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Bintracker News #7

18 Dec 2020

Time for a little sign of life! But first of all, my sincere apologies for the prolonged silence. Both the process of getting settled in a new country as well as a number of side projects are taking much bigger chunk of my time than I had originally expected. So, here’s the bad news right away: I have not been working all that much on Bintracker the past months, and things are still not ready for beta release. Of course this also means that the planned crowdfunding campaign will not go ahead just yet. Fortunately that didn’t stop some nice folks from funding development already in the meantime. Special thanks to Denis Perevalov for the big donation!

On the bright side, I did manage to get at least a handful of things done. I completed all the basic functionality for the scm2wiki documentation tool, and released it as an official Chicken extension. The next step will be to integrate scm2wiki into Bintracker’s internal help system.

Secondly, I finally got around to fixing a number of long-standing issues in the edit system. I also implemented an important feature that was long overdue: Selecting things with the mouse. This means the edit system is mostly complete, save for some rough edges.

There’s also one new feature that is perhaps a bit gimmicky, but I’m sure some of you will find it quite useful: Interpolation can now leverage modifier commands. So what does that even mean? Say you want to simulate a slide or glissando on a sound engine that does not natively support these. For a larger interval, you can probably get away with simply interpolating between the start and end note. However, this obviously isn’t going to help when you try to create a slide between two adjacent semitones. Modifier commands to the rescue! When you interpolate a selection that contains both the note column and the associated modifiers, then Bintracker will create a smooth slide by inserting the appropriate detune values into the modifier column. Sounds confusing? Don’t worry, I’ll do a video about this soon.

The MDAL compiler has learned a few new tricks as well. Most importantly, it can now export modules to assembly code. Also, it now supports order lists using relative offsets, which means support for a certain exiting new ZX Spectrum beeper engine is around the corner.

The plugin department has also seen some improvements. Plugins can now extend toolbars, so they can add their own custom buttons to the graphical interface, and modify the behavior of exiting ones. I also began work on a new plugin which will handle export to emulator formats. For now, it only does ZX Spectrum .tap though - with shiny, customizable BASIC loaders, nontheless.

So where do we go from here? Currently I’m taking yet another break from Bintracker development, as my band mate dat zekt and me are busy recording a new Doppelplusungut album. Afterwards, I have another secret little project to work on, and I’m also planning to compete in a couple of music competitions in January. All in all I hope to restart work on Bintracker around mid January.