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Relief for “Universal” suffering

19 May 2008 — In the history of design and invention, plenty of great ideas have evolved into successful products that have improved our lives in some way. But that same history is also littered with great ideas that failed. Many of those failed because “the money” wasn’t behind “the idea.”

QSA ToolWorks is determined to see that such a fate should not be assigned to Helix.

In December 2005, we released our first macOS native product: Helix Server macOS 6.0. But it could be visited only by a Classic Client. To help raise funds to get the macOS Client and Engine produced, we promised that anyone who bought or upgraded to that product would receive a free upgrade that would support a macOS Client.

As anyone who reads The Latest Word knows, getting from there to here has been an arduous struggle. At the time we didn’t fully realize how difficult the switch from CodeWarrior to Xcode would be. Creating a program that could interpret templates designed in Classic, for Classic, and present them in macOS required all new code, written from scratch. But the macOS Engine and Client are now in the hands of beta testers who have been working diligently to make these products usable. Once again, we can see the finish line, yet once again we find ourselves ‘running short’ of funds to get us there.

A year ago, we asked for help to make Universal Helix a reality. We didn’t get the full amount we needed, but enough of you responded that we took the plunge anyhow. That decision has paid off in many ways, the most important being the announcement we are making today:

Helix Server for Intel 6.1 is scheduled to ship on June 30, 2008.

That won’t be the only thing that happens on that date. Please read on…

This is, at long last, the call to arms the faithful have awaited for nearly a decade. A small army of dedicated users has helped bring Helix to a place it hasn’t been in a very long time: current.

A brief glimpse of the future helps explain the present

Helix Server for PowerPC 6.1 shipped on April 4. Helix Server for Intel 6.1 ships on June 30. Some of you might well be scratching your heads and asking yourselves, “Two products? Why don’t they just build a single Universal Helix Server that will run on both PowerPC and Intel Macs? That’s what everybody else does!”

Good question. The short answer is that once we are within shooting distance of releasing the macOS version of Helix RADE, that’s exactly what we will do. But in order for us to keep moving forward we need funds. So Helix Server for PowerPC is the fulfillment of our promise, and Helix Server for Intel (a new product) will provide the fuel for the next phase of our recovery expedition.

Helix Server for PowerPC (i.e.: running natively on PowerPC Macs and via Rosetta on Intel Macs) is — and will continue to be — available free to those with Helix Server 6.0.x licenses. However, if you want the speed boost available through the Intel-native versions will have to pay for them as you would any upgrade.

And what macOS Server would be complete without a macOS Client?

Many Helix users downloaded the Helix Engine for PowerPC Preview Releases 1 and 2 and got a chance to see the future of Helix for themselves. For some, it was a horrifying shock, but for the majority it was a sight for sore eyes and a reassurance that there would in fact still be a future for Helix.

Today, in addition to bringing you the third Helix Engine for PowerPC Preview Release, we’re also debuting the first macOS native Helix Client for PowerPC Preview Release. Though both are PowerPC applications, they run under Rosetta on Intel-based Macs, slowly but acceptably. You can learn more about these Preview Releases and download them from this page.

So now, at last, you can see how your collection runs in Client/Server with a macOS Client. If you’ve already upgraded to Helix Server for PowerPC 6.1, you can download the Helix Client for PowerPC Preview Release and take another step away from the world of Classic. If you’re still hanging back in an earlier version of Helix, spend some time with the Helix Demo to see for yourself why you should upgrade now.

As with the Helix Engine for PowerPC Preview Release, there will be more preview releases of the macOS Client before we can officially call it “done.” But again, like the Helix Engine Preview Releases thus far, we are confident you can use them on your PowerPC and Intel Macs without risk of damage to your collections. The same caveats we have applied to the Engine: i.e., no document management functions, no Power Query and no high-resolution printing, also apply here…

…but those are coming, and soon. Over the next few months, we will be deploying those functions in the macOS Engine and Client products. Each time we have one ready to go, we’ll issue a new Preview Release and move you one step closer to Classic independence.

As long as we’re bringing out an Intel Server…

…we might as well let the other cats out of the bag, too. We alluded above to the possibility of other things happening on June 30th. Specifically, that day will also bring the first Preview Releases of Helix Client for Intel and Helix Engine for Intel, accompanied by new Preview Releases of the same products for PowerPC.

When June 30th rolls around, you’ll be able to run Helix Server and Client natively on whatever machines you have, allowing you to mix and match your Macs in any combination that suits your needs. And you’ll have a Helix Engine that runs natively in macOS or Classic. They won’t have everything, but they will ease the suffering.

But as noted above, our financial resources are running low. And so, to give us the ability to press forward without delay — you guessed it — the Helix Server for Intel and Helix Engine for Intel upgrades are available for pre-purchase immediately. Click here to see the updated price list.

Furthermore, the Helix Engine Preview Releases we’ll issue on that day will no longer be pre-enabled. Beginning with that release, if you own Helix RADE 6.x, you can use your free Helix Engine 6.0 license — you’ll find it listed on your account’s Current Keys page — to enable the Helix Engine for PowerPC Preview Release. So if you haven’t upgraded to Helix RADE 6.x yet, you’ll need to do so to use the Helix Engine for PowerPC Preview Releases after the older ones expire. And… to use the Helix Engine for Intel Preview Release, you have to purchase the Helix Engine 6.1 upgrade.

Three notes about Helix Server for Intel pricing…

First, on the updated price list, please notice that:

  1. We’ve eliminated the “Server” price altogether
  2. We’ve collapsed our tiered pricing from four tiers to two: 2-12 and 13+.
  3. We’ve instituted “cap pricing” so large volume users won’t pay an arm and a leg to upgrade.

Second, the upgrade pricing may strike some of you as being rather high. We agree. However, if the last few years have taught us anything, it is that it is impossible to predict what lies around the corner. Apple’s annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC) is next month. Who knew that two years ago they would use WWDC to drop the bomb that they’d be switching to Intel processors and we’d all be forced to switch to Xcode? Who knows what ‘surprises’ they’ve got in store for everybody this year? All we know for certain is that it’s been awfully expensive playing catch up these last few years, and we’ve still got a ways to go before RADE is up to date, so these prices were designed to be at a level that might provide us a better revenue stream while still not breaking anyone’s bank. Rest assured that when the macOS RADE does finally ship, those of you who helped us get there will be rewarded to the best of our ability.

Third, in that same spirit, if you’ve already upgraded to Helix Server 6.0, we’ve capped your upgrade price Helix Server for Intel at $1,750. No matter how many Clients you have, if you already own Helix Server 6.0, you get Helix Server for PowerPC 6.1 for free, and if you want Helix Server for Intel, you won’t pay more than $1,750.

All of this is explained in profuse detail on the updated pricing page … so read that page carefully!

In the meantime…

And so, beginning today, you can place orders for the products you’ve been waiting for, giving us the resources we need to deliver them faster. And while you wait, you can take an even closer look into the future, putting the Preview Releases (and RADE 6.x) to work to make the adjustments your collections need to look and act their best in the new world, where just beyond the horizon, the next two projects that lie ahead — RADE and PiHC — are coming into view.

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