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Unread 12-21-2010, 01:04 PM
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Digital_Utopia Digital_Utopia is offline
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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.

Tooltip



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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  #2  
Unread 12-21-2010, 02:51 PM
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That looks absolutely stunning!
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  #3  
Unread 12-21-2010, 08:44 PM
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Uthboth Uthboth is offline
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Looks good, I'm still running 1.6 (Android) and set for an upgrade sometime next year. Once that happens I'll help test it out if it's still in that stage.
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  #4  
Unread 12-23-2010, 12:28 AM
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I'll do a "proper" release - with better documentation tomorrow, but for now...

Beta release!

This should be completely functional on Windows xp (and up), OS X (10.4.9 and up) and various Linux builds. Android support is not ready yet.

Installation Instructions

1. Get it here

2. Follow the instructions there

I Come in Peace!

You will get a rather scary looking warning when you attempt to install this gadget - mostly because I don't have the $200/year minimum to get a proper signed certificate. LCJ does (obviously) access the web, and the only part of the filesystem that it accesses is the settings database - which it also creates.

Troubleshooting

If you are a Windows user, have downloaded AIR previously, and after clicking the "Install Now" button, it gives you a message saying that it couldn't install, and you should get AIR, try following these steps.

1) Uninstall AIR
2) Go back and click the Install Now button at the above link
3) Let it install AIR through the badge. It "should" work now.

If you're still getting that message after you install AIR through the badge, you can manually install/run it by following these steps

1) Download the .air file
2) Go to (32-bit) C:\Program Files\Common Files\Adobe AIR\Version\1.0\ or (64-bit) C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Adobe AIR\Version\1.0\
3) Run the "Adobe AIR Application Installer.exe" file.
4) When the file browse dialogue pops up, find the .air file you just downloaded and run it.
5) Follow the prompts to install it.

Initial Startup

When you first load the gadget, move your mouse pointer over it, and look for the stylish "i" in the upper right hand corner, click it to flip the gadget over and add your character(s)

To add your characters, simply type in their name, pick their server, and either click the Add button, or hit Enter. Your character will be added to the list below with a yellow background, followed shortly by that background turning green. This signifies that your character is validated (i.e. it exists). If the background turns red, double check your input. You can edit the character by clicking on the row, making changes, and clicking "Save".

Once you're done, click OK, and the gadget will proceed to load the data for your character(s), and display the first one on the list.

General Use

To navigate between characters, click the area where your kin name displays (under the slots and above the three buttons at the bottom), and move your mouse to the left or right. Moving to the right will go to the next character, and to the left, the previous character. At this time it will not loop, so when you reach the end of your characters, you'll have to go back in the other direction.

Clicking any of the three buttons on the bottom will slide-out a "tray" with more detailed information. Clicking on a different button will change the display, while clicking on the same button again will cause the tray to slide back in. From left to right, the buttons are: Stats, Crafting Info, and PvMP info.

Moving your mouse over any of the slots (that actually have icons) will display a tooltip to the right of the gadget. Items that have not been added to the Lorebook/data.lotro.com, will still display a name, but will only display an "Information Unavailable" message below the name. Also, when viewing a tooltip - the set section may display a set piece with the name "N/A" - this means that while the item you're viewing exists, that particular part of the set does not - and the name of that piece is unavailable

In conclusion

Feel free to do your worst - the more bugs/issues/problems that you find, the sooner they can be fixed, and the better the quality. Any suggestions or other feedback is more than welcome.
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Last edited by Digital_Utopia : 05-30-2011 at 02:47 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 12-23-2010, 12:59 AM
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Eili Eili is offline
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For now, installation worked fine on Win xp.

I installed myself Adobe Air, and then your program installation worked perfectly.

I uploaded 5 of my 18 characters and so far they are all up to date but i will check that better tomorrow.

Thank you very much
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Unread 12-23-2010, 07:54 AM
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celtictoad13 celtictoad13 is offline
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Aesthetically speaking its very nice and very easy on the eyes.
Deployment via this thread Nice Job Digital.
Running very Smoothly on a Windows 7 64 & 32 bit systems. Its not being that much of a resource hog ~59000 K of memory

Couple of things to point out...
1) Have 7 char loaded and only able to view 5 *** after reloading it is only saving 5 not the 7 I thought it entered**
2) NO real exit button on the interface. Reason I point this out is the 'casual user' would be wondering how to close. Experienced user would know of two ways Taskbar and Windows task manager. Might want to add a exit button, if possible.

Last edited by celtictoad13 : 12-23-2010 at 10:00 AM. Reason: Comment to point 1)
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Unread 12-23-2010, 10:05 AM
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Digital_Utopia Digital_Utopia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by celtictoad13
Aesthetically speaking its very nice and very easy on the eyes.
Deployment via this thread Nice Job Digital.
Running very Smoothly on a Windows 7 64 & 32 bit systems. Its not being that much of a resource hog ~59000 K of memory

Couple of things to point out...
1) Have 7 char loaded and only able to view 5
2) NO real exit button on the interface. Reason I point this out is the 'casual user' would be wondering how to close. Experienced user would know of two ways Taskbar and Windows task manager. Might want to add a exit button, if possible.
1) Seeing that issue myself, in addition to a very overachieving movement handler that interferes with the scroll bar. Just to make sure we're on the same page: I'm able to add/verify an unlimited amount of characters, but after hitting OK, it just loads 5. Closing and re-opening the gadget/app will still load only 5 characters, and only 5 will exist on the list.

2) You make a good point about the close button, in fact, due to the desire to have this as something that just sits in the background, I'm not exactly thrilled about the taskbar icon in the first place.

At any rate, I'll look into both of these, and I guess I'll get a chance to test out updating

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Feedback questions:

1) If a close button is added to the gadget, would you rather keep the taskbar button, or make it go away?

2) Although the original intent for the "bubble" that the level number is shown in was for purely asthetic reasons, that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. One possible use for it is to change color based on server status for the server the character is on. Like the idea? Don't like it? Have a better idea? please let me know!
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  #8  
Unread 12-23-2010, 10:17 AM
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celtictoad13 celtictoad13 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Digital_Utopia

-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Feedback questions:

1) If a close button is added to the gadget, would you rather keep the taskbar button, or make it go away?

2) Although the original intent for the "bubble" that the level number is shown in was for purely asthetic reasons, that doesn't mean it has to stay that way. One possible use for it is to change color based on server status for the server the character is on. Like the idea? Don't like it? Have a better idea? please let me know!
1) Good Question. I would say either/or. But for standard practices in 'gadgets' for windows environment removing the taskbar button would be sufficient enough.
2) Like the idea of using it for server status.
Green = online
Red= offline
and maybe a 3rd color to show server full status.
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  #9  
Unread 12-23-2010, 10:50 AM
Cassiopeia Cassiopeia is offline
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Using it on a Mac, so I don't know if the Windows version has this issue.

Guild info is not behaving correctly.

1) If I load a set of 5 characters, and the first one is in a guild, they are all reported as being in the same guild, even if it's not true.
2) If I delete each character in turn, and click OK so the display is a blank display, then add 1 character, that character is displayed as being in the previously listed guild. This is without having exited between deleting all characters and adding 1 more. Thus, the guild name is persistent within the session.
3) If I delete all characters, exit the application, restart it and add 1 NOT in a guild, it has Keepers of the Sacred Potato listed as its kin. If I subsequently add a character who IS in a guild, they BOTH become listed as being in the guild of the 2nd character. After exiting the application and restarting, the first character is listed as being in Keepers of the Sacred Potato until you switch to the 2nd character and then both show as being in the 2nd character's guild again.

Otherwise, it's a nicely done job.
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Unread 12-23-2010, 11:39 AM
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Digital_Utopia Digital_Utopia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cassiopeia
Using it on a Mac, so I don't know if the Windows version has this issue.

Guild info is not behaving correctly.

1) If I load a set of 5 characters, and the first one is in a guild, they are all reported as being in the same guild, even if it's not true.
2) If I delete each character in turn, and click OK so the display is a blank display, then add 1 character, that character is displayed as being in the previously listed guild. This is without having exited between deleting all characters and adding 1 more. Thus, the guild name is persistent within the session.
3) If I delete all characters, exit the application, restart it and add 1 NOT in a guild, it has Keepers of the Sacred Potato listed as its kin. If I subsequently add a character who IS in a guild, they BOTH become listed as being in the guild of the 2nd character. After exiting the application and restarting, the first character is listed as being in Keepers of the Sacred Potato until you switch to the 2nd character and then both show as being in the 2nd character's guild again.

Otherwise, it's a nicely done job.
I appreciate you bringing this to my attention, I'll add it to my "to-do" list

@celtictoad13: tracked down the character issue. Short answer: I need to double check documentation better in the future. Long answer: The property I was using to get the number of characters in the list (rowCount) actually only returns the number of visible rows - which, regardless, will always be 5.
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