Author Topic: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.10.1 beta [Updated 2015/09/26]  (Read 258672 times)

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Not so much a bug, this, more of a gripe. I was in the advanced settings tab, and while hovering over the Flag Sets menu accidentally hit the scroll wheel. BAM! My precious carefully crafted game setup, all gone - reduced to "All features off". Expected behaviour of course, but still it made me go through the entire checkbox list to set up my preferences again. Cost me a full two minutes of my life! :P
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 09:45:26 am by FreeSpaceFreak »

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
jg18 asked me to bring this up here. FRED launching should be available by default. Assuming that wxL continues to basically be the new standard launcher, then it's an opportunity to remove as many barriers as possible to get new people FREDing as well as playing. FREDing, regardless of mod, universe, or storyline, is the backbone of what we do at HLP. You can create all the pretties you want, but we need missions to put them in.

jg18 told me the reason it's not on by default is to keep the launcher simplified in it's UI. I'm not arguing against UI simplification by any means. But realistically, we are talking about 1 extra dropdown menu and 1 extra launch button, both already clearly labelled! Currently, someone has to go find their %appdata%, open a file, add some text, and save... to get FRED launching ability in wxL. That's WAY too much. Even if it is in the help docs (which I didn't even know existed until jg18 told me it was in there.) jg18 also mentioned that you guys are thinking about adding a menu checkbox 'allow FRED' or something. That's a fine compromise, I suppose. But it seems like overkill if you are going for UI simplification. Add a menu & box to toggle a menu and a button?

Given how much FRED is used by a large portion of the community, FRED launching should be available out of the box. Everything is clearly labelled... even the builds that SCP provides! It's a minimal addition to the UI, especially since it uses space that is otherwise unoccupied. FRED is just too important to HLP to be left hidden in the background.
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Offline Axem

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
I'm going to have to agree 10,000% with this.

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Me too. If necessary stick FRED on its own tab so that it doesn't confuse anyone. But it should be available by default.

This brings me to my other suggestion. An error reporting tab. At the simplest this would be a tab which provides an interface to access the log files. At the very least fs2_open.log but access to the FRED log, multi.log and mission.log would all be useful.

A more complex version would be a tab with text at the top explaining how the tab will help you run the debug version (Simply check if a debug version of the currently selected exe exists) and explain which data would be useful to people on HLP when it comes to troubleshooting your problem.

A good, working error reporting tab could basically end the "I have problem X", "Get us a debug log", "Here's my debug log" start we have to almost any major problem.
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Offline Fury

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Right now I'm feeling too lazy to read posts from where this was last discussed, so pardon me if these have already been discussed about.

I'm strong supporter of not requiring system wide installs of anything past retail FS2. And even that is optional if you don't plan to play with retail executables, ever. With new installer on its way, I imagine process of installing FS2 and **** goes like this:
1. Install FS2 from retail discs, GoG.com or something.
2. Run installer which installs everything for you.
3. ????
4. Profit!

Or alternatively.
1. Copy existing installation from another computer, disk, stick, network, whatever. No installation or admin privileges required.
2. Run installer which installs or updates everything for you.
3. ????
4. Profit!

FSO has only one base requirement to function, OpenAL. The choices here are either Creative's or Soft. But whichever is chosen, both have a dll file that can be named as OpenAL32.dll and dropped into FS2 dir without any system-wide installation. For user convenience, launcher is also needed but not required by FSO. As we have discussed before, the old launcher was single executable which was just happy to be dropped into FS2 dir and work right out of the box.

But enter wxLauncher which requires system wide install and even defaults to Program Files. As such, wxLauncher remains the odd one out in the whole process. Where everything else is downloaded and put right into FS2 dir, wxLauncher isn't and requires even admin privs to install.

Now, I understand that this choice was made to allow multiple users to have multiple profiles. But in reality, do we really need anything but multiple profiles on single user? It's nice to have the option for multiple users, but does it need to be default? Right, so what I would propose is following:
- By default wxLauncher is installed to FS2 dir, which hopefully is not in Program Files.
- By default wxLauncher is in single-user mode set to use global profiles. Global profiles are stored in wxLauncher dir.
- wxLauncher has an option to enable multi-user mode, where user profiles are stored in %appdata% instead. Both global and user profiles would be available to you, they are not mutually exclusive and you can choose which one each profile is.
- wxLauncher has an option to install start menu or desktop shortcut for all users, not just the user under which wxLauncher was installed.
- wxLauncher does not write to windows registry and does not care where it is installed, it follows nicely without complaints wherever FS2 dir goes. If FS2 dir is copied to another computer, wxLauncher and global profiles (if any exists) would follow with it. If on this new computer there are any pre-existing wxlauncher profiles in %appdata%, they are automatically displayed in wxLauncher.

So with these changes, retail FS2 would hopefully remain the only thing where user needs admin privileges. Or not, if you just copy existing FS2 installation from somewhere. Running installer and having it install whatever user wishes, shouldn't need admin privileges or make any system wide changes by default. Such changes should remain strictly optional.

That concludes my 5c. :)
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 02:30:45 am by Fury »

 

Offline karajorma

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Not a fan. The second you have more than one TC this quickly escalates. If you use TBP, FS2, Diaspora plus who knows what else is coming down the line, this quickly becomes a complete cluster****.

In addition we also lose the ability to have the launcher eventually become an installer which can recommend and install other TCs.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 05:43:56 am by karajorma »
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Offline MatthTheGeek

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
How so ?
People are stupid, therefore anything popular is at best suspicious.

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Offline Fury

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Not a fan. The second you have more than one TC this quickly escalates. If you use TBP, FS2, Diaspora plus who knows what else is coming down the line, this quickly becomes a complete cluster****.
Each TC is a game on their own. Their launchers should have nothing to do with FSO's launcher.

 
Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
I'm pretty happy to be able to use the same launcher for all 3 FSO-based games I have on my comp.

 

Offline MatthTheGeek

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
I don't believe sacrifying the possibility to have portable installations, on the altar of TCs, is that good of a deal.
People are stupid, therefore anything popular is at best suspicious.

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666maslo666: Releasing a finished product is not a good thing! It is a modern fad.

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Axem: when you put it like that, i sound like an insane person

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Axem: jabba does the coup de gras
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Offline headdie

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Not a fan. The second you have more than one TC this quickly escalates. If you use TBP, FS2, Diaspora plus who knows what else is coming down the line, this quickly becomes a complete cluster****.
Each TC is a game on their own. Their launchers should have nothing to do with FSO's launcher.

How is separate launchers for each game better than one unified launcher?

All three use the FSO engine so having the same launcher that can be set up for each one by the use of a drop menu is a lot more convenient than having to keep track of multiple icons, especially when that launcher can have multiple configurations for each game and different configurations for each mod for each game, all of which is handled from the start tab of said launcher.

edit:

sorry for the wtf are you smoking? bit I have been of my anti-depressants for a week and I am rather irritable atm, still dosnt excuse that level of response for this but thought I had better put that out there
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 07:02:19 am by headdie »
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Offline Fury

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
And none of that functionality would be removed, so what's the problem exactly?

The only difference is that Diaspora or other TC's would have their launchers installed within their own dirs, not Program Files. Any of the TC's would also be free to customize their launchers however they please. If there would be only one launcher in Program Files, this couldn't be the case.

However, if you want to use only one launcher to control all your FSO games, you can do so as the functionality to do already exists. Just pick any of them launchers already present in FSO or any of the TC's. Unless TC has decided to remove this functionality from their version of the launcher. Just create additional profiles in say, FSO launcher to manage all TC's as well.

Not only does this not prevent you from using single launcher to manage everything, it allows everything to be portable as well.
« Last Edit: March 26, 2013, 07:09:40 am by Fury »

 

Offline headdie

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
customisation controls in the mod.ini to effect things in the launcher like images and feature availability would be a handy feature whiel removing the need for project specific customisations
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Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
customisation controls in the mod.ini to effect things in the launcher like images and feature availability would be a handy feature whiel removing the need for project specific customisations

I've asked for that and have been told that's being reserved for TCs only.
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Offline headdie

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
customisation controls in the mod.ini to effect things in the launcher like images and feature availability would be a handy feature whiel removing the need for project specific customisations

I've asked for that and have been told that's being reserved for TCs only.

at which point fury is justified :sigh:
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Offline jg18

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
The major design decisions that people have brought up, such as FRED launching, an error reporting tab, and Fury's proposal, are things that Iss Mneur and I need to discuss more before we can respond, but I can at least respond to the more straightforward issues:

Not so much a bug, this, more of a gripe. I was in the advanced settings tab, and while hovering over the Flag Sets menu accidentally hit the scroll wheel. BAM! My precious carefully crafted game setup, all gone - reduced to "All features off". Expected behaviour of course, but still it made me go through the entire checkbox list to set up my preferences again. Cost me a full two minutes of my life! :P

This is indeed a bug, in that it's a usability problem. If you could create an issue about it, that would be very helpful.


customisation controls in the mod.ini to effect things in the launcher like images and feature availability would be a handy feature whiel removing the need for project specific customisations

This sounds very close to what we're currently working on, namely getting the skin system working so that customizable aspects of the launcher are controllable through .ini files. Take a look at the mod.ini file that ships with Diaspora for a sample list of some features that will be controllable on top of the usual mod.ini settings.

Some launcher aspects will be customizable by both mods and TCs, such as the minimum resolution (meaning that all resolutions smaller than it will not appear in the "Resolution" drop down box in Basic Settings) and the label/value of the "Baseline recommended" lighting preset.

But as mjn said, some aspects will only be customizable by TCs, namely the skin itself, such as images, news/highlights source, and the text that appears below the banner image on the Welcome page. We think it would be jarring for the launcher to change appearance every time the player selects a different mod in the mod list, nor do we feel that supporting mod skins is worth the added complexity in the codebase -- keep in mind that just two people maintain wxL, and both are fairly busy with RL.

I'm not sure what you mean by "feature availability," though.

The wxLauncher wiki has a work-in-progress list of what launcher features will be customizable. Some features, such as flagsets, extremeforce flags, and localization (non-English support), will not be ready for the next release. The only things that we can guarantee will be ready are the things in the Diaspora mod.ini.

 
Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
Not so much a bug, this, more of a gripe. I was in the advanced settings tab, and while hovering over the Flag Sets menu accidentally hit the scroll wheel. BAM! My precious carefully crafted game setup, all gone - reduced to "All features off". Expected behaviour of course, but still it made me go through the entire checkbox list to set up my preferences again. Cost me a full two minutes of my life! :P

This is indeed a bug, in that it's a usability problem. If you could create an issue about it, that would be very helpful.

Right on, reported as issue 105.

 

Offline Iss Mneur

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
[Jointly written response.]

Although we'll eventually address all of the points made in the last several posts, we'd like to focus on the FRED launching question for now. The other issues are long-term questions whose implementation will require much more work, and we don't anticipate having the time to do that in the near future.

However, we'd like to comment on the question of adding new launcher features. GUI applications meant for a general audience like wxLauncher don't benefit from having more and more features added to them, since piling on features in the absence of a larger, coherent vision for the UI as a whole is liable to result in a muddled and confusing UI, even if one consisting of arguably useful features. See items 1 and 2 from these Windows User Experience Design Principles, for example. For more information, take a look at the other design principles articles available from that page's left sidebar and also these three articles on common sources of usability problems in open source software.

We're primarily coders, not UI designers, and we'd love to bring on board someone with a strong UI design background to take the role of lead UI designer and help us shape that vision for the UI, but until that happens, we'll have to be fairly cautious about what features get added. This is not to say that new features won't be added; rather, proposed features must, at a minimum, provide a large benefit to a very large part of our user base. Some form of assistance with troubleshooting would certainly qualify.

Now back to FRED launching.

While it's true that a sizable portion of the modding community uses FRED, only a small fraction of our entire user base uses FRED. It becomes a tiny fraction once you include all of the people who come to play one of the TCs. Normally, a feature that benefits so few people would likely have never been added in the first place (see the principles article above), but since we recognize that FREDding is crucial to the community and that FRED launching is valuable to those who use FRED, we have chosen to include it.

But given that the vast majority of wxL's users will never use FRED, we consider it bad practice to subject all users to the added clutter of the FRED launching controls. Yes, even just three controls are clutter for someone who will never use them, especially for someone who is just trying to get started, particularly considering the wide range in our users' level of computer savvy. Moving the FRED controls to a new tab not only does little to eliminate the clutter but actually creates an even bigger problem by moving the controls from where they should logically appear, thereby breaking consistency.

Yes, the current method of enabling FRED by editing a text file is a pain and needs improvement. That's part of why the launcher is still not at version 1.0. We'd like to point out that anyone who finds locating and editing a text file to be difficult will likely find FREDding to be overwhelmingly challenging.

We are aware of the objection that not having FRED launching available by default unnecessarily adds a barrier to FREDding, but consider that FRED launching is in no way essential to using FRED. Countless FREDders have gotten by without this feature while using the Windows launcher. The real barrier to FREDding is the complexity of making missions and of FRED itself. Making FRED launching available by default will not change that.

Put another way, wxL was intended from the beginning to not only unify the launchers for all supported platforms but also be less intimidating to new and casual users, thus we disable and hide little used features by default.

Thus in our view, FRED launching belongs as a feature accessible through an advanced options panel. While FRED launching will currently be the only option available on this panel, we have no doubt that more advanced features will eventually be requested, and options to enable them will be added there. Because we haven't had time to create this panel, the current clunky method will be the only option for the moment, but we now have a bug ticket to keep track of this.
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Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
This is a poor decision... But I lack the motivation to argue such thought out stubbornness.

EDIT: Nevermind. This is a big enough deal to me... I read over your linked articles in order to seek understanding of your position. Having read your articles.. I still think you need to reconsider.

FRED is the backbone of everything that happens at HLP. No FRED, no missions, no campaigns, no mods. wxL's continuing to ignore 50% of the main Freespace related programs included in every FSO release is not only disappointing, but it shows an ignorance of the community at large and what it is built on.

Furthermore, if you want to hide behind the new users... FRED is not the place to make a stance. Under your decision, new users have an exec that the most up-to-date launcher doesn't seem to support. What is FRED? Do I need it? Who knows? wxL certainly doesn't know... which is odd, because wxL is trying to be the first FSO related window a new user (or any user!) will open. wxL should know...

Lastly, your article starts off by saying you should 'Nail the Basics'. FRED is one of 2 program execs that SCP releases. That's pretty basic... but it seems to me that you are too caught up on the article's #4 to really do #3, #5, #8, or #17...

"Think about how real users (not the marketing or PR departments) will describe your program."
"Don't avoid difficult decisions by making everything optional or configurable."
"People want to use your program, not configure it or learn a bunch of things."
"Put the information users need to know directly on the screen."
"Enabled is better than disabled. Disabled controls are often confusing, so use them only when users can easily deduce why the control is disabled. Otherwise, remove the control if it doesn't apply or leave it enabled and give helpful feedback."

It seems to me that you guys are so caught up with making an easy design that you are confusing incomplete with simple. It also may be a case of you guys 'Scratching Your Own Itch'. FRED is not important to you, so it's not being scratched.

Of course you also linked to an article that gives you an out to even listening to feedback... "In the absence of regular usability testing, volunteer projects rely on feedback from users, but such feedback is often far removed from reality."

Another point is that most of these articles talk about how 'usability is hard to measure', but you guys with one fell swoop have somehow figured out that the 3 necessary fields to FRED would bring wxL too close to the 'unusuable' line for the new guys. Do you have some feedback from new users to help me understand that?

You are so caught up with the theoretical 'new user' that is afraid of FRED than to consider the people who are actively using wxL, filing bug reports, dialoging with it's creators, and doing the footwork to recommend the launcher over another.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2013, 01:20:10 am by mjn.mixael »
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Offline Yarn

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Re: RELEASE: wxLauncher 0.9.1 public alpha [Updated 2012/07/13]
The biggest problem is that the file that must be edited to show the FRED options is in a location that few FREDders would think look (and it's in AppData--a hidden folder!). Furthermore, the necessary lines aren't already in the file--you have to add them manually. It's like having to open your TV and add a jumper (which you supply yourself) to a pair of unmarked pins to enable pillarbox mode for 4:3 signals.

The option to show FRED needs to be added to the GUI somehow. With the way wxLauncher is now, many FREDders and potential FREDders have virtually no clue that they can launch FRED from wxLauncher.
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