The Latest and a Personal Paint Update

by Eric Schwartz
From the AmiTech Gazette, October 2018

There has been some news in the Amiga arena. A new version of “classic” Amiga OS3 is available from Hyperion, version 3.1.4, which fixes some long-standing bugs from 3.1 and adds a handful of new features, some of which users of 3.5 or 3.9 are familiar with. The update involves an updated ROM, though I’m not sure exactly what options are available so far putting the ROM to chip for use in actual hardware.

Over the weekend of October 11 thru 14, we had the 2018 AmiWest show. Undoubtedly news, pictures, and videos from the event will be trickling out between this writing and the time of our meeting.

For a third thing, I’ll share a link of Youtube series “The Guru Meditation” featuring a demo of the new Vampire V4 (the particular hardware on display being for the Amiga 500). It’s worthy of note for the showing of features coming to V4 and current Vampire cards, such as recreation of the AGA chipset, allowing Amiga-mode video over the HDMI display. The implementation isn’t perfect, with a few visual glitches seen in the demo, and info that interlaced modes don’t get along well with HDMI video (so far). Still, I found it most interesting to see, and a good look at what’s to come to Amiga.

Guru Meditation Vampire V4 Demo

At the last meeting, I showed off my recent copy of the new(er) Personal Paint version 7.3b from Aeon after they bought the rights from Cloanto. For the uninitiated, Personal Paint, or PPaint, is a paint program for color-mapped images or animations (up to 256 colors in the palette). What set PPaint apart from its predecessors and contemporaries is, while it works very similar to mainstay Deluxe Paint in terms of interface style, it gets along well with RTG and video cards for the most part, making it useful in ways that programs limited to Amiga chipset only modes like Deluxe Paint or Brilliance weren’t. Thus PPaint, which made it to version 7.1 under publisher Cloanto, became popular with many users of expanded Amiga systems, especially when it was released for free distribution after Cloanto shifted focus to its Amiga emulator packages.

While PPaint 7.1 did a fine job, it had a few quirks and issues. One such problem appeared in systems other than classic Amigas, such as those running OS4, MorphOS, or running a Vampire accelerator, for example. The software had small deviations from standard Amiga OS programming that hitched on these newer systems, resulting in graphical glitches, freezes, or painted filled shapes not working properly. Users clamored for ports to OS4 and MorphOS, which didn’t amount to much for years, until Aeon started buying up rights to various Amiga software packages with the purpose of updating them with an aim toward the Amiga OS4 systems they produce, non-committaly promising updates for legacy OS3 and MorphOS as well.

Personal Paint 7.3 was one of their first to bear fruit, so to speak. Versions were produced for OS3 and OS4 Amigas, available via CD or online distribution. A direct MorphOS port is not apparently planned, as the OS3 version should work with that. I bought the OS3 version of Personal Paint from AmigaKit (approx. $17 without shipping) with a certain amount of blind faith that issues plaguing version 7.1 on MorphOS systems would be fixed. I’ve only had limited hands-on experience with the new 7.3 Personal Paint so far, but I would list it as a mixed bag currently, at least for the uses I wish to get out of it. Firstly, PPaint requires some Amiga library files not included on the disc to run properly, mainly the font-handling “bullet.library.” This is only a problem for operating systems that don’t include it, such as MorphOS, so be prepared to move some files over from an Amiga installation if need be. As to be expected, performance on most things are pretty snappy on a PowerPC or Vampire system, notably faster than my 68060 Amiga at least. One of the larger problems running PPaint 7.1 on MorphOS (and a Vampirized Amiga. I discovered) is creating a filled shape, either by freehand or polygon drawing, did not work correctly, giving either an unfilled shape or an error message. I was happy to find this was apparently no longer a problem on 7.3, with fills of all types working fine on Vampire and MorphOS systems.

A separate issue, however, did carry over from old to new. On MorphOS at least, there are strange behaviors when modifying colors in the palette. Moving the sliders for the RGB components of a color seem to work fine, but doing the same for the HSV values result in strange behavior in the color you’re working on, from overshooting the mark to a full-on freak out. Finally, I did run into some circumstances which froze up the program, from attempting to play an animation using an HD graphics mode (Vampire, though to be fair no version of Personal Paint handled animation via video card too smoothly) and, perhaps most unforgivably, the program froze on MorphOS, using up nearly all available CPU according to the monitor, immediately after saving the image I was working on. I plan to do further testing depending on available time, finding out exactly which errors affect which platforms. I also hope to bring the Vampire 600 in for some hands-on PPaint 7.3 testing at the meeting. As it stands now though, I’d rate Personal Paint 7.3 as not quite ready for prime-time, at least not if you hope to use it on a MorphOS machine. Perhaps tests will show it faring better on Amiga/Vampire. Time will tell.