There is now a functioning calendar, and the data base is being redesigned. After a short discussion of features and problems, John Walker raised what seem to be fundamental problems in the project. What follows is approximately a logical, not a chronological, summary of the discussion.
The original quick and dirty implementation in CBASIC is now running on CP/M systems in CB80, and Kern Sibbald has put hundreds of hours into conversion and making it run well, but we seem no nearer to a salable product than we were at the Computer Faire. It's still of no practical use, being unreliable and terribly slow.
There was disagreement on the extent of the non-progress, but a consensus that things were not moving nearly fast enough.
The version at the Faire looked like an outstanding product, but it glossed over many crucial technical problems which must be resolved before anything is sold. These don't have obvious answers, and the attempt to fit the answers in as we go along has given us a program as big as MicroCad that does less and runs slowly.
One technical problem may be the wrong choice of language. CB80 lacks the right I/O facilities and requires fairly massive assembly language interface routines, which are especially clumsy because of the lack of data structures. In C or PL/I the problem would disappear. But that conversion would take some time.
Perhaps the existence of the prototype has fooled us into thinking that we could work that into a product, when actually a full re-design is needed.
If we scrapped the project entirely, we would have plenty of things to do with the manpower released, but no one wanted to do that. On the other hand, if we continue the project, we need more people involved in it.
A consensus was developed along these lines: The program will be rewritten in a better language. At present, if we want to sell to half million existing 8080 systems, that means PL/I; by the time the program is ready there should be a PL/I available for the 8086. Also, when the screen handler has been done in PL/I, we'll have gone a long way towards a PL/I version of Window.
The thing we are to produce is a user-friendly card box system with multiple boxes holding cards of unlimited size. Once it's done and on the market, we can work on further releases with added features. This first implementation may get us into some decisions that we'll regret when we start adding features, but we have to get a working product out the door in a finite time.
Dave Kalish will work with Kern Sibbald on the database design and on user features. Duff Kurland and Mauri Laitinen will work on the screen handler. As a crash project the thing could be done in a month or two; since we don't have people working full time, we must be resigned to its taking longer.
There was general agreement that we needed to know more about competing products, including MBA. No one actually said that he'd do such an investigation.
Editor: John Walker