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In many ways to hell with the consequence!!!

I will start by saying I am totally amazed by the level of support given by the group of I'm guessing mainly volunteers within this forum and the user2list. And that is a genuine statement.

What I seem to be getting confused about and or annoyed about, is some of the solutions provided seem to (IMHO) indicate either an anomaly or 'BUG' in the code.. By suggesting that a fix can be made by changing line xx in the abc.php file well surely there is something wrong? I am poking the borax at NO-ONE person NOR is the intent to POKE THE BORAX. The intent is to work together to ensure that when suggesting editing xxx.php file that is may be the last ditch response, and once given a note is made for the TNG development group to look into and see if a permanent solution is found and issued in a later release, even better a monthly release that has all updates for month zzz in. Should there not be an option for line xxx that allows for 'weird situation' to be changed. Perhaps even a css method (if that is indicated)?

I ask this because whilst I do have a level of competency and can be tenacious enough to root through and find the issue (or at least get a good handle on it as in the past) others do not. Saying that it indicates a level of courage as well to go rooting through files and checking and playing, hopefully without breaking (I do have an offline playground) TNG. Perhaps others do not, and whilst I will admit the level of instruction to sort stuff is pretty damned amazing too (way much better than I could ever achieve) I am sure some are totally overwhelmed, may say thanks very much and live with the issue cos they ain't playing in that sandpit.

And I am guessing the solution to this is not as easy as 123 done. WHY?

1] Time - It takes time to figure shite out, who has it and why should whom-so-ever go to that extent?

My answer, TNG is a paid for product and generally given I see a major upgrade as going from v12 to v13 there is a cost involved its reasonable some-one spends time resolving these issues / 'Bugs' permanently.

2] So many issue /'Bugs', how can we keep up?

Microsoft does it.. Sure they have a budget of billions and thousands of folks to do it, but Bill started somewhere on his own pretty much, and probably did not have the level of volunteer support TNG does.

3] What's wrong with telling folk to edit xxx.php file??

 From what I have read especially after revealing the large amount of direct coding I have done, is that xxx.php file may OR maynot change in a minor or major update.. And no-one is able to know that until the update is done.. NO list of files changed or changes to files is provided with an update. Hell after going through all the files during my first major upgrade I could read that this file (just by various comments within) had not been touched since lets say v10.

There are probably many more reasons I can list, but hey I am not trying to split open a hornets nest here, I have a genuine desire to learn, understand, and help.. How much help I am not sure, but I will do what I can.

I realise I will have the backs up of a few here and that is not my intention. As I have been told already 'Suck it up'. 'A common goal I think we all have' as Yoda might say!

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Philip Roy

I don't really get the point of the post sorry.

If it's a bug, report it once the solution has been agreed/found.

If it's customisation that would benefit everyone if there was new functionality (like being able to turn off registration fields rather than just hack the file to hide them) then I post in the suggestions section. I truly hope Darrin reads that section. Those sorts of requests are simple, as if implemented, it affects no one expect those that want to turn it off.

If it's a customisation you can live with and it's not a big deal, stick with it...like me hiding the collapse of the admin menu is not enough to warrant a feature request IMHO.

If it's customisation that is entirely for your tastes and unlikely to be the same as anyone else's, then just live with it I guess?

I just think your post is way too broad to respond directly to.



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Yeah I'm a long winded bastard, and do go on..

However I think you have the concept and point of what I was saying pretty right.

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Robin Richmond

You might be surprised to know that even I have been accused of being long-winded - even a bit too opinionated - from time to time. To wit, this follow-up posting is waaay too wordy, but I'm not going to take the time to edit it down. Enter at your own risk. 

Complexity of upgrading mods to match the new TNG version.

Well, that's one of the awkward aspects of an application that is so dependent on independently-developed mods. But I would say that a couple of us could have taken better advantage of the beta-testing period to work on mod upgrades and discover new conflicts, and I'm pretty that illness was a factor for at least one programmer.  And, unfortunately, some developers of useful and popular mods have left the community, so their mods had to be picked by other mod programmers once their absence was noticed.  Overall, I think that most developers did upgrade their mods quickly and smoothly, and I wonder if you just happened to run into some of the relatively few mods that were delayed or broken. 

Regarding a list of files that have been changed in a given release:

Each TNG version does come with a pretty extensive Revision History, although I guess that it can escape notice, since the toggleable heading for Revision History is below the fold when the produce release page is first opened. In theory. the Revision History could include the files changed, but it's not that common for revision histories to be that specific (certainly, mine aren't), and since one history entry could involve several files, and a fair number of files are likely to be updated for multiple revision history listings, adding that information would be a hassle and perhaps not as enlightening as one might think.

Just looking at the incremental release file is a very simple way to get a list of the files that have changed, although, of course, without annotation of which revision history feature affected each file.  To determine the specific changes that have been made in each file, you essentially have to compare the new files to the old files, and the most accurate way to do that is to download each full release (NOT to install each full release, of course) and compare new files in the new release with the same files in the old release.  Having the full release also gives you a solid backup for files that get corrupted on your site.  The incremental release isn't sufficient for that purpose because it doesn't contain all files. (BTW, all site admins should have a good file-and-folder comparison tool on hand. For me, BeyondCompare is essential, and possibly the gold standard. Some folks use the free Winmerge, and I know that other good products are out there.)

Regarding patches:

I think that we get incremental versions at a decent rate. I don't know of any software for which each bug or 'glitch' fix and enhancement (one can't always distinguish between the three) is released as a patch immediately . (Actually, Darrin did distribute several individual file patches through the discussion list this time. I'll touch on that later.)  Instead, as with TNG, the patches are accumulated until someone in charge decides that it is time to release the incremental version.

Regarding bugs

I believe that the number of bug fixes in each TNG release is quite small given the size and nature of the TNG code set, and particularly considering that the TNG product is, for most practical purposes, a one-man operation that I think would be cheap at at least three times its price. I am frequently amazed at how few true bugs creep into TNG code.  I sometimes grit my teeth when I see old formatting that could be replaced by styles, but I also haven't internalized the saying "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.".  (Actually, as many TNG users know, my own mantra is "If it ain't broke - I'll fix it!!")

The notion of voThat said, though I don't think that this release was '"bad" by any means.  It's possible that   I do think that TNGv13 may have had more bugs in it than the average release, but I can't swear to that.  There was a long beta-testing process, with, a lot of knowledgeable and conscientious testers, but, frankly, I'm personally embarrassed over some bugs and glitches that escaped me (and the whole beta-testing team) during the beta-testing process.  (More on that later.)  I think that Darrin shared more individual patched files on the discussion list that I've seen before,  and he put a patch zip file on the TNG download page; I've never seen that before.  I suppose that is good new and bad new. Bad news that he  needed to do so, but good new that he did it.  And I think that he issued TNGv13.0.1 a bit more quickly than he generally does with the first incremental version, but I might be wrong about that.  In any case, that's another example of getting fixes out in short order.

Regarding bug reports and enhancement requests

Darrin does reliably follow the TNGusers2 discussion list and the TNG Facebook group, but not the TNG Community.  Bug reports should go either to the discussion list or directly to Darrin.  Enhancement requests are a bit problematic.  The "New Features and Suggestions" forum is a starting point for a discussion about the desirability of a new feature, and, in a sense, a request for a mod that might implement that new feature for those who want it. But at some point, someone has to submit feature requests directly to Darrin.  Alhough I sometimes think that enhancements requests I send to Darrin should somehow get more attention than similar enhancement requests I might send to Microsoft, well, that's my ego coming out. I've learned to always pass any enhancement ideas through others, and when I can, to try to implement some semblance of them.  I admit that, more than once or twice, I've brought forth what seemed to me to be no-brainer suggestion that have been met by the TNG community with a resounding yawn.  

What's wrong with telling folk to edit xxx.php file?

Well, it does happens from time to time on the discussion forums, but almost always, such suggestions are made to a few site admins who happen to be involved in a discussion about a specific small tweak. And, yes, some of us (maybe quite a few of us) can and do pull it off, and that's great. But I think that making hard-coded patches is awfully dangerous for broad or casual use.  Making make direct edits to TNG files is just begging for problems with mod conflicts and upgrades.  As with any application, too many code fragments are too much alike for such instruction to be safe for wide use, especially considering mods changed and moved, thus obfuscating or invalidating a specific patch.  Shoot, I myself have know of situations where a mod developers screwed up such an edit.  Sometime, I've been tempted to think "well, if you can't handle it than don't try it", but life doesn't work that way, and the TNG community tries too hard to help people through what seems to be simple problems for us to voluntarily encourage problematic patches. 

My own suggestions

  1. I'd love to see someone take charge of the "New Features and Suggestions" forum, figure out a way for users to vote on enhancements, and send a summary to Darrin for his consideration. 
  2. It sure would be great for a volunteer to develop a thorough TNG testing plan, or at least some semblance of a list of TNG characteristics and features that could be tested. (This would not require any programming knowledge, but would not be a short and simple task.) Again, I was amazed at the detail of some beta-testers' efforts, but yep, we missed a few glitches that I think that we should have caught. A testing plan wouldn't be panacea, but it should help.
  3. It would be interesting to see if there could be a way for the the TNG community to fund the development of some mods, perhaps including some mod-management-infrastructure mods.  Significantly, I'm talking just about mods, with no inkling of an expectation that they would become part of TNG.  Since I've let that cat out of the bag, let me me emphasize that I DO NOT mean to begin to even tentatively suggest the notion of trying to fund enhancements to the TNG product. Without meaning to speak for Darrin, I have to say that it strikes me that such an idea would completely break the TNG business model. 
  4. It sure would be great to have a better way to browse and search for mods, and, for example, to check mods off of a global "ready for TNGv13" list. (Ken did implement some helpful Wiki pages with lists of mods and their status vis a vis TNG13, but boy, it would be nice to have that process at least partially automated).  FWIW, months ago, I came up with a way to use Wiki searches to create a static list of mods (or at least of mod articles on the Wiki).  I promised to implement it, but just haven't.  I'd be happy to pass instructions along to a volunteer.  It would ideal to incorporate version numbers and descriptions into that list, like in the Mod Manager Comparison report, but capturing that data manually take a whole lot of cutting and pasting.  Version number and descriptions could be extracted using PHP code adapted from my Mod Manager Compare mod, but, of course, that could, for most most part, only be done by a PHP programmer.

- Robin

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Actually, a quite succinct and logical response.. Again, I do like the attention to detail you put into these missives. I respond per your 'list.. And Wordy is the 'Word of the Day' 😄

Regarding Mods - Not sure where I mentioned Mods not being updated to the latest version quick enough, maybe there was an implied thought. It was not intended.. Firstly, because like all volunteers who do for TNG, 'VOLUNTEER' is the operative word. Some may get a little extra here and there, whatever, but generally most if not all do help and create Mods for nothing.. So hey, gotta live with a delay. Hell, Ken has been saying he hasn't had a chance o update his own site to TNG v13.0.1 yet. Too busy helping others. Not sure if he got there yet either!!

Regarding a list of files - I have seen the Revision History and you are correct it is quite extensive in its listing of changes etc. Damned fine too. However unlike you, and maybe many others who have used TNG for a number of years and kinda know the ins and outs of the modules and relating that TNG changes made as listed in the Revision History, I and probably quite a few others are not so well informed (so to speak). I may not realise the effort that may be required to create such a list, but do feel something could be done to make it easier to see exactly what files have changed. I have, started to add a comment at the top of each php module I change that includes the current version of TNG. I could also add a date of last change, but as I am now creating Mods to save time and effort  I don't see the point, and maybe don't really need the version number up there either. My point is there must be a way to make the process of checking files against each other for version changes without impeding work flow. Maybe I am being too anal about it.. I mean even Mod writers are asked to version change each time an update is made.

Regarding patches - I cannot really comment on patch updates and their regularity.. Not been around long enough to know what a real patch cycle is. And I agree Darrin did work hard to get 'patches' out very quickly and for that I and many others do appreciate. I will confess to being confused about what was patched and what was not, and which file should I d/load as well. Again IMHO if a patch was made, then the version number of the file should be increased to (say in the first round) we had of patches say 13.0.1, 13.0.2 etc. Maybe even 13.0.1a, 13.0.1b, to allow for further time before having to go to 14. Something like that.. Then everyone would have a clear understanding there was an update available and this is the right file to grab. The additional patch file released, whilst I believe was the right idea, seemed to confuse some, including me when I was stressing about a broken set-up.. And again, if 'patches' were and do carry on in the same vein, then perhaps it could be the method of delivery for all patches to V13.01 and the patch file could be called Patchv13.01xxx and this file includes all fixes from point a to point b, (beginning of month to end of month as example).

Regarding bug reports and enhancement requests - I may have not got my thoughts right and also used not so good terminology in stating this. I call almost anything a 'bug' tis what I have done since the days of DOS 1.x and Basic etc. No it don't mean I'm smart, just oldish and done some things in my time. Implying that something is a 'bug' was my way of saying, 'hang-on, is this something that should be addressed in a future update, or maybe we had better look at how we have explained the use of this, or maybe we have not pointed folk to the right place to make this change." But there you are, I have learnt something here.. "Bug reports should go to the discussion list (user2list) or directly to Darrin". I have heard the directly to Darrin and have had it implied re 'bugs'. And to extend on your idea a little, why not (at the very least) have a list made available either on FB and/or here on the forum regarding reported and verified 'bugs' that are being looked at, that could be ticked off when a fix has been completed AND released. A volunteer could look after that too!

I will admit, to thinking I was going to be famous when I 'released' my first Mod. I thought 'Now who would not want to use this handy little Mod that does a pretty cool trick (IMHO) with the Lat/Long coords'. But hey suits me don't suit you.. Thats the way the ole cookie crumbles.. I got over it.. 😄

What's wrong with telling folk to edit xxx.php file? - It is a conundrum for sure, but I think we see the same issue, the resolution though well Hmmm the conundrum!


Your Suggestions

1] I would volunteer happily to be part of this, I have a feeling one or two others would also consider helping, but won't speak for them. - Bloody good idea BTW (I did have a look at the forum S/ware (a quick look) to see if it had the ability to create surveys or voting, couldn't see it outright, but who knows. May be worth checking further)

2] This one is something that could be sorted within the 'developer group' (I'm calling it that rather than beta testers and others that help with development). It is a bit beyond me, however maybe from an 'End User' perspective it might be clever to pull in one or two relative newbies and have them do the normal upgrade and play bit etc, checking the new features out and of course doing the normal 'User' 'who reads instructions' deal.. Not so they can say, shite feature, but to make sure that it works and it is easy to understand/implement/use.. Programmers, Beta testers etc, are always looking at things from a different perspective (IMHO) and NOT grasping the 'End Users' actual experience or desire.

3] Well that would be an excellent idea, and may have to rely a little/lot on Idea 1 so it is a fair and equitable result. I believe many people put a great deal of effort into developing their mods, enhancing and supporting.. Some may be retired, so do it as a hobby or whatever, others may already be employed and also do it as a hobby, but with less time to do so.. Whom so ever had their Mod sponsored (shall we call it) should be as a result of a resounding vote of confidence in, person, product, and support.

4] Shortest response -YES!! to all you said..


Sorry for my long windedness again.


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