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[XBoard-devel] WinBoard file location

From: h.g. muller
Subject: [XBoard-devel] WinBoard file location
Date: Sat, 07 May 2011 11:28:57 +0200

It seems on modern Windows the WinBoard policy for placing
its files is in need of some revision:

When a saveGameFile is specified by the user in the Save Options
dialog, and the user does not specify an absolute path, this filename
is interpreted relative to the installation folder of WinBoard. For a
plain filename, this would mean it is placed in the same folder as WB.

It is clear that something like this has to be done, as the Windows
idea of 'current directory' seems a bit fuzzy: The Tournament Options
dialog now also specifies a file to be written, and I had not done any
re-interpretation there, and it turns out the file is now made in the
last folder that was active before you create the file. Which could
be anywhere.

On modern Windows systems, the WinBoard folder is a very poor
choice for user files, though. If people install in C:\Program Files\...,
Windows Vista does not even allow them to create the files, and
saving games in a match will be refused without any error message,
so that you simply lose the games. For this reason I switched to
installing by default in C:\WinBoard...

But a more fundamental solution would be to not try to put user
data files in the same folder as the executables. For the settings
file this was already solved by redirecting it with a -settingsFile
option to the user's private Application Data folder. I think we would
have to do something similar for other user files too (saveGameFile,
savePositionFile, tourneyFile). For 'load files' it is less clear; people
could want to load files that came with the install (e.g. Nunn positions,
or the default opening book), or they could provide their own set of
start positions or opening books. Ideally they should be able to
browse to the files they want to load, and the browser would
supply the choice to quickly switch between their user chess
directory, and the instllation folder.

I am just not sure what would be the best choice for the folder
to make the user files. Should it be

C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents


C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents\WinBoard


C:\Documents and Settings\<user>\My Documents\Chess

Perhaps I should make a command-line option to set the path
of the directory relative to which non-absolute filenames are
interpreted. Like -defaultSaveDirectory. This would then as
default value have the WinBoard install folder (to reproduce
old behavior), but we could configure it in the master settings
file that comes with the install to some user-dependent place.
That of course just defers the question of how to configure
it in the default install.

Would it be good to put the winboard.ini file in that same folder?
I am not very happy with the current location of the user's
Application Data, as this seems to be a hidden folder on most
modern Window systems, and people cannot find it anymore.

Feedback from Windows gurus on this would be highly

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