I don't think there will be a version 8 of Hot Potatoes. The programs
are written in a very old integrated development environment (Delphi 5)
running on a Windows XP virtual machine); at some point that will stop
working and I won't be able to maintain them any more. Version 7 is an
attempt to bring HotPot up to date with HTML5 so that it will last
another few years, but it's also likely that at some point Microsoft
will make it impossible for you to install unsigned applications under
Windows, so nobody will be able to run Hot Potatoes except on Linux.
I intend to make some more minor updates to HotPot and Quandary
(specifically related to the CGI stuff), and then finish updating
TexToys; after that, I'll do only bugfixes. Stewart is no longer able to
build the Java versions at all, so work on the Java/Mac line ceased over
a decade ago.
If I were rewriting Hot Potatoes now, it would be a single application
that enables you to mix-and-match question types freely, and it would
probably use the HTML5 output as both the exercise and the data file.
But I have no idea what language it would make sense to write the
applications in; it would have to be cross-platform, but I don't believe
there are any development environments / programming languages that
provide the level of cross-platform support required, and at the same
time provide a rich GUI widget (buttons, menus etc.) set and memory-safe
looks a little unstable to me.
In any case, it would take thousands of hours* to write a new version,
and I don't have thousands of hours. Back when we wrote the first
versions of Hot Potatoes, it was part of our day job; our employer, the
University of Victoria, encouraged the work and used the applications,
and we were able to put a substantial amount of regular work hours into
the coding. That is no longer the case; my regular job now is in Digital
Humanities, in particular XML-related technologies, and I don't have any
work time available to work on HotPot, so any work I do is in my spare
time, of which there isn't much.
* Only about one-third of the work involved in writing something like
Hot Potatoes is coding; the rest of it is documentation, help files,
testing, installer-building, tech support, and all the many other things
that go along with providing software for other people to use. I love
coding, but I don't have much enthusiasm for the other stuff any more;
it's hard to get enthusiastic about writing help files. :-)
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