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What If We Made Bryce an Open Code Project—Wait hear me out
Posted: 24 August 2012 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]
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So, I have been thinking.  What if DAZ opened up Bryce code for developers.

First, not all Bryce users are developers so they could still charge for upgrades.

Second, if the code was opened (and I do not mean open source, but some kind of median where the code is released to allow developers to make mods to it and improve it but not lose the rights like open source does) then development would continue.  In addition, there would also be enhancements and improvements made.  It could really explode the Bryce community beyond what Blender has done.

Third, retaining the rights at DAZ and doing something like Apple does with their apps.  You have to become a registered developer and then you get the code.  After that any fixes you make, you have to submit back to DAZ where it will be tested and verified before included into a release.  Having DAZ be the doorstop for Bryce releases and testing, it will ensure the users that it should be fairly stable releases that get produced. 

Fourth, adding subscriptions like their platinum club where you can pay a yearly fee (nothing big maybe $25 a year) and you get the updates to Bryce for that year.

Fifth, Daz could have a special newsletter outlining bugs and issues and changes and updates and perhaps even list what developers are working on. 

Finally, it would generate some additional income for DAZ.  Official releases require DAZ screening would reduce the chance for bugs and code that is malware because you have to submit your code changes.  In fact, they could use something like git or something where a developer who is registered could check out the code and then before check in could test against the latest that everyone has checked in.  Then DAZ will do final testing before sending out a release which they could do semi-annually or quarterly.

I know there are obstacles and hurdles along the way.  But this could really work and take my favorite project and help propel it forward.  I know I would see what I could do to help.

Just a thought,
JH

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Posted: 24 August 2012 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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jesterhawk - 24 August 2012 03:05 PM

So, I have been thinking.  What if DAZ opened up Bryce code for developers.

Bryce would die.

... If DAZ opened it up the way you were suggesting, that is.

Either way, the first thing that would have to happen is DAZ making an extendable product. Currently, it isn’t. Far from it. If you’re suggesting that they maintain the management of the product, they first have to make the product manageable.

First, not all Bryce users are developers so they could still charge for upgrades.

Sure. However, they need to keep in touch with mod developers to give them warning of changes that could affect their mods. Currently, the groundswell around mod development is zero. There are members who read this forum who could tell you stories about how they’ve lost money in just creating CONTENT for the store. With Bryce’s diminishing audience share you’re asking DAZ to put an unprecedented amount of money into both re-developing a moddable product, and then attracting mod developers to the new platform.

Second, if the code was opened (and I do not mean open source, but some kind of median where the code is released to allow developers to make mods to it and improve it but not lose the rights like open source does) then development would continue.  In addition, there would also be enhancements and improvements made.  It could really explode the Bryce community beyond what Blender has done.

...I don’t know where you’re getting your data to suggest ‘development would continue’. You seem to think that Bryce can be handled by C or Python programmers. Not strictly true. Bryce, both PC and Mac, is built on an intermediary coding platform called Axiom. It was developed by Metacreations FOR Metacreations. No-one else uses it. In fact, this is why it’s been hard for DAZ to get a Mac programmer for Bryce: not only because no-one knows Axiom, but because even if you did, Axiom was compiled for Mac OS 9, a completely different beast than Mac OS X. The only reason Mac Bryce has run for this long as that coders have managed to use Rosetta technologies embedded in Mac OS X to work around the Mac Classic technologies… Technologies that were discontinued from Mac OS 10.7, Lion.

The Big Realisation here is that the first step, re-writing for mod developers, is massive. Bryce needs to be completely re-written before any improvements can be made.

Third, retaining the rights at DAZ and doing something like Apple does with their apps.  You have to become a registered developer and then you get the code.  After that any fixes you make, you have to submit back to DAZ where it will be tested and verified before included into a release.  Having DAZ be the doorstop for Bryce releases and testing, it will ensure the users that it should be fairly stable releases that get produced.

Apple’s formula for success… has its detractors. Some developers have made products that are very vulnerable to system changes - some have lost their businesses because Apple has unilaterally changed an OS technology that the developer exploited. DAZ, for example.

Be aware that Apple’s model was not the model they’ve had since time immemorial. The model you’ve described works because they have complete control of their IP, and they’ve tried a lot of stuff out. They don’t have developers ‘fixing’ their code, as you seem to suggest. Developers develop apps. Developers test THEIR apps against Apple’s code. Some large developers might ask Apple if they could change a few things to help them out, but that’s not bug-hunting.

I’ll come back to this point later.

Fourth, adding subscriptions like their platinum club where you can pay a yearly fee (nothing big maybe $25 a year) and you get the updates to Bryce for that year.

... What’s the attraction? Where’s the guarantee that Bryce WOULD be updated? What if a year slides by, where hordes of developers come up with a wide range of mods, but Bryce itself hasn’t been updated? How do you justify the subscription?

Subscription models are based on ongoing service due to the highly technical nature of the product.

Fifth, Daz could have a special newsletter outlining bugs and issues and changes and updates and perhaps even list what developers are working on.

You’re growing further away from ‘Open Code’ and more into marketing here. Initially, the focus would need to be on raising funds. And for that to happen, you need to invest in a lot of things to bring about confidence in the product.

Finally, it would generate some additional income for DAZ.  Official releases require DAZ screening would reduce the chance for bugs and code that is malware because you have to submit your code changes.  In fact, they could use something like git or something where a developer who is registered could check out the code and then before check in could test against the latest that everyone has checked in.  Then DAZ will do final testing before sending out a release which they could do semi-annually or quarterly.

Again, developers don’t bug-check the client. If anything, developers are the loudest shouters at DAZ to get things right, because if DAZ fails in that mission, the developers leave and… no more mods. You’re asking developers to register with DAZ for the honour of testing their code?

A lesson to watch follows. But first, some background:

Reason is a digital audio workstation (DAW) application. It’s a program that allows you to create music by creating synths, drum machines, effects, mixing, and sampling. Reason is an incredibly sophisticated, yet accessible tool for music making. What’s more, it has the reputation in the industry of being bullet-proof: it’s often used in live shows because it just doesn’t crash. One of the reasons it doesn’t crash is because all of the synths, samplers, routers, effects, everything, is all built by the company that makes Reason: Propellerhead Software.

You can compare this with DAZ3D and its product, Bryce, and its components, the various Labs it has.

Reason isn’t the only DAW in the market, of course. Many other apps use what are called ‘plug-ins’: synths, effects or additions that can be bought and added into the DAW to be used with it. Plug-ins are a fantastic enhancement to a DAW… but there are a couple of problems with them. So Propellerheads went about plug-ins in a different way. They developed a method for other developers to create plugins that not only work seamlessly with Reason, but guaranteed that developers couldn’t take away from Reason’s core strength, other that great sound: reliability.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziDR9pJOl6M

Rack Extensions are successful for Reason. But don’t get the idea that Rack Extension developers just ‘appeared’ because Propellerheads let them in. These developers have been successful developers for VST plugins for several years, and Propellerhead provided them a way to port and compile their code for their existing VST products for Reason.

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Posted: 24 August 2012 09:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Never said it was a perfect idea but anything is better than leaving it a dead product which is what essentially Daz has done.  Sad.

And if done the way I was thinking it would not have taken any money on Daz part to begin with.  Later, maybe, sure, but not initially.

JH

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Posted: 24 August 2012 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The only way, I could see it happen, is for DAZ to release an SDK and allow 3rd party coders to create plugins for Bryce. This would keep the main code behind locked doors but leave hooks open to the public.
In a perfect world we could have open source code, but in our world, that leads to abuse and there are way to many coders lurking to find a way to abuse the “big man”. They could care less how little that man really is as long as they get their point across. However skewed it maybe. It never occurred to them, that they need their own system rebooted. LOL.

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Posted: 24 August 2012 11:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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jesterhawk - 24 August 2012 09:17 PM

Never said it was a perfect idea but anything is better than leaving it a dead product which is what essentially Daz has done.  Sad.

And if done the way I was thinking it would not have taken any money on Daz part to begin with.  Later, maybe, sure, but not initially.

JH

I don’t think you can assume that Bryce is a dead product. Just because there is no current news that the next version is/is going to be worked on soon doesn’t mean it won’t be. If you gave me money for every time over the past 5 years that someone has said ‘Bryce is dead, there’s no more development being done’ then I would be rich by now….

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Posted: 24 August 2012 11:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Oroboros - 24 August 2012 07:32 PM
jesterhawk - 24 August 2012 03:05 PM

So, I have been thinking.  What if DAZ opened up Bryce code for developers.

Bryce would die.


Bryce, both PC and Mac, is built on an intermediary coding platform called Axiom. It was developed by Metacreations FOR Metacreations. No-one else uses it. In fact, this is why it’s been hard for DAZ to get a Mac programmer for Bryce: not only because no-one knows Axiom, but because even if you did, Axiom was compiled for Mac OS 9, a completely different beast than Mac OS X. The only reason Mac Bryce has run for this long as that coders have managed to use Rosetta technologies embedded in Mac OS X to work around the Mac Classic technologies… Technologies that were discontinued from Mac OS 10.7, Lion.

The Big Realisation here is that the first step, re-writing for mod developers, is massive. Bryce needs to be completely re-written before any improvements can be made.

Interesting information Oroboros, thanks for sharing that. I think ‘ve often thought too that it might be nice to open up Bryce as Open Source, but I don’t think this would help or encourage future development especially considering your information about the code. But interestingly Axiom iitself is now Open Source, so maybe that would make a difference?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_(computer_algebra_system)
http://axiom-developer.org/


I’m wondering how difficult it would be to re-write Bryce. I think DAZ really should consider doing this going forward to make it easier to maintain and update. Could DAZ not invest in getting someone in to do that?  I think it would be worth it.

One of the biggest problems though I think we have is the marketing of Bryce - I don’t believe the user base will grow, and demand for content until Bryce is giving the exposure it deserves. I kind of understand it being advertised here as just a landscape generator as a rival to VUE - but Bryce is so much more than that, and I think is easier to learn how to use compared to other programs - it has a lot of selling points, but those points are not fully sold…  mad

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Posted: 25 August 2012 02:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you for comming up with an idea, jesterhawk. I consider this a brain storming exercise. It is important that ideas are coming, whether they can be put to use eventually is not important at this stage.

Bryce has been developed in phases. Since DAZ 3D has acquired it from Corel with version 5.0, DAZ 3D gave us 5.5, 6.0, 6.1, 6.3, 7.0 and 7.1. To list the dates from the versions I have installed:

- 4.0: 1999 (Metacreations)
- 5.0: 2001 (Corel)
- 5.5: 2005 (DAZ 3D)
- 6.0: 2006 (DAZ 3D)
- 6.1: 2007 (DAZ 3D)
- 6.3: 2009 (DAZ 3D)
- 7.0: 2010 (DAZ 3D)
- 7.1: 2011 (DAZ 3D)

I don’t remember when DAZ acquired Bryce from Corel, the larger part of the 4 years pause from 5.0 to 5.5 may be on Corel’s shoulders.

The versions 6.0 and 6.1 were the same development cycle. 6.3 to 7.1 was also a single development cycle that lasted for 2 years. Since that one finished, only exactly one year and 10 days have passed.

6.3 was essentially a clean-up from unfinished and not correctly working features in 6.1, mostly on the Mac (PC’s had fared a bit better).

DAZ 3D had the intention to go 64-bit with 7.0 but after a few month had to abandon the project because it meant rewriting Bryce practically from scratch. The high costs for that were not budgeted, I suspect.

The principal hindrance was Axiom as Oroboros correctly points out. Axiom was a cool thing at the time, being a meta language that could be compiled for the Mac and the PC. Write once, have it for both. Axiom is outdated. Bryce is full of Axiom code, also all libraries are Axiom.

Programers do what they are told. They are usually not artists and very seldom Bryce enthusiasts. The IL is an example how something can go wrong. After that, a steering commettee of Bryce enthusiasts was installed and they gave the artistic input to the programers with DAZ 3D overseeing the project so that things stayed on the time plan and budget.

This setup proved very fruitful. If Bryce goes partly or completely open source, there need to be dedicated and competent programers, artists knowing Bryce and an entity overlooking and coordinating the process.

I believe DAZ 3D when they say Bryce will get its time for development again eventually. Studio is DAZ 3D core program. After DAZ 3D acquired Bryce, it acquired Carrara and Hexagon as well. There are now 4 applications to keep updated.

Bryce 7.1 is full of new features not many have used yet - at least I haven’t seen a lot. On the other hand, there are some severe bugs around and Mac OSX 7 is not supported anymore. That ought to be addressed presently. And we still miss a documentation.

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Posted: 25 August 2012 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Eva1 - 24 August 2012 11:59 PM

Interestingly Axiom iitself is now Open Source, so maybe that would make a difference?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axiom_(computer_algebra_system)
http://axiom-developer.org/

It’s been Open Source for 5 years. And here we are.

Axiom, like many algebraic languages, is usually used in scientific research and high level educational fields. Bryce is in neither. Finding a programmer that is both fluent in an algebraic programming language AND 3D art is low. Moreover, Axiom is a language that had origins in 1971. Ken Musgrave and Eric Wenger (two big brains behind Bryce) are both extraordinary in that they were both mathematically gifted, studied the work of Benoit Mandelbrot (Musgrave studied under him), and artistically inspired. On top of that, Axiom is a language that has some optimised iteration features that made it a winner for fractal algorithms.

But Axiom is old. Perhaps newer languages have better ways of applying the fractal math embedded in Bryce. While Axiom is Open Source, development is not fast - in fact, nothing new has been reported in its development for 4 years now. Rather than learn Axiom for a re-write, DAZ3D would be better off looking for math graduates studying modern programming languages…. for very liberal meanings of the phrase ‘better off’ smile

I’m wondering how difficult it would be to re-write Bryce. I think DAZ really should consider doing this going forward to make it easier to maintain and update. Could DAZ not invest in getting someone in to do that?  I think it would be worth it.

Well… Again, here we are, so it’s not that simple. Or at least, not that cheap. If they’ve crunched the numbers, weighed up how much they can salvage from the existing code to translate a new system, had meetings to calculate how long the transition would take, how much people would have to be paid to do it, made decisions about what platforms it should appear on… They’d do it if they could make money out of it.

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Posted: 25 August 2012 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Little bit of misunderstanding here - the Axiom code that we use is MetaCreations proprietary graphics libraries (rwb4 p13) which is OS neutral and used for interface graphics, control gadgets and such. It has nothin’ to do with algebra, Mandelbrot or Doc Mojo. It’s also still based on the C programming language and has been updated several times.

The failure of Bryce under OS7/8 has nothing to do with the Rosette emulation software which allowed Intel Macs to run Motorola PowerPC code. The Mac Bryce code was updated to Intel Mac code with Bryce 6. I don’t even have Rosette installed on my 10.6 system and B7.x runs just fine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_(software)

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Posted: 25 August 2012 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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@Oroboros - The Axiom Bryce uses is not that one. Perhaps its a derivate, but I doubt it. It was developed in 1995 by Andre Pessino and copyrighted by MetaTools. In Bryce 4, the Axiom files show this fact (picture 1), in Bryce 7 not (picture 2). The pictures are simple file dumps.

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Axiom1.gifAxiom2.gif
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Posted: 25 August 2012 08:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Dan, Horo, my apologies for the misunderstanding. A little knowledge is always a dangerous thing :/

dan whiteside - 25 August 2012 07:15 AM

The failure of Bryce under OS7/8 has nothing to do with the Rosette emulation software which allowed Intel Macs to run Motorola PowerPC code. The Mac Bryce code was updated to Intel Mac code with Bryce 6. I don’t even have Rosette installed on my 10.6 system and B7.x runs just fine.

I realise that Bryce didn’t run under Rosetta, but Bryce sure needed some older tech that Apple did away with. What are the technical reasons Bryce 7 currently gets no love from Lion? What exactly did Apple change that caught DAZ3D off-guard in the 9 months from Apple’s Lion announcement to the release of Bryce?

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Posted: 25 August 2012 10:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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@Oro - if you knew how I searched to get hold of an Axiom tool that works for Bryce. No chance, it’s proprietary.

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Posted: 25 August 2012 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I have no idea what the Mac problem is because I’m crashing as soon as I enter the registration code and hit OK.
Actually this is the 3rd time an Mac OS update has hosed Bryce, the difference with DAZ is that the no one has been working on Bryce since shortly after the OS7 release.

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Posted: 25 August 2012 01:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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But the first thing they will work on once they put Bryce back into the dev cycle will be the Mac problem, Blaine has already said that himself in one thread here.

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Posted: 25 August 2012 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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dan whiteside - 25 August 2012 11:25 AM

I have no idea what the Mac problem is because I’m crashing as soon as I enter the registration code and hit OK.
Actually this is the 3rd time an Mac OS update has hosed Bryce, the difference with DAZ is that the no one has been working on Bryce since shortly after the OS7 release.

Is there any chance it’s just the registration process fouling things up but the rest of the program might work fine if a different registration process could be implemented?

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Posted: 25 August 2012 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I’ll bet if the DAZ crowdsourced the problem they’d get it fixed for a pittance.

Horo - 25 August 2012 10:34 AM

@Oro - if you knew how I searched to get hold of an Axiom tool that works for Bryce. No chance, it’s proprietary.

If what Dan says is true (and I’d be a brave dragon to contradict him deliberately) Axiom handles the interface and not the math.

I’m starting to get a little miffed now, because this comes down to possibly the thorniest issue Bryce users have about Bryce: preserving the interface. It ALSO means that the development of the product is hindered, not by the fundamental code, but by the code that drives the bells and whistles.

That’s like being stopped from driving your new car because someone far shorter than you has PERMANENTLY locked all seat, steering and mirror configurations for them.

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