Conventional wisdom dictates that nursing a software development project to release status involves producing a series of candidate releases. The series should converge on the final “gold master” release. The differences between each member of the series should progressively decrease, so that towards the end only tiny refinements are made. Certainly near the end there should be only bug fixes. No new features!
Now admittedly this is a modest, one man project. But you might think this conventional wisdom was still broadly applicable. My publically stated plan was that each beta version would be a candidate release, and I was hoping there might only be one such beta version.
Well I have torn up the plan and introduced some important new features at the last minute. Why? Well there aren’t many pluses to putting in countless hours on a free piece of software. But one of them is that you are master of your own domain so you can do anything you want! More seriously, once I finally release Tarrasch V2.0, I might not work on it again for a long time, and I don’t want too many regrets (I should have added this… I should have added that…).
Sorry Yves and others, there is still no engine v engine mode. That is a really big job, and it will be the main goal of Tarrasch V3 (if there is a Tarrasch V3). Here are the features I’ve added since the previous Beta version, in decreasing order of importance;
- Main window width can be usefully widened.
- Main window size and position are preserved across sessions.
- Small chess board graphics option.
- Chess notation can now use any letters from the Roman alphabet, not just the English language convention.
- Custom UCI engine parameters can be specified (e.g. specify reduced Elo strength for training games).
- Changes to game dialog column widths are preserved, not only within sessions but across sessions.
- Pasted text to an empty move window is automatically promoted to chess moves if possible.
- Stopping kibitz does not immediately clear the kibitz window.
- Optionally, skip game selection menu if there is only one game in .pgn file.
- Optionally, do not use italics for subvariation display.
- Null move “–” (unofficial .pgn extension, useful for describing threats) supported when reading from .pgn files.
- Keyboard Delete ^C, ^X, ^V in game selection dialog.
I have also fixed a minor slew of bugs. Emphasis on minor. The (first) beta version met my goal of being a lot less buggy than the alpha version. What the heck, the list is short enough to report it here. These are bugs present in the first beta version that should not be present in the updated beta version;
- Status line doesn’t appear at start up.
- Moves window doesn’t follow mouse wheel movement.
- Delete key shortcut not mentioned in Edit menu.
- Editing games unnecessarily spawns a duplicate game.
- Undo sometimes repositions incorrectly, for example the last undo unnecessarily takes us back to the home position.
- Promoting comment to variation properly supports continuations (as well as variations), but the continuation case should only apply at the end of a variation. Continuations in the middle of a variation cause problems instead of failing gracefully.
- Promoting comment to variation only works within the first of a series of alternative variations.
- Demoting variation to comment fails (badly) in the case that the whole main variation is demoted.
- Green book moves window takes on a “muddy” appearance if rewritten multiple times in (some?) Windows 7 systems. (This has been a problem for a long time, I’ve finally found a work around – no idea what the underlying issue is).
I briefly flirted with the idea of naming this release Tarrasch V2, announcing victory, and disappearing into the sunset (metaphorically hopefully). But no, that would be too crazy. I still have enough belief in conventional wisdom to believe that changes on this scale will inevitably have one or two negative consequences. My new plan is that there will be one more release (the gold master Tarrasch V2 release) after this. The best case scenario is that Tarrasch V2 will be released before the end of this week, and will be the same as the new Beta version I am announcing here, plus one or two (or maybe zero) small refinements. My fingers are crossed!
You can help by downloading the new version and reporting on your experiences here.