Miniban/feedback 2006-02

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Table of contents

My system:

  • Dell Axim x51v
  • Intel PXA270 processor @ 640 MHz
  • 64 MB RAM
  • 256 MB ROM
  • Windows Mobile 5.0

Your software:

Miniban Version 0.6.0831.12

Welcome Screen:

The Welcome Screen is very nice. The colors are well chosen (at least to my thinking,) and the buttons are easy to read.

Miniban Help:

The introductory comments are a little terse, though all of it is useful information. Since you’re developing this for PDAs, I understand trying to keep the executable size small, but you might want to consider a little more explanation. Another option is to create a User’s Manual that can be downloaded separately from your site (let the user decide if he/she wants to spend the memory on his/her PDA or not.) A friend (and fellow Go player) has different Go recording software, but the same observation about documentation. I believe this would be an easy area for your software to differentiate itself from other similar programs.

(Sebastian:) Good idea! This should contain (among others - grafted from comments below):

  • biggest board size
  • uses of Miniban Game Screen (see below)

Set up a Board Position:

The board setup works well. The interface is intuitive, and it’s easy to place and/or remove stones. My only comment is that I didn’t see a way to allow white to make the first move when you switched to play mode.

(Sebastian:) Should work when handicap=1. (have yet to test it). Workaround: Pass

Open Saved Game:

This function works as expected, except that choosing Cancel exits the program. I thought it would just return me to the Welcome screen.

(Sebastian:) Makes sense.

Also, this probably isn’t the right place to mention this, but this is where I noticed it. The date/time stamps for saved games don’t seem to be right. Are you reporting last access instead of creation? Is this all you can report on a PDA?

(Sebastian:) Miniban uses the time when the file was saved. This was not because of some limitation, but because it allows saving of intermediate game situations, which is helpful in two cases: (1) Backup (2) variations. Why do you feel it's not right?

(Jim 2/13/2006:) I've noticed that the file times don't seem right when I attempt to load a saved file. I checked using my PC tonight. If I view the files through the file explorer from my PC (using an ActiveSync link to my PDA), the file times are different from when I view them in the load screen of Miniban. For example, one of my files has a file time of 2/6/2006 at 12:27:14 when viewed on my PC; but has a file time of 2/6/2006 at 7:27:14 when viewed with Miniban.

Record while Playing vs. Record while Observing:

I’m not certain you need to make this distinction. The only difference I saw was the Recorder field is given a different value–and I can change that manually if I want. I didn’t see a lot of value added here, and think you could simply have a “Record/Play Game” button.

(Sebastian:) You're right: As currently implemented, this isn't a worthwhile distinction. It was actually because a request by Anders Kierulf, which I misunderstood. He records his own games with Miniban, and he would some other features as well, such as different timing. Should call this "1 recorder" and "2 recorders" or so.

Miniban Options:

Overall, the Miniban Options screens are very nice. They’re divided well, and show well on my screen, with a couple minor exceptions noted below.

Players Tab:

When in the Players tab, if I chose Cancel I was returned to the Welcome Screen (which makes sense), but I then got a busy icon from Windows. It didn’t seem to want to go away (I waited several minutes), but did disappear if I selected an option (and didn’t seem to effect program execution).

(Sebastian:) probably bug – need to investigate.

Entering players’ names had two minor inconveniences, but no real problems. First, if you select “<other>” to manually enter a player name, the name field that appears is not automatically given focus. This caused a little confusion on my part until I realized what was happening. Also, the keyboard on my PDA covers up the bottom half of the OK, Cancel, and Reset buttons, which makes them a little hard to see, read, or use. I don’t know if you can, but if you could shrink the size of the input text box a little, it would eliminate the overlap.

(Sebastian:) These are all bugs – however, I seem to remember that they are already in the built-in function, which means I would have to rewrite this function myself. So, unless it's really a big problem I'd rather not fix them.

Game Tab:

I was very pleased with the selection of board sizes; in fact, I was very pleased with the choices in general on this tab. I did notice that the “Size” label is greyed out; was that on purpose, or does that need to be changed?

(Sebastian:) probably bug – need to investigate.

Also, in the Result field, it would be nice to be able to enter a score instead of just “W+” or “B+”. But again, this is an annoyance more than a problem.

(Sebastian:) Actually, I was planning to add automatic scoring. But this would certainly be a good solution for now and later. (why shouldn't a user be able to override the automatic?)

(Jim 2/13/2006:) I agree that it would be nice to override. It wasn't a problem in that the user can at least enter the outcome in terms of the winner.

I did notice that, unlike in other fields, the “<other>” selection does not allow for manual entry in this field.

(Sebastian:) probably bug – need to investigate.

Event Tab:

No real comments here. I liked the layout and the field choices. I thought it was cute you included “U.S. Go Congress” in the Event field and “Houston, TX” in the Place field. I remember you introduced this software at that event.

(Sebastian:) Yes, that's actually what I even developped it for. But it wasn't me who introduced it – that was Anders Kierulf.

File Tab:

This tab doesn’t do anything that I can see when setting up a game. Neither field would allow me to enter values. I assume this tab is not yet operational? I did notice these fields are filled in for saved games (discussed later.)

(Sebastian:) No, it's not meant to be operational. I had a user request to display these. I acknowledge that it looks a bit clumsy, though.

Miniban Game Screen:

I like the board layout and colors. My only comment is that the “Tap on an empty field to make a move” message is partially cut off by the board on my screen. Again, this isn’t a problem, but you might try eliminating a word; perhaps “Tap an empty field to make a move” would work better.

(Sebastian:) good idea – thanks!

I found I could also eliminate this by not using the biggest board size option. This is something you could mention in a help file.


I was initially very confused by the clocks. Not with how they work, but with their existence. You see, you initially have the Biggest Board and Clock options on, but you can’t see the clocks (on my screen) when the biggest board is displayed. If you’re going to start with the clock on, you might want to use the smaller board instead.

(Sebastian:) Good point. Maybe I can distinguish this between "1 Recorder" and "2 Recorders" mode.

Placing Stones:

Placing stones is very intuitive. No comments here.

Capturing Stones:

The game grid is not refreshed when a stone (or group of stones) is captured. This can be very disconcerting, especially when large groups are taken. I could get around this problem by zooming the view and then returning to the original view. I assume this causes a screen redraw?

(Sebastian:) Yep, bug! (Easy fix; I kept it because I weirdly liked it at the time, but many other users complained about it!)

Moving Placed Stones:

I really like the ability to move placed stones. When recording a game between two other people, I accidentally placed the first six or seven stones incorrectly. This feature allowed me to fix the situation without disturbing the players or interrupting play.

On the downside, I had some troubles when dragging a piece. If I didn’t end my drag on an intersection (and that’s a good bet with the 19x19 board), the software seemed to think I wanted to zoom in instead. This caused some frustration on my part, especially when recording games between other people.

(Sebastian:) Are you sure it was the end? This should depend on the beginning.

(Jim 2/13/2006:) I am embarrassed to admit I can't seem to recreate this bug. I've tried since receiving this comment, and with a single exception the software has behaved beautifully. I will keep trying, however, and let you know if I ever succeed.

As I tried to get back to recording, I could easily get a couple moves behind. I think you would be better off to move the piece to the intersection nearest the end-of-drag in this case. If it’s wrong, the user can fix it.

(Sebastian:) What about this made it distracting? Was it that you had to find it in the menu? Would a button help?

(Jim 2/13/2006:) What made it distracting was a combination of the unintentional (and unwanted) transition to zoom mode combined with my own unfamiliarity with the software. Once I was in zoom mode, it would take me several seconds to figure out how to get back to a normal view (and yes, navigating menu items was a factor here), during which time the players would generally make a move or two. This would leave me behind in my recording. I'm not certain a button would help this situation, though more experience with the software might :-).

Deleting Moves:

Deleting moves works well. No comments here.


When passing, it would be nice to have feedback. I wasn’t certain anything happened when I passed. You could post the message “White Pass” or “Black Pass” in the message area. Of course, this means you’ll need to either clear the message area on the next move, or put the standard “Tap empty field” message back up.

(Sebastian:) good idea!

Also, I discovered that if Black passes during the game, and then White makes a move, that the last White move played is changed to Black. Example: White has just moved (say, W7). Instead of moving, Black passes (perhaps he’s that confident of victory.) Then, White plays again. This move (W9) is displayed correctly; however, W7 is changed to a black stone. The reverse (White passes) displays correctly.

(Sebastian:) Ooh, bad bug! Thanks for finding this!

The Two Unknown Buttons:

There are two buttons that I couldn’t figure out. One has a star pattern and the other has a question mark. The buttons are shown below.


(Sebastian:) This is the annotate button, which by default marks moves as bad. – (question mark per SGF standard - call me a pessimist!)


Oh, and I figured out that the star pattern button mentioned above is a “hot spot.” I still don’t know what it’s for, though.

(Sebastian:) It's just like a highlighter, or a bookmark. It isn't my invention, it's part of the SGF standard – see [ext]

The Menus:

The menus generally worked well. The File→Save menu uses a default name you generate. This surprised me, since the File Tab in the Options screen (mentioned earlier) doesn’t include any file name or directory.

I didn’t realize Edit→Mark was a toggle. This caused some frustration on my part.

(Sebastian:) Yes, this sounds like a weird logic, given that it has a submenu. Instead, should have "remove <current mark>" instead of the "<current mark>" submenu entry.

I’m not sure it’s a good idea to have editing options available in record/play mode. If I’m recording (especially a game between other players), I don’t think I’ll have the spare time to enter comments and such.

(Sebastian:) Well, I do ;-) E.g. in teaching games. When I play with friends, we sometimes discuss such things. Why do you think it hurts?

(Jim 2/13/2006:) I was thinking of this from the standpoint of recording games, and only potentially editing them afterwards. In this scenario, the edit commands aren't really needed. However, your counterexample is a reasonable scenario in which the edit commands are useful. I hadn't thought of it that way, but you're right. Forget this one :-)

Loading Saved Games:

Loads for games other than 19x19 do not load correctly; they load on a 19x19 board.

(Sebastian:) Bad bug!

Also, the “move to end” does not work correctly. Whether you use the button or the menu option, moving to the end of a saved game causes the program to crash.

(Sebastian:) Wow, even worse!

Game Editing:

Since you said this isn’t finished yet, I’m not going to comment on it. If you want me to look into this, please let me know.

(Sebastian:) Actually, I never completed it. As for me, I just used SmartGo for the heavy editing. Do you usually edit games on your PDA?

(Jim 2/13/2006:) No, though the previous comments about editing make me wonder if I shouldn't in the future. To date, I have used my PDA only for recording games. If I wish to edit them, I generally transfer them to my PC as well.

Miniban/feedback 2006-02 last edited by velobici on January 29, 2007 - 15:11
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