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In what is certainly a change of heart from their previous policy of ignoring the community's cries for programming capabilities in the TI-Nspire graphing calculator, TI has taken a step towards reaching out to us. The TI-Nspire has been widely panned in the TI enthusiast community as a step forwards only in raw specifications and a step backwards in programmability. Over the past few months, the community has uncovered evidence of Lua programmability added in Nspire OS 3.0, even as the debacle of downgrade protection and OS math bugs continues to rage. Cemetech has taken an outspoken stand against the Nspire in favor of the Casio Prizm, a $120, color-screened calculator that is relatively trivial to program in C, made even easier by the PrizmSDK created by Jonimus and Tari. TI has taken the step of sending Cemetech (via myself) the following letter, and the ticalc.org staff has indicated that they received a similar piece of correspondence. To whit:

Quote:
Christopher,

I know that you have communicated with us in the past about programming on the TI-Nspire. I am writing to let you know that the TI-Nspire now has a scripting capability that is public.

The tools and documentation are available at http://education.ti.com/nspire/scripting.

These are initial resources but we wanted to get them out there so that people could begin to take advantage of them. There are future improvements in the works, so the development and definition team would like to get your feedback (there is a link to the team on the web page above).

We are excited about the possibilities of scripting for the TI-Nspire platform. We look forward to seeing what you and the Cemetech community come up with and in working with you to improve the scripting capabilities over time.

Regards,

Dave Santucci
Product Line Strategy
Texas Instruments
Education Technology

What do you think? Have you tried the Lua programming yet? Does this make up for the lack of an I/O-complete BASIC language on the Nspire and the absense of C and ASM programmability? Please post your comments in the attached topic.
I honestly would still prefer a Prizm; I already own an 84+ for when I need a calculator for a standardized test or school, and would like a higher-level language such as C. If they *did* end up having assembly capabilities on the Nspire without hacking, I might just return to the "dark side." I understand that TI wants to keep teachers happy, but here's my thought: Have a keypad for development, one for school, and one for 84+ compatibility. That way, both teachers' and developers' needs can be satisfied, and we wouldn't have to sacrifice functionality for one another.
This is kind of wonderful! I'm excited to start looking into this.
THis is a good move by TI, but I still hope in the future they will stop trying to block Ndless in newer OS upgrades, so we can also use ASM and C. I heard that in Lua you can display tilemaps decently fast, but forget about smooth scrolling.

I also hope that the Lua tool remains free and that they stop charging so much for their calcs.

Personally, although I like how they opened the calc to a new and better language than TI-BASIC, I still dislike them for having blocked downgrading to older OSes and for keeping an anti-game stance during 4 years.

Also I believe the Nspire line is harder to use than other calcs and in some cases, people might be better off with a cheaper Prizm with the addition of eventual third-party math tools.
I'll give TI some credit, NLua is a much better implementation of a non-native 1st party programming language than anything it ever included before. It does have it's quirks, however. Graphics rendering is somewhat decent with only a few objects, but even with insane optimizations with tons of objects the Prizm is highly superior in speed. It has more RAM and storage space, however I'm skeptical that we can use all (or even a decent chunk) of that. And, while the processor is a bit faster on the Nspire, the fact that Lua is on average 30-50 times slower than mediumly-optimized C (I hate those speed comparisons as they are usually pretty off in higher level comparisons, but since I find the comparison test to be rather legit in execution I have no qualm using them here) will tick off Prizm coders.

I would have to wait to see if I'm going to fork over my money to TI, even after Lua support was added. It would take a long time for me to decide if it was worth it.
It certainly makes up for the lack of BASIC, and we'll see performance-wise whether it makes up for the lack of C/Asm. The fact that they use the phrase "we look forward to working with you" and have contacted so many of the community leaders may suggest that they actually want to engage with the community rather than shut it down. I suspect it would help to further good relationships if some excellent Lua utilities and math applications were released as some of the first high profile projects (rather than games).
On a side note, I did not get an e-mail, but I remember the previous TI-BANK team (before the founder kicked everyone out and deleted the entire forum) were sent a beta-test copy of the Lua scripting tool by TI and eventually were allowed to host the actual tool on Nspired-Lua. Also yesterday TexasInstrumentsCalc sent me a friend request on Youtube.

As far as performance of the Lua language goes, it looks a bit like this:



It's a bit smoother on-calc, though.
Better topic title:
Nspire Wars Episode V: The Empire Scripts Back
Can you not use Lua to install a custom OS? If I understand correctly, you should be able to make an opening through which you could modify/replace OS code...
DShiznit wrote:
Can you not use Lua to install a custom OS? If I understand correctly, you should be able to make an opening through which you could modify/replace OS code...
Not unless there's a bug in the Lua-interpretation code that is exploitable for arbitrary code, which would be pretty underhanded. If TI is reaching out to us like this, I think it behooves the community to at least try some good-faith use of the language as intended and see if it fosters further cooperation and openness with and from TI. Also, I should mention that I'm pointing Mr. Santucci to this news article and topic, so be sure to keep your comments relevant, fluent, and respectful.
Speaking of, I said I was going to take a look at that link TI sent, and so I shall now. Might have use of that Nspire of mine afterall. :p
Well I suppose Lua on an NSpire is still a lot more powerful than ASM on a z80 calc...
I agree with Kerm, I don't think we have any reason to make Ndless with Lua exploits. To tell the truth, I still don't think they had to do much work to make us a nice new SDK, but we can at least respect that.

I guess we can give Lua a chance, but looking at the current methods it supplies us it's very weak at the moment, and I find it non-useful for my personal aspirations of programming.
It's a great stride in a good direction. If TI gets good reactions from the community, we'll likely see similar partnerships with future lines of calculators. Perhaps even pre-production calculators to community leaders iike Kerm here, so on launch day there are programs ready to be downloaded - but that's if things go *really* well.

Even though I'm no longer an active coder, I think it'd be awesome if TI turned to the wonderful community around them for feedback. Giving out a few pre-production models for testing, and like above release day programs/apps. Even if they were wary to give out pre-production models, they could craft an emulator for select members to at least try the OS and such.

Ashbad wrote:
on a side note, don't point him to the responses on omnimaga, I'm a bit less respectful over there about the whole situation and I don't need TI hating on me more than they already do.
I don't see the point in posting that if you don't want him to see it.
comicIDIOT wrote:
It's a great stride in a good direction. If TI gets good reactions from the community, we'll likely see similar partnerships with future lines of calculators. Perhaps even pre-production calculators to community leaders iike Kerm here, so on launch day there are programs ready to be downloaded - but that's if things go *really* well.

Even though I'm no longer an active coder, I think it'd be awesome if TI turned to the wonderful community around them for feedback. Giving out a few pre-production models for testing, and like above release day programs/apps. Even if they were wary to give out pre-production models, they could craft an emulator for select members to at least try the OS and such.

Ashbad wrote:
on a side note, don't point him to the responses on omnimaga, I'm a bit less respectful over there about the whole situation and I don't need TI hating on me more than they already do.
I don't see the point in posting that if you don't want him to see it.


The problem with that, is that Kerm could turn around and sell the pre-production calc or OS to Casio, HP, or another competitor, and you'd have "NSpire-Compatible" calculators, much like we had "IBM-Compatible" PCs.
And get sued for selling content?

I've obviously skimmed the surface and left out the legal contracts. But if a company just sent you a pre-production unit out of the blue without having you sign a NDA or something, they are either waiting to sue you for ridiculous amounts of damages, or really trusting.
comicIDIOT wrote:
And get sued for selling content?

I've obviously skimmed the surface and left out the legal contracts. But if a company just sent you a pre-production unit out of the blue without having you sign a NDA or something, they are either waiting to sue you for ridiculous amounts of damages, or really trusting.


I'd say the two reasons that you would have possession of a prototype or the like would be due to carelessness and/or stupidity.
It's all a moot point, because as reported on Engadget today, the CX has already been officially released. Actually, come to think of it, I wouldn't be surprised if the Nspire CX article on Engadget today was a result of this PR push with Youtube and the letters to the community that TI seems to be working on.
Ashbad wrote:
I'd say the two reasons that you would have possession of a prototype or the like would be due to carelessness and/or stupidity.
Agreed, and why I wasn't talking about protoypes. The point of prototypes is to see what works and what doesn't. Heavy testing would be done in house, but once a product is satisfactory to its creator(s) it then goes out for real world testing; prior to production, hence a pre-production model and not a prototype. It's the same concept behind Developer Previews for Doors CS and other major release software. Camera manufacturers do it also; sending a camera to sports, wildlife and portrait photographers alike to get feedback. After the field testing is completed, changes may be made and production begins or the product is released.

Just imagine if TI decided to turn their calculators around 90 degrees, having the keypad to the left or right of the screen instead of underneath. Then pushed millions of calculators through the production line only to have negative comments. If they released prototypes under a NDA contract, that situation has the potential to be averted.

Since in-house, it seemed logical (for what ever reason) but in the real world proved to be cumbersome and in-adequate, so the design was changed or at least altered to work better.
comicIDIOT wrote:
Ashbad wrote:
I'd say the two reasons that you would have possession of a prototype or the like would be due to carelessness and/or stupidity.
Agreed, and why I wasn't talking about protoypes. The point of prototypes is to see what works and what doesn't. Heavy testing would be done in house, but once a product is satisfactory to its creator(s) it then goes out for real world testing; prior to production, hence a pre-production model and not a prototype. It's the same concept behind Developer Previews for Doors CS and other major release software. Camera manufacturers do it also; sending a camera to sports, wildlife and portrait photographers alike to get feedback. After the field testing is completed, changes may be made and production begins or the product is released.

Just imagine if TI decided to turn their calculators around 90 degrees, having the keypad to the left or right of the screen instead of underneath. Then pushed millions of calculators through the production line only to have negative comments. If they released prototypes under a NDA contract, that situation has the potential to be averted.

Since in-house, it seemed logical (for what ever reason) but in the real world proved to be cumbersome and in-adequate, so the design was changed or at least altered to work better.


Ah, I guess I confused "prototypes" and "pre-production models". My bad.

Yeah, I guess they would be stupid to not produce pre-production models.
  
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