Hymnsoft Followup

Earlier, I showed how to get Hymnsoft to work in Vista with its new security model. I now am updating some staff at my church to Windows 7 x64 and hit a different problem with Hymnsoft. As mentioned previously, Hymnsoft is a 16 bit application, a relic (if you saw this word and chuckled, you are a Lutheran) from the days of Windows 3.1. 64 bit versions of Windows including XPx64 do not run 16 bit applications. This was not much of a problem, as most people didn’t run 64 bit Windows due to driver issues. Most of them have been resolved now and x64 Windows 7 is seeing significant adoption.

I understand that NPH is writing a new version of Hymnsoft, hopefully it will be done soon.

If anyone wants to jump the gun, or help me, here are some details about the Hymnsoft backend:

It looks like text and information behind hymnsoft is being stored in a Superbase database. The format is fairly simple, and it should be possible to write a converter for a more modern .Net based app. Superbase as a format appears to be unmaintained, although you can buy ODBC connectors for it. I wonder if it is possible to extract the ODBC connectors from the SB*.dll files included with hymnsoft.

The music is stored in .NDX files. They are actually playable in Windows Media Player as MIDIs, so if someone figured out the naming scheme, it would be easy to just replicate the playback functionality by creating a new database mapping for human-readable names.

If NPH is going to release a new version, most of this effort would be rather pointless. My question is, why is it taking so long to do? Windows 95 came out, essentially obsoleting 16 bit applications in late 1995. Here we are 15 years later. A while ago, a recompile would have sufficed. Now a rewrite is necessary.

If you work on Hymnsoft, please rewrite it in a modern language like C#. Don’t use a compiled language where we have to go through this whole exercise again in a few years. Better yet, open source the client and sell the data. If the current Hymnsoft code was available under an open source license, I would have already rewritten it to work on modern systems. NPH wouldn’t have to spend the money.

If anyone working on the Hymnsoft project would like to contact me, I would be happy to work with you, or further do some coding on this project. Leave a comment.

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