An update on version 2.6.5 (was 2.6.3) and some news on version 3

So many version numbers!  Anyway, what was once 2.6.3 is now version 2.6.5 because I released a bug fix to solve an issue with the legacy asset types, that became version 2.6.4.

But let’s move on, the focus of version 2.6.5 is to allow different languages to be used for the user interface.  So you might have a German or Greek translation of the text you see on screen.  This post is an update on how that is progressing.  In short, it’s going slowly.  There are a number of issues at play.  The first is that it’s mind-numbing work, I literally have to be doing else at the same time or I go bonkers.  Finding a text string in the code then determining where to put it in the strings file takes time and I have to ensure that I’m following the rules that I’ve set up in the strings file.  For example, all the strings used for defining menu items in a popup menu (what you see when you right click on something) are in the following structure:

“popupmenu”: {

“items” : {

… items go here

}

}

I have to ensure that whenever a popup menu is defined I use the same structure and, where possible, the same names for items that perform the same or similar actions.  If a menu item creates something then it should be called “new” in all places.  This is designed to build a vocabulary that those who will be creating the translation will be able to learn and grow accustomed to, when they see “new” they know that it means “create something”.

Another issue is that I have to make sure that a string is actually used, over the years a certain amount of cruft has built up in the code and some things, upon investigation, aren’t actually in use anymore or are duplicating code from elsewhere.  This is a tedious detective work process, think Columbo and his “just one more thing”, it sucks up time and energy.  Admittedly, it makes the code more streamlined and easier to work with but it is a grind.

A further issue is that I have to keep the person creating the translation in mind.  The identifiers I use need to be semantic, as much as can be possible, so that meaning can be derived from the label itself.

Thus a translation creator will see a text string label like:

allprojects.headercontrols.items.add.tooltip | Click to create a new ${objectnames.singular.project}

Hopefully they will be able to glean that this relates to the “All projects window header controls buttons and is the tooltip the user sees when they mouse over the Add project” button(hey, I can dream).  The ${…} construct allows me to refer to other terms previously defined within the file, thus the name for a single project is defined by: objectnames.singular.project, similarly the plural is defined by objectnames.plural.project.  That way, if you change the value in “objectnames.singular.project” then you don’t have to change the tooltip value.

A while back I created a file of the files that I need to check, basically all files that contain a string that “might” be used within the user interface.  Originally that file had around 400 file names, as of writing it has 106 left, that is I have 106 files left to check/change.  However a number of these files are pretty big and core to the user interface and each one can take a number of hours to go through.  For example, over the weekend I tackled the Projects window (the allprojects from above), just one file took nearly two days.  You can see the changes here.  You need to expand the “Landing.java” file to see it all, lines in green are the ones I added, red is stuff removed.  Apparently I’ve changed 159 files since I started, you can see the full list of changes here.

All of this pseudo whining is leading up to me saying, I’ve still got a while to go and don’t know when 2.6.5 will be released.

Version 3

Onto version 3 news.  It looks like it’s going ahead!  For a long time now I’ve been trying to get away from using Java Swing and move to a new UI technology called JavaFX.  Swing is basically dead and no new development has been done on it in years.  However the thing stopping me ditching Swing is the need of a good, high performance text component in JavaFX.  There is now such a component available, called RichTextFX and I’ve been looking into it for a while.  It has excellent performance (much better than Swing) and doesn’t have some of the irritating rendering bugs that Swing has.  However, it’s not a panacea and I need to add a couple of features to give it full parity with Swing.  When I get truly bored with the UI string changes I’ve been working to add these features.  Once that is finished I can get started on moving QW over to JavaFX and start reaping the benefits, such as:

  • A native Mac and Linux version
  • Full skinning, including user provided skinning using CSS, this also allows the use of multiple themes that can be time triggered, a common request I get is to have a dark theme for night time use, JavaFX lets me easily do that
  • Potential for a mobile version
  • More complex and interesting components and full web support
  • Simpler code, simpler build process
  • Animations and transitions, for example I will be able to have popups and sidebars slide in and out rather than just “appearing”

A few months ago I actually moved the Projects window (Landing.java from above) to use JavaFX, it took me about 4 hours to do and it looked better and allowed me to create better, more interactive features.  Most of those 4 hours were me becoming used to the new code and CSS classes.

So, in summary

So to wrap up, development of QW is still going on apace, the next big version, version 3 will be started soon and 2.6.5 will be out probably by the end of the year to allow for user translations of the UI.  For V3, let’s pencil in mid-2018 and I’ll keep you posted with updates in the meantime.

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