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Considering a new FREE model for making EZGUI available to new customers

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  • Considering a new FREE model for making EZGUI available to new customers

    This is just an idea, but just wanted to "bounce" this off the PB community to see what you think about it.

    What would you think of EZGUI becoming a FREE product ?

    Not open source though. One could register to get EZGUI for FREE and use it for FREE.

    There would still be a software license and it would still be a proprietary product (not open source, since I think that would ruin it).

    Support would be via the online forums. I would do my best to answer questions, but of course with it as free I would have limits of how much I can do on the forums. It would have to be assisted via the peer to peer forum.

    "Extended" support though could be purchased (for a very reasonable fee) so one could get more extensive support if they need more than the free support provided. Any customers who purchased EZGUI already would continue to get priority for support (ie. emails to me to ask questions) as I have done in the past.

    What good would this accomplish ?

    Two things are needed for EZGUI to have a better future:

    (1) It needs to support programming languages other than Powerbasic

    (2) It needs to eventually become 64 bit as well

    I can't do this with the limited current customer base. Powerbasic (as a company) while still viable, does not yield the regular new potential customers it did in the past. Also in Powerbasics last few better years (when Bob Zale was still alive), I had to compete with other third party products (which most have moved on now though) which made it a greater challenge to keep the new customer base increasing.

    Lastly, 32 bit still has a few good years left to it, but eventually 64 bit may make 32 bit totally obsolete. While 32 bit still is viable and has a market, now would be the best time to change my marketing model.

    My goals:

    (1) Port EZGUI (mostly make modifications) so it is more friendly to other programming languages such as FreeBasic, PureBasic and expecially C.

    C is important and could be a great market for EZGUI. There are actually many C programmers out there who shy away from C++ and also from C still can produce amazingly fast and tiny apps. But the programming mainstream has moved to mostly for GUI stuff so C is a second class citizen in the GUI world. There are still some C programmers still use the older Borland tools.

    EZGUI could be a boon for C programmers, as well as for those who use other dialecs of Basic.

    I am also not averse to licensing the actual source code to EZGUI for larger companies, so far I have only done this for one company at the moment, but it could be part of the extended support options. Licensing the source code is not cheap though and is best suited for large companies where the cost makes sense. The current price for licensing the source code is in the $5000 range.

    The biggest issue right now with EZGUI being used with other programming language is Powerbasic's use of OLE for variable length strings. I need to either learn to how to use OLE strings (BSTR in C) for use with C and make it easer for C programmers (and even other Basic's which use C like variable length strings) to interface to the EZGUI framework. This may require a set of wrappers between EZGUI and other programming languages.

    (2) Port EZGUI to 64 bit

    I am still hoping Drake Softwarw will be able to come out with a 64 version of Powerbasic. Don't count that out. But if not, I will also be looking for an alternative for making a 64 bit version of EZGUI. I really hope I don't have to resort to C though.

    So what do you think of this possible new model for EZGUI ?

    What would be a reasonable price for extended support say for a yearly price ?

    For those who can't afford much, especially for the hobby programmer market, it is still a deal since EZGUI would be free up front and one could still get decent support via the forums for free.


    ​For those not familiar with EZGUI, it is probably one of the most powerful and yet tiniest of WIN32 GUI frameworks ever made (for its feature set). Rather than be cross platform (ie. QT) it is WIN32 only and takes advantage of many of the native features of Windows. EZGUI is now over 20 years old, the first version introduced in 2000. The current version is EZGUI 5.0 Professional.

    EZGUI is not simply a Visual Designer as some may thick. Because of other products which were primarily Visual Designers with code generation, some over the years have been confused and though EZGUI was the same thing. EZGUI is more. While it has its own Visual Designer and code generator, EZGUI is primarily a GUI framework.

    EZGUI's GUI framework is tiny in comparison to other frameworks today. QT for example ranges between 2.5 megabytes to 8 megabytes just for the core part of the framework and with all of its features can range above 30 megabytes (from what I get from a post on Stack Overflow). EZGUI's entire GUI frame is less than just 1 megabyte in size. That is even 1/4 the size of the old Classic Visual Basic core runtimes and VB did not have many of the features found in EZGUI (ie. 2D sprite engine or 3D control).

    So what does one get in a GUI framework that is only 1 megabyte in size ?

    Not only all the basic stuff you need to create complex forms, but EZGUI goes far beyond that with many advanced features not easily done using the WIN32 API such as:
    • Layers engine (have never seen this implemented by a GUI framework before) which can put controls on different layers and show and hide them when needed
    • 2D Sprite engine for its Canvas control (don't need DirectX and is 100% software driven, yet amazingly fast
    • 3D OpenGL based control with builtin Scripting language
    • Visual Designer Drag and Drop engine for building your own Visual Designers. Comes with its own Drag handle control and built-in snap to Grid
    • AutoSize engine to handle autoresizing of controls when Form resizes
    • Low level engines for multi-Threading, ownerdraw, customerdraw without needing the WIN32 API
    • Multimonitor support
    • MCI custom control (play audio or videos and even control other MM devices)
    • Graphics command set which supports a variety of different targets such as Canvas control, Ownerdraw (to the screen or form background), OpenGL control, Printer
    • MDI forms

    There are over 1000 GUI commands in the GUI frameworks and a number of custom controls built in.

    Lastly, EZGUI is not based on any open source or free products from other parties. Unlike say Purebasic which uses a 3rd party 3D engine they did not create themselves and has some open source restrictions, EZGUI is 100% written by myself and has no open source licenses from other parties which effect it.

    This is not a "done deal" yet. I am just trying to get some feedback on the idea and some of the "pros and cons" of this approach.
    Chris Boss
    Computer Workshop
    Developer of "EZGUI"

  • #2

    I fed ChatGPT your post and asked it to offer an opinion. Following is ChatGPT's response:

    Making EZGUI a free product with the option to purchase extended support could attract a larger user base and potentially increase revenue from support fees. This approach could also make the product more accessible to hobby programmers and smaller companies who may not have the budget to purchase the software outright. Additionally, expanding support for other programming languages and making the product 64-bit compatible can make it more versatile and appealing to a wider range of users. However, there may be some challenges in porting the product to other languages and making it 64-bit compatible, and it's important to evaluate the feasibility and resources required for these tasks.


    • #3

      I really hope I don't have to resort to C though.
      For a SDK coder, the transition is not that hard.

      It tooks me 6 monthes to convert GDImage to plain 64-bit, and only 3 more monthes to convert WinLIFT (by reusing the code already converted from GDImage).
      My biggest challenge was to rewrite my OpenGL 3D engine to use GPU rather than CPU (and I was forced to use C to write my own shaders, because this is the only language understood by the GPU).
      Patrice Terrier
      Addons: GDImage.DLL 32/64-bit (Graphic library), WinLIFT.DLL 32/64-bit (Skin Engine).


      • #4
        Considering that Power Basic although still a very good and nice development tool, and no doubt plenty of people are still using it, I doubt is as popular as the free offerings from Microsoft for example. This is not a biased opinion, I like Power Basic, but when considering that many people can use the current compiler technology on offer with Visual Studio for free in many cases, and that PB10 has not advanced since 2010, then understandably is a little behind and less attractive to new people. Making EZGUI a free product would encourage existing PB programmers to use it so that if they later transition or use other programming languages, they can take their EZGUI skills with them once it has been updated. Going forward, this would help give EZGUI a wider audience.

        It would be nice if PowerBasic were updated, but as it stands, is still a tool I jump to for knocking up a little program that is efficient enough in many, many cases.


        • #5
          I'd be in favor of a free version of EZGUI. The more reasons a person has to come into the PowerBASIC fold, the better I will like it!

          You may also recall that I encouraged the free version of PowerBASIC back when Vivian still owned PowerBASIC, but Drake took that away once they bought the company. I'd like to see that reinstated as well!