Jamie Balfour

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Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

Jamie Balfour'sPersonal blog

ZPE 1.11.12 is available to download as of today. The last release of 2023 brings a few improvements and features, a fix and one new and very useful function. 

The features and improvements that come to ZPE are the new -h changes feature which will display the ZPE changelog, and the array_get_data_type function is now the list_get_data_type function and works on lists as well as arrays. 

The new function added to ZPE is the string_compare function, which can be used to compare strings and see which comes first or last alphabetically. 

2023 has been a pretty decent year for me, albeit there have been a few bumps. 

Firstly, it was the start of my second year working at my school, somewhere I enjoy working. There have been one or two times when I have wondered what I am doing working here but generally, I enjoy my job and want to continue to work here.

My mental health has been great this year again, leading to my fourth year in a row where I haven't struggled with any form of depression! 

Let's talk about ZPE. ZPE 1.11 has been another incredible release of ZPE with inline iteration, type casting, and compiler directives, the build version has finally returned to ZPE, and improvements to the editor; particularly the editor area now being public, YASS Unfold, powerful new list reference functions, the new string_compare function, which is very useful for sorting lists of strings and finally, more public features through ZPEKit.

ZPE 1.11.12 was released today. You can download it from my Download Center or run the update command on current ZPE installations.

Next, let's talk about what I have managed to do with teaching. Further to what I said last year, I have made major improvements to my slideshow engine and DragonDocs Engine. My slides are now all in 16:9 format which took an absolute age to do, but I have finally done it. My slides underwent another style transformation and look even better than before. I cannot forget to mention my new Apple Watch app that I developed for this too! The app allows me to control the slides using my Watch - pretty cool!

I cannot forget that I also got my car in June after a six-month delay and I've loved every moment with it! I'm planning on doing a review of it when it gets to 9 months with it, so keep an eye on my reviews for that.

I also started my Master's Degree which is going well. I'm excited about the next part of my degree! 

To finish the year off, I got myself an iPhone 15 Pro (which is great and the phone I've been waiting for for a long time), an Apple Watch Ultra 2 (which is an amazing Watch) and a new MacBook Pro 14" with an M3 Pro (which has replaced my M1 MacBook Pro, which itself was a very capable machine).

2023 has been a fantastic year for me and I'm hoping that 2024 is just as good if not better!

ChatGPT really is amazing. This is what it said about me:

Jamie Balfour is a technology enthusiast with a rich background in software development, web development, and education. He developed an early interest in technology, which led him to create various software tools and libraries, including the ZPE Programming Environment. He has a strong educational foundation in Computer Science and has worked professionally as a developer and mentor. Additionally, Jamie has pursued teaching, sharing his passion for computing with others. His personal interests extend to gaming and he has a deep appreciation for the Scottish landscape

I just wanted to say, Merry Christmas for 2023! Have a great day!

Whilst there is very little wrong with my MacBook Pro M1 which I ordered the day Apple announced the M1 chip back in 2020, there are a few things I don't like about it. I still love the little thing and use it all the time, even after committing to moving to PC only.

When Apple revamped the designs of the larger MacBook Pros in 2021 with the M1 Pro and Max chips, I fell in love with them. On top of everything, including the MagSafe charger and a card reader is so welcome. 

I had originally stated that I wanted to completely transition away from Macs to PCs but that never happened as I found it too difficult as a developer to move entirely away from Macs. 

Anyway, it was time for a new MacBook Pro now that this one is three years old. 

We're already getting close to version 1.12 of ZPE so it's time to think about code names. 

After having a long thought about what I could do, I resorted back to my previous code names where my favourites were definitely the ones related to animals. So without further ado, here are ZPE 1.12's code names:

  1. Bagpipe Badger
  2. Celtic Caterpillar
  3. Glen Grouse
  4. Haggis Horse
  5. Kilted Kelpie
  6. Loch Lion
  7. Nessie Newt
  8. Piper Pine Marten
  9. Scottish Seagul
  10. Tartan Turtle

The main goals of ZPE 1.12.x are:

  • A heavy focus on improving the security of the language
  • Stronger typing with TYPO v2.1
  • A higher performance lower memory footprint Zenith Parsing Engine (version 1.5)
  • Rebuilt Python and Java transpilers
  • A new plugin system (backwards compatible with existing plugins)
  • Further opening ZPE with ZPEKit.

A few years ago I tried building an app for iOS using Xcode. I didn't get very far with it but now after having a proper play about with it, I think I've got somewhere.

Today I began to work on my first Apple Watch app and it's been a success. I can now control slideshows on jamiebalfour.scot using Apple Watch. The current version is nothing but a simple test but it will get better soon.


The very first Linux build for ZPE was built this evening, offering massive performance boosts. The build was built on Ubuntu Linux which my home server runs on.

The new build is now available based on ZPE 1.11.11. It is also the basis of the online ZPE tester, making it speedier than before.

At last, I can finally say that all of my slideshows have been updated to the 16:9 aspect ratio - something that I started to work on at the start of June this year to better utilise the space available. Further to that, I've brought changes to the designs that make them more consistent, updated the styles for different sections and much more. 

Some users of my website will notice that there has been a minor update to my website, bringing the version number up to version 4.3. 

The update to version 4.3 brings a new font, the Oswald font, mainly being used for titles. It also fixes an issue that hasn't really been addressed on the web with text with background clipping when the text reaches the next line - it does this by splitting the text by spaces into inline spans with a 'glowing' background. Please have a look at my title to see what I mean. 

This is the first change in a long time, probably some 4 years as Quicksand has been used almost everywhere. For fans of Quicksand like me, please do not fret, it's not going anywhere! 

Next font size, I'm taking the font size back down to 16px instead of 17px. I had this like this for a good few years but in recent years I moved away from the agreed standard size of 16px up to 17px. 

Some of these new changes actually also affect the slides hosted on my website as well. 

A few improvements have been made over the last few weeks in DragonScript as well. This should make the website smoother than before.

Otherwise, the rest of the website remains the same.

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