For the last couple of weeks I am working on the next major release of Chronicle so I think it’s the best time to ask what YOU would like to be included / changed in this version so I can already take it into account or plan it for some future version. I am asking this question in Paradox forum threads so it would be great if you let me know about your ideas.
First of all, I shamelessly believe that Chronicle is already a nice and powerful app even if it’s not overly popular. And I think more people should be aware of it and use it. One thing would be to make a use-case clip, an obvious thing. But here self-criticism comes in because I know there’s a couple of things in the current version of the program that bother me a lot so it’s important to fix them beforehand.
It’s a big point! With Chronicle 1/2, I was really happy with the program UI at first, with its ‘moderny’ look and feel, but there’s so many inconsisitencies there, that at times it’s getting rather unpleasant to use…
Tabs are one problem. There is one tab (‘Map’) linked with one specific program view (a map, naturally) and another (‘Stats’) linked with two different ones (tables and graphs). Then, there are two other tabs (Game and Data) which belong to no concrete view. Switching to some of the tabs changes the program view, switching to some other don’t which looks inconsistent (even if there is some rule to it).
I originally thought of the ‘Games’ tab in general as nifty, with two ‘galleries’ to show games and files but in practice it gets defeated on usability field. ‘Manage’ window is obnoxious, ‘Games’ gallery is OK, while ‘Savegames’ gallery is clearly too small to show enough files and scroll through them. If you play a lot you easily end up with 10-20+ savegames that are hard to chase in the smallish box.
‘Data’ tab is underused and it’s not automatically clear that it does pretty much the same thing as ‘Games’ tab. And it hides at its end a very important function to turn on recording that is easy to overlook.
The latter two tabs are only marginally better. There is one categorization of map modes: across pre-defined subjects, where it is not immediately clear whether some mode relates to countries or provinces. Then, there is completely different categorization of ‘stats’ modes: there are only two categories – province tables and country tables with categorization across subjects on the lower level. If I click on a map mode, I have it displayed outright but to display a table mode or a graph, there’s another extra button that does it.
That’s only a couple of problems. All in all, in Chronicle 3 I’d like to redo the interface in a logical way and relegate a lot of options into dockable windows so they can be reorganized or hidden if they are not necessary.
As a small introduction to better discoverability, that’s how most of ‘Games’ and ‘Data’ tabs functionality has been put into the currently developed version. Because ‘File’ menu is the place where it really belongs.
2. Performance and stability
I really think it’s no longer a burning problem in 2.6 but it used to be a chore for many releases when loading a game, importing a savegame and even changing a map mode used to take noticeable amounts of time (and heaps of RAM). Chronicle 3 will still use respectable amount of RAM to cache things but I want it to be the first version to overcome UI stutters here or there.
It’s hard to aim for both performance (which will come among other things from distributing tasks to non-UI threads) and achieve stability but a lot of convoluted methods are getting streamlined and I really plan to improve them both.
3. Map/Table modes
They are full of unrealized potential. There is a couple of shining points (I like several modes for Victoria II) but a lot of them was an afterthought. After an ardous task of implementing a game support, I was coming to a savegame file, looked at easy-spottable properties like prestige = x, stability = y and did a quick mash-up of basic modes. Even in-game ledgers (which I’m here to beat) do better at times, with ‘did you know that?’ tables like ‘the best leader in the world’. And even if EU4 is numerically simpler than Vicky II, there’s a lot of better thought-out modes that I can come up with (culture mapmode for provinces is OK, cultural composition of a country is better!).
Chronicle 3 will externalize modes so you will be able to come up with your own map modes and code them taking advantage of exactly the same data model that I make use of. I suppose it’s a kind of feature that 0.1% of people will use but maybe?
If you have other ideas/wishes for interface and functionality, it’s time to share them! 🙂