Release Pandafe 0.3.0


nuhrin

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Ok, so I've been slowly (s l o w l y) plugging away at things since the last release, and I've finally gotten things together enough to share.
 
For those unfamilar, here's my silly blurb from the README:

Pandafe is a sort of "universal" SDL frontend for Pandora games and emulators.

It was written especially for the Pandora, with the following goals:
* browse and run all roms and games from a single program
* specify commandline options for each game via a menu
* be fully configurable and extendable via the program itself
* use only dpad and buttons to do all this (no touching, heh)
* persist data via yaml, for human reading/writing/sharing
 
What's new?
 
from the NEWS file

* add category view
* use single list for platform view
* game rom management: rename, change category, delete
* game app management: rename, change category, edit ovr, delete pnd
* add terminal/file manager commands to various context menus
* add appearance presets
* much more extensive appearance configuration
* bug fixes and interface tweaks
 
and the README file:

Appearance Configuration

========================

Pandafe's appearance can be customized from the Preferences menu. This is
done through appearance "presets". The idea here is to allow folks to create
their own notion of pleasant and then share these baked appearance presets
with each other or submit them for inclusion in later releases.

Two presets are currently shipped, a new [Default] appearance and the
previous [Old Default]. These can be copied and modified to create new
appearances.


Game Rom/App Management
=======================

The context menu for games now provides an interface to perform various
actions on the rom or app representing the game.

For Roms
--------
* Rename * Change Category * Delete

Changing the category for a rom means moving the file(s) to a folder matching
the category name within the root rom folder for the platform. If you already
have your roms organized into subfolders within the platform rom folder,
these will be picked up as categories.

If there are multiple files associated with a rom, they will all be renamed/
moved/deleted. When renaming a .cue file based rom, the contents of the
que file will be updated as necessary.

Keep in mind that renaming rom files that most emulators associate saves,
states, etc by filename, so existing saves/etc will most likely no longer
work unless you rename those files manually. It would be nice if Pandafe
did this for you automatically, but it doesn't. Maybe later. [ :) ]

For Apps
--------
* Rename * Change Category * Edit OVR * Delete PND

Renaming or changing the category for an app means creating/updating the
.ovr file for the app's pnd. This means your changes to apps here will
apply system wide.

The Edit OVR item allows you to edit all fields supported by .ovr files.
To return a field to its default, set it to blank.
This release involved an awful lot of rewriting and restructuring, which is my excuse for the number of months that have passed. Hopefully now that this is out of the way I'll be able to start knocking out more features/bugs from the github page and release a bit more often. Promises, promises.
 
Enjoy!

Download: 0.3.0.2-b464
Issue Tracking: https://github.com/nuhrin/pandafe/issues
 
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Fzero

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This is awesome, really like this already, just need to get more games added on my Pandora.


The theming option is a great thing too, just playing around with one now and I love this type of thing.


Great work nuhrin :)
 

Fzero

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Just noticing an issue which I can raise on your issue list, though wonder if anyone else can confirm getting this too...


When editing a theme, I'm in the 'Game Browser Appearance' edit screen...


Under the 'List' screen...


Under the 'Font' screen...


The fonts are a bit mumbo jumbo...


...one moment Bitwise font is showing correct, then select another and go back to Bitwise and it shows as one of the different fonts. They all do this.


Can still pick what I want as get previews anyway but I know these fonts and can see they getting mixed up and seems to be random too, as if you keep switching fonts they jumble up each time.


Not just me is it?
 

Fzero

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Edit: ignore this post, I found what was looking for :)


Lists the emus used within the settings
 
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nuhrin

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Just noticing an issue which I can raise on your issue list, though wonder if anyone else can confirm getting this too... When editing a theme, I'm in the 'Game Browser Appearance' edit screen... Under the 'List' screen... Under the 'Font' screen... The fonts are a bit mumbo jumbo... ...one moment Bitwise font is showing correct, then select another and go back to Bitwise and it shows as one of the different fonts. They all do this. Can still pick what I want as get previews anyway but I know these fonts and can see they getting mixed up and seems to be random too, as if you keep switching fonts they jumble up each time. Not just me is it?
Hey FZERO, thanks for the report!

I was able to recreate the issue, assuming I am understanding you correctly.

What it looks like is happening is that when you change the game browser -> list -> font, the sdl surfaces for the list items are updated but the list surface is not rebuilt and/or displayed properly at that time. When you choose another font, what you see is the result of your previous font selection. As you continue to make new font selections, the list continues to be one font selection behind. If you select the same font twice in a row, you'll get the expected result.

The same issue appears to be present for the font size and item color fields on the game browser -> list menu, which gives me a pretty good idea about which bits of code are to blame.

This doesn't appear to happen for any appearance area apart from the game browser list. It also doesn't happen if you don't change views in the browser before editing the list appearance, which is presumably why I didn't notice this during development. :rolleyes:

I'll try to get a fix out as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, since you seem keen on playing with it, try doing your appearance editing immediately after starting Pandafe, before you've changed browser views.

Thanks again for the heads up, let me know if you hit any other bugs or confusions.

[added to github: https://github.com/nuhrin/pandafe/issues/30]
 
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ekianjo

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A few issues I'd like to see fixed in Pandafe :

* In the defaulit list of platforms, there's too much I don't care about and I don"t think I am the only one. But when I go in data > Platforms and remove one from the list, it's not removed from the actual list... why is that? bug ?

* I don't like the defaut "comic sans" like font :) May I suggest a better default ? I know it can be customized but it shouldn't look like a program for kids by default... :)

* default colors are inconsistent : blue font and green menu interface. Please fix that.

* the menu is a mess. (sorry but true...). It's not clear why config / data / platforms are all separated in different places. Instead of going through a branched menu I'd suggest to have a dynamic, in-the-main-screen menu to modify directly, in the right context, what you need. It would be much, much more simple and much more user-friendly. Let's talk about that offline or in github.
 

Fzero

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nuhrin said:
I'll try to get a fix out as soon as I'm able. In the meantime, since you seem keen on playing with it, try doing your appearance editing immediately after starting Pandafe, before you've changed browser views.


Thanks again for the heads up, let me know if you hit any other bugs or confusions.


[added to github: https://github.com/nuhrin/pandafe/issues/30]
You're right, if I go directly into the edit mode soon before selecting one, it accepts changes to the fonts correctly. So guess you will be able to figure out why this happens then :)cheers
 

Kumaki

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Also...how the devil do you GET to the Preferences Setting area?  I can't figure it.

All I know is I am always forced to re-boot the damn Pandora after trying to scan for a system, because it NEVER finishes.  It just sits there, giving you no progress report or anything, and it's like the thing is frozen.

And it only found like six of my Atari 2600 games.  It found all my Lynx games.

What the hell am I doing wrong?
 

Kumaki

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Never mind, I found the Preferences.  You have to press "SELECT" to get there.  I now have it scanning my PND's, and it appears to be doing it, at least it does not LOOK stuck, at the moment.  But I am wondering how long it takes to scan all of it....

A Progress Bar of some type would be really, really really nice.
 

Kumaki

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OK...just had a MASSIVE problem with PanDafe.

It got stuck on scanning PND's....and it just would not finish or anything, so I re-booted.

It didn't have any in the list when I came back up...and then wouldn't let me delete the pandafe folder so that I could start over.

I got some weird thing about file names being too long or some such - and you could never open the folder to get to the file to change it's name, and so I was stuck with a crappy pandafe appdata file folder that sucked and would not work.

I had to physically move everything off my SD card to my computer, except the crap file...re-format the card, and then move everything BACK to the SD card from my laptop.

And I'm not going thru that again.

Will someone PLEASE tell me exactly how to get it to scan the files properly, not get stuck, not get crappy un-deleteable appdata files so that this thing would work properly?

I had a hell of a time.

It NEVER finished scanning any category I tried, I always had to re-boot with the Pandora button and hit the switch.

It DID, however, have all my Lynx games in when I tried that.

It had only about 5 of my Atari 2600 games in when I did that same thing.

But when I scanned for PND's...That is when the ginormous foul-up occurred and caused me to have to spend over an hour moving stuff off the card so that I could format...and then moving stuff back to the card - because I honestly could not come up with any other way of getting rid of the unwanted file folder.

I am severely frustrated here.
 
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nuhrin

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A few issues I'd like to see fixed in Pandafe :

Eh, what's that? Ekianjo has some issues and requests to report? :p

* In the defaulit list of platforms, there's too much I don't care about and I don"t think I am the only one. But when I go in data > Platforms and remove one from the list, it's not removed from the actual list... why is that? bug ?

Indeed. I created an issue on github way back for this area of concern: add concept of Platform/Program Preferences. Among other things, my intent is to support hiding/ignoring platforms and overriding platform name according to user preference. The issue with removed platforms coming back is not a bug per se, but a side effect of the startup behavior -- shipped platforms are always copied back to appdata if not present. This is another thing that the referenced github issue is intended to address, by segmenting shipped platforms from user platforms and platform preferences.

* I don't like the defaut "comic sans" like font :) May I suggest a better default ? I know it can be customized but it shouldn't look like a program for kids by default... :)


* default colors are inconsistent : blue font and green menu interface. Please fix that.

The new appearance editing feature is largely my implementation of your earlier request. My goals with the new default appearance were:

  • Make it real different from the old one, and make each separately configurable area distinct enough to give a quick sense of what is available
  • Make it jarring/unpleasant enough to encourage folks to change it and submit their sexy appearance presets for inclusion in later releases
In the earlier request you expressed desire and intent to propose some better color schemes and fonts. Hopefully this is now pretty easy for you and others to do. Please send some! :)

* the menu is a mess. (sorry but true...). It's not clear why config / data / platforms are all separated in different places. Instead of going through a branched menu I'd suggest to have a dynamic, in-the-main-screen menu to modify directly, in the right context, what you need. It would be much, much more simple and much more user-friendly. Let's talk about that offline or in github.
I don't disagree. The current menu structure is certainly not an attempt at a logical UX for a shipping product, but just me getting all the necessary functions and behaviors hooked up to facilitate the initial development sprints. Coming now through improvement iterations, some stuff gets cleaned up from a UX view, some new stuff gets added to facilitate new feature development.

Its lovely to start getting to the point where the raw framework of ideas and features are ready for focused attention on usability, and lovelier still to have a community of users interested enough to participate in those things.

I'd like to challenge those of you who are interested in seeing Pandafe improve is areas where you have expertise to contribute that know how in concrete ways which we can integrate into the project together. I'm a developer. My expertise is in software development and software project management. I'm not going to meet anyone's expectations for good creative design, UX, etc, unless they happen to share my particular preferences, because that's not my strength or interest. What I can do (and do well, its my job): manage complexity, facilitate and integrate concrete ideas, and put in the (considerable and enjoyable) labor of bringing things to life through code craft.

Back to the menu specifically. We have a main menu, a context menu, and a few of convenience overlays that work like the menus (Change View/Platform/Category). It sounds to me like the "menu is a mess" comment is largely targeted at the main menu -- its a little cobbled together in an unintuitive way, and maybe it would be better to just fold it into the context menu -- but perhaps also applies to the structure of the context menu.

Would you (or anyone else) be willing to provide a specific new menu structure and/or menu (re)design proposal, preferably on github? This might involve incremental improvements to existing structure, higher level redesign, or both. You might also consider the "Platform/Program preferences" feature discussed above, to help avoid whatever silly design I am going to come up with to get that feature integrated. ;)
 

ekianjo

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Would you (or anyone else) be willing to provide a specific new menu structure and/or menu (re)design proposal, preferably on github? This might involve incremental improvements to existing structure, higher level redesign, or both. You might also consider the "Platform/Program preferences" feature discussed above, to help avoid whatever silly design I am going to come up with to get that feature integrated.
Ok, I'm definitely going to do that. I'll message you on github :)  
 

nuhrin

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I'm hoping we can get to a point where we can user-define things to go into PanDafe, by providing a user-specified file path.
Unless I'm misunderstanding you, there are a couple open issues on github from your previous requests:

https://github.com/nuhrin/pandafe/issues/12

https://github.com/nuhrin/pandafe/issues/13

You can help get this into Pandafe by adding some more concrete details and/or use cases as comments on those github issues. That will help me stay organized and make sure we're on the same page.

OK...just had a MASSIVE problem with PanDafe. It got stuck on scanning PND's....and it just would not finish or anything, so I re-booted. It didn't have any in the list when I came back up...and then wouldn't let me delete the pandafe folder so that I could start over. I got some weird thing about file names being too long or some such - and you could never open the folder to get to the file to change it's name, and so I was stuck with a crappy pandafe appdata file folder that sucked and would not work. I had to physically move everything off my SD card to my computer, except the crap file...re-format the card, and then move everything BACK to the SD card from my laptop. And I'm not going thru that again. Will someone PLEASE tell me exactly how to get it to scan the files properly, not get stuck, not get crappy un-deleteable appdata files so that this thing would work properly? I had a hell of a time. It NEVER finished scanning any category I tried, I always had to re-boot with the Pandora button and hit the switch. It DID, however, have all my Lynx games in when I tried that. It had only about 5 of my Atari 2600 games in when I did that same thing. But when I scanned for PND's...That is when the ginormous foul-up occurred and caused me to have to spend over an hour moving stuff off the card so that I could format...and then moving stuff back to the card - because I honestly could not come up with any other way of getting rid of the unwanted file folder. I am severely frustrated here.
Yikes! You should consider a job as a software tester. :huh:

That does sound frustrating, sorry. I read two main issues from that: 1) scanning PNDs hangs, 2) you managed to create a file with an invalid filename or an otherwise broken filesystem.

The PND scanning issue is strange, I've never seen it hang before in any situation. You will see a "normal' hang if you try to unmount a pnd that its still in use, but that doesn't sound applicable here. Did this happen on launch or when you explicitly requested pnd scanning from the menu?

As far as all the rest of your fun times, I wonder -- did you set the rom path for any of your platforms to a folder with lots and lots of child folders? Perhaps even accidentally set it somewhere on the root filesystem? I'm wondering if you are/were managing to scan a rom folder that has symbolic links back up to a parent of itself, causing a scanning loop. Even if that were the case, I'm not sure how you could get the "wouldn't let me delete the pandafe folder" behavior, apart from having files in that folder open when you tried to delete it, having created invalid filenames in there somehow, or having a corrupted filesystem.

Sorry there's not a "do X, Y, then Z" answer for you. If you keep having the problem, can you post/pm a zip of your pandafe appdata folder? Also, and you probably don't like the idea, can you try this to help narrow down the issue?:

1) put just pandafe on an otherwise blank SD card

2) copy your roms for a single platform onto the SD card

3) run pandafe and setup/scan that platform

4) repeat for each platform you are trying to use

If all that works, try putting back the other pnds one/a-few at a time to see if a certain pnd is managing to trigger all this (unlikely).

In theory, that should help identify where exactly you are running into trouble. If/when you find that, please let me know. If its wasn't just a filesystem/card issue, there might be a bug in pandafe or at least some extra checking needed to avoid this.

Good luck!
 

Kumaki

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OK, I have blank SD cards.  I can try taking Pandafe off my main card (Slot 1) and then put it on Slot 2.

In theory, then, this should create the appdata folder on the card in Slot 2.

This way, if it screws up, then I don't have the problem I had with my main card.

Am I on the right track?

THEN...try to add systems one at a time, and see what happens.  The worst thing that happens, then, is I have to re-format an otherwise previously blank card....and start over.

Now...tell me if this is the right approach and I'll try it.

Meanwhile, to answer your questions:

1. My rom paths are all fairly easy.  They are all in their respective appdata folder.

SO...Atari Lynx, for example, would be in pandora/appdata/handy/roms

Atari 2600 would be in pandora/appdata/stella/roms

and so on.  This is the normal way for roms to be on the file path, so that would not have been an issue.

2. I explicitly requested scanning PND's from the menu.  It appeared to be doing the scanning.  It never STOPPED scanning.  And it appeared to be scanning the same place over and over and over - the file path being scanned never seemed to change.  So I did a hard re-boot (the only way to break out) by holding the Pandora button and hitting the switch.  THAT is what created the undeleteable appdata folder.

Prior to that, I had been able to delete the appdata file and start over.

Now, when I scanned Handy, for example, I got all 21 games in the rom folder.

When I scanned Stella, I only got about 7 games - and I have far more than that on Atari 2600

But, in both of those cases, when I scanned...it STILL never completed the scan process, and I was forced to hard re-boot to break out.

Exactly HOW LONG should it take to scan for one system?

I'd like to proceed with continuing to try this: so please let me know if my surmise is correct that, if Pandafe's program is on Slot 2 - the appdata folder will be created on Slot 2.  Because I do not want to go thru having to re-format my Slot 1 card all over again.  The appdata folder alone is over 17 GB!!  - of course 10 GB of it is for pcsx rearmed....the roms for that system are HUGE.
 

Fzero

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Exactly HOW LONG should it take to scan for one system?

Sure nurhin will answer your questions, but I was reading your comments earlier as I just been playing around with Pandafe myself past couple days.

For me, the scan is very quick, like 10 seconds, but I have only installed a few PND's so far, so I would hazard a guess that the scan time will depend on how many PND files you have, the size of the SD card too perhaps, and will vary?

Wondering if you've got GNGEO or Vice-64 too?

I have both PND's but my C64 game list keeps giving the 'no associated program found' type alert. Although I have confirmed that the settings is set to use Vice-64

Also my Neo Geo games launch but each time I finish I have to ungracefully exit, using the Pandora+Power combo. The GNGEO exit menu comes up when I press the Pandora button but cannot navigate it [to the exit menu item], and then I can see the Pandafe menu beneath that as it closes the game, even can exit that and see the Pandora desktop underneath and move cursor around there ... but the GNGEO menu is still up and obscuring most the center of screen.

Only way I can seem to clear that is the force reboot.

You getting that, or not using those systems?
 

Kumaki

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Nt using any of the systems on Pandafe yet.

Just trying to get all the lists to populate.

Afterwords, I'd just take out the systems that give the kind of trouble you are describing and just use Pandafe for the ones that DO work right - the main point of Pandafe is to allow you to launch from many different emu's off the same program, so that you save desktop space...but if it doesn't work right, and you have to un-elegantly exit...then it doesn't really serve it's purpose.

So use it for the ones that DO work right...and report the problems so it can be worked on.  So that eventually, things WILL work perfect.
 
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