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Re: [Tlf-devel] Quo Vadis tlf... (long)

From: David Quental
Subject: Re: [Tlf-devel] Quo Vadis tlf... (long)
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 2004 19:21:52 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla Thunderbird 0.7.1 (X11/20040626)

Hello Rein!

Thanks for your msg.
You gave me a view how complicated is life of programers, they are like normal people with their own problems and so on. For my side many thanks for time you took to explain me my own problems with tlf. I only have a frustation: no imagination. With this handicap it is, at least for me, dificult to help people, like you, with their nice programs. I only can put problems and more problems and of course, let programers furious with my doubts. So my thanks for time you took to resolv my problems with tlf.

Quo Vadis tlf...

It has been 2 years since I started tlf and I have put a lot of time and energy into the project while having great fun along the way. From a simple logging/keyer program for the WPX contest, tlf has evolved into a complex system with multi-node networking, cw keying, voice keyer, contest recorder, support for a plethora of different transceivers, and support for quite a lot of contests. There was never a master plan for tlf. And like every complex system which grows organically, there are numerous loose ends left to be tied, and the possibilities for enhancement have no limits. Time to sit back and think about planning the scarce resources (mainly myself up to now).

In order to secure the future support for tlf some choices have to be made. One choice is entirely mine; i.e. which percentage of my time i want to spend on tlf (the competition includes sailing, operating PA0R, contesting, dxpeditioning, travelling, the family, and enjoying life in general. Yeah right, not Work. My productive hours are not limited by work anymore but by health problems.).
Health problems are always serious, hope you solve in next futur your health problems.

The other choice can be influenced by the tlf user community, viz. to set the priorities for enhancing the program... I will give you my own views about it. If you see things in a different way, please speak up. Like in the real world, the one who Speaketh The Loudest will have the Biggest Voice. Unless you are in a democracy lead by a very strong Democrat...

Basic medium term goals and specs for tlf

1. Tlf is an open source Linux program
This means that I expect porting to other Operating Systems to be done by others, whom I will support if necessary and within the framework of my capabilities. It also means that you can change the program if you are not happy with it.

2. Tlf is a Contest / Dxpedition logger, no general logging program for e.g. award hunting etc. Of course tlf can be used as a front end to more elaborate Linux logging programs like Xlog by using the ADIF export facility.

As you know, I worked call CS2004REP with tlf and had no problem to pass adif files for others to do a resume of all contacted stations during EURO2004. Congrads for this.

3. As I don't know anything about VHF/UHF contesting, I will concentrate my efforts on HF. Of course I will support anyone who can take care of the VHF/
UHF stuff...

It will be very interesting, but have a problem with my imagination.

4. Main goal for tlf is to support, not slow down the contest operator. It is optimized for high rates. Bells and whistles are secundary to speed. No mouse. High readability. Secundary screen information is delayed on purpose. If you think this is not necessary try to run 200 qso's/hr on a 33 MHz machine.
I will have a laptop, will install linux on it and of course tlf. I hope it will work.

5. Tlf must be a high quality, reliable program. This has priority over flexibility (e.g. more contests). Bug fixes have a high priority, feature requests a lower one.

Yes, I have a complain, not very serious, but maybe it is a bug. As CS2004REP or CT14DRB I saw that if did contacts on warc bands (30, 17 and 12 meters) tlf added sum of qso's made, but if for exemple I quited program for some time (could be minuts, hours or days) and then activated tlf again, I saw that contacts in warc bands were not added, only contacts in non warc bands.

6. Tlf must be able to cope with 100k+ qso's in a multi station dxpedition. At the moment the limit is 10k for a contest log. As I want to use tlf on a major dxpedition in April 2005 this is high on my priority list. All fixed arrays have to be made flexible, to take away program limits on lists, logs etc...

7. Although the band map feature is very usable as it is now, I plan a complete rewrite.


8. Tlf must get a much higher level of documentation, even if it grinds the programmer down to a halt. This will encourage outside support and enhance maintainability.

Longer term plans for tlf

When we've done all of the above, the PROTOTYPE of tlf , version 1.0 will be ready. One of the problems of tlf is, that the author is a cw contester, not a programmer. I had not written 1 line of C code before starting tlf. The skills came with time. A perfect example of 'training on the job' (some call it 'programming by errors'). Those of you who do a lot of programming themselves will notice the difference in programming style between the latest code and the first attempts from 2 years ago. In fact I should freeze the development now and start a new modular design based on the working prototype we have at the moment. I doubt, however, if I could motivate myself again to undertake such a huge adventure. It would mean a stand-still of the development of tlf for 1 ... 2 years. Another way of tackling the problem is to take the code as it is now and isolate / transform / modularize / clean / document it one piece at the time. This would take even longer, but it would enable tlf to grow in the mean time, be it at a slower pace than it has done during the first 2 years. There is no better motivation than working against a deadline toward the next, enhanced version if you want to use it in the next contest.

Congrads, it is dificult to learn C language, so my congrads for fine program tlf.

In the long run I want to turn tlf into a library to make it independent of the user interface.

In my view there are some major issues regarding the acceptance of tlf by the contesting/dxpedition community.

9. Guest operators 'do not care about what software to use as long as it is CT'. The lesser experienced the OP, the more he needs CT. So try to 'sell' the CTCOMPATIBILITY mode first.

I intend to use this feature with my futur laptop.

10. Not enough effort is taken by the Linux community to make it look 'as easy as...'. Hence the ICONS on the Dxpedition desktop. The more users, the better the code.

11. Casual contesters will find tlf 'antiquated' compared to 'N1MM'. No graphics, no mouse, no menus to click.... Not Window$. Don't try to convince them. They are happy.

Of course.

12. In fact, I don't care if someone wants to sell his soul and his wallet to a multinational. But it becomes different during club events, fielddays, multi-op efforts etc. You, as the sysadmin, will have to do some selling.....

13. The 'don't touch my window$ laptop' syndrom. An abundance of Linux laptops is still science fiction. The DXpedition Disk live CD may help. I will put some more time into it (updates etc...), as it seems to raise interest in using Linux for logging, and it helps me organize my own dxpedition stuff.

I intend to use my futur laptop with linux (ok, my daughter wants a windows partition for her :) :) :) ).

14. References and success stories are missing. I am preparing a presentation you could use at your local club meeting, contest club meeting etc... I have been invited to do some presentations at the RRDXA contest club barbecue in Germany, and demo's during the Dutch yearly ham meeting in October. (This takes preparation time as well.... sigh... so I may as well put it on the web site).
Fine, if then you could send me via post it will be fine, I have download limitations on internet.

Open projects I have no time for at the moment
============================= 15. Log analysis software. Not necessarily inside tlf, ADIF input would be o.k. I think. I have a wish list available... (ncurses based pse...). Nice project for Perl!! 16. Addition of some major contests: IARU, WAE etc... simple but time consuming. 17. Update of tlfdoc.html... The man file is up-to-date, but the html doc is not. This is not difficult, but it's WORK. 18. Various HowTo's describing how to configure multi setups, voice keyers, etc etc... from own experience. Support welcome ===========

The development speed of tlf depends to a great deal on outside support. Due to personal circumstances my own development capacity has decreased by 50%, and I hope to keep it at that level. Meanwhile the testing time for a new feature has increased to 10 x coding time. If you have any comments, or if you want to volunteer, please let your Voice be Heard...
I wanted to hhelp you more, but my imagination is my bigest problem.


Rein PA0R

Many 73 and hope to contact you again, via email or in cw, best regards to your family.

David Quental

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