Windmill Open Beta
As some of you who surfed on clonkforge or on the (german) clonkspot boards may have already heard of our project of creating an integrated development environment for OpenClonk development, because many Clonk (Rage) content developer (including ourselves) have suffered of the lack of an easy-to-use IDE or something like this which is specifically intended for Clonk content development as for example the Clonk Rage Editor.
Windmill is an application which is based on XUL and Mozilla's XULRunner (Gecko engine), so it is based on web languages. (Mainly because this are the languages we usually use the most) It should be a replacement for what the Clonk Rage Editor was and even more. It was planned as a whole new interface to the game, because it connects development and the community in one application. (Concerning latter: Besides the currently implementation of the masterserver view (including an integrated notification system like the one on clonkspot!) and the option of hosting the game, it was also always a wish to connect all those loose community pages (openclonk forum, clonkspot forum, clonkforge, ccan, Lorry or something similar) into one spot, so new players can easily find a way into the community.)
In its current state, Windmill's developer mode already features:
- an integrated scripteditor module (including C4Script syntax highlighting)
- an integrated meshviewer
- a module which is intended to make working with sprites easier
- a module which should make work with Scenario.txt-files easier
- an editor for BMP files completely designed for landscape files (you get a palette including all color indices and their material-texture combination)
For more information, you can see our clonkforge project page and our clonkspot miniblog. (german)
After about one and a half year of development, Windmill finally got into a beta-ish state in which we wanted to make the development process public. From now on, Windmill is accessible on Github.
Github link: https://github.com/ClonkGeist/Windmill
Installation Instructions: https://github.com/ClonkGeist/Windmill/wiki/Windmill-Usage-Instructions-%28BETA%29
Feel free to test it and report any feedback in the forums and bugs in the issue tracker.
The release versions should be standalone though.
Whoa, this long "configuration process" with wall after wall of text makes the whole thing feel like OC editing is a super complex thing. :-(
Also, I find it very weird that it shows up as another firefox window.
After all configuration, the left bar shows that it is unpacking my player file (why? I didn't click anything) but never finishes. The log says "Unpack failed; Closing: No Error". But I also do not use a Firefox development build.
The features I can access seem somewhat complex or unnecessary to me. A player selection dialog? A simple checkbox seemed to be sufficient in the old editor, but well, fair enough.
But what on earth is a a "Resource Safe Mode"? And an "OpenClonk manager"?
Ah, after enabling and then disabling that mode, the file tree finishes loading. Unpacking also works. But when I want to edit a Scenario.txt, it just shows "loading Objects.ocd" for eternity.
The syntax highlighting, code completion etc. is nice, definitely, but I for one would never switch from my trusty Notepad++ to an editor that is "like a website". I don't trust these things. So, also looking at how few people actually use Mortimer's fully featured Eclipse plugin (also with code completion, breakpoints and all that) instead of their editor of choice, I ask myself how much sense it makes to create and integrate yet another code editor into this IDE. How many people would actually use this?
If I extrapolate from what I saw, I have my doubts that this program will become accepted as the IDE of choice for clonk editing. It feels over-engineered at places and feels as if you first have to "learn" how to use this program before you can just start editing. I think it would have been better if you did not try to make Windmill into everything (right from the beginning) - An editor, a IDE and a player's frontend - but instead focused on one thing and got early feedback from the community. Now you basically developed on the q.t. for one and a half years and it will be quite hard to change certain basic things based on user feedback now.
I personally wouldn't mind changing to this editor. I stuck with Notepad++ actually because of all the autocompletion and autoformat features (adding closing parenthesis, insertion of tabs and so on). But apart from that, I'd love an editor with 3d / mesh features. And yes, there are a few things I don't quite get yet but it's definitely not as bad as learning Eclipse!
>Whoa, this long "configuration process" with wall after wall of text makes the whole thing feel like OC editing is a super complex thing. :-(
This whole process is more or less beta stuff, we aim to make many things much more clearer than they are now, but this process takes time.
>A player selection dialog? A simple checkbox seemed to be sufficient in the old editor, but well, fair enough.
Why not? Its not really like its that much work, but it fits much better with the interface and it clearly sets player for the devmode and gamemode, which otherwise wouldn't be clear. (Why should I change my players in the devmode, when I want to play a normal network game)
>Resource Safe Mode
It is meant for example if you want Windmill to scout for games in the background. (Everything else should be unloaded and take no more resources)
Afair it should be explained in the configuration process. But this is still only a half-implemented feature which is more an idea, because it would need more support from OpenClonk itself. The idea is, that you can manage multiple versions of OpenClonk (stable, snapshot, ...) and easily play scenario X using one of these versions, or if you're switching from developing on the current snapshot to the stable version to join a network game etc.
>But when I want to edit a Scenario.txt, it just shows "loading Objects.ocd" for eternity.
This is definitely a bug and we would be thankful if you could give us the logfiles with the error.
>It feels over-engineered at places and feels as if you first have to "learn" how to use this program before you can just start editing.
As stated above (and multiple times in posts, the configuration process etc.), that's why we made this beta public. So we can work on this kind of feedback and make the whole process much more self-explainable. (But to be honest, I never felt that an IDE has absolutely no learning process though.)
>I think it would have been better if you did not try to make Windmill into everything (right from the beginning) - An editor, a IDE and a player's frontend - but instead focused on one thing and got early feedback from the community.
This was and is the main aim for Windmill though - to merge all those loose tools which you can get here and there into one thing, because all those searching can be a nerve wracking process especially for newbies.
I don't say that you're wrong with what you said, many things are true for Windmill in it's current state, but this is also the point. Many things, especially the configuration process which was quickly written for beta use (so it is not too time consuming), still need more work on those sharp edges, but its there so people can test it and make this process faster. While I'm still thankful for your feedback, I unfortunately have to say that this kind of feedback is exactly that kind of feedback, we feared the whole time and the reason why we would have rather delayed a public version much longer. (until everything gets more refined)
In general your feedback seems appropriate to me. But for me it rather shows how much work needs to be added:
Like making it feel less like a website and give it reasonable feedback on what I do. Consinstent ui-design and mouse input interpretation (Both pretty hard at some point as there are very different needs of at most places). Also the point that clonkgeist raised with the lack of self-explaination is very important as it counteracts to the feeling of an over-engineered tool. Not to forget that every bug adds to suspicious feeling that a user has and there are still a lot in the current state.
I think if we work on these points and make Windmill much more trustworthy your feedback might change into better. And I personally look forward to that time - for sure Windmill currrently doesn't feel to me perfect either.
The configuration at the start is a bit overkill, imo. Average users will be scared by stuff like downloadign ogrexmlconverter, setting up their own workspace folder and being asked for GIT. At least the xmlconverter could be already included or downloaded automatically and the workspace in a default directory and the git stuff in advanced options. It is important to have the plug and play feeling of the CR Editor. Just start it up and start making your first Explode(9000)-Flint. :) Make it understandable for 6 year olds!
I like the look of the design, but in some places it is cryptic. Although the buttons look "clean" I have no idea wtf the buttons do, unless I blindly click them. Some tooltips would be helpful, or labels instead of just icons.
The scenario creation dialogue could involve more steps, instead just a checklist. People will have no idea what to tick, if it is their first time with clonk.
Bottom line: Everything should be understandable for bloody noobs but at the same time not involve too many steps to reach your goal, because there are many impatient ppl out there. :)
>Make it understandable for 6 year olds!
Good point. We're trying to make it suitable for every sort of user. That's why we implemeted a special user-interface for scenario settings, which could also be replaced by a simple texteditor. Probably one needs to rethink at some point the startup-dialog to not confuse the user. Nevertheless in my opinion its a pretty neat thing that you are forced to seperate your workspace, because that's something that one might regret after some time, especially with the snapshot thing (so you have one folder for snapshots which you can mess up as you wish, but your personal product keep clean and without danger).
Pointing out the xmlConverter, its a bit of a sad story. We can't simply deliver it with Windmill because of licensing even though its a core requirement for meshviewer tasks. And I don't know how much one can create an own *.mesh reader that doesn't need to be updated permanently because of ogre-file-format changes.
>Although the buttons look "clean" I have no idea wtf the buttons do, unless I blindly click them. Some tooltips would be helpful, or labels instead of just icons.
Yip. Icons are a horrendous task. There is so much that has to be accurate in aspects like sympolism, context, style and colors (ouch.) to achieve certain results, that its pretty hard to keep in good without years of experience. We hoped that adding tooltips to most functions gives the needed help. Still some work to do. On the other hand, understanding Icons is a learning process. For sure you won't get used to the tool as any other application that is limited to wide-spread basic icons but if you understand once their meaning your brain might acces their information faster.
As I am the creator of most icons, have you examples of icons that aren't even close to their meaning even now that you now what they are for? So I can improve them.
Taking it all in all, there is much to do. But this sort of feedback is gold worth, so thank you very much. But I still have to point out that making it easy for bloody-noobs can set limits to the creation of clonk content very fast, and that's something we want to avoid. So we need to hit the mark in between of beginner-friendliness and pushing it out to OCs limits of content creation.
Then on the left there is also buttons to hide or show your workspaces. I did not know what they do. When you click them, they change color to indicate a status of either being activated or not activated. But the color difference is not high enough to distinguish between them atm. But even if you made the color more different, I couldn't tell wich color indicates wich state... E.g. if they were black or white, i still wouldn't know wich color indicates wich status. And then I'm like 'Wtf there is a bright button and a dark button, but I don't know if bright means activated or not activated' so yeah.
In the file list itself there seem to be arrows missing. (The triangles you click in file explorers to expand folders )
On the right I did not understand the plant button. Apperently it's for saving resources. Instead of this button it could just ask to be minimized into tray when klicking the close button?
I also did not understand the button with the circles. Looks like a share button.
Overall the buttons on the right seem to work weird. Pushing a button makes a frame pop up from the right side. Pushing multiple buttons makes the frames stack unto each other. I got a bit lost when I was playing around with the buttons and had multiple frames pop up. I tried to close some frames, but I forgot wich button closes wich frame and it made me feel like I am too stupid to use this Software... :(
Idk, maybe good old tabs work better for this kind of stuff?
I'd also like more clear borders for different window elements. E.g. in player mode there is no clear border for the list on the left, wich des not look clean to me.
>Yip. Icons are a horrendous task. There is so much that has to be accurate in aspects like sympolism, context, style and colors (ouch.) to achieve certain results, that its pretty hard to keep in good without years of experience. We hoped that adding tooltips to most functions gives the needed help. Still some work to do. On the other hand, understanding Icons is a learning process. For sure you won't get used to the tool as any other application that is limited to wide-spread basic icons but if you understand once their meaning your brain might acces their information faster.
Woooow don't overthink it too much. They are just buttons. :) I think it's a problem with many modern "applications" the try to look "clean" and "minimalistic" and "easy" but in the end they are totally horrible to use, because the designers seem to have thought too much about the looks and human interaction and in the end nothing fits together and when you want to get to some menu, you have to try and click around like a madman to find the stuff you were looking for.
I never had these problems with classic Software, but these new designs really drive me mad from time to time. :)
Edit: Windmill is not horrible to use, this is more a rant about modern software in general. D:
>this is more a rant about modern software in general. D:
You are getting old. ;-)
Seriously though, I have the same problem with software for mobiles and tables. (And all the operating systems for desktop PCs seem to lean towards this stuff as well.) I really don't understand that - a PC is a completely different device than a phone or a tablet. Sure, for a device that you can exclusively control by touching the screen (with one hand), new/other principles in design and user interaction make sense - but there is no worse idea than to try translate those principles back to desktop PCs.
I don't think that nowadays the design choices are any worse than in the past. We just don't remember the bad designs because they didn't last. The problem is always that current software copies bad designs for no good reasons often because the skilled people (UX designers...) aren't present. It's too bad we don't ever attracted any one of these to OC. Our user interface isn't great. :(
Actually there was a bunch of "We need an Icon for that. And for that. There is one missing too.". And then you have a list of icons needed and you kinda have to pure out ideas, which is partly a creative process, partly a process based on the trial and error principle and you have to guess what's learnable. Think of the icon of three bars arranged beneath each other. On first look its bullshit, logic wise, it could be anything. But now its implemented into every smartphone and browser, which took some time to bring it close to people. For sure we will not be able to influence people that much. But in my opinion that shows what Icons are there for: Connecting an expectation of what will happen with a symbol. Self-explaining icons don't need any aditional information. Other icons are being learned (like the mentioned 3-bars icon). And for some you have to give additional information. And that's kinda what we are missing as the other two options occur rarely in an IDE.
Then there are sometimes limitations - we took unicolor icons to give it a clean and harmonic overlook, which has a big con on the other hand (you deny a bigger pallette of expressions to work with which comes with the use of colors) and sometimes small formats are a test. Designing for 16x16 pixels is rediculous. Sometimes is extremely easy and sometimes is close to impossible. You have to work with absolute coordinates for your vector points to keep a sharp edge for the shape and then it can become very cubic, you can't define details, you have very limited expressions.
Luckily the least icons in Windmill match both limitations but that just shows what's behind it sometimes.
>Woooow don't overthink it too much. They are just buttons. :) I think it's a problem with many modern "applications" the try to look "clean" and "minimalistic" and "easy" but in the end they are totally horrible to use, because the designers seem to have thought too much about the looks and human interaction and in the end nothing fits together and when you want to get to some menu, you have to try and click around like a madman to find the stuff you were looking for.
I cannot agree with you there. Personally I always looked forwards to minimalistic, clean design and smart interactions. I always loved the idea of creating interactive "paper", very decent design, but complex possibilities.</transcendentalSideNote>
But I go there with Clonkonaut, there is a huge lack of experience and well-thought UI design in most software and websites. And that's for me the reason why you wrote that, what I quoted above, even though you said something different. I don't have any reasonable experience and didn't spent as much time to ui and overall design as I wished. We took much design decision because they we're "not too bad" and spent time with the architecture behind Windmill. But I love UX-Design and I hope to increase my skills and knowledge and improve Windmill.
All in all I think there we're some good hints on this topic thank you for writing (you all three). I have some ideas what I can do and we'll see what's possible for me.
Is there any log you can give?
Worse, however, it crashed during deletion and now left me an empty folder on my disc that I do not have any privileges (read, write) to. Even though I'm the only administrator on this PC. This really sucks.
>I really didn't understand that deleting a workspace item in the left area will actually kill the files on the disc.
Hm, either I don't really get what you mean or I don't really get what the expectation is, I mean it's a file overview, so if you delete something, it will be deleted.
>and now left me an empty folder on my disc that I do not have any privileges (read, write) to.
Maybe some processes are still running (of Firefox, Windmill etc.)? At least that was the issue when a similar problem occured to me.
> I don't really get what the expectation is
Well, I created the workspace by using the "OpenClonk Directory" thing in Windmill and pointed it to an already existing working copy (so, I didn't use this 'make me a new working directory' function. I expect it to delete files when I rightclick and delete something, yes (but on Windows it's kind of better to move them into trash instead). But when I delete the 'main' folder icon or whatever, I honestly expected it to delete that 'workspace config' instead of a preexisting folder.
>But when I delete the 'main' folder icon or whatever, I honestly expected it to delete that 'workspace config' instead of a preexisting folder.
You should get a dialog which asks you if you want to delete or unload the work environment, the latter would do exactly what you wanted. (I thought that it should be clear by the naming of the actions, but maybe it needs to be much clearer.)
This should lessen the pain in the future if someone misclicks or misunderstands something. (It's still possible to delete them permanently though by using the "Shift-Del" shortcut, which will show a confirmation dialog before permanently deleting the files)
At the moment, it is not possible to restore files using the "Ctrl-Z"-Shortcut, this will be implemented later if everything goes well. (If you restore files using the Windows Explorer, the Windmill file explorer needs to be refreshed. If workspaces are restored, then Windmill needs to be restarted to display them or you need to manually import them using the "Import" button. If you restore Clonk directories, they will not be automatically detected. (You would need to import them))
(If you want to reset all configuration stuff etc., you can delete the "profiles.ini" which you should find at "%APPDATA%\Windmill\windmill\profiles.ini". This will let Firefox create a completely new profile for you. (If you don't need the old profile you can delete it under the "Profiles" directory))
In the past times we've taken your feedback seriously and we're now up with an update containing a huge bit of UI rework. In general we tried to get lost of cryptic icons and unsatisfying UI interactions. But we also pushed the modular structure of windmill and revamped the settings section completely. As a result the settings are much more obviously sorted and one does now know where they changes will take effect.
At this place we want to thank everyone, who contributed with feedback to the project.
Since there is so much more to do and we want to keep up enhancing UI of Windmill we hope that you will keep on too.
Here is an image indicating what has changed. But for sure, you'll see (and hopefully feel) most differences by using Windmill itself:
And not to forget:
Powered by mwForum 2.29.7 © 1999-2015 Markus Wichitill