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Freeware Software _ Developer Spotlight _ Freeware Developer Thierry Marneffe

Posted by: marko Feb 19 2010, 08:36 AM

Thierry Marneffe, the creator of, shares his story with us ...

My name is Thierry Marneffe and the nickname I used on the Web is mostly UrbanBlues ... I live in Belgium, a small country in Europe, and I'm a little bit more than 50 years old.

My interest in programming started when I was 16 years old, with the early programmable calculators (mainly TI-59 by Texas Instruments) . Fighting with LBL, STO and RCL statements, I spent days programming scientific routines just for fun!.

Following my academic education, I developed a complex data treatment program during a training period in a laboratory of a nuclear energy study centre. Then, in 1984 (oops, that's a long time ago!) I started working in a pharmaceutical laboratory as an Automation Engineer where I designed some automated date treatment applications.

Finally, I took responsibilities in designing and programming a system (called DCS) used to automate a production plant. Since then, I worked as head of a small team of automation engineers, spending time in front of numerous computers and automated machines.

When I'm not working for the company, I develop freeware just for fun, when a friend asks for a small utility or when a new challenge comes to me ... The Web site illustrates my main interests: freeware C++ programming, geometrical fractals, mathematical recreations, music (although I play guitar very badly).

I wrote numerous applications (Documents Management System, Automated PLC programming, Excel and Word Automatic report generator, PI calculation application, Syracuse Numbers Calculator, ...) but I never took the time to publish them on the Web ... perhaps when I was retired!.

Around March 2006, my brother's house got partly burned. I spent a weekend with his family and friends to clear away all the dirty things spread around by the firemen. At the end of the day, we were chatting around some beers and one of the guy explained, with this head filthy with coal, that he designed a spreadsheet macro that solved sudoku boards in 45 seconds. My brother, an addict of Visual Basic, challenged me to do better in C++.... and this was the start of the story.

Back home, I rushed to my computer and a few hours later, I sent my brother a small quick and dirty application that solved sudoku boards within one second. The challenge was over.

So I continued developing the application, gradually adding features: improved brute-force solver, basic techniques for logic solver, graphical hints, import/export to/from files and clipboard, mistakes handling, more and more complex solving techniques.

I submitted the application to some freeware sites and, slowly, more and more users started playing with Isanaki Sudoku, sending me greetings and requests for additional features. In September 2007, I rewrote the application completely to provide a better looking layout (Release 2.0).

Comments from Ric, Michael, CTC, Max, Jim, Robin and numerous others people drove me to the current release (Isanaki Sudoku 2.6b). There are about 1000 downloads every month between about ten different freeware sites, not a very high download rate but competition is hard!.

I started working on Isanaki Sudoku Release 2.7 in September 2009 with the strong intent to implement Samourai and Sudoku Snakes within a few weeks. However, I was diverted from this goal by the development of a complex database application (based on SQLite database). As this application is coming to the end, I should restart soon ... From time to time, some users are sending me new feature request, reminding me that the story is not finished yet ...


Posted by: ablaze Feb 19 2010, 11:56 AM

Nice one marko, always interested in hearing about our beloved freeware developers.

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