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Unread 12-21-2010, 01:04 PM
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(preview) LotRO Character Journal for Adobe AIR

As you may or may not know: way back when my.lotro.com first arrived and data.lotro.com didn't even exist, I released a Character Journal gadget for Windows Sidebar. A year after that date, I announced plans that the project would be moving in a new direction and that direction would be Adobe AIR. Not only does AIR support multiple platforms (Windows xp and up, OS X, Linux, Android and even iPhone/iPad) but it's a lot more flexible than the Sidebar Gadget API.

Flash forward (no pun intended) a couple of months, and I find my free time stolen by playing with the newly introduced Lua Scripting in the F2P beta. Unfortunately, the "awesome" new lotro.com site broke my method of getting data, and F2P introduced a few more servers - so recently I released an update to that Sidebar gadget.

Since I was back in "gadget land" already, and got a nice reminder about that AIR project I said I was going to do, I figured that it's about time to actually get around to it. At this point, it's pretty close to being ready to be tested - nearly all systems (both code and UI) are functional, with PvP display, settings storage and touchscreen support being the main items still left on my to-do list. Since it is so close to being finished - I thought I'd take this time to display some screenshots, as well as give a bit of info on what to expect.

Default View

This is what you're going to see most often - it's the default "state" after all of your characters are loaded and before you interact with it. Sidebar Gadget users will note that it's a bit wider than the docked version. This is done for two reasons, first - it's the only size, and second I'm not forced to limit the size to 130px so it fits on Vista's Sidebar. Beyond that, layout is pretty much the same. Character name on top, race, level and server below that, class icon in the middle, and kin name towards the bottom.

Beyond asthetics, there are two main changes in the UI. First, the single "More" link has been replaced with a set of three buttons (left-to-right: Stats, Crafting, and PvMP) and there's a suspicious absence of arrows. In order to keep a clean layout while conserving space, navigation will now be done with Mouse/Touch gestures. Simply clicking/pressing on the area where the kin name is displayed, and "swiping" in one direction or another, will flip through your characters in the appropriate direction.

Stat Slide-out

Beyond the obvious lighter color scheme, the layout of the stats is exactly the same as the Sidebar Gadget, albeit a bit easier to read. Monster players will also get their own stat pane, displaying the information made available.

Craft Slide-out

Although it would be nice to fill this in a bit more, maybe using appropriate progress bars and the like, that information isn't available - so it simply displays your Vocation, Professions, and Proficiency/Mastery levels - similar to the lotro forum signatures.


You're looking at an example of reason #2 to make an AIR version. If I were to try to do this on the Sidebar Gadget (and believe me, I did try) You'd end up with a "nice and festive" bright pink border around the tooltip. That's the reason the Sidebar's tooltip is generally crammed into the gadget itself.

You'll also notice that like the game, and unlike my.lotro.com, it's "item aware" -in other words, set pieces and bonuses will highlight appropriately based on what items you have equipped.

Settings (Gadget Back)

The decision to go with a Mac Widget-style settings on the "back", made putting the same settings as the Sidebar Gadget a bit challenging. While the behavior and settings themselves are the same as the Sidebar Gadget, the icon/loading status icon had to go. Instead, the row itself changes color based on whether a character is being validated, is validated, or there's an error (i.e. character doesn't exist). Also unlike the Sidebar Gadget, it will retrieve and save a validated character's class, in order to...

Loading View

...do this. As each character is loaded, their name, server, and class icon will display above the progress bar - which, in my own opinion anyway, is a bit cooler than just seeing "Loading..." with the Vista/Win 7 "donut"

In addition to loading the data for each character, it will also preload the icons for each character as well. This is to make changing between characters look a little bit better, as you won't have to see icons "popping" in as they're loaded. Since there's now up to 21 items to load per character, it makes a progress bar (in addition to the numeric progress) feasible.

Other Notes
  • Like alluded to above, you won't have to leave your Creeps at home - they will be fully supported, although - since they have no equipment, the center of the gadget will look a little sparse
  • I will make an announcement in this thread when a beta version is ready
  • Android devices will be supported to the point that this gadget will be coded to function appropriately. However, I will not make any changes to the size/layout of the gadget, as it is designed primarily for the desktop. With the slide-out open, and tooltip displayed, it will take up an area of 420px X 525px.
  • Although I already have a few Android users that have volunteered for testing, I will certainly welcome more.
  • For those with Android devices with lower screen real-estate, I do plan on creating a proper Android app, unfortunately that won't be until May - when I'm available for an upgrade.
  • As always, any suggestions, questions, comments or other feedback is more than welcome.

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Last edited by Digital_Utopia : 05-30-2011 at 02:37 AM.
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