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Re: [XBoard-devel] beta version

From: Eric Mullins
Subject: Re: [XBoard-devel] beta version
Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2009 08:23:40 -0600
User-agent: Thunderbird (X11/20090608)

h.g. muller wrote:
At 06:45 14-7-2009 -0600, Eric Mullins wrote:

I sort of agree the startup dialog is an abomination. But it does make the program more friendly too. I just envision an extra script included with the xboard package. Say 'xboard-startup', which we could recommend to people having trouble running xboard proper. It would gather information about how the user wants to run, and then invoke xboard with the appropriate command line arguments to achieve this. It could also add features the xboard program doesn't have such as remembering board size preferences, fonts, etc. It could become quite elaborate, though that wasn't my original vision.

That is one of my reservations. To not make it a half-hearted job that is of no use to people anyway might require a real effort. IMO it is a real problem that XBoad does not remember any of its settings, although proper use of .Xdefaults (which I have no idea how to do as a non-Linux user) does solve most of that.

.Xdefaults is what I use. The problem of course, is that regular users don't know what that is, and are loathe to go that route even given a concise example.

Basically, the design of xboard is fine for computer literate, but poor for everyone else. Linux on the desktop is beginning to take hold, though. So at least considering ease of use for neophytes makes some sense. This is more important with the GTK+ version than with this release, though.

Also, any such startup script can be easily distributed anytime, even via email. So it's not a big deal to have this for release really. Except it'd be nice to tell someone on a forum to 'just run xboard-startup instead of xboard'. Heh.

I can never run XBoard without giving a -boardSize argument. The start-up menu of WinBoard is only useful by virtue of the list of pre-installed engines accessible through the combo box, which usually do contain a number of WinBoard options that have to go with the engine as well (such as /fd). If you would have to type the engine name and parameters every time you start, you might as well have started from the command line. The only thing the startup dialog generates automatically is /fcp= and /scp= to amd those are not such a big deal to type.

Btw, the Debian package does contain a file /usr/share/menu/xboard, which seems to define a number of menu entries for XBoard in the section Games/Board. Items to direcly logon to ICC, FICS, etc. When I install the package, however, I don't get to see any of this. I do have only a single menu entry, but it is directly in Games. It might b a remnant of my 4.2.7 install. Does Ubuntu ignore the files in /usr/share/menu? Where does it generate its menus from?

I think the menus depend a lot on which window manager you're running. For Gnome, I know they are xml files automatically generated. I've read they are some of the most complex things associated with Gnome.

I have an Xboard entry in my games menu-- a legacy tidbit of having once installed 4.2.7 from a repository. I have a symlink in /usr/games to whatever xboard I'm using. Right now it's pointing to my git tree, so I'm always running the latest one from git. With the recent changes, I don't appear to have reason to adjust it back to 4.2.7, something I had been doing often before.

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