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A few weeks ago, the Bluesky website vanished. I have been unable to find any recent traces on the Internet of either Gordon Lee, who seems to have been the only person left at Bluesky (or, at any rate, its only interface with the public), or of its founder, Barry Smith.

Although Textures had long lost their leading role in bringing TeX to MacOS, Gordon Lee appeared to be working on Textures until late 2012 - recoding their application in cocoa and releasing private upgrades or bug fixes to people that were still using Textures and hoping for an eventual release of a full OSX version - but that was the last I knew.

It would be a great shame if all the work they did invest in this project was lost. I still prefer Textures over more recent Mac OS implementations for a number of reasons, and wonder whether there's any chance of salvaging whatever was left.

Does anyone know of the whereabouts of Bluesky Research, or of the people there, or of the code they wrote over the last few years?

  • 6
    I've never heard of either Textures or Bluesky Research. For those like me, could you please add some relevant links to your question? – jub0bs Apr 13 '13 at 13:28
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    Textures was one of the earliest - together with OzTeX - implementations of TeX on a Mac, starting around 1985. They led the field until Macs switched to OSX, and have struggled ever since to move their implementation to OSX. – Reinhard Diestel Apr 13 '13 at 14:25
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    To this day, however, Textures appears to be the fastest implementations on Macs; it typesets my 460 page graph theory book in half a second on a slow MB Air. Although still struggling to get their version 1.0 released in cocoa, their beta version is not only fast, it also has a very lean but essential user interface, typsetting in real time as you type your TeX, with a warning light if you write a TeX error, very precise mouse-point switches between typeset and source window. – Reinhard Diestel Apr 13 '13 at 14:31
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    I too am a happy (so far) user of textures and was in regular contact with Gordon Lee. I produced all my books with textures and kept waiting for any updates. Please inform me when you find out any news. I have some ideas how to help Textures survive and would be happy to support any such project. And Gordon, if you read this: you've done great work! Don't just give up. (And we still need you!) – user29792 Apr 27 '13 at 22:52
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    In my experience, Textures has been the best TeX implementation. It works well on my MacBook Pro and Macbook Air using Os 10.8.3 and is blazingly fast( version 2.2b18). Gordon Lee has been the best and I am sorry that BlueSky is no more. My prof friends have been too cheap to purchase textures using TeXShop, etc. and struggling with those. I have been using Textures since the beginning and got Brown U to have a site license initially, but they did not stick with it. I, on the other hand, have used Textures for course notes, books, exams of all sorts, and various notes and writings. Still do. B – user30637 May 13 '13 at 14:08
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i'm very sorry to have to report that barry smith passed away october 8, 2012, after a long battle with cancer.

shortly thereafter, a notice was posted on the bluesky web site, but a catastrophic crash at the server level disrupted that link. (the site name has now been reassigned to someone else, unrelated to textures.) some site history is still available from archive.org with the oldest snapshot in 2011: https://web.archive.org/web/20110208033357/http://blueskytex.com/

individuals who had connections to bluesky are trying to sort through the pieces, but there is nothing to report so far, nor any estimate of what might be possible.

update: reminded of this post by a recent upvote, i can point to more recent information regarding an effort to resuscitate textures. the web site [link temporarily removed as the website is currently compromised, see the revision history for the link] reports the current status of the work, and states that a further announcement will appear on 1 july 2015.

update (9 sep 2016) -- WARNING: earlier today i received a phone call from someone who, in attempting to find out the current status of this project, clicked on the link to the blueskytex website, only to be faced with a red screen and a notice that his computer had been locked and all the information there had been stolen. a phone number for "technical support" was given, but you can be sure he did not call it.

update (28 May 2019): Unfortunately, attempts to resuscitate Textures have come to naught. The web site is now in the hands of a totally unrelated entity, and will not likely be restored to anything related to typesetting. A sad end to a much appreciated enterprise.

    DO NOT try to link to the site.

  • 2
    the Blue Sky website is down and no news appeared about Textures. I'm wondering whether there are any plans to continue the development of this software. – Daniele Zuddas Nov 27 '16 at 6:40
  • The site at blueskytex.com is currently parked with GoDaddy. – Peter Flynn Apr 21 '17 at 21:50
  • The site at blueskytex.com is now owned by a Chinese betting company. – Peter Flynn May 28 at 16:19
43

Good evening,

The site remains with me, and to my knowledge nothing concerning either Bluesky or Textures has been reassigned to anyone else and I suppose I would know.

Gordon Lee suffered a heart attack shortly after my husband died. Unfortunately it left him unable to work and retired to a health care community. A great loss after an even greater one not just for me, but for those who enjoyed using Textures and letting him know when there was a problem or sharing other things. It has been very hard because they were so close to finish an app. to port Textures to the iPad and that gave them both a great deal of joy.

At this time I have not decided what will happen with Textures, Warren Leach and I have some discussions but it is too soon to make any decisions. As soon as we can, we will put the site back for those who need some answers that may be found there.

Best Regards,

Dr. Allegra Smith
(Mrs.Barry Smith)
president@bluesky.com


To anyone still interested on the progress to bring back the site, we are working now piecing together what we have been able to rescue from the server and I have hired a tech quite versed on the way to port one site to another making sure all files and codes are in the proper place. www.bluesky.com is not longer available. The new website address is www.blueskytex.com and my new address in case anyone has any questions for which I may have the answer is president@blueskytex.com

I wish I could. it is difficult at best to give a time estimate, since the tech person who is working on has to put together the pieces of the puzzle - a puzzle neither he nor I are sure will produce the expected results, right now our main concern is to make sure that even in the event of another failure we would be able to be back up almost immediately without losing any data.

I would estimate that our first test can come as soon as 4 weeks and maybe even sooner. However, please do not hold me to this time table as a promise. I like to give an e.t.a when I am certain I can do it, but until we have the site up and running safely I would not tell you when it would be viable other than as an estimate. We are working constantly and while I understand the urgent need some of our Textures users have, I hope they understand that if there was any way at all for me to speed the process, I would done that already.

Best Regards.


As for the suggestion in another list that was forwarded to me by a Textures user who was outraged at the suggestion offered by another Textures user, let me assure everyone that Textures copyright is intact, and ownership by Blue Sky is still being asserted according to my attorney who has advised me that proper legal action will be taken against any person, group, organization or anyone who attempts to reverse engineer the product by disabling the copy protection mechanism.

So no one should be concerned about that issue, let me be very clear about it. No one without serious legal consequences would be able to make any changes of any kind without my written authorization.

Best Regards-

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    Thank you for posting this. I am sorry to hear of your loss. – David Carlisle Jun 18 '13 at 14:15
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    To anyone still interested on the progress to bring back the site, we are working now piecing together what we have been able to rescue from the server and I have hired a tech quite versed on the way to port one site to another making sure all files and codes are in the proper place. www.bluesky.com is not longer available. The new website address is www.blueskytex.com and my new address in case anyone has any questions for which I may have the answer is president@blueskytex.com. Best Regards, – Dr. Allegra Smith Jul 16 '13 at 6:30
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    thank you for the update and the new addresses. i've tried to access the new web site, to be met with "You don't have permission to access / on this server." this is understandable for a new site still being worked on, but can you give an estimate of when the site might be accessible, please? – barbara beeton Jul 17 '13 at 17:59
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    MAny months have passed since this announcement on the future of Textures. But nothing happened, and the website mentioned in the answer is still non-existent. Are there any news? Anybody knows whether the things are going in the right direction (namely, the renaissance of Textures)? or is this project abandoned? – Daniele Zuddas Feb 18 '14 at 7:52
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    @jubobs I rolled back your edit, because the commercial name of the software is Textures with a lower case “x”. – egreg Mar 4 '14 at 19:09
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Since this question is about Blue Sky Research and Textures, just a short message as an homage to another important collaborator of Blue Sky and dear friend: Doug Henderson, who left Blue Sky in the nineties to co-found a brewery called Hair of the Dog (http://www.hairofthedog.com/) and now, AFAIK, works at Extensis, the company that distributes Suitcase.

What people tend to forget is that Blue Sky, besides Textures, has also developed a really beautiful implementation of Metafont for the Mac, called Blue Metafont. Doug was the one who adapted Metafont to the Mac operating system. I'm still running it today using SheepShaver.

When I visited Blue Sky in 1992, Barry and Doug proudly showed me a beautiful book with submarine pictures. The book had no text, but TeX played an important rôle in implementing and applying an algorithm placing images on pages, according to their visual centers (the most important point of the picture, where the eye will immediately focus on). Textures has calculated the position of the images so that visual centers across pages follow an (imaginary) smooth trajectory. I wonder (maybe Allegra can tell us) whether that book is still available...

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I just stumbled across this. So sad to hear Barry passed away. I was actually a distributor for Textures (previously MacTeX) in the UK – around 1990. I visited Barry's gigantic offices they had just moved into (I think in Portland) and had a great time. Remember Doug too and when he left for the brewing industry.

Textures was a beautiful product. The sync mechanism worked on the character level and is still unmatched by any other product.

Wishing you the best, Allegra, and would be amazing to see Textures back!

  • By the way I just tried running Texture Cocoa. Seems to run but no output in the DVI. Was so nice to see the Textures logo again! – Kaveh1000 Mar 25 '16 at 14:37
  • I just stumbled upon this question. I'm sorry to hear these news, too (even though they are not new anymore). And BTW, "unmatched by any other product" might not be true, see here: github.com/politza/pdf-tools . – mbork Mar 25 '16 at 18:42
  • From what I can see synctex syncs to the nearest word, but Textures often got the letter clicked on. I have not seen that accuracy in any other product – Kaveh1000 Mar 25 '16 at 19:35
  • I just checked. I don't how how it's done, but pdf-tools also does sync on character level. – mbork Mar 26 '16 at 14:49

protected by Community Jun 22 '13 at 7:17

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