This year, Frans van Nispen and his pregnant girlfriend (due exactly on my birthday!) were at BeGeistert again, and now that Refraction is starting to look very smooth, Frans held a presentation about it. I assume you have seen screenshots of Refraction or at least heard about it before (if not, head over to the website of Frans' company Xentronix right away). The version of Refraction in the presentation was already newer than the most recent beta available for those who already bought Refraction.

Hit read more to also read a short Q&A I did with Frans during BeGeistert. Frans got down to fixing some bugs, even a pretty nasty one which he fixed with Rene Gollent at BeGeistert, not long before his presentation. The work he has done for Refraction recently has been amazing. He completely altered the API again, which meant each and every plugin had to be rewritten. Refraction is built to support plugins, and a plugin actually requires only very few lines of code so it isn't such a horribly tough job to do it (but having to redo dozens of them for one release is not something anyone would look forward to).

Refraction has got several new plugins again, including a few very exclusive ones, like making a picture look like a colour drawing. Usually, photo editing tools make tiny circles to create this effect, but Frans took some time to figure out a way to make this look far better. He showed a few cool tricks Refraction can do, such as changing the colour of a car while leaving the rest of the picture virtually untouched (the colour switch with the car is immensely sharp), smoothing out bits of a picture (e.g. if somebody has a pimple on his face, you can more or less erase it), and making a woman's breasts look smaller or bigger (something they do a lot with model photographs and in magazines).

Despite all features, of course Refraction is still heavily under development. The R1 phase hasn't been reached yet, and Frans would like to get just a couple of things done before it will be. You can read more about that below. When there was time for questions after the presentation, several features people would really like to see added were mentioned. Some of them may be added to Refraction R1, although making the application more optimized and stable (something that has already drastically improved since the latest beta available for registered users) has highest priority.

Frans agreed to answer a couple of questions for me. Here's what we discussed:

IsComputerOn: What were the reasons for Xentronix to cooperate with yellowTAB?

Frans van Nispen: Well, we have made a product interesting for their market. In addition, with Refraction we can give them exactly what they need for scanning support under Zeta, with colour correction and all.

ICO: Behind the scenes, Xentronix is also powering the Sequel project. Doesn't it then seem pretty strange to work together with a possible future business rival?

Frans: We don't power the Sequel project anymore, because we want to focus on our own products, do things one thing at a time. If Sequel becomes a serious product we might eventually consider making a port.

ICO: Right now, Xentronix' leading product is Refraction, started in 1999. Why did you focus more on Refraction and less on SampleStudio?

Frans: SampleStudio required a lot of virtual memory, and BeOS was simply too slow for that. Refraction was already our biggest project and because I have not such a great amount of spare time to work on any project at all, it is just more important to get Refraction done first.

ICO: For Refraction there currently still is the "early bird" discount. How long will this discount still be available?

Frans: There is no specific time set for this discount to end, but that's because it depends on several factors. For instance, we felt it would be good to link the discount to the release of Zeta, but it also depends on when we expect Refraction R1 to be ready, because by then the discount action will of course already be over.

ICO: Actually, when do you expect Refraction R1 to come out?

Frans: I hope by the end of this year, but possibly I might not make this deadline.

ICO: What will the greatest changes or additions to Refraction be before R1, you think?

Frans: The tools will be rewritten, layers will be optimised, in speed as well, and apart from that it's really a lot of bugfixing left to be done.

ICO: Xentronix also released a small game recently. Will more of such applications be released by Xentronix in the future?

Frans: There's always a chance =)

ICO: Is there anything you would still like to add?

Frans: Ummmm... BUY NOW!