NEWS FLASH!!!! SOFTWARE RELEASED IN 2007 MAKES IT HARD TO USE SOFTWARE DESIGNED BEFORE 1995.
I really want to know why NPH is still using and maintaining Hymnsoft in its current form. Hymnsoft is a piece of software that allows church faculty to have the LW hymnal in electronic form. Really cool program. Only one problem… It doesn’t work in Vista.
The symptoms are that when you run hymnsoft in Vista, the program starts and pops up two dialog boxes stating that it cannot find a file. After clicking OK on those dialogs, the program closes.
I need this program to work in Vista for a couple faculty members of the WELS Lutheran School at which I work. Just about every piece of Windows software can be made to run on any later version of Windows with enough effort. An exception is Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego, but that is a story for another blog posting.
I brought home a copy of the Hymnsoft Pro install CD and proceeded to create a virtual machine running Vista using Sun Virtualbox. When I am trying to debug a Windows application, I typically use the Windows Sysinternals Toolkit, particularly Process Monitor and Process Explorer.
I loaded process monitor and had it capture a run of the app. Then I tried to filter the output so that it only showed entries related to the hymnsoft executable. First indication of trouble. The hymnsoft app did not show up in the listing. I then loaded process explorer to see what the process was named. I could not find it in that listing.
I finally figured out what was going on when I ran the Windows Task Manager. I clicked on the app and then clicked Go To Process. The process it took me to was the Windows Defender process. That made no sense. I then closed the app and restarted it as an admin. Two things happened. Firstly, the program worked. I thought I had tried that previously. Secondly, Task Manager showed the host process as NTVDM.exe. After a little googling, it dawned on me. This is a 16bit app, probably originally written for Windows 3.1. NTVDM is a component of the 16bit emulator in Windows.
I really don’t know why NPH hasn’t has a developer rewrite this program in .Net. I personally could probably do it in a week. It is not a complicated program. Their website has a news entry as of Feb 3, 2005 that states that they are undergoing a rewrite. I am beginning to suspect that this program receives government funding.
The gist of it all is that there are two ways that I have found to get Hymnsoft to work in Vista. The first is to run it as an administrator. You can set this in the compatibility settings. The second way I have found is to change the permissions of C:\Program Files\Hymnsoft and set Everyone to Full Control. Both of these techniques seem to work, at least in a virtual machine. I will try this on the real systems later.