about using winboard

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Ras
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Re: about using winboard

Post by Ras » Mon Feb 26, 2018 5:36 pm

Fulvio wrote:That been said, I think this thread is a little bit ungrateful. It's free software and I'm sure that a lot of time was spent in its development.
I wouldn't be that harsh in my criticism if Winboard were somewhat modestly labeled as a free tinkering project, that would be totally fine, why not.

However, HGM's repeated claims were that this chess GUI was the best one, along with some pokes at other GUIs. It's a high standard to apply here, and Winboard fails miserably to measure up. Time for a reality check.

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Re: about using winboard

Post by Fulvio » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:20 pm

hgm wrote: The problem is that 'absurd design choice' is a rather unhelpful qualification, if it doesn't tell me why this is considered so absurd. 'Innovative', perhaps. But it doesn't sound particularly difficult or cumbersome to have to click the clock. Nor especially taxing that you have to remember that you have to click the clock.
User interfaces, both textual and graphical, are a way to communicate with a software, a sort of language. Many words are related by a logic, for example if you know the meaning of "reason" it is not hard to guess the meaning of "unreasonable", and when reading "absurdity" you'll expect something absurd. If you click on the clock you may expect to start/stop it, or maybe to set it, but in any case something related to the clock. I hope we agree that clearing the board doesn't have any logical link to a clock.
Let's address the "innovative" part. Let's take the word "clock" as an example: Middle English clok, Middle Dutch clocke, modern Dutch klok, Old Northern French cloke, etc... Everybody else is calling it a clock, but you are innovative and decide to call it "bell". It's not "especially taxing that you have to remember that" every time someone communicates with you, but not very smart either. Defining a click on the clock as "clear the board" will waste all the common knowledge and creates a useless communication hindrance.
Since everybody else use a "clear board" button, your design choice is absurd (Of a thing: against or without reason or propriety; incongruous, unreasonable, illogical).

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hgm
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Re: about using winboard

Post by hgm » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:31 pm

Ras wrote:That would be a starter, yes. However, that doesn't solve the problem that editing a position still is not possible because you can only move pieces, but you cannot add new ones. That is why the Shredder GUI opens an "edit board" along with piece icons at the side. And side to move. And castling rights.
All the pieces you need are usually there, if you start from the standard opening position. And you can summon that position as a result of the 'clear board' clock-click cycle, as you apparently had not much difficulty discovering.

But this boils down to an issue of discoverability, rather than an ease-of-use issue. Because it is actually easy to create new pieces. In many different ways, actually. For one, you can not only move pieces, but you can also copy them, by holding down the Ctrl key during the move, as usual. And there is the possibility to summon up a context menu by right-clicking, if WinBoard is configured for that, from which the piece to create in that square can be selected. Alternatively, there is a mode where the right-click places a Pawn (the piece that is needed most frequently), which can be changed into any other piece by moving the mouse pointer vertically before you release the button. Or, in WinBoard 4.9, you can repeatedly right-click the placed piece to change it into something else.

I guess this brings us back to another way in which we seem to look at things in a different way. For me, that fact that the 'factory setting' of a feature might be configured in a way that is less to your liking has zero weight in the judgement of the quality. What matters is the quality of the way that the user likes best. Because that is what he well set it for, and what he will subsequently use. So bashing the fact that WinBoard happens to be distributed with rather fat grid lines doesn't convince me of anything. As it is pretty simple to switch that off for those who don't like it.

Discoverability, btw., is not in conflict with power usage, that is a cheap pretext. But it's rampant especially in open source where the willingness to suffer from bad user interfaces often is coined into a sign of intelligence. Quite funny, actually.
You think that the fact that people need lessons to drive a car is because all existing cars are poorly designed? Bicycle designers seem to have no such problems. Is that because they are much better designers?
Let's take keyboard shortcuts, which usually are what users prefer once they are proficient with a GUI. The right way to implement that is to make them discoverable via the GUI. Means, each (important!) menu item should display the shortcut how it could be accessed alternatively. The user will easily remember the commands he uses often while still not be stuck on those he uses rarely.
Well, that is exactly how it works, in WinBoard and XBoard, right?
In the Shredder GUI, I can do several things in analysis mode, e.g. doing multi variant analysis. How to increase/decrease the number of PVs? By hitting F6/F5. How do I know that? Manual? Pffft. Right-click on the PV outputs because right-click usually opens a context menu. That's as always in Windows because even the file explorer has it that way. Among the available options, there is increase/decrease, and they tell also F6/F5.
Well, in WinBoard I right-click above the PV, on the words "Multi-PV / more" or "fewer". I must admit there isn't any keyboard shortcut for that (otherwise the words to click would probably have read "more (F6)" and "fewer (F5)"). Because this is already so easy that I never felt the need to use the keyboard for that.

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hgm
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Re: about using winboard

Post by hgm » Mon Feb 26, 2018 6:45 pm

Fulvio wrote:I hope we agree that clearing the board doesn't have any logical link to a clock.
Well, I already conceded that it is probably more logical to have the 'clock' you need to click to clear the board display the text "clear board". But the point is that this change in practice is a zero-impact change. When I want to clear the board I know where I have to click, and that is what I will do, without even looking at what is written there. If I would have to actually read what is on the buttons I have to click, it would slow me down by an order of magnitude... So it is basically a cosmetic change, not affecting my user experience in any way. But it probably improves discoverability, which is a valid incentive for doing it.

Fulvio
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Re: about using winboard

Post by Fulvio » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:17 pm

hgm wrote: So it is basically a cosmetic change
Still with the wrong mindset of focusing on HOW to code it: it's trivial so it doesn't really matter.
It's technically easy to change the label of a drug bottle from "poison" to "vitamins", but nobody will agree with you in considering it "basically a cosmetic change".

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Ovyron
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Re: about using winboard

Post by Ovyron » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:33 pm

MikeGL wrote:Also, the source is online. Anyone can just grab the source and
include or remove a feature until it fits their needs.
It's telling that all the programmers I've seen with enough knowledge to have the capability of fixing Winboard to make it usable have chosen to instead, program their own GUI from scratch, with sound design choices, as if starting from a good foundation from scratch was easier than dealing with Winboard's mess.
Your beliefs create your reality, so be careful what you wish for.

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hgm
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Re: about using winboard

Post by hgm » Mon Feb 26, 2018 7:48 pm

Fulvio wrote:Still with the wrong mindset of focusing on HOW to code it: it's trivial so it doesn't really matter.
It's technically easy to change the label of a drug bottle from "poison" to "vitamins", but nobody will agree with you in considering it "basically a cosmetic change".
No, that is total nonsense. I cannot even begin to suspect how you could believe that, because it has no connection at all with reality.

It is a cosmetic change because I, as a user, won't even notice it. Even if it would have taken 2 years of programming by a team of 50 programmers to achieve it, it would still be a cosmetic change, if it doesn't affect my user experience in any way.

Ras
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Re: about using winboard

Post by Ras » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:00 pm

hgm wrote:All the pieces you need are usually there, if you start from the standard opening position.
Oh, great. So the intended workflow how to add a new piece type to a positon seems to be:
- hitting crtl-alt-print.
- firing up MS Paint.
- hit crtl-v.
- back to Winboard, choose "new game".
- menu->edit.
- shuffle the pieces into the positions from the screenshot while taking care to temporarily place pieces to squares unused in the target position.

This is the most ridiculous way of editing a position I've ever seen.
And you can summon that position as a result of the 'clear board' clock-click cycle, as you apparently had not much difficulty discovering.
Unless that feature is also broken in that it does something other than it tells, the reason why I got the initial position was exactly that the un-edited position was the initial one.
But this boils down to an issue of discoverability, rather than an ease-of-use issue.
That is the same. If a GUI is only useful once you fully know it, then it has failed as a GUI. I already mentioned that you can expect domain knowledge, everything else must be self-explaining. Unless, and that seems the case, you want a really crappy GUI.
And there is the possibility to summon up a context menu by right-clicking, if WinBoard is configured for that
Which it isn't. Having to configure Winboard to do basic things like a context menu is just another way in that Winboard is broken.
Alternatively, there is a mode where the right-click places a Pawn (the piece that is needed most frequently), which can be changed into any other piece by moving the mouse pointer vertically before you release the button.
*LOL* How sick is this one?! It's actually funny that in trying to explain why Winboard isn't insane, even more insanity pops up.
What matters is the quality of the way that the user likes best.
Insane default are a hallmark of bad software. You as programmer know the software best, and if you are unable to come up with sane defaults, then the result is a bug, it's as simple as that.
You think that the fact that people need lessons to drive a car is because all existing cars are poorly designed?
The reason why driving lessons are necessary is that cars are quite dangerous machines. It is easy to kill oneself or others with them if you use cars in the wrong way. Bad as Winboard is, but it doesn't reach that level, if only because it's physically impossible. So the comparison is nonsense.
Well, that is exactly how it works, in WinBoard and XBoard, right?
It was yourargument that discoveribility would hinder power users. But I'm fine if you agree now that this argument is nonsense.
I must admit there isn't any keyboard shortcut for that
Uncombined shift keys are rare, effectively 11 (F1 is help - hopefully also uner Winboard). So the decision whether or not increasing/decreasing the number of PVs depends on whether this operation is assumed to be used often or not. I'm using it often, but I wouldn't generalise from here. Anyway, this was just an example how to enable power users while still providing discoveribility.

Uhm, btw., I forgot to mention some other items. The windows are separate, and I didn't see an easy option how to "combine" them so that collective movement or easy rescaling works.

And the chat. Well most chess GUIs don't have that feature at all, so that's difficult to compare. Still, on the monthly tourneys, I found the chat awkward. No participant list displayed, which is also why clicking on a participant for the /msg equivalent didn't work. Maybe somehow configuring a better external chat program would solve that one without much programming that wouldn't really be chess related.

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Re: about using winboard

Post by Fulvio » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:07 pm

hgm wrote:It is a cosmetic change because I, as a user, won't even notice it.
I think I have the ultimate suggestion on how to make it the most perfect and memorable GUI in history: randomize all the button labels on every start!
You, as a user, won't even notice it, and it is only a cosmetic change, but the innovativeness!
Think about it, the spark of genius, the freshness, the thrill in every click...

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Re: about using winboard

Post by Guenther » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:10 pm

Ras wrote:
hgm wrote:All the pieces you need are usually there, if you start from the standard opening position.
Oh, great. So the intended workflow how to add a new piece type to a positon seems to be:
- hitting crtl-alt-print.
- firing up MS Paint.
- hit crtl-v.
- back to Winboard, choose "new game".
- menu->edit.
- shuffle the pieces into the positions from the screenshot while taking care to temporarily place pieces to squares unused in the target position.

This is the most ridiculous way of editing a position I've ever seen.
This is complete nonsense. It seems you have never tried to edit a position in WB?
It escapes me completely why you want to open 'MS-Paint' and do all this
crazy stuff. Just add the pieces, which are already given with one click.
It is clear that you have never looked at a manual or description for
the various WB versions.

Here is good start:

https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/whats_new/

e.g.
https://www.gnu.org/software/xboard/whats_new/4.9.0/
https://rwbc-chess.de
https://rwbc-chess.de/chronology.htm
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The troll explosion at talkchess:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/ ... KSptBx9AUs

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