31 Jan 2007

First time look at Tonic

As I have written in my last post I want to take a look at Jin/Tonic's UI.

This is what users usually see when they first start Tonic (apart from splash screen, but this is true for Windows users only).

1. One font face, same as system font, no bold or italic font (I think it isn't necessary here).
2. No unnecessary borders in the "Choose server" dialog.
3. Only the needed information is displayed, the start is pretty simple - you just choose a server and that is it (this counts for dialog mainly read 1st cons).

1. It is misleading to show main app window with menus - try to click them, you cannot.
2. Component with scroll bar isn't a good for displaying just a two servers you can connect.
3. The buttons aren't align with a control displaying servers.
4. "Choose server" dialog title and "Choose a server to connect to" label is redundant, but it is disputable whether it's pro or con.
5. It is not attractive :).
6. "Choose sever" window is modal so it makes quiting application harder. You cannot even resize the app window.

Do not hesitate to add something to both lists.

28 Jan 2007

What should I do for Tonic and what should I undone

After watching this presentation of JavaOne 2006 conference quite a while ago I got quite excited about UI design part of designing software. I had some thoughts about it when I was implementing new preferences UI (for Channels Manager for example). I have to admit that my education should have help me, but my eyes were rather closed at the right solutions. You know, sometimes one needs some little mind push or clarification. Now when I had seen the presentation mentioned above I know I was taught what Karsten was saying - omit clutter, reduce noise, KISS.

So, what should I do now? I will see Karsten's presentation again and again (it isn't enough to see it three times :)) and his Metamorphosis demo. Simultaneously I will do a little measurement of UI design principles correctness against Tonic/Jin (at the moment these are almost identical). I hope I will come to the right observation :).

26 Jan 2007

Coding back to Tonic

This time I present all of you screenshot with strange chess position. Note this is examined game and you can see what kind of variant it is (be it Bughouse, Suicide or any other). It is something that Tonic's parent couldn't do when I started working with its source code.

Starting a chess game from some nonstandard chess positions (other then well known Fischer random chess and pawns-only) is a feature of Free Internet Chess Server I didn't know until I tried to investigate this bug. And while I was talking on the server with ryoshu about pawns-only variant I was told that there are some boards on fics. Well, one can even check what boards are for each category. You can do it by typing "boards" and then, for example "boards uwild". I did and... this bug occured.
So you have to restart Tonic if you want to get rid of what you see in Channels Manager window, sorry :). I haven't fixed this bug yet, but I have an idea how to do it ;). Anyway, I am happy I found some time to code back to Tonic. And I am glad I kind of remember what I changed in it already :].

14 Jan 2007

Freshmeat efect

One day when I checked Google Analytics page for this blog I first thought I had clicked wrong link. From abysmal few visits a day to somehow less abysmal :) 63. Well, and most of this comes from freshmeat.net. Anyone who wants to get some attention to its open sourced project should consider submitting to freshmeat.net.

I have been using Google Analytics for www.tonic-chess.blogspot.com just for a couple of days and I wonder why there is no referral statistics from sourceforge.net project site...

And about freshmeat.net it is a good place to promote your project and aside of that seeing this effect in visits:
And it makes you really want to release early, release often. You know, I just don't have time - I have to write this blog and read so many others ;)! Is addictive reading blogs makes me competent to go for blog aggregator? I think there is more to blogging then writing :). Anyway, I recommend reading this post regarding blogoboom (if you are lazy just go for number 4) on Chat Haase blog (sic!). This human being is really a humor beast.

And btw, anybody has some spare time to giva away? ... thought so.

12 Jan 2007

It's unfair ;), but it is ok nevertheless

I cannot find any time to develop Tonic. I cannot even find time to play a chess game or two :(... Ok, I have some time in the morning to play on Tibia server, but it is just 15 minutes... Maybe this weekend I'll find some time to test my new component for Bughouse. I have to admit that code for laying out component in the chessboard window is rather hard to read for me - Jin/Tonic doesn't use any layout manager there, instead the position and appearance of components are controlled "manually" - you should see the code to understand. One more thing I'd like to change.

On the bright side other developer of free chess software have more time - there is a 5th beta release of pychess, completly refreshed eboard is out and author states he wants to release often. glChess is alive and kicking too. Good for them! I just wish I had more time.

5 Jan 2007

Happy New Year to everyone!

I wish you all great chess games, interesting blunders ;) and much fun from playing chess. I hope Tonic will grow in feature richness, usability and be more and more popular :). I wish I had more time to develop it. By the way, do you know that new Jin is out? It seems Alexander has found the time to push new release. I hope to do so too in near future. I just need to find a good place in board window to put panel with available pieces for dropping :).

And good news for me is that my beloved wife... ekhem! I mean Santa Claus, brought me Bruce Eckel's "Thinking in Java" 3rd edition. Now I can enjoy reading about Java in my native language. I hope your gifts were nice as well!