I must confess that once again I have veered off the course I have previously worked out and gone off piste. In theory what I should have been doing recently was simply polishing and refining whilst avoiding major changes. That was the quickest path to finally finishing Tarrasch V3 and retiring Tarrasch V2.
This is what I’ve actually been doing.
Experienced Tarrasch watchers will notice right away some big improvements.
- The board uses an attractive colour scheme, inspired by the improved Tarrasch Icon I recently introduced. I’ve finally yielded to pressure and added algebraic coordinates as well.
- The program finally uses all the space available efficiently and effectively. The user can resize the three panel layout to their heart’s content, and very importantly the board resizes appropriately to suit.
- Since the beginning I have had a group of big buttons to make it easy for new users to find a few key features (eg start a game with the engine, or setup a position etc.). I think it has always been good from a usability perspective, but there’s no doubt it’s a little quirky. I’ve greatly improved the concept and eliminated the quirkiness with a two tab bottom panel – my buttons are now “Suggestions” and that is the default tab – it has more room available so the suggestions are more descriptive and informative (sorry they aren’t shown in the screenshot). The other tab is the more mainstream “Engine Analysis” and selecting that tab is now available as the simplest and most intuitive way to start the kibitzer. It’s a simple and obvious improvement inspired by the fact that the engine output and the suggestions were always fighting for the same space. Now I’ve (finally) realised the right thing to do about that and it’s a change that makes me very happy.
You can download and start using this refreshed Tarrasch immediately at the project homepage http://www.triplehappy.com. Look for the “Nightly” build on the downloads page. I will probably update the Tarrasch V3 Beta build very soon to this newer version. In truth I am now finding it hard to look at older versions of Tarrasch V3 (and Tarrasch V2) without experiencing something akin to physical pain.
So it’s more important than ever for me to get on with the remaining refinements and finish this thing. The goal is to have one version of Tarrasch, with the new look, all the new features, and greater finish quality and solidity than ever before. My Github process is now mature and refined as well, and any developer can quickly start working with the Tarrasch code with none of my old compiler warnings and wxWidgets headaches. I’ve made some progress on platform portability and so Mac and Linux versions are on the horizon as well. Soon Tarrasch will be both a superb practical chess program and a good development platform for future enhancement.
What are the remaining refinements I speak of? I still have a few user interface improvements to make – now I have improved board graphics I want to migrate them to the position setup and game preview windows. And of course the user should be able to edit the colours and optionally have highlight colours to identify the most recent move. But most importantly I need to pay real attention to the workflow options within the program. I need to make sure games, tabs and files work together seamlessly irrespective of the order that the user does things. I’ve somehow managed to get this far without really putting that aspect of the program under the microscope and properly tightening it down – I urgently need to identify all the corner cases and do the hard yards needed to make sure they are all rock solid.