how sexy it looks.  The way to make interconnects simple and reliable is to use simple, reliable methods.  Open a TCP port; accept connections that provide human-readable ASCII commands; crack them and do what they say.  This is easy to write, easy to troubleshoot, and easy to debug.

    There; now I've revealed essentially all of my secrets to writing ultra-reliable network-interconnected medical software.

    Oh, and BTW, put *timestamps* on protocol log files — with hundredth-of-a-second accuracy (or better, if the system clock allows).


    Daniel R. Bisque

    Thanks for sharing your software development secrets.  We'll keep them in mind…



    Any further updates on when the release date is likely to be ?

    Linas Petras


    Daniel R. Bisque

    >>Any further updates on when the release date is likely to be?

    See TheSkyX Pro page for details:…/TheSkyX-Professional-Edition.aspx

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