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Re: [XBoard-devel] WinBoard installer

From: h.g. muller
Subject: Re: [XBoard-devel] WinBoard installer
Date: Sat, 06 Jun 2009 09:56:34 +0200

At 21:51 5-6-2009 -0700, Tim Mann wrote:
I've been too out of touch to have detailed comments on H.G.'s message;
I'm not familiar with most of the programs he mentions.

I would just like to put in a plug for keeping things simple and fairly
small by default.  I think the "simple" install should include one
decent engine, timestamp, and timeseal (and little or nothing else),
and the download should include only those things.

In principle I agree that the basic install should be as small as possible.
but in adition to what is mentioned above I would include Polyglot
(which is an adapter to run UCI engines under WinBoard). This new
WinBoard has options to automatically invoke Polyglot; the only thing the
user has to do for running a UCI engine is to tell WB the engine is UCI through
the -fUCI or -sUCI command-line options. The user thus never has to be
aware that Polyglot even exists, and I think it would be a strategic mistake
to necessitate him being aware of it during the install. Practice has taught
us that the average Windows user will not know what to do if he gets the
error message "Fatal error; polyglot.exe not found" when he tried to run
a UCI engine.

Polyglot.exe measures only 28 KB...

Disks are big but
some people still have slow internet connections.  Also, I think people
who just want to do simple things (not engine collectors) are in the
vast majority, so we should make things easy for them.

True, but I expect there is a large group of users that will want to analyze
games with the strongest engines they can lay their hand on, which means
they will want to use Crafty (WB) ,Toga (UCI) or Glaurung (UCI) if they want
a free engine, and Rybka (UCI) if they are willing to pay for it. Not providing
automatic UCI support will greatly reduce the appreciation fo our product.

But it's still great to also have a "gold pack" with everything you
need to get started doing more complicated things.  I think that could
either be a separate installer package, or (if the person working on
the installer wants to do it), it would be cool to have one installer
that has an options screen that lets you check more things to

This is more or less the idea. Jaap told me this was not very difficult.
I think bandwidth is a valid concern, though. I would not want every install
to start with a 100MB download, out of which only 1MB is used then for
people selecting the minimal install.

But we should see things in perspective, and below a certain size, I don't
think we should worry. E.g. some (uncompressed) file sizes:

1.153 KB  winboard.exe
  860 KB  wcrafty.exe
  428 KB  GNUChes5.exe
  101 KB  GNUChess.exe
3.624 KB  book.dat             (GNU Chess book distributed with 4.2.7b)
    28 KB  polyglot.exe
    18 KB  fairymax.exe

The installer downoad for 4.2.7b measured 5.7MB. It (optionally) contained
GNU Chess 4, GNU Chess 5 and Crafty; if the user selected to install all
of these, the package would occupy 14.6 MB disk space. Without selecting
Crafty this would reduce to 8.2 MB, without any engines at all this would only
have been 3.7 MB.

So I think it would be a bit silly to worry about the size for components like
Polyglot and Fairy-Max, which would only add ~1% to the download. On the
other hand, I think we can put a serious question mark on including an opening
book more than 3 times the size of WinBoard, which will only benefit a single
engine (GNU Chess). If we want to include an opening book at all, it would be
more logical to include a book in Polyglot format, which can be used by _every_
engine (through the GUI). And of a more modest size, such as the "default.bin"
opening book, which is supplied with the Gold Pack, and meaures only 662 KB.

I think this is a good general guiding principle: people that want the biggest and
the best won't be satisfied by whatever we can give them anyway, but will go
hunting by themselves. But we want to supply something rather than nothing
at all, however modest, just to demonstrate the possiblities. Windows users are
awfully quick to conclude that "this feature does not work", if they can't get any
visible effect (or get an error message) on the first click.

Even that should be simple in the sense that there should be
an easy way to say "give me a deluxe install" and get more or less
everything.  (I say "more or less" because maybe the installer might
eventually know about a large number of engines, and hardly anyone
would want to download them all at once.)

Just some thoughts.


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