I’ve had requests to post the OS & browser stats for the OGRE site, which I didn’t include in my previous demographics post, so here we go. A caveat to start off with - as a programmer-oriented site our users are obviously a little different in their choice of tech to the population at large! Operating Systems Not really a surprise there, Windows dominates the landscape, with Linux and OS X pulling up the rear.
Almost exactly three years ago, I posted an analysis of the traffic on ogre3d.org and the rough country breakdown of our users, which is always fascinating to me. I hadn’t actually been collecting web stats on the site for about a year (the previous set-up was lost when I had to recreate the server in a hurry, and somehow reinstating it never seemed to rise to the top of my TODO list), but a month ago I finally got around to adding Google Analytics to the site.
Writing good documentation is hard. While I happen to think that API references generated from source code can be extremely useful, they’re only part of the story, and eventually everyone needs to write something more substantial for their software. You can get away with writing HTML directly, and separately using a word processor to write PDFs for so long, but eventually you need a proper tool chain with the following characteristics:
- Lets the author concentrate on content rather than style
- Generates multiple formats from one source (HTML, PDF, man pages, HTML Help etc)
- Does all the tedious work for you such as TOCs, cross-references, source code highlighting, footnotes
- Is friendly to source control systems & diffs in general
- Standard enough that you could submit the content to a publisher if you wanted to
- Preferably cross-platform, standards-based and not oriented to any particular language or technology
When I came to write the OGRE manual many, many years ago, I went with Texinfo - it seemed a good idea at the time, and ticked most of the boxes above. The syntax is often a bit esoteric, and the tools used to generate output frequently a bit flaky (texi2html has caused me many headaches over the years thanks to poorly documented breaking changes), but it worked most of the time.
I’ve been meaning to replace this tool chain with something else for new projects for a while, and DocBook sprung to mind since it’s the ‘new standard’ for technical documentation. It’s quite popular with open source projects now and it’s the preferred format for many publishers such as O’Reilly. In the short term, I want to write some developer instructions for OGRE for our future Mercurial setup, but in the long term, I’d really like a good documentation tool chain for all sorts of other purposes, and Texinfo feels increasingly unsatisfactory these days.
Having spent some time this week establishing a new working tool chain, and encountering & resolving a number of issues along the way, I thought I’d share my setup with you.
It’s precisely 10 years to the day that I registered OGRE on Sourceforge, so in some ways, today could be considered to be OGRE’s 10th birthday. From most other people’s perspective that won’t come until next year though, since I only made the first public release to CVS in May 2001, over a year later, which really kicked the whole thing off. The delay was down to me not really being able to start work in earnest until late 2000 because of a course of study I was on at the time, but I already knew in February 2000 what I wanted to do, it would just be a few months before I could start to realise it.
Having already disrespected mailing lists, I might as well get all my ranting about old staple communication techniques out of my system, by admitting that I’ve never really liked IRC. There’s nothing wrong with it per se, particularly as a casual social tool, but I just can’t say I’ve ever received any great value from it in a project sense, primarily because of it’s real-time and unfocussed nature. As a user of a project, I’ve frequently found that the people that are able to answer my questions are not online at the same time as I am.
I’m not blogging as often these days; as you know I don’t traditionally ‘do’ short blog posts - in my book if something is worth blogging about, it’s worth making sure it holds together as an argument, and as a piece of writing generally - and a combined lack of time of anything I’m motivated (or permitted) to talk about has left the site a little bereft of content. Luckily my OGRE Twitter is stocked with more frequent and less lovingly crafted status updates on what I’m doing there.
I love it when shots from Ogre just show up in funny places. This time, it’s from a comic strip called Stolen Pixels on the Escapist, where Ogre-powered games Torchlight and Zombie Driver have been used for comedic purposes: Thanks to BuschnicK for the heads-up on the Torchlight one, I was surprised to see Zombie Driver just days earlier too!
So, I’ve been a little quieter than usual since the new year, and that’s because I’ve been in a rather reflective mood as I plan out how I’m going to spend my time in 2010. That’s right - planning! Talk about the final frontier 😉 Basically, as you may have gleaned from my previous post, I’ve been looking to make some significant changes to the way I do things in 2010.
Zero Punctuation reviewed Torchlight yesterday! Of course he was both inaccurate (you don’t have to keep clicking at all, you can hold the button down) and overly harsh, but still very funny. It’s odd to enjoy watching something you had a hand in (albeit in a background technology way in my case) being ripped to shreds, but when it’s done in such an amusing way somehow it’s ok. I guess this is why Yahtzee hasn’t had his teeth kicked in by disgruntled game developers yet 😀