Thursday 5 January 2017

Interview with Jamie Krueger

1. Hello and welcome from us at BlitterWolf. For our readers could you tell us your name, country and occupation please?
A. My name is Jamie Krueger, I live and work in the state of Wisconsin in the USA. I am the owner and head developer of BITbyBIT Software Group LLC, where in addition to developing software for the Amiga computer, we also do custom programming and consulting work.

I started programming about 34 years ago (at the age of 12), and have been programming professionally now for more than 26 years. When asked, I often refer to myself as an "Old School, Self-Taught" programmer, since I never stopped programming long enough to get any "formal" higher level education.

Over the years I have worked as a Senior Software Engineer for Best Power, Powerware, Eaton Corporation, and even Amiga Inc. However, I have operated my own company exclusively now for several years.

2. When was your first experience with the Amiga and what were your thoughts?
A. Wow, that is going back a ways. Well I guess no one ever forgets seeing this amazing machine in action for the first time.

It was back in 1988. I had already been a long time Commodore fan by this time, and had owned the VIC-20, C64, and C128 machines. I went over to visit a friend of mine (also a Commodore fan), who had just gotten this new "Commodore Amiga" machine (an A500).

I knew next to nothing about this new machine, and was basically expecting some nice updates to the existing Commodore 8-BIT line. Nothing could have been further from the truth. This machine was not an update to the current computers, it was a revolution in computing. The Amiga presented a whole new way of *thinking* about what was possible on a home computer.

The first game I ever saw running on an Amiga was a top-down scrolling shooter called "SideWinder." What struck me immediately was that the game running on this machine was not a home computer "port" of an arcade game, it *was* an arcade quality game. Stunning graphics and sound, with a smooth arcade game feel.

After having a blast playing "SideWinder" for a while, my friend booted up "Workbench", and we had a look around the operating system, ran a couple of included demos, etc. Now I was really blown away. This machine had a true *multitasking* operating system! You could play some fantastic music (Amiga MODs) in the background while using a "Windowed, point-and-click" interface to the OS, running dozens of programs at once without having the machine slow down.

Simply incredible. I purchased my first Amiga (also an A500), within a few months of seeing it for the first time (basically as quickly as I could put the money together for it).

3. What Amiga systems do you currently own?
A. I currently own 18 Amiga machines, in various states of usability.
My primary Amiga development machines are:
1 -
AmigaONE X1000
1 - AmigaONE MicroA1
1 - Amiga 3000 (060/PPC Equipped)

Beyond that I still own:
1 -
2 - A4000Ts
1 -
3 - A2000
3 -
4 -
1 -

4. How many Amiga systems have you owned in your lifetime?
A. About 20. I still have most of them, and I am (slowly) working on restoring all of ones I still have to fully working order. For example, I have four *new* A1200 cases coming from the recent Kickstarter, and I have also supported the current New Amiga compatible Keycaps Kickstarter as well (

5. Do you prefer using Classic or New Gen hardware?
A. Both really. I still love the Amiga Classic's custom chip set; but while the newer machines no longer have those custom chips, they do offer faster bus speeds, and access to more easily available video cards and storage solutions, etc. I am also quite interested in the X1000's companion Xena (XMOS XS1-L2) chip, and would love to try some programming for it.

I can't be the only Amigan out there that would love to see the Xena chip used to recreate the MC68000 and OCS/ECS/AGA custom chip sets. Pair that with an expansion card for the new Xorro slot that gives you the original I/O ports (video, audio, floppy, joystick, mouse, etc.), and you could in theory run a hardware-emulated Classic AmigaOS machine in parallel with the newer OS on the same machine.

The best of both worlds in one machine.

6. What Amiga Operating System between 1.x and 4.x do/did you like to use most?
A. I currently use AmigaOS 4.x the most, but I also still use AmigaOS 3.x on the Classic machines. So my favourite OS for the Classics is 3.x, and my favourite for the new machines is currently AmigaOS 4.1 FE Update 1.

Looking back, I would have to say that AmigaOS 1.3 was the best to have if you were mostly booting games from floppy, while AmigaOS 2.x introduced a new level of Workbench usability and BOOPSI (Basic Object Oriented Programming System for Intuition), that is the foundation of all GUI systems we use on the Amiga today; MUI, ReAction, ClassAct, etc. AmigaOS 3.x was first brought in with the AGA chipset of course, and further polished the features introduced in version 2.

Basically, I have liked every major revision of the Amiga operating system for it's own merits over the years. However now when I switch back to using OS 3.x on my A3000, I am surprised at what features I have gotten used to having under OS4 that are not there. But hey, AmigaOS4 is *directly* based off the original AmigaOS 3.x code base; so what's not to like.

7. When did you start coding Amiga applications for the Amiga Platform?
A. I would have to say that my first "real" Amiga software project was a program I called the "Car Wars Vehicle Generator", it was a port/rewrite of a program I wrote for the C64/C128 in BASIC. I started it around 1989, and was programming it in Amiga BASIC until I hit a hard limitation with Amiga BASIC, and made the jump to MC68K Assembler.

"Car Wars," (now known as "Car Wars Classic") was/is a pencil and paper combat game published by Steve Jackson Games ( The idea of the software was to use the computer to quickly come up with various vehicle designs and print them out for use in the game.

I began work on my first "commercial" Amiga offering, an arcade "shooter" I called "WildFire" back in late 1993 into the early part of 1994. At that time, the game was to be published by RAW Entertainment. However, this was when the Amiga game market really went downhill, and nearly all the software publishers out there were moving away for the Amiga platform to the PC. As a result, "WildFire" was never published.

However, my work on "WildFire" directly led to what would become the SDK Browser and the AVD project. While writing "WildFire" I started creating a system under the working title of "GENESIS", which was written in pure assembler and aimed to wrap AmigaOS API (Application Program Interface) calls, and direct-to-the-hardware code, with a reusable set of higher level functions.

After writing about 750 "wrapper" functions in assembly language by hand, I created a program with a graphical interface which could be used to create the function code directly with minimal user input.

This then led to writing a program that could automate the entire process, essentially saving off pre-parsed versions of the AmigaOS Library APIs to my own custom file format for use in the GENESIS system.

While putting that together, I found that all the information I needed was now available within the AmigaOS4 SDK (Software Development Kit), as a set of XML description files for each of the AmigaOS shared library interfaces.

So, I wrote a parser to read and breakdown these XML files, and, BINGO, the first SDK Browser was born!

8. What made you start coding for the Amiga platform?
A. I simply loved the possibilities that the Amiga offered to the programmer. I still do today.

As a kid, I originally cut my teeth programming in BASIC and 8-BIT assembly language (on MOS 6502/6510/8502 CPUs) and was fascinated by what you could do on the Commodore VIC-20, C64, and especially the C128.

(In fact, nearly 30 years later, I was recently able to acquire one machine I have always wanted to own as a kid; the "Commodore 128DCR," which is a fantastic machine from the 8-BIT era.)

As awesome as it was/is to program for these original Commodore machines, the Amiga was something else altogether.

One of my favourite quotes to explain this is from the COMPUTE! Book "Mapping the Amiga" and can, in fact, still be found on my website today:
"If the Apple II's built-in software and hardware is an apartment, and the Commodore 64's is a townhouse, then the Amiga's is a Manhattan city block." -- Rhett Anderson and Randy Thompson, "Mapping the Amiga," COMPUTE! Books, 1990.

I always thought that was a very good way to think about the vast difference in the generation of these machines.

One of the things early on that enticed me to want to program for the Amiga was the jump from the MOS 8502 8-BIT CPU @ 1Mhz or 2Mhz mode (in a C128), to the Motorola 68000 16/32-Bit CPU at 7.14Mhz in the A500. It was not just the increase in speed of the CPU, it was the whole design. I mean eight 32-BIT Data Registers *and* eight 32-BIT Address Registers in the MC68000, vs. three 8-BIT Registers in the 6502/6510/8502 CPUs. Wow!

On top of this incredible CPU was the Amiga Custom Chips, capable of producing terrific stereo sound, and fantastic "high resolution" 4096 colour graphics and animation. All of which it could do at the same time and, in some cases, *without* even touching the CPU.

However, if I had to pick one thing over all that always intrigued me about programming and using the Amiga computer, it would be the jewel in the crown -- the Operating System.

A home computer running a true, 32-BIT pre-emptive multitasking operating system in the days when most other machines could not *spell* multitasking, much less achieve it. This has always been a driving force for me wanting to write professional software for the Amiga.

Bottom line is, I could see the potential in this machine and just wanted to see what I could do with it. Funny thing is, decades later, I am still, by and large, motivated by the same reasons as when I first saw the machine as a kid.

Maybe that is what I like most about this machine; it keeps you young.

9. Did you have your most Favourite played games on Amiga and what were/are they?
A. Yes, I would have to say that my most favourite computer games growing up, and today, were/are on the Amiga.

I was always a fan of "Black Crypt" by Raven Software, their debut title (unfortunately their last for the Amiga), which had awesome hand drawn graphics and solid programming. A fun game overall. Of course, to be honest, I was also biased in favour of the game, as I was friends with the guys from Raven Software way back when they were first creating it.

But, hands down, the game my friends and I spent more hours playing then I am willing to admit was and still is "Mechforce." Mechforce is essentially a computer version of the original turn-based, "Mech" combat system called "BattleTech."

Now you can still find many other games out there based around BattleTech -- and some of them are fun to play -- but no one ever came close to the same "turn-based" simulation of the original board game as Mechforce creator Ralph Reed did back in the day.

To give you an idea of how addicting this game actually was/is, one of my best friends bought my original A500 (as I upgraded to an A2000) for the express purpose of playing Mechforce.

Even today, we have built dedicated original Amiga hardware machines up as Mechforce stations. We also have laptops running Mechforce via emulation (ie., Amiga Forever/UAE).

10. Best Amiga system of all time for you?
A. That is a hard one. I really liked my original A500 but eventually traded up to the full-size case and expansion slots of the A2000.

Later, while working for Best Power between the years of 1995 to 1998, I bought my first A4000T *and* got Best Power to buy another one for me to use at work.

Among many other things, I used that A4000T to write them a piece of software that was valued at around 1.8 million US dollars; so, I believe they got their money's worth, and I did get to keep the A4000T. :-)

Having said that, I has always really like the original A3000 look and design. In my opinion it was some of Commodore's best work. A powerful Amiga workstation in it's own right, plus one of the most reliable designs. Hence, I am using a PPC/060 Equipped A3000 today, for my Classic Amiga development platform, while my two A4000T are waiting to be rebuilt and put back online.

On the flip side, my AmigaONE X1000 is an awesome machine, which I also use every day. But the way I look at this question, it has two answers; the best Classic Amiga ever, and the Best current Amiga ever.

11. Best Amiga game of all time for you?
A. "Mechforce" :-) See answer to question 9 above.

12. Back to coding, what made you decide to do the SDK Browser and AVD software for the Amiga user base? Were we lacking this type of software?
A. I originally released the SDK Browser back in 2004 because there was no other "AutoDoc" readers out there which parsed out the Amiga libraries themselves and presented, what I would term, an "API Centric" view into the AmigaOS4 SDK.

As I touched on in my answer to the question "When did you start coding Amiga applications for the Amiga Platform?", the AVD (Advanced Visual Developer) project has been a vision (and goal) of mine going back more than 20 years.

Therefore in one respect, AVD (called GENESIS at the time, and written in 100% M68K Assembler) started as simply an advanced set of tools I was building for myself to enable me to put together professional level applications and games quicker, without having to start each project from scratch every time. Simply put, I have always had more projects in mind to do than I ever had time enough to do them. I wanted working prototypes *now*, and fully working versions a few days (and not months) later.

However, while AVD may have started as a system for my own use, some 23+ years later the AVD and FreeAVD projects are all about empowering existing and new developers to write great software for the Amiga platform.

And of course, it still allows me to write more software. ;-)

I feel the Amiga platform is currently still lacking this level of development tools. While we (the Amiga community as a whole) have made some excellent progress (with programs like Simon Archer's CodeBench), over the last few years toward having a modern IDE (Integrated Development Environment) on AmigaOS4, we still have a ways to go, and the need for even better and more complete tools is still there.

I see many reasons for writing software for the Amiga and the Amiga Community. Here are just a few:
* It is fun to write for the Amiga. The Amiga operating system is elegant by design. It simply does it's job as cleanly as possible, and stays out of your way. Having written software for many different machines over the years, it is nice to write for a machine which focuses on allowing the user to do what they want, how they want to do it, and not focusing on forcing the user to work a certain way, or track everything the user does, with the idea to make more money off them in the future.

* From a developer's standpoint, AmigaOS4 based machines are essentially a "new" platform, meaning that there are a great deal of possible software applications as yet unwritten. This is great for developers looking to "break in" with a product in a new market. You can write an application for AmigaOS4 today, and be the only one with that type of app. Conversely, your application could be one of fifty similar products on other "mainstream" platforms.

* Of course, one of the biggest reasons I enjoy writing software for the Amiga Community is simply that *they appreciate it more*.

I have put everything into writing some fantastic software (if I do say so myself) for other groups within the "corporate" world of the years, and gotten feedback like: "That was yesterday, what have you done for me today."

On the other hand, everything I have ever written for the Amiga machines has been appreciated by its user base. I receive thanks, support, and encouragement from the Amiga community for my efforts, and believe me that goes a long way.

In my opinion, every "real" programmer out there (the ones with passion for what they do, for its own sake, and not the people that just think of what they write in terms of "it's just my day job"), wants to provide a solution for something, or demonstrate what can be done, and overall, they *want* people to enjoy using their software.

The bottom line is, a "real" developer appreciates their audience, and is willing to go that extra mile to producing *great* software for an audience that appreciates it, and actually *uses* their software.

We are fortunate to have some very talented people associated with the Amiga, and authoring software for it. Unfortunately, these same people more often than not, have very little time available to spend in front of the Amiga developing software.

At the same time, there is a growing audience of novice programmers who want to write something for the machine, but are at a loss as to how to start.

It is my goal to help bring more professional-level software to the Amiga by helping both these groups -- professionals that need rapid development tools for the Amiga to maximize use of their limited time and novice programmers who need a solid launching platform and graphical building tools to get their ideas off the ground in the first place.

13. Now with New Gen machines being sold again, have you noticed an increase in demand for your products?
A. Immediately, I would have to say that there has been an increase in demand right now, mostly because I have now released new software for the Amiga again after 10 years, and actually started selling it again. :-)

But of course the expansion of number of people that can now run AmigaOS4, be it on new machines, PPC equipped Classic Machines, or even via Emulation (Amiga Forever / UAE), is a big reason to celebrate. We need to get as many people as possible the ability to run the newest releases of AmigaOS; so yes, I expect that part of the demand for the new SDK Browser is due in part to the fact that more people can now run it.

14. Are there any planned updates to your software in the near future?
A. Yes, absolutely. I have several new features that I hope to release before too long for the commercial version of the SDK Browser.

Additionally, the GUI Builder component is a very high priority for me, and I want to get it out to the public as soon as possible.

15. Do you have any thoughts on creating further applications or software that you feel might help our Amiga community?
A. You bet, I have a few other projects on the table which target AmigaOS.

I am also working on a way to bridge AmigaOS3 and AmigaOS4 development tools together under AVD; so you may see AmigaOS3 (68K) versions of some of the AVD components in the future as well.

I am also doing some work for A-EON these days, which I feel will benefit both the Amiga community {OS4(PPC) and OS3(68K) users} and AVD users as well.

16. Have you anything further to say about the future of BITbyBIT?
A. The future of BITbyBIT Software Group LLC, and the potential for it to be a driving force in helping bring more, higher quality, software to the Amiga operating system depends almost entirely on you.

Currently, we have two main projects for the Amiga in the works -- the AVD Suite and the FreeAVD Suite. Included as part of these development projects are the standalone components: SDK Browser, GUI Builder, Text Editor, etc.

For those of you not familiar with these two projects, their goal is to bring a full IDE to AmigaOS4 for use by everyone.

FreeAVD will be made available at no cost. The FREEWARE version of the SDK Browser is part of that project, and has been brought to you free once again because of past (and current) supporters of the FreeAVD Project.

Also, software created using the FreeAVD Suite must, in turn, be released as FREEWARE and may not be sold in any form.

The AVD Suite, however, is sold as a commercial product and will include a license to produce and distribute software with no restrictions. You may charge for your software, distribute it as optional payment software (SHAREWARE), or distribute it as FREEWARE. It's your choice.

I hope to bring more software, like the SDK Browser, to the Amiga in the near future; but I need your help to continue full time development. So, please consider purchasing the SDK Browser (and getting free updates through v3.0.0.0), becoming and FreeAVD Sponsor, making a Donation, or even purchasing the full AVD Suite v1.0 (at pre-sale rates).

See our website: for more details.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to BlitterWolf for doing this interview.

Best regards,
Jamie Krueger
BITbyBIT Software Group LLC

PS: The SDK Browser will soon be available via the AMIStore!

Michael Holmes

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