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Re: [Bug-gnubg] list of issues

From: Mike Robinson
Subject: Re: [Bug-gnubg] list of issues
Date: Sun, 10 May 2009 10:45:28 +0000 (GMT)

My answers in red and marked MJR: (Mike Robinson)

--- On Fri, 8/5/09, Christian Anthon <address@hidden> wrote:
From: Christian Anthon <address@hidden>
Subject: Re: [Bug-gnubg] list of issues
To: address@hidden
Cc: "gnubg-list" <address@hidden>
Date: Friday, 8 May, 2009, 12:58 PM

On Fri, May 8, 2009 at 12:48 PM, Mike Robinson <address@hidden> wrote:

I should first point out that I'm a big fan of gnu backgammon but there are a few small things that really irritate. I'm currently using version GNU Backgammon 0.90-mingw 20090421 and running on XP using MSI wind netbook.

My suggestions:

1)On the 3D screen I can't click the dice to say I've finished a move, instead I have to press ctrl F. This is a right royal pain.

Try upgrading your graphics driver, and report back if it doesn't help.
MJR: The drivers are updated automatically on this machine and are all up to date.
I can click on other things on screen and they work fine so it seems more likely to be a gnubg bug.
The problem only appears in 3D mode.


2)There are two buttons for reject and resign but you only need one button depending on what situation you're in - if you're being doubled then show reject else show resign.

The buttons are grayed when not needed. I think that changing them would be a disturbance.
MJR: Having 2 buttons to do the same thing is a disturbance! To a user there's no real difference between them - you just want out of the current game. Why waste screen real estate and confuse users?

3)I often hit resign (rather than reject) when I'm doubled and it then asks me whether I wish to resign a single, double etc. I then have to click again. It's bad enough loosing a game but can't it work out that resign and reject mean almost the same thing to users.

We could do that. Right clicking the offered cube is easier.
MJR: Sadly right clicking the cube does nothing on my laptop! Having one button would also fix this!.

4)On analysing a match I need to hit analyse, then analyse match or session, then match or session statistics. This seems overboard - could it not continually analyse the play and cumulatively alter my score and continuously display it in the corner of the screen. This might stop the wild swings from advanced (1950) down to awful (1550).

Tutor mode may or may not be what you want here...
MJR: Most often I just want to know whether I'm playing up to scratch - I believe the current program evaluates all my moves as I play them so why not go one small step further and show the score? If this is added to previous ratings then it will avoid those huge swings in rating when the program feels you made a mistake.

5)After analysis I go back to look at any mistakes I may have made. Once I've seen them I tend to just quit the program. The program then asks me whether I really wish to quit a game in the middle. This is annoying and pointless.

We could make it optional like other warnings.

MJR: Why would any user want to be warned about leaving a game when he's just looking over the evaluation of the last game? This warning should be removed in these situations.

6)When moving an isolated checker around the board I still have to be pixel perfect in selecting the checker, in these situations couldn't the program assume that because there's no other checkers nearby then I must mean the closest checker. It would save me a lot of time as the mouse control on these netbooks is far from perfect.

You may find click-moving easier (left/right click to use left or right dice, or high/low dice if you have set the option for always having the high dice at the left)
MJR: That is exactly how I play - my issue is that using a small netbook with poor mouse control is made even worse by gnubg because I need to hit a checker dead center to move it. This isn't a major issue compared to others but it would improve the user interaction.

7)I like to play in the full screen mode however I then loose the buttons to double and reject or resign. There is also no match score shown or pip count. This means I have to continually swap between full screen view and normal view which is frustrating so couldn't these buttons and info be shown in full mode.

Doubling/taking/dropping is done be clicking the cube. Accepting a resignation the same way.

MJR: I feel like a stuck record - this does nothing when I do this. Nevertheless I still feel all these features are required to make full screen mode playable. Sure I can jump back and forth between the different modes but, as a user, I just don't want to - why make it difficult for users - I appreciate I didn't pay for the product, I appreciate it plays extreemly well but why cripple it with these difficulties?

8)The appearance of the board is fine but could you perhaps make a deal with board manufactures to have copies of their boards and pieces as part of the 3D drop down. I currently would like to purchase a crisloid backgammon but the 2D crisloid set looks nothing like the real sets. The manufacturer could perhaps give a little towards the upkeep of gnu and in return potential buyers can try out their boards in real play!

Not a bad idea, if somebody wish to work on it...

9)Occasionally I forget to use all the moves available to me (usually after a complex double) and after I hit ctrl F to finish my go I get the error "Illegal or unparseable move" - I suspect this message is gobbledygook for most users.

This has to do with the flexibility of the program. Would "Unfinished or illegal move" be better?
MJR: Much better.

10)I joined this forum to post these issues but find the forum near impossible to use (perhaps I'm not using it right?). Finding previous posts is difficult and the general presentation of information harks back to the 1970's. The only way I can post issues is via replying an email - this can't be right. Can't you use any modern forum (shareware) software?

There is a bug report form


and a searchable archive of post messages


Both are advertised on the front of our homepage www.gnubg.org. And while a mailing list may seem low tech, it is still the most versatile and low maintenance form of communication.
MJR: I was using the search form - it's like something from the 1970's. Perhaps because I use so many forums with easy to use and powerfull features I've become a bit soft. The 1st thing you see on using this form is a list of dates - I made a lucky guess on when I posted my suggestions. I found my post under another unrelated post by Mueller Achim (no idea why it was there). I could see that you chaps had replied to my email and it was there though my emails to back weren't here. I thought perhaps I need to reply via the form but that didn't seem to be an option.
There was a reply to Christian button but I wasn't sure whether this replied to this group or just yourself. On clicking it it briefly brought up microsoft outlook screen (I don't use outlook) and then left me in a new ie window with no text to reply to - not an easy user experience. I replied via my yahoo mail account and changed the text colour to red to hopefully make it easy to see my responses - something tells me this is doomed to failure though :)
Most forum software allows you to split posts into different groups ie bugs, new features, etc. You can see what's currently being discussed at a glance. You can find your own posts and reply to people easily and things all appear on the form. Powerfull (and easy to use) searches are available. What's more these tools are available free and everyone can easily use them rather than just backgammon  players who happen to be familiar with bulletin board systems from the 1970's.


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