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Restructuring the world configuration (screen).

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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Sat 18 Aug 2007 08:44 AM (UTC)
Message
Well, I was writing in another topic and kind of ended up going offtopic about things I feel could improve with World Configuration. This would include dialogs and some back-end things I've noticed over the years. Since making MUSHclient more accessable to new users seems to get more attention as of late, I figured this might help, although I'm very much aware all of it is a lot of work.

Back-end issues:

* Under HKCU/Software/Gammon Software Solutions/MUSHclient/, the name of various worlds are stored as keys with values in them pertaining to window-size information.

- Personally I think this is messy (then again, I'm also a bit OCD). There are other keys in the same folder that do not have to do with worlds, and I feel this information should be saved in a seperate .mcs (MUSHclient state) file in the same directory as the .mcl file.

Front-end issues (interface):

* Most of the World Configuration screen has been 'grown' over the years as features were added. As a result, it isn't always too logical anymore and hard to find features for new users. On top of that, some features aren't really relevant anymore (Input>Macros) since better alternatives have since been implemented (Accelerators). The current Tree structure resembles this:

General
+ IP address
+ Connecting
+ Logging
+ Timers
+ Chat
+ Info
+ Notes

Appearance
+ Output
+ MXP / Pueblo
+ ANSI Colour
+ Custom Colour
+ Triggers
+ Printing

Input
+ Commands
+ Aliases
+ Keypad
+ Macros
+ Auto Say
+ Paste
+ Send

Scripting
+ Scripts
+ Variables


My own view is out of that of a scripter of a MUD, so I don't have experiences with MOO's or MUSHes or the likes, but I hope it will stay logical none the less. The way I see it, most people after starting to use MUSHclient want to get find out about basic scripting and get the hang of it. This is why I suggest the following:

General
+ Connection       (not all newbies may know what an IP address is)
+ Identification   (Connecting doesn't describe name/password data much,
                    nor does it describe connect text well)
+ Logging          (Logging your game is a general activity.)
+ Chat             (not sure on this one, may need moving since
                    I for one don't need it at all to play. Maybe put it
                    in the Server group below, with a good comment that
                    chatting does not use the actual server?)
+ Info             (All good. Statistics may be a better pick though.)
+ Notes            (Not all that useful in its current form due to modal window)

Server             (Appearance section is output and server protocols mixed)
+ Interpretation   (settings concerning data interpretation mud;
                    IAC EOR/GA conversion, UTF8, negotiate window size, etc)
+ MXP/Pueblo       (no changes)

Output
+ Buffer           (has information to current Appearance>Output screen,
                    everything that has a VISIBLE difference, also pause stuff.)
+ ANSI Colour      (no real changes, maybe add that these are 'MUD-colours')
+ Custom Colour    (no real changes, maybe make it less cramped.)
+ Printing         (no real changes, unless colourprinting is added. Add text.)

Input
+ Commands         (keyb. prefs in own group below. Re-order screen. Move
                    'Ignore Echo Off' to Server>Interpretation. Move 'Tab
                    Completion' stuff together, it's spread out now)
+ Keyboard         (this is old keyboard preferences. Maybe call it 'Behaviour'
                    instead? Also, maybe move Tab completion stuff here, too?)
+ Keypad           (this one is okay, although I don't really like it myself.)
+ Macros           (keep it, but if you are going to rework macros/accelerators
                    some time, doing it at the same time might be nice)
+ Auto Say         (no change, although box-in-box is annoying. Remove the outer
                    'Auto say configuration' box, since that is what the screen
                    is all about.)
+ Paste            (no suggestions)
+ Send             (no suggestions)

Scripting
 + Engine          (was called Scripts. Maybe move Script prefix to
                    Input>Commands, but I'm not sure on that one.)
 + Aliases         (you know this one.)
 + Triggers        (you know this one.)
 + Timers          (you know this one.)
 + Variables       (you know this one.)


My biggest annoyance has always been that the five windows I use the most and that I expected to be closely related, were all over the place. Same with stuff concerning server protocols, output of stuff on the screen and such. I suppose this is all very close to personal preference, but this is what I think would be nice.

* Make the World Configuration window resizable when you're changing it.



Oh, and Nick.. if you do nothing with this, I don't mind at all. I'm just trying to make a little contribution since actual coding isn't really an option for me.
If you want, I could try doing a similar thing for the Global Preferences screen (which is in need of an update or two as well, I think).
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Posted by Shadowfyr   USA  (1,783 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #1 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 06:00 PM (UTC)
Message
Not to be too picky, but how many newbies are going to know what this is either?

Output
+Buffer

In general, I would agree with most of the stuff you are suggesting here, but definitely need to think about the names. And I ***definitely*** agree with the issue of stuff being stored in the system registry. The only thing that really belonged there imho, and which wasn't slightly buggy because of being there, was the registry key, which is now no longer an issue.
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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #2 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 06:09 PM (UTC)
Message
Fair enough, but can you think of anything else to call it? Output -> Display? It sounds weird and doesn't really cover other things. I've tried splitting stuff in different groups for as far I could warrant it without adding too many new groups, and I honestly can't think of something more suitable.

But well.. opening it for discussion is one of the reasons I opened the topic. :)
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #3 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 10:52 PM (UTC)
Message
I agree it could be improved. One of the earlier limiting considerations was that I wanted the configuration screen to fit into 640 x 480 pixels, which was at the time something quite a few people might have used - particularly on laptops.

Nowadays most people have larger screens, so at least 800 x 600 would be acceptable (in fact, I can't make my screen smaller than that these days). This lets each screen be bigger (and thus avoiding some of the "sub screens"), plus you could probably reword and re-order a lot of it.

Maybe we could even allow for 1024 x 768 - I wonder how many people operate at less than this? Maybe on a laptop perhaps.

It would be comparatively simple to just rework the look of the screens. Changing the way they work could be harder (eg. building in an accelerator list function), but probably not too hard.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #4 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 10:54 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

There are other keys in the same folder that do not have to do with worlds, and I feel this information should be saved in a seperate .mcs (MUSHclient state) file in the same directory as the .mcl file.


The global options could all be moved to a configuration file - once I work out how to find the location of the file. Possibly either the current executable directory (ie. where MUSHclient.exe is), or the current start-up location (so you could have multiple users on one PC).

You are probably right about the state file - the registry currently holds stuff like where you left the window positioned on the screen, and being asked if you wanted to "save changes" when you just moved the screen around would sound odd, which is why I left it in the Registry initially.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #5 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 11:01 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

Not to be too picky, but how many newbies are going to know what this is either?

Output
+Buffer


It actually says "number of lines in output buffer", which I thought was reasonably self-explanatory, but it could read "number of lines that are stored", "number of lines in output window", or "number of lines available for scrollback".

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #6 on Sat 18 Aug 2007 11:03 PM (UTC)
Message
Quote:

If you want, I could try doing a similar thing for the Global Preferences screen (which is in need of an update or two as well, I think).


Thanks for the suggestions so far, and I agree the Global Prefs could use work too. :)

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #7 on Sun 19 Aug 2007 03:30 AM (UTC)
Message
Heh, I realized I still forgot to suggest the World Configuration becoming modalless. It's often annoying to have to edit triggers and the likes while you are in the middle of a discussion on your MUD.

I think using 800x600 as a new 'minimum resolution' would be nice. I think many of the people who play text-based games nowadays still depend on computers a few generations older than the current, so just for safety's sake increasing the requirement as little as possible seems useful. And with the window made resizable, lists like aliases/triggers/timers/variables can get the space people need to edit them more comfortably.

I don't think you'd need to ask for permission to write the state file. It's only got very basic information concerning window position of your world and such in it, if my understanding of the current registry data was correct.

"Number of lines available for scrollback" sounds decent.

I'll give the Global Configuration window a workout soon, then.
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