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Windows 7: improvements and suggestions

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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Wed 02 Dec 2009 10:50 AM (UTC)
Message
Hey Nick,

I've been using W7 for a few weeks now and I figured I ought to name some annoyances I have with it so far, or improvements for that matter. Some might not be as W7 centered, but all-around I'm trying to go for usability here. :)

1) Updating the open/save dialogs. They are still using the old-style, and not nearly as slick in daily use as the new windows are. (Somehow the old style is too cramped and not nearly as useful to me when browsing for files.) I think it should be simple to implement based on this link: http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/developers/archive/2009/04/16/light-up-with-windows-7-libraries.aspx

2) Fixing the World Configuration dialog. (Yeah, I'm bringing that one up -again-. :P) Concrete annoyances I am dealing with are as follows:

2a) The left treeview with all the different pages doesn't get redrawn properly. Clicking around leaves focus rectangles, using arrows leaves everything in a permanent selected state.

2b) Since using W7, I moved my taskbar vertically since it is far more useful that way on my widescreen setup, and it simply supports that better natively speaking. But because I vertically maximize MUSHclient right next to my taskbar (shortcut: Win+Shift+UpArrow), the world configuration dialog ends up having half the stuff under my taskbar due to that window being wider than my MUSH window. I'd love it if it could either remember the last-used position, or keep the real-estate on the current screen in mind and adjust accordingly. (Yeah I have two screens too - aren't those things a pain to program against? :/) I think I don't suffer this issue with other popups due to them being smaller, but I'd love for those to get similar treatment.

3) W7 has these nice new features for the taskbar. I'd love to make use of those. (I think there is the Windows 7 Code Pack or something with the appropriate headers)

3a) Pinning MUSHclient and right-clicking supports having a Recent list in there, called Jump Lists. I'd love to see that implemented since MUSHclient already does that under the hood anyhow.

3a+) I realized while writing just now that would probably start a new instance of MUSHclient. A new global option to have stuff started that way open in an existing instance of MUSHclient would be nice as well. (Before you ask what the advantage of this over the File->Recent Files menu is, this one allows you to pin often opened files, which beats having shortcuts all over your desktop or digging for particular world files.)

3b) There are other nice APIs available for the taskbar as well. The 'Progress Bar'-button comes to mind, which could be used from a scripting environment. You could use those for lengthy operations like searching a buffer, converting the spellcheck files, etc. There's several others as well such as Icon Overlays (think of a notification image when an immortal beeps you, you are being attacked, etc. Plenty of options there.) and thumbnail support (for which I have several ideas that would be nice to have, but I won't spam them here as they can be considered nice bonuses). All of this stuff would make for awesome stuff to use while scripting.

4) I think there's still some issues remaining with the installation locations and paths as well, although I didn't write them down. Never the less, I'll mention here where I believe files should be placed.

Plugin state files: C:\Users\XXX\AppData\Roaming\MUSHclient\state or whatever you want to call it.
MUSHclient settings: C:\Users\XXX\AppData\Roaming\MUSHclient\
Default example plugins (both the current scripts and worlds\plugins directories): C:\Users\All Users\MUSHclient (Perfect choice? No. But they are default 'user files' and should thus be user accessible, and as such do not belong in AppData\Roaming. Program Files is a bad location as well due to permission issues, but it might be acceptable as long as the directory structure implies they should not be used as live files to modify, eg \PF\MUSHclient\examples\.)
Default plugin-directory: My Documents / Documents library. (Perfect choice? No. But they are user files and should thus be user accessible with notepad etc, and as such do not belong in AppData\Roaming.)
Default world-directory: See the default plugin-directory above.

5) At some point, it would be nice to move away from the old Windows .HLP format. Yes, it works, and personally I prefer it over many of those HTML help things, but it is outdated and in need of updating. To be honest, I can imagine MS not even offering the download for that program when Windows 8 rolls around.


Okay, I'm done. I hope I don't sound too demanding - I still love MUSHclient. But it simply feels clunky now that I've moved on from XP.
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Posted by Zeno   USA  (2,871 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #1 on Wed 02 Dec 2009 05:18 PM (UTC)
Message
I've started using Win7 now too, removed WinXP totally. I'll give my thoughts about it and MC in a bit.

But I do agree about the look of it. CMUD has a major advantage over MC because of this, and a lot of players who play in a simple manner would pick CMUD. MC looks a lot like I'm using Windows 98 in Win7 and it just throws me off.

Zeno McDohl,
Owner of Bleached InuYasha Galaxy
http://www.biyg.org
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Posted by Rakon   USA  (123 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #2 on Wed 02 Dec 2009 09:06 PM (UTC)
Message
I've been testing MUSHClient 4.43 in a VM, running Win 7. I'll post back here, a bit more of the output/quirks/debugging info as I pull up more.

I've been using MUSHClient with the internal taskbar vertical for as long as I remember, and have never had an issue with the bar covering up a MUSH world, not even in Windows 7. Or, are you talking about the MS Explorer taskbar??


Yes, I am a criminal.
My crime is that of curiosity.
My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like.
My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.
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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #3 on Thu 03 Dec 2009 02:58 AM (UTC)
Message
I'm talking about the global, refurbished taskbar. See the following screenshot: http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/3610/mushclientmeetstaskbar.png
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Posted by Cage_fire_2000   USA  (119 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #4 on Fri 04 Dec 2009 05:22 PM (UTC)

Amended on Fri 04 Dec 2009 05:38 PM (UTC) by Cage_fire_2000

Message
Ok, I wrote a ridiculously long rant here, luckily for all you who have to read this, I decided to delete it and write something shorter.

As a user of an extremely outdated OS, all I can say is that as long as it doesn't break compatibility with my system, I don't care, but in my experience it is /frustratingly/ common for programs to stop supporting older stuff in order to make room for newer stuff, because the newer stuff simply will not work with the older stuff, either that or the programmer is just too lazy to keep supporting the older stuff and quite mistakenly assumes there's nobody still using the older stuff. One of the many great things about MUSHclient, is that it's still compatible with everything back to Win 95, which means pretty much everybody can use it, regardless of how old their system is.

I haven't had a chance to try Windows 7, I've heard them all say how great it is, but I still have yet to hear of a feature that I really need. I still remember when Win XP came out, and I looked at it, and saw they made the window borders unnecessarily fancy, other people thought how good they looked, all I thought about was how much extra space they wasted on the screen and immediately changed it to the classic appearance, same with the start menu, they didn't seem to make anything easier, they made it more complicated just 'prettier'. And I /still/ hate the fact I can't end tasks directly with Alt-Ctrl-Del and kill runaway programs that are eating up the processor, no I have to wait for the dialog to load up while the other program is eating up the processor, and they /stupidly/ made it so some programs can even lock me out from hitting end task on them, and give me permission denied messages even when I'm logged in as administrator, I actually had to pull the freaking battery out of my laptop in order to recover from one program that froze my system, because it would not let me shut down or restart. It's one of the reasons I still like Win Me, at least on this if a program gets run away, I can just kill it, on XP it seems I either have to restart my computer, or just try to wait it out. Granted at least I can tell /which/ program is eating my processor on XP, but it does me no good if I can't kill the process in question.
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Posted by WillFa   USA  (525 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #5 on Fri 04 Dec 2009 06:22 PM (UTC)
Message
On Windows versions with the NT kernel (NT 4.0, Win2k, XP, Vista, Win7) the hotkey to bring up task manager directly is CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.


Expecting new software while refusing a newer operating system is not a lasting strategy...

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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #6 on Fri 04 Dec 2009 10:12 PM (UTC)
Message
The problem is, it is hard to get enthusiastic about spending hours making basically cosmetic changes, for a program that makes about $US 20 per month from donations.

As Cage_fire_2000 says, effort needs to be expended to make sure changes are backwards compatible as well, so that improving the program for the 5% that use Windows 7 does not break it for the 20% using Windows 98, for example.

I am pretty sure that I would need to upgrade my old Visual Studio to develop for Windows 7, so that is a cost of $US 299 for Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition or $US 799 for Visual Studio 2008 Professional Edition (I'm not sure which one I need).

Worstje said:

The left treeview with all the different pages doesn't get redrawn properly


I can't reproduce that in my copy of Windows 7 - looks OK to me.

Worstje said:

I think there's still some issues remaining with the installation locations and paths as well ...


I agree about improving the installer, that is on the "to do" list. That affects Vista, Windows 7, and possibly XP to an extent.

Worstje said:

See the following screenshot: http://img407.imageshack.us/img407/3610/mushclientmeetstaskbar.png


Remembering where you put the configuration dialog would be a simple change, at present I think it centers it.




Remembering that MUSHclient is open source, anyone at all can release a "Windows 7 revamped version". As for me, I don't mind making changes, like remembering where you last put the world configuration, if I can do that without having to pay hundreds of dollars for Visual Studio.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #7 on Sat 05 Dec 2009 12:30 AM (UTC)

Amended on Sat 05 Dec 2009 12:32 AM (UTC) by Twisol

Message
I believe Standard would suffice. In fact, I'm using my Academic edition... though I think that comes with limitations on commercial use.

Nick Gammon said:

Remembering that MUSHclient is open source, anyone at all can release a "Windows 7 revamped version".

I've wanted to try porting it to C#, but I haven't had the interest lately. One of the big benefits would be getting away from MFC, among others...

EDIT: Also, it would be a LOT more conducive to the 'open source' nature of MUSHclient to have a public repository anyone could pull from to check out the current source. I especially love Git (and Github), and am using it for my widget framework development. Anyone can 'fork' the project, i.e. copy the repository (but retain versioning links), and you can merge branches, etc. I think it would fit MUSHclient perfectly... Maybe you should check it out?

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by Nick Gammon   Australia  (21,322 posts)  [Biography] bio   Forum Administrator
Date Reply #8 on Sat 05 Dec 2009 03:08 AM (UTC)
Message
As for porting, that would be great, apart from the extensive work required. If I had the energy, it would be nice to make a version that compiled under gcc, without needing MFC.

However as so much of it was developed using MFC, that is virtually a rewrite. There is extensive use of the MFC string classes, linked lists, dialog handling, and much of the scripting support uses MFC interfaces.

Probably it would be quicker to write a new client from scratch than go through, and virtually for every line, make a change to remove any MFC dependencies.

As for Git, I'll take a look at that.

- Nick Gammon

www.gammon.com.au, www.mushclient.com
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #9 on Sat 05 Dec 2009 03:37 AM (UTC)
Message
Twisol said:
EDIT: Also, it would be a LOT more conducive to the 'open source' nature of MUSHclient to have a public repository anyone could pull from to check out the current source. I especially love Git (and Github), and am using it for my widget framework development. Anyone can 'fork' the project, i.e. copy the repository (but retain versioning links), and you can merge branches, etc. I think it would fit MUSHclient perfectly... Maybe you should check it out?

I used to maintain a bzr repository, but nobody cared so after a few months I just stopped. bzr is basically like git in terms of distributed version control.

If there's interest, I can start maintaining it again.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Twisol   USA  (2,257 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #10 on Sat 05 Dec 2009 06:12 PM (UTC)
Message
David - Did you host it yourself, or was it on a GitHub-esque website? I don't have (much of) a problem downloading yet another VCS technology, but I really like GitHub's features and would rather stick to hosting there over self-hosting using another software.

If you'd host it at somewhere like GitHub or Sourceforge, though... could you post a link? I'm curious.

'Soludra' on Achaea

Blog: http://jonathan.com/
GitHub: http://github.com/Twisol
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Posted by David Haley   USA  (3,881 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #11 on Sat 05 Dec 2009 11:07 PM (UTC)
Message
I hosted it myself. I prefer bzr over git (I find it makes the simple things simpler to do than git), and (at the time) there was little enough interest it didn't really make sense to invest in putting it up on LaunchPad (a bzr version of github).

Keep in mind that "hosting" git and bzr repositories means nothing more than making an http link available. There are of course other fancy features like nice web interfaces; I was using a bzrweb interface that did a lot of that.

All this said I don't have any stake in hosting this, I just did it because a few people said it would be nice to have a repository and it was easy for me to do. The only thing I care about is that Nick sanctions one place as the "official" repository, even if he's not the maintainer.

David Haley aka Ksilyan
Head Programmer,
Legends of the Darkstone

http://david.the-haleys.org
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Posted by Worstje   Netherlands  (899 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #12 on Sun 06 Dec 2009 05:20 AM (UTC)
Message
Aren't there any free headers available for the new W7 specific stuff? And I thought most things could be fudged around using GetProcAddess() to keep stuff working on older OSes.

The reason I am not messing around with the sourcecode myself is that last time I tried, I couldn't get it to compile for the life of me, and I read other reports of people having had trouble with it as well. If I need to put in more than 1-2 hours just to get a few simple warnings to go away, and even more to finally get it to compile, then it isn't worth my time to contribute.

So instead, I just throw suggestion after suggestion here on the forums. :)
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Posted by Larkin   (278 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #13 on Mon 07 Dec 2009 01:51 PM (UTC)
Message
I'm writing my own client based heavily on the core functionality of MUSHclient. Part of that effort is to update the look-and-feel of the app to a more modern XP/Vista/Win7 interface.

However, I'm moving MORE towards MFC and standardizing all the non-MFC stuff (Nick tends to lean toward STL these days) to use MFC classes instead. A big part of what I love about MS Visual Studio is the libraries for interfaces, utility, and debugging facilities. It's very well documented and very well integrated into the IDE. If anyone ever makes an IDE that comes even close to VS, I might consider making the switch, but I so far have had problems with every major non-VS IDE I've ever tried.

I haven't looked into the Win7-specific libraries yet, but I am using the MFC 2008 Feature Pack to incorporate some of the Office 2007 visual elements (and really liking it all so far).

As a final comment, I don't need the backwards compatibility in MUSHclient, but I know many, many people appreciate it a lot. I'm actually impressed that it continues to work well in newer versions of Windows with little trouble. It's always been a speedy and extremely stable application, which I personally appreciate immensely!
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Posted by Cage_fire_2000   USA  (119 posts)  [Biography] bio
Date Reply #14 on Mon 07 Dec 2009 08:42 PM (UTC)
Message
I agree MUSHclient is very speedy, I tried simpleMU once, and while I really liked the spawn feature it's very awesome, on my 933 Mhz computer, the GUI was peculiarly slow in comparison to MUSHclient for some reason, just clicking the different buttons seemed to lag strangely, I can't imagine why, but it did. I also love the scripting functionality of MUSHclient, there's very few programs that let you customize them with scripts(some that I /really/ wish they would as it would instantly multiply their usefulness ten fold and allow for much more versatility.)
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