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Author Topic: PC software with ONE window?  (Read 1920 times)
K5PU
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« on: April 05, 2004, 11:21:14 AM »

There are lots of good Ham related PC software available that integrates a number of different functions. But everything I find is a 'suite' of programs that all have a seperate window for each element. One window for the log, another for the map, another for rig control, another for this/that, etc.. It all ends up being very 'messy' (if not an ineffcient way of doing things).

I looked at MacLoggerDX and it is very attractive inasmuch as it does everything in ONE main window. I like that because you don't have to navigate between a bunch of seperate windows to do something... It's all right there in one window

Anyone know of a Windows based program like MacLoggerDX that has basic rig control, logger, and mapper in just ONE window?
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KG4RUL
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« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2004, 11:36:11 AM »

My preference in this sort of an environment is to have multiple windows.  I like to be able to pick and choose the information being displayed.

Dennis - KG4RUL
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N8UZE
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« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2004, 11:41:44 PM »

One word: N3FJP
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2004, 04:06:17 AM »

Everyone is entited to their opinion about what looks good and what's easy to use -- and to select software that matches that preference.

In the evaluation of user interfaces, there are at least two independent notions of "efficiency". One is maximal utilization of screen space; the other is optimization of user effectiveness.

It is easy to be efficient with screen space if we're less concerned with user effectiveness: create one window with a tabbed display that lets the user select between multiple items - say a log display, a world map, and DX spots. Very tidy. But the user who wishes to view two or more of these items simultaneously is out of luck, even if he or she has plenty of screen space.

Today, one can provide a lot of information that many users will wish to always see:

- transceiver control info (e.g. RX bandwidth controls, or the settings for frequency-dependent devices like tuners and amplifiers)

- previous QSOs with a particular station or DXCC entity

- incoming DX spots

- a world map display showing beam heading, solar terminator, and plotted DX spots

- decoded digital mode signals

- a graphical propagation forecast

To maximize user efficiency, all of this information should be continuously visible. Is this feasible on a 600x480 VGA display? No. Fortunately Moore's Law (applied to display adaptors) and rapid improvements is the cost/performance of display technology have given us 17" LCDs with 1280x1024 resolution for under $500; increasingly, ops are exploiting Window's Dual Monitor capabilty to gain even more screen space. Next generation displays built around organic LEDs will be larger, higher resolution, and cheaper -- making the ability to simultaneously view lots of information accessible to more and more hams.

As I implied at the outset, there is no one solution that's ideal for everyone. There will always be a demand for limited-functionality one-window applications. But optimizing for efficiency -- user efficiency -- is driving us in a different direction.

73,

Dave, AA6YQ
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K5PU
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2004, 11:43:52 AM »

Hmm.. you seem to imply that one-window applications are 'by definition' limited in functionality.

There is no more a limit to *functionality* when using one window than by using seperate windows for each function. Nor do I believe one window (necessarily) limits user effectiveness.

For example, lets assume the user requirements were such that everything possibly available needed to be simultaneously visible. Physically, there would be no more screen 'real estate' available to view that information via using multiple windows than if it was displayed in one main window.

I might also suggest there is actually *less* physical display space available via multiple window approach due to the 'overhead' required by each window for frames, toolbars, etc.

Granted, the 'necessarily' mentioned above is dependent on the users ability to configure the single window to display their preferences of various functions/information. However, most 'suites' do not allow that. Why? It's not the Windows development environment. As N8UZE points out, N3FJP logger allows the user to custom define the interface/data fields.

Why not have a 'suite' where the user defines what goes where in one window? An analogy would be Outlook Express where I can display (or not, my choice) folders, previews, contacts, etc,. alter the size of the layout, etc.. Extend that concept to a suite of ham programs that would allow me to display (or not) rig control, logger, mapper, etc.. CommCat comes closest to that approach but it's *still* comprised of individual, discrete windows.

As mentioned, each user has their own preferences/opinion. In my case I have a 21" monitor yet I still find having to navigate to, select (sometimes even find) multiple windows is still 'messy'. Now, run those same multiple apps simultaneously on a 14" laptop using a touchpad and it becomes even more tedious.

It is as you say, 'Everyone is entited to their opinion'. I do however wish I was a Windows programmer. I have to think there would be a market for a single window suite of apps with a hierarchical (and configurable) interface. Wink

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AA6YQ
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2004, 03:01:57 PM »

I didn't say that one-window applications are 'by definition' limited in functionality; I said that an easy way to build a screen-efficient application was by creating one window with a tabbed display that lets the user choose which items to view.

One can certainly design a one-window application that is capable of displaying all items simultaneously. Microsoft's MDI -- multiple document interface -- was an early attempt at this; the application ran in one large window, and allowed the user to position and size smaller sub-windows within the large window. While appearing flexible on the surface, the large window effectively balkanizes the screen; if the user is simultaneously running other applications, the result is often wasted screen space. Sub-windows have title bars, so there's no offsetting savings. Microsoft largely abandoned MDI years ago.

Microsoft Outlook's multi-pane main window allows the user to select which panes are visible and adjust their mutual borders. This works well if you're dealing with 3-4 scrollable items -- a folder list, a message list, and a message preview -- but breaks down beyond that. Note that Outlook uses independent windows to present messages, appointments, contacts, and tasks.

As you suggest, one could build a one-window application where the user specifies what's visible and where. There is no standard model to emulate, so each user would have to learn to do this from scratch. Supporting dynamic user interface assembly would impose a significant runtime burden on the application itself; the application would be required to include a GUI-builder sufficiently powerful to assemble an effective, good-looking application yet simple enough to be accessible to users rather than developers. This is certainly feasible, but the cost/benefit is questionable. One should also consider the opportunity cost of having application developers spending their time creating an in-application GUI-builder (a tool that most developers acquire, rather than build for themselves) rather than extending the application's core functionality.

Unless the application will truly "do everything that most users want", it will likely share the screen with other applications chosen by the user -- running in separate windows. Users increasingly expect these applications to interoperate. The user will thus be dealing with a multi-window environment, even if the application manages to present all of its functionality in one window.

Windows users already know how to manipulate windows. The Windows task bar makes it reasonably easy to manage windows, though in my multi-window application (DXLab) I've provides a small window that makes it easy to control the suite's applications and their windows. Better tools for organizing and controlling windows are continuously under development. As technology improvements make larger screens more accessible, I suspect we'll be seeing more windows, not less.

73,

Dave, AA6YQ
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W9RPE
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« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2004, 07:32:40 PM »

I agree with N8UZE.  I've been using the N3FJP logger and contest software for years and love it.  I've tried the demos of just about everthing else and anything that comes close is way too expensive.  I have to admit I don't care for the DX Cluster part of his logging program, so I run the VE7CC DX Cluster software(free.  A geat combo.
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2004, 12:56:54 AM »

Have you tried DXLab? This suite is focused on DXing, and is free via www.qsl.net/dxlab .

If you're more interested in contesting, then the freeware analog is N1MM.

    73,

        Dave, AA6YQ
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K5PU
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« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2004, 08:38:04 AM »

I'm looking for software that displays everything in one window (ala MacLogger). I'm just tired/annoyed at having to 'alt tab' between windows, and/or arrange windows so enough of each one is showing so I can mouse to the one I want/need. It's just 'messy', kinda like having a Kenwood transceiver, Icom power supply, yaesu rotor control and a Henry amp. Yes, you can get everything to work together but it's a PITA.

I've used DXLab and it's good but DXLab is the 'antithesis' of what I'm looking for, i.e. DXLab has its own seperate lil window for everything.

I've also used N3FJP and agree it's a seriously great logger. But that's all it does and unfortunately it doesn't support DXAtlas (IMHO, the ONLY mapper I've found for the PC that makes the cut).

What would be perfect for me would be N4PY (or HRD) rig control, with DXAtlas & N3FJP logger all in one nicely organized window (again, ala MacLogger). Not critical but the icing on the cake would include Hamscope or Digipan for digital modes. Finally include something like D4 (clock syncro) from thinkman.com and THAT would be a kickA$$ package Wink
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2004, 02:21:30 AM »

As I said in my first post on this topic, "Everyone is entited to their opinion about what looks good and what's easy to use -- and to select software that matches that preference. "

Since the one-window application you desire is not available off-the-shelf, you'll either have to develop it yourself, or persuade someone to develop it for you. If you choose the former path, here's a data pint: its taken me 3 years of nights and weekends to get the DXLab Suite to its current state. My guess is that having to build it in one window would slow down the development process by ~25% due to the negative impact of tighter coupling on test and release activities.

     73,

          Dave, AA6YQ
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K5PU
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« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2004, 12:00:52 PM »

Indeed a 'single-window suite' would indeed be my own personal preference these days. I do hope you don't take offense, that as a slight against DXLab. As I mentioned I have, and still use portions of DXLabs. Certainly it's the ONLY complete suite available that is totally integrated. And the not-unfounded reviews here clearly show it has excellent performance and everything works well together.

I'm not so sure my annoyance doesn't stem from the (IMHO) inherent limitations Intel/Microsoft has placed on its developers. I've certainly done my share of programming 'back in the day', both Motorola & Intel (then Zilog) assy language and high level. I changed my career track about the time Intel adopted the segmented memory model and 'C' emerged. I attempted to revisit, get up to speed but was so confounded by that approach I've never written a line of code since (so again, don't think I'm not appreciative of what you've done Wink

I'm sure if the underlying hardware and O/S utilized linear memory addressing, ability to address screen coords directly, (etc., ala Motorola) it would be a whole different world. I suspect Win software would likely certainly look/feel better, not be so bland & cookie-cutter in appearance.

And as far as having someone else do it for me, well, it would be cheaper just to buy a Mac and use MacLoggerDX (Maybe I'm just turning into a Mac user and just don't know it yet? Wink
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2004, 11:05:21 PM »

No offense taken. I learned back in 1973 that its not possible to build a product that *everyone* likes. Given the impact on a product's ergonomic, aesthetic, and functional characteristics, user interface discussions always generate a diverse spectrum of hardened positions - whether you're talking with users or developers.

There is nothing I know of in the Intel segmented memory architure that significantly impedes the design of PC-hosted user interfaces. I'm sure its possible to run an Apple-style GUI on a PC, if one is willing to build the application to run on bare hardware. If the application must run on Windows, however, then you are much more constrained, though you can still do pretty much whatever you want inside a particular window.

The newest Macs are certainly pretty-looking, and (on paper, at least) powerful. Many people would love to buy one, but wring their hands because so many of the applications they need aren't available there. Since the application you really want is only available on the Mac, you are not only a great candidate for buying a Mac, you're a great candidate for an Apple ad!

     73,

         Dave, AA6YQ
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AA6YQ
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2004, 04:04:14 AM »

screenshot: http://web.ticino.com/wlog/screen.jpg

features: http://www.wlog2000.com/
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VE3VRW
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« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2004, 07:57:18 PM »

Actually -

   He's a pretty good candiate for a MacLoggerDX Ad too Smiley

Thanks Mike !

73 Don VE3VRW
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K5PU
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« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2004, 09:28:55 PM »

My pleasure Don...

p.s. I'm the guy that emailed you asking if you ever planned to port MacLoggerDX to the PC.

To everyone pointing me to one-window loggers, Thanks. But I'm not looking for just a one-window LOGGER. There are plenty of those to choose from.

I'm looking for a one-window interface for rig control, mapper, DX spotter, callsign lookup AND logger.  All in ONE window (i.e. not have to open a new window for each & every function)

Exactly what MacLoggerDX offers, but for a PC.

Alas, no such thing exists for the PC anywhere. Makes me wonder if Windows can even support such a 'singular' interface ala MacLoggerDX.

Call me peevish but I'm just getting annoyed needing a seperate, 'discrete' window for each and every function you want available. One window here for the mapper, another over there for the logger, one unknown something peeking out from underneath the DX spotter... alt tabbing between this & that or the clickfest using the mouse.
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