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                           IPISA '95 Show Report
  Manuel Lemos                                               etmall@ua.pt
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WHAT?

IPISA is an annual meeting of Amiga developers.  In Italian, IPISA means
'Incontro dei Programmatori Italiani per lo Sviluppo su Amiga.' In English,
this means exactly, meeting of Italian programmers for development under
the Amiga.

WHERE?

IPISA 95 took place in Milan that is a large city the north of Italy with
around 5 million inhabitants.

WHEN?

This year, IPISA took the morning and the afternoon of Saturday, 18 of
November.

WHO?

A group of Italian enthusiasts of Amiga programming organised IPISA.  Many
of them are students at Milan's university.  They worked hard on their free
time for many months before the meeting day to organise this event.

Almost 400 Amiga developers and enthusiasts attended the meeting this year.
Some of them bothered to travel during all night from the south of Italy,
just to arrive in time to the meeting day morning.

Italian developers held most of the talks and presentations, but the main
guest star was definitely Dr.  Peter Kittel.  Dr.  Peter Kittel came from
Germany to bring several good news to all the amigans.

Angela Schmidt came also from Germany to talk about the story and the
latest release of Meeting Pearls, and Haage and Partner came to talk about
Storm C/C++ development environment.

Oh, and I (Manuel Lemos) came from Portugal to talk about Objection that is
a portable Object Oriented programming support system.

HOW?

As a non-Italian speaker, everybody kindly treated me as a guest.  I
arrived in the morning of the day before the meeting day.  Many thanks to
Fabrizio and his mother (I hope I have spelt the name right) that bothered
to pick me up at the Milan-Linate airport.

I stayed all the afternoon at the home of Paolo Silvera where I meet the
well-known Amiga E language Dutch developer Wouter van Oortmerssen.  It was
with a great pleasure that I got the news that such a qualified software
engineer as Wouter will most likely to join the Amiga Technologies
engineering team.

Depending on Wouter, the incoming version of AmigaDOS will feature a
co-operative system of protected memory and the executable binary files
stored in portable CPU independent format like for instance under TAOS.

By night I met with everybody of the IPISA organisation for dinner.  The
dinner took at an internationally award winning 'pizzeria.' There, I could
confirm that what I heard about Italy being the worst place on earth to eat
pizza could only be a joke.  The pizza's that I tried were very tasty.
They are thin but so large that you can make a whole meal just with one
pizza.  Anyway, I think I would get sick very quickly if keep eating pizza
every day just as I ate in all the three days that I stayed in Milan.
Well, let's just get back to IPISA.

The meeting day was very long for everybody that participated.  Although
the meeting started at 10 in the morning many people, mostly of
organisation, arrived much sooner to make sure that everything will start
on schedule.

The conference hall was quite large and seemed to be almost full by the
time the conference started.  Sergio Ruocco welcomed everybody present.  A
short but smooth ray-traced IPISA logo animation was projected on a large
screen of maybe around 4x3 meters.

An Amiga 4000 connected to a professional video system that fed the images
to a large RGB projector.  The persons that had anything to show to support
their presentations used this A4000.

Like most of the persons that were going to present their work, I had to
arrive sooner to install the stuff I brought to the show.  Unfortunately I
had been very busy in the weeks before the conference day and I was not
able to prepare a better presentation as I wished.

I had to carry my hard-disk to the conference and plug it in another Amiga
4000 supplied by the organisation to install some stuff that remained to
the last hour.  This took me quite some time to work out and so I was not
able to pay proper attention to all the morning presentations.

I am not going to describe in detail all the talks because they were too
many and I was not able to pay proper attention to everyone.  This is
mostly because I do not understand enough Italian worthy to mention,
although my mother language (Portuguese) is quite similar to Italian.

Here follows a summary of the talks by order of appearance.  I hope I have
not forgotten any of the presentations.

o Angela Schmidt talked about the story and the latest release of Meeting
  Pearls.

o Michele Battilana presented a talk with reflections about the future.  He
  made allusions to other systems and trends that he believes Amiga should
  follow.  Many thanks for the beta version of Cloanto's personal suite
  that he gave away in a CD to every IPISA participant.

o Paolo Canali presented a PCI 2.0 solution for the current Amiga
  architecture.

o Maurizio Ciccione presented the current developments of is Audio Lab 16
  version 2 program.  This program is still under development but it looked
  very impressive.  It seems to a complete solution for professional audio
  engineers.  A version will available later in Aminet.

o Gabriele Falconi and Stefano Guarnieri presented a visual environment to
  simulate neural networks.  The theme is very interesting but it is not
  very well known for the generality of the programmers.  The program
  looked simple but very effective.  Future developments may turn the
  application into a very useful tool for programmers that want to use the
  fuzzy logic technology in their applications.

o Vicenzo Gervasi presented an integrated environment to support Object
  Oriented Programming under the language E.  The seemed to be a very good
  looking and complete system.  It features visual support for class
  browsing, automatic tool building and revision control.

o Giuseppe Ghibo presented a library to support recursive paths for TeX.
  He also described a complete TeX installation that he worked out for the
  IPISA CD.

o Giuseppe Ligorio presented an improved compression scheme for sound and
  image IFF files based on variant of Huffman algorithms.  Too bad he had
  not much time to do more than introducing the theme due to time
  restrictions.

o Alberto Longo presented a complete analysis on the viability of writing
  smooth texture mapping games under Amiga.  He demoed Breathless, which is
  a doom-like game, to show how fluid this kind of games can turn out using
  his technology.  In a few words: it looked impressive!

o Michele Puccini presented a library to manage high speed animation.
  Unfortunately, I was to busy by the time of this presentation and I was
  not able to pay proper attention.

o Alessandro Tasora made one of the most spectacular presentations.  He
  presented several modules for Real 3D that support particle based 3D
  animations.  He had some wire frame based animations ready to show.  The
  animations looked very impressive and Alessandro was very applauded.

o Federico Zuccollo presented a BOOPSI class based solution for improving
  the AMIGA file system access.  This was a very technical and detailed
  presentation.

o Manuel Lemos (myself) presented an Object Oriented Programming support
  system to develop portable applications named Objection.  Unfortunately,
  I was not able to talk much about my system due to time restrictions.  My
  system consists of a library that implements OOP support in very similar
  way to BOOPSI but in truly a portable fashion.

Objection was completely developed in ANSI C.  About 80% of all the code
that was developed for all the classes and the system kernel is system
independent.  This means only about 20% of the code need to be rewritten to
port the Objection to another environment.  The system currently supports
Amiga under Intuition and POSIX (UNIX) compliant platforms under X-Windows.

Many base classes needed to write applications were already developed.
Some application specific classes are under active development, like for
instance a PostScript export class and RTF (Rich Text Format) export and
import classes.

I demoed an application that was my graduation project.  It is a visual
editor to design Finite State Machines.  This is a high level tool to model
for instance microchip hardware.  Both AMIGA - Intuition and POSIX -
X-Windows where shown running at the same time on the AMIGA.  The X-Windows
version was running under DaggeX X-Windows server.  I was not able to put a
version running under AmiWin X-Windows server on time for IPISA.

Objection will be freely available to non-commercial AMIGA software
developers.  Commercial software developers will have to pay licence.

o Haage and Partner presented the new C/C++ development environment.  It
  looked great but it felt as it needs to mature a lot to support Amiga
  specific programming up to the level of SAS C.  despite this, it features
  visual automatic tool building support.  This is an important feature
  that lacks on SAS C.

The C++ compiler was claimed to be a fast although the generated code was
not as good as it could be due to the lack of a global optimiser.  They are
considering making the compiler full ANSI C++ 3.0 compliant.

The debugger seemed visually good looking but nothing was said about its
abilities to debug multi-thread or shared library based applications as SAS
CPR is able.

AMIGA TECHNOLOGY SPEAKS

Dr.  Peter Kittel was the most wanted speaker in the afternoon.  He divided
his talk in three parts: what AT has done so far, what they are doing now
and they plan for the future of the Amiga.

The reintroduction of the Amiga in the market was what he talked about
concerning what AT has done so far.  So, this is not worthy to mention it
again.

Now, AT is working on the restart of ADSP planned for 1 of December (a bit
late now).  Commercial developers will pay more (300 USD) than
non-commercial developers (100 USD) as usual.  Commercial developers will
get phone support.  I wonder what does this means exactly because any
serious developer uses Internet to communicate.

From now on, the access to the developer program will be restricted to real
AMIGA developers.  Non-commercial developers have to show at least one
public domain program for the Amiga and commercial developers have to show
at least one commercial application.

AT plans small enhancements and bug fixes to the Amiga OS and the current
Amiga models in early 96.  There will be no more beta versions of the
operating system circulating around like in the past.  It is to be hoped
that this will prevent the OS being pirated in the BBSes.  Dr.  Kittel
mentioned Windows 95 beta versions as a joke.

AT is going to introduce a PCMCIA based Quad speed CD-ROM drive named
Q-Drive some time very soon.  They are also going to release an Internet
surfer package for the Amiga.  No mention on the WWW browser that will be
supplied.

AT is talking to several companies to discuss strategic alliances and to
bring back new and old AMIGA developers to support the AMIGA with their
products.  Motorola was mentioned regarding the future Power PC based
Amiga.

In a more distant future, AT will be working on hardware independent
version of the AmigaDOS.  Low end and high end Power PC based Amigas will
be the first to run the new version of AmigaDOS.  High end Power AMIGAs
will be most likely CHRP compliant.

Power AMIGAs will feature a proprietary chip set.  It will not be AAA, but
will be something that will have many of its features.  This chip set will
feature 24 bit video and 16 bit audio.  Power AMIGAs will be definitely PCI
based.

Dr.  Kittel then tried to answer almost every question that was posed by
the audience.  He apologised for the things that he could not talk about. 
Most of the questions are related with topics described above.

Dr.  Kittel was not able to answer a particular question that claimed my
attention.  It was about the differences of prices of the AMIGA computers
in each country.  He said that AMIGAs are sold to every distributor at the
same price.

The answer is simple and it scares me that AT either ignores or pretends to
ignore the real reason for this.  The reason is that in many countries
there is only one company that buys all the Amigas that arrive to that
country.  That company resells the AMIGA to any other local distributor but
with their own 'tax' added to the original local distributor price.  This
is what it seems to be why the AMIGA was so overpriced in many countries.

It's a shame if AT will continue to close their eyes to this situation
because this seriously hurts the AMIGA chances of being more popular in the
future.

In the end Dr.  Kittel encouraged developers to write only OS legal
software.  He also encouraged every AMIGA user to advocate for the AMIGA
spreading the good news about the AMIGA that is back for the future.

Dr.  Kittel was very applauded before and after a question and answer
period.  Almost everybody stood up to applaud him.

LIKES

In a few words, IPISA was impressively very well organised.

The number of attendants was very high (almost 400).

DISLIKES

The arrival of some late hour guests, like for instance Dr.  Peter Kittel,
forced the organisation to rearrange the time and the duration of all the
other presentations.  This was a bit frustrating for many of the speakers
like myself as we were not able to talk about many aspects of our work in
such shortened periods of time as we wished.

In compensation Dr.  Kittel's talk was in my opinion the most interesting
for everybody.  Anyway, I understood that the organisation will probably
split next year IPISA meeting in more days if the number of speakers keeps
increasing like for this year's meeting.

Milan's weather by mid-November is already too cold.  Probably it would be
a good idea to reschedule IPISA for some time earlier in the year when the
weather is warmer.  Maybe a month earlier would be warmer enough to
encourage more non-Italian's developers to attend to IPISA and take the
chance to visit the beautiful historical side of Milan.

Almost all the conferences were in Italian.  Fair enough because before
everything this is an Italian developer meeting held in Italy.  It would be
great if English versions of the papers related with the talks could be
made available to the Amiga community through the IPISA WWW pages.  I am
sure this would encourage many more non-Italian developers to attend IPISA
in the future.

CONCLUSIONS

IPISA is yet another proof that AMIGA is back for the future.  If there is
an international meeting that AMIGA developer should not miss, IPISA is the
one.  Even Dr.  Kittel admitted that in Germany there no developers meeting
of this quality.  Do not miss IPISA 96 if you are a serious AMIGA
developer.  Congratulations to the whole staff of the IPISA organisation.

Copyright Manuel Lemos 1995
Internet : UpperDesign@zeus.ci.ua.pt
FidoNet  : 2:361/9.1
BIX      : mlemos (@bix.com)