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Publicaciones sobre cobrapy (publicaciones antiguas, página 1)

CobraPy: baby steps

Some con­text: I am do­ing a sort of mod­ern retro-pro­gram­ming en­vi­ron­men­t-thingie.

So ... I caved. I caved and start­ed typ­ing.

It's still just ex­plorato­ry, fool­ing around, but I want­ed to see whether the vague ideas I had about how this could, maybe work were right, and hey, they are!

Text Mode

I want­ed a text mod­e. Some­thing with N rows and M col­umns where you could just say "put this text there". Done. In the most ba­sic pos­si­ble way that work­s.

Implemented a print_at function that takes row, column and text, and does what it says in the label.

Immediate Graphics Mode

In these old com­put­ers you could just draw in the graph­ics mem­o­ry. In 2020 ... not so much. So, I im­ple­ment­ed a sort of off­screen buf­fer. You draw there, and it gets blit­ted a lot to screen. Ends up work­ing like a flick­er-free dou­ble-buffered screen! Nice!

Implemented ellipse which ... draws an ellipse. I know, surprising.

Interpreter / Prompt

It would not be 80s-­like if you could not do those things in­ter­ac­tive­ly. So, yes, you can.

Now that was in­ter­est­ing. you see, nowa­days you are sup­posed to have an event loop. The com­put­er is there, idling and when some­thing hap­pen­s, then it does some­thing. So, you clicked? It re­act­s. 10 mil­lisec­onds passed? It does its thing.

In the 80s it was not like that. Your pro­gram start­ed and it owned the ma­chine. It went through your code, run­ning it as fast as it could with its lit­tle two-mega­herz-­heart un­til it ran out of code and then it was done.

So, how to make it act like that?

  • Start the event loop.
  • Start a sec­ond thread with a promp­t.
  • Have the us­er in­ter­act with the promp­t.
  • When the user presses Enter ... send the command to the event loop via a queue.
  • When the event ar­rives, do the thing.

And yes, it work­s! It's prob­a­bly hor­ri­ble for per­for­mance, but it does work just fine, and it's much, much eas­i­er to make a work­ing pro­gram fast than it is to make a fast pro­gram work.

So, what's nex­t?

The Future

I may try to in­te­grate the prompt and the win­dow where the text and such is dis­played (right now it's in a ter­mi­nal) ... maybe sprites.

Af­ter that:

  • Make the API nice and use­ful (a few weeks of work)
  • Make the thing run well (a few days of work)
  • Do the jan­i­to­ri­al work to make it us­able by some­one else (a cou­ple days of work)
  • Sup­port it, doc­u­ment it, etc (8 to 30 years of work)

The Nerdy Details

  • To do the graph­ics I am us­ing py­glet
  • To do off­screen draw­ing I am us­ing Pil­low
  • Tool­ing in­cludes the usu­al sus­pect­s: Python 3.8, po­et­ry, pylin­t, flake8
  • Code (all 50 lines or so!) in GitHub

Yes, this means this "80s" thing is ac­tu­al­ly mul­ti­thread­ed hard­ware-ac­cel­er­at­ed OpenGL graph­ic­s. I know, I know.

Possible New Project

I'm Old

I have not start­ed a re­al se­ri­ous open source project in a while. Ok, that's a lie. I have start­ed a num­ber of things and aban­doned them, but the last soft­ware project I start­ed that had last­ing pow­er was Niko­la and that was in 2012!

I turned 7**2 a couple weeks ago, so I am officially old (it's the law!) and us olds get bored because we don't get all the tiktok and whatever you youn'uns do.

So, I am get­ting itchy, and have been think­ing of start­ing some­thing. Af­ter see­ing a num­ber of retro­com­put­ing videos, it turns out the ZX-81 of my child­hood is vin­tage enough that they are ac­tu­al­ly old­er than ENI­AC was when I got it.

And it got me think­ing ... was there any­thing in that kind of com­put­ers that is worth sav­ing for some­thing oth­er than nos­tal­gia's sake? Sure, play­ing Mon­ty on The Run is as fun as al­ways and peo­ple still re­lease soft­ware for C64 and sim­i­lar an­cient com­put­er­s.

How­ev­er ... well, that sort of reeks of masochis­m, be­cause de­vel­op­ing for those sys­tem was ab­surd­ly painful. You can get the same lev­el of pain cod­ing for pi­co8 and peo­ple can play your games much eas­i­er.

There's al­so the retro-hard­ware thing but ... hon­est­ly, I like mod­ern hard­ware much bet­ter! For ex­am­ple, a Col­or Maximite looks much more fun that a C64 to de­vel­op in.

But stil­l.

There is this feel­ing that cur­rent com­put­ers are miss­ing some­thing.

Why not ex­plore it a lit­tle? I have a the­o­ry.

The Theory

Mod­ern com­put­ers are made to run things, old com­put­ers were not.

Get­ting some­one else's soft­ware in­to your com­put­er in 1984 was ab­surd­ly dif­fi­cult.

  1. Get a com­put­er (try do­ing that while liv­ing in Ar­genti­na in 1984)
  2. Now what? There's no In­ter­net
  3. Read the man­u­al and start cod­ing (yes, the man­u­al for the com­put­er ex­plained how)
  4. Fail
  5. Find some­one else who had a com­put­er and had ac­tu­al soft­ware for it
  6. Get copies. That of­ten in­volved copy­ing au­dio tapes. That would take be­tween 10 and 20 min­utes.
  7. Try out the copy on your com­put­er. Load­ing it in­to the com­put­er would al­so take be­tween 10 and 20 min­utes.

And af­ter that you had ... a port of Man­ic Min­er to C64 with crap­py sound.

So, some of us, we stuck a lit­tle to the oth­er side of those re­mark­able ma­chines. That they boot­ed in­to a de­vel­op­ment en­vi­ron­men­t. That you could make them do shit.

And that's what cur­rent com­put­ers don't do. They don't do shit. They don't in­vite you to start do­ing your own shit. Which is per­fect­ly and ag­gres­sive­ly fine, I don't mind. But I do.

The Plan in My Head

What would the evo­lu­tion of an 80s com­put­er look like nowa­days?

  • It should in­vite you to code and do shit
  • It should run on cheap, com­mod­i­ty hard­ware that is cheap and easy to find and buy
  • It should not do much out of the box. It's a box to do shit not to run shit.

There­fore, how about ...

A disk im­age that you can pop in­to a rasp­ber­ry Pi and...

  • Boots to a lim­it­ed en­vi­ron­ment
  • Where you can do shit
  • With fixed APIs and a pro­vid­ed soft­ware suite so that:
    • You can do some graph­ic­s, eas­i­­ly
    • You can do some sound, eas­i­­ly
    • You can ed­it a pro­­gram, eas­i­­ly
    • You can share it some­how, eas­i­­ly

Why the Pi?

  • It's fixed, known, cheap, sup­port­ed hard­ware.
  • You have IO pins to do ex­tra shit
  • It's cheap
  • Al­so, in­ex­pen­sive

What APIs?

  • Di­rec­t-ad­dress text mode (fake)
  • One or two graph­ics modes. 720p and 1080p?
  • Graph­ic prim­i­tives
  • Sprites! (hey, it's not the 80s with­out sprites)
  • Ba­sic mod play­ing
  • Some beep­ing thingie

What language?

Python. Sor­ry. I am play­ing with it, it's not go­ing to be BA­SIC.

Any weird thing?

Oh yes.

  • No im­port. You get the APIs you get.
  • Pro­grams are one file. You can use pack­ages in your big­boy box over there that has chrome in it.
  • No in­ter­net (no web brows­ing at least) just use your phone.
  • In­clud­ed sprite en­di­tor
  • In­clud­ed Mu­sic track­er

Are you really going to write this?

Well, I'm go­ing to give it a try and see if it's fun to do. If it's not I won't.

Are you looking for collaborators?

Nope. I want to do this so­lo at least for the first few month­s. My cod­ing at ear­ly project stages is way too er­rat­ic and would make ev­ery­one hate me.

What's it called.

It's nos­tal­gic. It's 80s. It has snakes in it. It should be Co­bra Kai.

But be­cause copy­right ex­ist­s, it's Co­bra Py. Or maybe Co­bra Pie, be­cause there's al­so oth­er python things called Co­bra.

h/t to Gui­do de Ca­so for fig­ur­ing out the name.


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