RE: nfbtrans conversion

Don't regret bringing it up.  I think it's great that Tyler got it working
on the 64 bit machine.  It probably isn't something  someone wants to
upgrade but you never know someone might want to make an alternative to the
new up  and coming translation software.  I only complained about the code
because like David said it kind of made me dizzy trying to follow all the
loops and additions to  what I could see was the original base core.  

I think it is important to keep this around for the same reason I wanted to
compile it under cygwin and Linux.  I was comparing it to LibLouis for a
current project I am working on.  So no matter how messy the code is it's
nice to have another tool.

ken

-----Original Message-----
From: programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:programmingblind-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Steve Jacobson
Sent: Thursday, July 07, 2011 11:32 PM
To: programmingblind@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: nfbtrans conversion

Hi,

In many ways, I regret having brought this up, although I certainly do
appreciate the help.  I want to provide a little background that might
make a number of things clearer and thereby respond to several notes. 
NFBTRANS started as a Pascal
program perhaps thirty years ago that was run under DOS written by a
staff person of our organization for internal use.  There was a period
when it was available commercially but this didn't seem to be the route
to take so the source code was released.  As I understand it, it was
converted to C using a pascal-to-C converter and many, many enhancements
were made by mostly one volunteer.  I suspect that the code of most
programs that have been around for that long is not terribly neat.  Also,
it is my understanding that the assembly code was not required in all
cases but only when compiled under certain compilers.  That was the case
many years ago and may not even be the case today at all, I don't know
for certain about that.

There is a lot that could be done with this code and this software in
general, but my purpose in providing information on it was specifically
to get it running as it is under 64-bit systems.  There was a PowerBasic
front end that was known as WINBRL that provided a GUI interface. 
However, there is no further development there, either.  It is my
opinion that any effort to make major changes to the code would be
better placed toward the furthering of John Boyer's Braille Blaster
project.  This is really pretty complicated software, especially when
going from text to contracted braille where formatting commands are
implemented.  We may even find that a clean compile may not guarantee
that there are not bugs, or at least this is one warning I have received. 
However, if NFBTRANS could be made to work on 64-bit platforms fairly
easily as appears might be the case, it would fill a short term gap for
many of us until something better and more modern in its design comes
along.  This could be Braille Blaster, or maybe even something else
built upon the LibLouis work.  In the meantime, I am very grateful to
those who have worked upon this over the years, and the funny thing is
that when I translated a file and got the results I wanted, it just
never dawned upon me what the code looked like.  I well know that is not
the way to do development on a tightly structured project, but this
software never was that.  However, it worked for a long time for very
many people and still fills a gap.

John, as you know, I have looked at and like much of what is being done
with LIBLOUIS and think that there is a lot of potential.  I have more
to learn about it, but I did have some difficulty getting a nicely
formatted document out of Word, but I don't know for sure if it was
within the translator or how the structure of the document gets saved to
XML.  For example, hanging indents in Word did not hang in braille.  I
found that I had to be careful how I saved as XML, too, to avoid having
the text split up.  Some words had spaces within them, for example. 
There is more for me to understand, and I know you have more work to do,
so it is not fair for me to make a judgment on my very small amount of
experience.  I guess this is why I don't see a quick and dirty fix of
NFBTRANS as competing with what you are trying to do, but rewriting
NFBTRANS would, and I think would be a waste of time.

Again, thanks to everyone for the help they have given, but I would urge
John to give us specifics as to what he needs and maybe we can be of
help.

Best regards,

Steve Jacobson

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