HISTORY - "THE DIGITAL UNIVERSE" version 1.6 for Amiga OS4.x


The last public release of The Digital Universe was v1.5 for Amiga OS4.x.


Previously Star Trails when enabled could be used inappropriately often resulting in incomprehensible displays. Now, when enabled Star Trails are only active when stepping forwards or backwards through time and not when moving around the sky nor zooming through the display.

The Reports in 1.5 only calculated data for the Sun and Miscellaneous Objects. The planets and their moons either had incorrect data or none at all.

Planetary ring colours did not change if selecting between colour and greyscale rendering or for featureless plotting.

The Display Window GUI did not recognise initial setting of coloured planet rendering button. The planet would display in the appropriate colour but the button was set to disabled and caused incorrect behaviour when Use/Save was pressed.

There was a Precession bug, discovered by comparison to direct observation. If Precession was disabled the Planets precessed to the current date and Stars defaulted to J2000. If Precession was enabled DU worked fine as all precessed to the defined epoch date. In v1.6 the planets will be precessed by default to J2000 to be consistent with the other objects. Note the effect would have been small before as it gets larger as we move further away from the year 2000.

A bug in which trails would be cleared if pressing time advance keys too quickly has been fixed.

There was no limit applied to zooming in so unrealistic fields of view were possible in v1.5. Now a limit is applied with an alert window.

There was no limit to prevent further planet plotting beyond its maximum range. V1.5 would first plot nothing and then start to plot the planet at incorrect sizes. Now a limit is applied with an alert window.

There was no limit to prevent DU advancing beyond its acceptable minimum and maximum dates. Now DU will not allow dates outside the +/- 100,000 year range.

RA/Dec grid lines caused extreme slow down if zoomed in too far, a limit has been applied below which the grid is not plotted.

Aborting Printout was slow, now DU does not wait for the printer to return.

Fixed Planet grid corruption which occured when zoomed in very high.

An occasional error with horizon measurement ticks has been fixed.

New Features and Enhancements for version 1.6

The Environment Window has been re-written including New Time Zone, New Home Location options.

A new Time Zone option (the default) has been added which takes the time from the OS4 system time and will also allow for daylight time settings. No longer do you need to change your time zone in DU twice a year. There will obviously be still occasions when it is appropriate to specify a specific time zone manually - see DU Help Guide.

A new Home Location (default) has been added as well as the "Other" setting. By defining a Home which you can name, it is possible to use "Other" to temporarily model other locations that are not pre- defined.

The Misc. Object Window has been re-written to allow better sorting of the Object columns. The Numbered Asteroids are in a slightly different format - see below. Also the internal files used for selected objects is better - see below.

Twilight rendering has been much improved for v1.6.

Planet plotting is now slightly faster. Planets are much better labelled with font size depending upon the size of the object.

Star Plotting has been rewritten since v1.5. Older versions of DU were written when we had small screen resolutions but the plots could become lost on today's high resolution TFT screens. Only the very faint stars are now one pixel and the range of 'over-size' star images has been greatly increased. Also brighter stars stand out more from the fainter ones. Due to this improvement using a limiting magnitude one less than you were previously used to will now give similar results. A limiting magnitude of 7 will show the stars approximately to what you will actually see in the real sky when using a Medium Size View.

NGC plotting - deep sky objects are less intrusive against the starry background.

Many lists in the GUI windows are now sortable by type header.

Better string handling using betterstring.mcc allows better support for cut/copy/pasting between text gadgets.

PGC IDs are now shown for NGC objects in the Information Window.

Control panel RA, Dec and Field handling improved. Previously each had to be set separately, so changing all involved three redraws of the DU display. Now each gadget can be altered individually and then the next by clicking or tabbing between. All three values are set when only one of the gadgets is returned.

Less cluttered planet grid drawing, with more stages between drawing a simple line and the full grid with complete labelling.

New Status Line. This is an optional small window at the bottom of the display. It replaces the old method of displaying the time directly on the celestial backdrop. As well as showing the time the Status Line shows the real time equatorial co-ordinates under the mouse pointer. It also displays whether DU is in Manual or Automatic Time Advance Mode. Before the time is displayed the Status Line displays the progress of the drawing of the display - blink and you will miss it.

New Statistics Window. A new window showing some parameters of the current display. For example the limiting magnitudes set in the Display Window are only applicable to a 40 degree field of view. The information shown in the Statistics Window applies to the current field of view.

New Alert Window. Some transitory events will now display a short message and a beep to alert when the event has occurred. See DU Help Amiga Guide for further details. The window will auto close after a brief period. A new menu option will show the last alert message.

Repeat function for cursor keys and numeric keypad keys if the keys are held down.

The Milky Way is now drawn. This is disabled if star trails are enabled to prevent the display becoming a complete mess.

The mouse cursor will return to last clicked object after closing Info window or Multi Object Window. Previously the object whose data had been shown could not be easily located again. Now its position is returned to.

Using the C key with shift is the same as shift left mouse click.

All labelling is now less cluttered as it uses +1.5 magnitude cutoff above the limiting magnitude before an object is labelled.

Databases and Helpfiles for version 1.6

Updated images for many objects viewed from the Amiga Guide files. This is an ongoing process.

Many more planetary feature maps. Stored in own folder.

Numbered Asteroid format changed. This is in order to allow sorting by number as well as name. Using the old data will not adversly affect DU but would lose fully functional sorting. It is best to copy the new data for numbered Asteroids to the Selected window from the new files.

The internally created du.miscobj replaces old du.miscobjs file. The old data is in a different format. At best this will display garbage in the Selected Objects list, at worst it can crash DU hence the change in the name of the file. Do NOT try to use your old du.miscobjs file by renaming it to du.miscobj. A conversion utility provided with the full Digital Universe 1.6 update can convert an old file to the new format. As stated above however it is best to re-create any entries for numbered asteroids.

Replaced all occurrences of "showpic" in the Guide files by "DUOS4:showpic" (or DUDemo:showpic in the Demo Version). This ensures that any Search results will be able to display images.

Current Known Bugs

The alpha symbol does not work with NList class (same code used as a non breaking space) so may appear blank in the Info Window. This has been fixed in a new beta version of NList, and of course fixed in a future public version of NList. Update to the latest NList when available to fix this.

Under the Bonnet Stuff

A lot of work has been done on the Digital Universe code that will not be readily seen by the end user. The code has been tightened, optimised and will hopefully be much easier to maintain for future development.

Compiled using newlib instead of clib2.