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Helix 6 gets underway

30 December 2002--A very promising first step in the direction of Helix 6, our macOS product, has been taken.

Now that the 5.1 milestone has been passed, we’re looking at Helix 6 and 7, where Helix will at last run in macOS and then in Windows and Linux in addition to the Macintosh. As has been said on more than a few occasions in this space, to get there will require replacing lots of old code. We’re happy to report that that part of the project is now underway.

Here’s three things you can start doing now to help

At the risk of reopening an ancient can of worms, and quite an unpleasant one at that, we’re also happy to report that the channels to report bugs and request features are back in operation and ready for action. Now that beta testing is over, those of you who have been asked to refrain from telling us about old problems or requesting the same "old" new features can start jamming them into the pipelines.

You can reach these pages from these links:

Bug report Feature request

You can also get to these pages from the links on our Technical Support Services page..

While we have already identified quite a bit about where we’re headed, the specifications are far from finished. So the time to get your input heard is now. We’ve tried to make these forms as easy to use as possible.

Please read each of these pages carefully. They explain what we’re looking for and what to do if the options there don’t satisfy your particular issue(s).

OK. That’s the first two things. Now on to the third...

This past week, there was a minor misunderstanding in the online Helix community regarding how the development of Helix 5.1 was funded and why, if funding is such an issue, did we not charge an upgrade fee for 5.1. Let’s clarify.

A Helix user from Caribou, Maine, asked,

Can someone explain why, if money is an issue for future development, is Helix 5.1 free?

Helix 5.1 is not free to everyone. It is only free to the people who already own 5.0, 5.0.1 or 5.0.2. Everyone else must pay to upgrade.

To that end, last weekend we posted an offer on the home page--which is still there--the gist of which is if you upgrade before the prices go up in February, you can get an advance 20% discount on the upgrade price of Helix 6 when it ships.

There are still thousands of registered owners of a Helix 4.5.5 product who did not upgrade to a 5.x product. There are seven good reasons we’ve identified as to why this is so:

  1. It wasn’t free, as 4.5.3, 4.5.4 and 4.5.5 were.
  2. It came with a software dongle. Many people were upset by this, and even though that policy was revoked quickly, some probably never got over it.
  3. It didn’t come with upgrade pricing. Same result.
  4. It still runs only on a Mac. Some just couldn’t wait any longer and made the jump to Windows.
  5. It was still not a macOS product. Some of those people undoubtedly gave up on Helix and moved to another application, such as FileMaker.
  6. For some people, TCP/IP met their needs. For others, it didn’t.
  7. RAMJet and Custom Memory Caches were so poorly explained that many users had trouble getting them to work properly and missed out on their benefits.

In fairness, every time you call us for information or to make a purchase, we are using Helix 5.1 under TCP/IP. And the 5.1 version has been serving the website since the beginning of beta testing.

And in late October, we published a guide to RAMJet on this web site that seems to have eased most of the existing confusion on the subject.

Nonetheless, there’s still this messy business of all those 4.5.5 users to clean up...

Now that we’ve (hopefully) exhausted most of the negative stuff (again), let’s come back to that third thing you can do. The only thing missing in our quest for Helix 6 and Helix 7 is money, that is, enough of it to make sure we get all the way through it.

We’ve done our very best to show people that their upgrade fees were going to a worthy cause. But 5.1 was a relatively small project compared to what we’re up against now. There is no longer any logical or illogical reason why Helix 6 and Helix 7 should not be our next steps. And there will be no excuse for doing it wrong, for not updating the ancient code as we go. Of course, should anything useful shake out of this process that can be used before Helix 6, we’ll try to release another Helix 5 update to get it into your hands quickly, but that will in no way deter progress toward Helix 6.

People have, and continue, to offer us money, both in the form of loans and donations, to get this work done. We are evaluating several different options for funding the rest of the run. But before we embark on any plan, we need you all to consider some simple mathematics.

Those 4.5.5 users we mentioned above own lots of Helix. Some own RADEs, Engines and Client/Server licenses with lots of seats. Without fixing a hard-and-fast figure to things, we can tell you that if all those people were to do was to upgrade just their RADE licenses--and that’s a mere $90 investment from each of them--we would generate a lot of money. Even though the tasks that lie before us are monumental, based upon the way 5.1 was done, we can tell you that this would give us enough to get most of the way to Helix 7. It won’t give us advertising. It won’t give us booth space at Macworld Expo. But it would get most of the job done.

So what can you do? What’s item #3? If you’re one of those people, please upgrade today. If you know one of these holdouts, call them, or write them, and ask them to upgrade.

More to come...

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