Need Beta testers for Annotator replacement

#1
Ok, I think the program's done and ready for some keen minds to put it through the paces. Anyone interested in doing some beta testing, please send me an email at azstrummer(no spam)@aol.com. Omit the (no spam) part to prevent mail bots from sending me anymore Viagara ads. Still have to write a short text file to stand in for the full help file but other than that it's ready to go.

Art Martin
 
#3
artmartin said:
Ok, I think the program's done and ready for some keen minds to put it through the paces. Anyone interested in doing some beta testing, please send me an email at azstrummer(no spam)@aol.com. Omit the (no spam) part to prevent mail bots from sending me anymore Viagara ads. Still have to write a short text file to stand in for the full help file but other than that it's ready to go.

Art Martin
Me too... ;) ;) ;)
Ready for beta-T.

Hi. Mauro
 
#5
Gonna send the file to the library at Avsim.com. They responded to me that they only discourage beta programs that end up with 40 versions. I certainly don't intend that. Don't have that kind of time or energy. Got lots of emails. I'll respond to each one with a link to the program once it's in place at Avsim. Thanks for the response.

Art
 
#7
Program is on Avsim

Georg, the program has been added to the category Flight Simulator 2004 - Utilities under the name - Autogen Creation/Editing Program. They don't have a link on the main page of Avsim.com yet but a search of the libraries will locate it. For some reason when I go to the page it's on from a search, Avsim doesn't provide a link to that page in my browser. Let me know what you think.

Art Martin
 
#9
Thanks Georg, I've had some feedback from a few folks that they're having install problems with the package which isn't surprising. I'm forced to commit the cardinal sin in Window's programming of testing the application on the same machine I'm using for development. Of course there are no .dll conflicts when the program is using the exact same ones that are being used on my machine. I apologize for any problems but it's why I've released this as a beta application. If you have either success or failure at installing and running this, please send me email at my address included with the application. Please include the names of any files that the installer tells you are out of date or imcompatible so I can update my own computer with the latest versions.

Thanks for all the feedback so far. I'm committed to resolving any problems.

Art Martin
 
#10
Latest update on Beta testing. Most testers are indicating a problem with the MWGFX.DLL which I'm using courtesy of Martin Wright. That file is used to decode .bmp files that are in DXT format. Either VB didn't include the proper files for support for that .dll or I needed to tell it explicitly to include them, or I need to require all users to download Wright's full set of .dlls which include an installer which registers all files.

They are also reporting version mismatches with MSCOMCTL.OCX and COMCT332.OCX files. I'm looking into ensuring I have the most recent updates of those files on my development computer. I recently had to do a full reinstall of VB and may have some old files. Normally simply telling the installer to keep the most recent version gets your through an install without any problems. I'll do some testing on some old computers I have around the house and see if I can make the install break.

Thanks for all the feedback,
Art
 
#11
Well we've located one other stupid programming mistake I made, one which I harp on every day at work for other people not to do. Early in the testing of this program I hard-coded a path into the program for creating a temporary bitmap file. On my computer, my giant storage drive is my D: drive so I made that path D:\Temp. I was going to go in once the test was complete and ensure the code was portable but spaced it out. If the program isn't working and you've gotten past the MWGFX.dll problem and have a D: drive that isn't a CD or DVD, simply create a Temp directory on it and all should be well until I can upload a fixed install package.

Thanks again for all the great input.

Art
 
#12
artmartin said:
Well we've located one other stupid programming mistake I made, one which I harp on every day at work for other people not to do. Early in the testing of this program I hard-coded a path into the program for creating a temporary bitmap file. On my computer, my giant storage drive is my D: drive so I made that path D:\Temp. I was going to go in once the test was complete and ensure the code was portable but spaced it out. If the program isn't working and you've gotten past the MWGFX.dll problem and have a D: drive that isn't a CD or DVD, simply create a Temp directory on it and all should be well until I can upload a fixed install package.

Thanks again for all the great input.

Art
Art, I sent you one last e-mail before reading this... Ignore it, and thanks again.
Ehy, wait a moment :eek: , my D drive is a DVD, but still I got that error message ("Run-time error '71': Disk not ready: 'D:\Temp\Temp.bmp'") anyway... :confused: :confused:

Hi. Mauro
 
#14
Latest findings

Finally I'm getting a few good reviews of the program. The install seems to be working for some users and they're able to use the program. Still getting feedback that the install doesn't work for others though and I'm greatly concerned since I'm really not using any of the extended features of VB6 and have the latest service pack installed. If the latest version isn't installing properly for you, please contact me with details about which files are giving you version conflicts and exactly what operating system and service pack you're running on. I'm suspecting that my development box upgrade to XP SP2 might be causing the headaches but need more feedback to pin that down.

For those of you concerned about a lack of support for custom texture sheets for houses and row houses, I am working on adding that functionality. My program structures were designed to add that in later and it's just a matter of getting the time to sitting down and writing the user interface. In the meantime, you can create the bulk of your autogen using my system and then go back into Annotator and add in the texture sheet info.

Another possible bug reported is that one cannot change the path to the DEFAULT.XML file. I thought I had that coded properly but I'll go back and revisit that today.

Thanks for all the feedback once more,
Art
 
#15
Hi Art

I am not getting far with your latest version.
Immediately I start setup I get a message saying some of my files are out of date. I say 'yes' to update and then restart system. Trying setup again I just get the same message. I got this senario with your earlier version as well.
I have Windows XP with SP1 and I had Martin Wrights latest files installed already.

Iain
Scotflight Scenery
 
#16
Just a few clicks away...

Hi Art.
Keep on going like this and you're gonna hit the first position for the year's best add-on's for scenery designers... :cool:
It took me just 15 seconds :D to draw the "forest" in the screenshot below with your program, while, with annotator, minutes flew away like eagles :laughing:
I know people is asking the moon, but just a few more improvements:
- zoom in/out;
- pan (yes I know, they're already in annotator, but a "first-in-a-row" program should have everything :rotfl:
- angled vegetation button (very useful to draw lines of trees along the streets)
- .... more to come.
Maybe you'll not hit the 40th version of this program as AvSim doesn't like to happen, but you'll probably go very, very near :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:
Best regards :wave:
Mauro
 

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#17
booohoooohooooo....

You are so cruel , loool

The program description and the screen over this post makes me think
that i won t use the MS Annotator any more ...

But - aaehem - only i have to install the program ...
I upgraded to SP2 right now but it still doesn t work.
No install possible ...
i unzipped the cab tried it with win98
with sp1 , sp2
AAAAAhhhh - porca miseria ... :banghead:


Art - save us ! :eek:

Anyway - Art - the features of your program and the screens here
and in visual.co.uk from George Davison and company look GREAT.

By the way - where have you been the last 2 years - the world needs you ! hehehe


Greetz - Enzo :wave:

( Trying to install on his laptop this evening ... rofl ) :D
 
#18
Boy Enzo, you've got me stumped on your install problems. Did you try to edit that setup.lst file and remove the reference line that contains "scrrun.dll"? For those people versed in programming, that dll file is included in the install package whenever you use a FileSysteObject reference in VB. I use those references for quick and dirty access to functions that tell me if directories or files exist or for low-level reading and writing to text files using TextStream objects. Why there would be any imcompatibility on certain systems with that .dll is beyond me. Part of Microshaft's "dll hell" as it's called. Supposedly VB.NET will move us out of that minefield. We can only hope. I was intending to move into that programming language with this application but it balked at using Martin Wright's dlls and I didn't have the patience to figure out how to incorporate them.

As for your question as to where I've been for the past 2 years, I've only recently built my first "screamer" computer and bought FS2004 cause it was inexpensive and I knew it would be a great test for the new machine. Well it hooked me quickly. I had played with Flight Simulator in the past but always got frustrated with it because I'd go flying over some place familiar to me and it just wouldn't look right. Got that same experience with FS2004 when I flew over my house in the west Phoenix valley. None of the streets were there, only generic scenery tiles and random objects. It nearly drove me away but I started going online and seeing the huge amounts of available scenery. When I saw what could be done and the applications available to create my own scenery I was hooked. Finding this free source of wonderful aerial photos of my area sealed the deal.

It was only when I hit the roadblock of using Annotator that my interest peaked in creating an alternative. My own job as a programmer has been very unsatisfying as of late as our company is moving away from in-house development and we're all turning into data administrators and babysitters for store-bought apps that don't work. It was actually thrilling to be creative again. Now if only this would pay the bills, my world would be complete.

Art
 
#19
Mauro wrote:

I know people is asking the moon, but just a few more improvements:
- zoom in/out;
- pan (yes I know, they're already in annotator, but a "first-in-a-row" program should have everything
- angled vegetation button (very useful to draw lines of trees along the streets)
- .... more to come.
Maybe you'll not hit the 40th version of this program as AvSim doesn't like to happen, but you'll probably go very, very near
Best regards
Mauro


Having a set sized image to draw on instead of one the user could zoom and pan around in took my development time from many, many months to about a month. A tremendous amount of the code deals with converting the X and Y coordinates of a selected pixel on the image to the - 0.5 to + 0.5 coordinate system used within the .agn files. Adding in the complication of a variable scale system of the image and having to reference how far up, down, left and right the user has scrolled adds tremendous complexity and possibility for error in the calculations involved. I know how to do it but not sure the will to wrack my brain that hard is there.

I compromised on displaying the image from what was presented in Annotator based on my own experience. The initial size Annotator presents to you is way too small for details. If you zoom once in that program, the image about fills up a high resolution screen and it's where I found myself most times. Zooming any more than that washes out the features of the image so much that it becomes hard knowing where you are within the tile. I picked an image size in pixels 40X the original 256 X 256 bitmap size so that it fit easily within my form but filled out enough to see and manipulate the smallest houses I'd be placing. Up until this project I'd never worked with Image and Picture controls in VB so I kept this fairly simple in design. I'm curious why one would need to zoom in tighter than what's presented. I certainly could've just expanded my whole form to a much larger size and increased the size of the image proportionally but that would've required the user to be at a very high resolution on their monitor, something users might not be willing to do. I did put in the specs that one had to be at least at 1024 X 768. I usually am at 1280 X 960 and could've easily created the program around that but text gets awfully tiny at that size without a monster monitor.

Bottom line on the zooming and panning - it's way low on my priority list. Now for your suggestion about angled vegetation areas. That's an easy implementation and a great idea. I could've used that functionality myself and I'll throw that one in. I am running out of room on top of the screen for too many more buttons though. Have to resize the buttons down smaller I guess.

Art
 
#20
Bottom line on the zooming and panning - it's way low on my priority list.
OK, I do agree and accept your explanation... the fact is I'm not a programmer and I know, as already said, that "ignorant" people always want the moon ;)

Now for your suggestion about angled vegetation areas. That's an easy implementation and a great idea. I could've used that functionality myself and I'll throw that one in.
I'm glad to be useful, anyway. As I already told you, I'd like to be a "basement-to-roof" beta tester :laughing:

I am running out of room on top of the screen for too many more buttons though. Have to resize the buttons down smaller I guess.
I don't explain myself way, but I felt you'd have to come to that conclusion sooner or later :rolleyes: :D :D :D

Take care.
Mauro.
 
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