Future of MapTool?

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aliasmask
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Future of MapTool?

Post by aliasmask »

I'm a little worried that MapTool is falling in to disrepair and that no new development or progress is being made. The current compatibility issues and difficulty in setting up a server by a new user is at least a big turn off.

Any other opinions out there? And what is going on with current development?

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wolph42
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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by wolph42 »

yes, I've noticed the same thing, there are a LOT of user reporting issues, usually related to java 7 and I've learned for a fact that only a very small percentage of new users actually goes through the trouble of creating a account, reporting it and fixing it, which means that a lot of peeps are put off at the moment.

On the dev side I also get the feeling that everything hangs on the shoulders of Azhrei, I know there are more people involved in the dev, but lately with the numerous fixes they need to come from him and Azh has also been pretty clear that he has an overbooked schedule...

I'm actually wondering what will happen when the 'final' version actually is there, it might be b89 maybe 90 but it won't be far and then what...? I know the plans of gutting and reworking a lot of the internal code but how many devs are there currently out there who have AND the knowledge AND the time (and with that the drive) to start (and more importantly: finish) doing that??

But a summary of these facts don't lead to any solution and TBH I wouldn't know what kind of solution there can be for this.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by aliasmask »

The reason I bring this up is because I was on the WotC site and there was talk of VTTs. I was going to brag that MapTool is the best, but in its current state that just doesn't ring that true for me. I believe it is true, but it'll be like trying to talk a Windows user in to saying linux is better because of all the work you have to do to get it to work properly. All the solutions are out there and it's just a matter of bringing them together, imo.

Plus, I want to get an idea of the current development stage. I knew 1.4 would take awhile, but I thought 1.3 would be finalized by now.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by aku »

Well, I dont have my coding experience/ability (I know i could learn with some tutelage, but thats something i know Az doesnt have the time to do :D) If there's some other way I can help, I'd be more than happy to.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by Rumble »

It's why I've stopped using MapTool or recommending it as a go-to option; it's stagnated (I mean, personally, I think it peaked at b56, but that's just one man's opinion :D). Of course, it is an open-source community project, so I'm not pointing fingers - MapTool isn't anyone's day job, and I know the powers that be are busy with their actual, money-earning jobs and their actual real lives.

However, I'm finding better tools out there now (maybe more limited, but fewer features doesn't mean "worse" if you stack it up against ease of use, and whether it answers the core need of its audience).

What I would like to see, honestly, is for Azhrei, or whoever is responsible at this point, to make the executive decision to roll back to a good, stable build (b87? b86? I can't remember what the best ones were in the last 10 or so), declare that to be MapTool 1.3, and close development on the 1.x line for good. As a result, I think the next version should be called MapTool 2, and go from there.

I still want to see the next iteration - I'm not flipping a table and storming out. I was a dedicated MapTool user for, hmm, 4 years or so, and want to see it improved. I think there's a lot to be learned by the other VTTs coming out now, too, in terms of simplicity, delivery, and user-friendliness; I hope those lessons are pulled in to the next version (if the next version gets made).

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by silversonic »

Strange that I can only find this topic when searching for active topics, but can't find it anywhere on the maptool forum (unless I'm looking in the wrong place).

FWIW, I believe maptool is finding itself in a similar, but not nearly as extreme, position that the also-free mac application quicksilver found itself in a few years back with the original development team (developer?) ceasing work on the application. It was lucky that a new team took up the mantle and continues to update it today, but that is not the case with every application... I would normally not be worried, but problems like the java 7 bug and the latest build having been broken for the last few months are a bit concerning for a tech-aware (but hardly a developer) user like myself.

I love that maptool is open source, but I wish that we could find some way to monetize maptool for the developers beyond simply donations. Free is great when there is enough people who know what they are doing and can invest their time to involve themselves in the project (read: supply), but right now that supply is not able to meet the needs of the application (demand), which means that free simply will not cut it. I feel that roll20 has the right idea by creating an integrated content marketplace, but that is certainly not the only possibility.

Let me add that I do NOT fault one bit the developers working or who have worked for this project: they give their expertise, time and efforts to us for FREE, and they deserve 100 x's the amount in donations that we have given them, but they have to eat/support their families/eat out every now and then and as a result maptool is on the sidelines. And if they are currently working on a new build and it is just taking longer than expected, I will happily be the first person to shut up and strike out this entire post.
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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by Jagged »

I have a bit of a mixed view. On the one hand, I've been busy this last year and when I come back I find the version has gone from 70 to 87. Not bad I think. I also do not think the Java 7 issue is as bad as all that. There are a significant number of high profile paid products that don't work with Java 7 yet (some even from Oracle!).

On the other hand I am a little disappointed that the one contribution I made hasn't been included in a release. Oh well.

All in all this is a well supported application. Could things go a little faster? Sure. The only way to change that is to help out. I am willing if I can. I am a Java developer but I write web apps which is a different fettle of kish!
Last edited by Jagged on Fri Jul 13, 2012 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by Toby »

As someone who is new to MapTool and diving into making a framework for a game that I can ONLY run via a VTT of some kind, I have some suggestions for improving MapTool.

The most important thing is the documentation. No coding skill required. Its not glamorous or anything until it gets done, then everyone is singing your praises. I know, I know, there is the wiki and the forums. Both are great with tons of information. But both are extremely hard to access. The video tutorials a also fantastic, but very limited in what they teach. By hard to access I mean, that it takes determination and TIME to ferret out what is going on with either one.

There is so much information locked up in the old-timers heads that needs to be got down on 'paper' someplace in an accessible format.

There is no quick-start. The business with the frameworks and the awesome tools that people have made (Wolph) is a crying shame. They look awesome and very useful, but I still can't make any sense of anyone's framework or Wolph's tools. I can't see how to go from loading up a framework to actually using it.

I still think the process I use to move characters from one map to another is a kludge (I copy and paste the tokens - that can't be right, what is CharacterTool for? The documentation that I found makes it look like there is no link between it and MapTool, is that right?). A video tutorial on this would be SOOOOO helpful. A video tutorial on using the D&D4.0 and D&D3.5 frameworks would be awesome. A video tutorial on using Wolph's tools would also be fantastic.

So, there is a huge opportunity for documentation and tutorials and indexes and synthesis of forum threads into useful wiki articles. Anyone who uses MapTool can do this, no coding skill required.

Dan

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by Craig »

aliasmask wrote:I'm a little worried that MapTool is falling in to disrepair and that no new development or progress is being made. The current compatibility issues and difficulty in setting up a server by a new user is at least a big turn off.

Any other opinions out there? And what is going on with current development?

Unfortunately stuff outside MapTool has kept me busy lately so I haven't been able to dedicate that much time to it.
Having said that I am getting back into the swing of things now so I can start dedicating more time on MapTool.

As far as I was concerned MT 1.3 was where it should of been pre breaking of the freeze for individual views and
fog of war -- what unmitigated disaster breaking the freeze turned out to be -- so I was planning to move right
on to the next version. But from it seems that there is a few problems with latest releases so if someone could catch
me up with the problems with java 7 and what is broken with build 88 then I will look at that before starting the next
version. I know the information is probably some where on the forums but given people sound like they know the
problems all to well I thought it might be worth asking first before scouring a couple of months of posts -- call me
lazy if you will...

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by aliasmask »

There are 2 bugs with the last patch. One is when dropping tokens on a map the first one works, but any new one overwrites the existing one even if it's a different token: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21348&start=45#p221194

And the other is re-sizing tokens is broken: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=21348&start=45#p221216

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by wolph42 »

Toby wrote:As someone who is new to MapTool and diving into making a framework for a game that I can ONLY run via a VTT of some kind, I have some suggestions for improving MapTool.

The most important thing is the documentation. No coding skill required. Its not glamorous or anything until it gets done, then everyone is singing your praises. I know, I know, there is the wiki and the forums. Both are great with tons of information. But both are extremely hard to access. The video tutorials a also fantastic, but very limited in what they teach. By hard to access I mean, that it takes determination and TIME to ferret out what is going on with either one.

There is so much information locked up in the old-timers heads that needs to be got down on 'paper' someplace in an accessible format.

There is no quick-start. The business with the frameworks and the awesome tools that people have made (Wolph) is a crying shame. They look awesome and very useful, but I still can't make any sense of anyone's framework or Wolph's tools. I can't see how to go from loading up a framework to actually using it.

I still think the process I use to move characters from one map to another is a kludge (I copy and paste the tokens - that can't be right, what is CharacterTool for? The documentation that I found makes it look like there is no link between it and MapTool, is that right?). A video tutorial on this would be SOOOOO helpful. A video tutorial on using the D&D4.0 and D&D3.5 frameworks would be awesome. A video tutorial on using Wolph's tools would also be fantastic.

So, there is a huge opportunity for documentation and tutorials and indexes and synthesis of forum threads into useful wiki articles. Anyone who uses MapTool can do this, no coding skill required.

Dan


[Off topic]

Hi Dan,

Thanks for the elaborate feedback including my tools. Its exactly this kind of feedback I sorely miss in my own thread, yes that's a slight comment to you or anyone who's having troubles using the tools, but at least you (and granted some others in the past) have gone the distance to actually tell it on this forum.
What is buggering me all the time is the fact that I spent an insane amount of time on documentation and help. For one the original post on the contains:
- help on implementing, both written and video
- help on basic use, both written and video
- a list of features and a list of changes and of course the opportunity to simply ask a question
The tool itself also contains a rather lengthy manual (though granted, to get access to that one you first need to get it running OR you need some basic understanding of MT). So both a short AND long AND video implementation tutorial ARE there. In addition nearly ALL macros ALSO have tooltips and the same goes for ALL the settings. Just hover and read.

Which brings me to the question: what am I doing wrong?? You're not the only one running into implementation issues and I fully agree that for a beginner (and also quite a bit down that road) the implementation process is convoluted, however I've made it as easy as is possible (without loosing functionality).
Im really curious to your experience in this matter!

[On topic]
Which brings us back to (more on topic): there are vids, there is documentation (with that I mean an actual, albeith not yet finished, paper manual) and yes they cover the basic stuff, but beyond basic, maptools is quite limitless and its impossible to write a limitless manual. So what *are* you looking for beyond that??
Do keep in mind that if someone actually would FULLY document ALL features you would likely get a 300+ page document that no one would like to read. There is simply too much to learn/know about MT to not be overwhelming.

Still, thanks for the feedback and if you can elaborate on my questions, that would be great! Maybe its better to continue the part about my tools in that topic (link in sig.).
Last edited by wolph42 on Fri Jul 13, 2012 7:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by aliasmask »

This reminds me of my early programming days and being instructed on writing pseudo-code. The question of "how detailed do you want to be?" came up. The teacher gave the example of changing a tire.

Code: Select all

Remove flat tire.
Put on new tire.

This would be simplistic and leaves too many questions and scenarios to be explored.

Code: Select all

Remove flat tire
   Get jack and tire iron and jack up car
   Use tire iron to remove bolts
   Take off tire
Put on new tire
   ...

This seems detailed enough to get a novice through the process. But then there's over doing it.

Code: Select all

Remove flat tire
   Get jack and tire iron and jack up car
      Pull trunk release to open trunk
      Open car door and exit
      Walk to trunk and pull out jack and tire iron
      ...

Although these steps are essential to do, they are not specifically related to the problem. You have to assume some level of external knowledge and competence. It really is an art to write enough, but not too much, because as wolph says it would be too long to be useful.

So, in the case of documentation for MapTool and getting things done, the wiki and forums have most of the information needed. You just need to know how to use those tools which should be a part of general computer literacy. Yes, even with the basic knowledge of knowing how to navigate a wiki and forums to find answers there is still a learning curve and you'll just have to do some reading to get through it. When I first started, I went to the function page and read every entry just to familiarize myself with what can be done without really committing the specifics to memory.

This reminds me of another teacher who said the difference between a hacker and a programmer is the amount of knowledge known to the solution. A hacker takes a lot of detailed information to accomplish a single task, while a programmer may have fewer details but knows how to find the information to complete many tasks. Specialist vs General Practitioner. [now I'm starting to ramble]

Back to topic. I'll try and finish up my own contribution to MapTool documentation and send a copy to CiF to integrate in to the document. Here's a preview of what I'm working on:

MapTool Vision System wrote:There are six elements that make up the vision system:
1.    Vision - Vision is a map setting that is either turned to Off, Day or Night.
2.    Sight - Sight is a part of the token and only PC tokens can have sight.
3.    Light - Light exposes areas to a token's vision.
4.    VBL - Vision Blocking Layer blocks a token's sight and light sources.
5.    FOW - Fog of War is a mask to hide unexplored areas to a players vision.
6.    Visibility - Visibility refers to a map, layer, token and state setting which can be turned
         Off, On or with tokens and states, visible to owners.
 

I go on to detail each section with an overview of the elements, images and examples.

All of MapTool is a community effort and it'll only be as good as we make it.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by mfrizzell »

It does take a village to raise a Maptool :D
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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by aku »

Maybe not,but it does take an army.

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Re: Future of MapTool?

Post by Toby »

So, in the case of documentation for MapTool and getting things done, the wiki and forums have most of the information needed. You just need to know how to use those tools which should be a part of general computer literacy. Yes, even with the basic knowledge of knowing how to navigate a wiki and forums to find answers there is still a learning curve and you'll just have to do some reading to get through it. When I first started, I went to the function page and read every entry just to familiarize myself with what can be done without really committing the specifics to memory.


Look, I completely understand this perspective, but its just not helpful to a new user to MapTools.

Try this experiment, go to RPTools.net and look at what is actually there, not on another site, not on the forums or in the wiki. There is no documentation, there is no help section, the FAQ doesn't even include the most obvious question "How do I use this stuff?!" There are three different headings that allow you to download the tool, are they all the same? Maybe, there is no indication of what I actually need to use the program.

Once you get to the forums, its a little unclear exactly what you are supposed to do. Call me stupid (I don't care) but the first time I got to the forums, I could not find any of the actual discussions because they were off the bottom of my screen and there was a big obvious, but wrong link near the top:
How To
Articles on how to do things in MapTool (answers only here -- questions should stay in the main MT forum)

But where is the main forum? Too long to figure out, I'm out of here. That was over a year ago. I only came back because I was noodling around and noticed the video tutorials for the first time.

Wolph, I'll watch the video and try again to figure out how to install your tools. I did not notice there was a video link before, I was under the impression that I had to read through 44 pages of forum posts to figure out how to install and use the tools, no thanks. So I guess the main thing that you are doing wrong is trying to host it on the forum. It should be on the wiki or better yet, on the RPTools.NET webpage, there should be a link from there to the exact Q&A forum post.

That is exactly the point. No new user should be expected to wade through the forums to find out anything. Once they have the tool up and running and have a question, they can come to the forum and ask. The most popular frameworks and drop in tools should be maintained on the website or maybe the wiki, which should be listed under documentation or something on the main RPTools site.

The forums and wiki really are great. And the video tutorials are amazing. It just needs to be easier to find. I still have the feeling I'm missing some of the video tutorials.

Anyway, this is the perspective of someone who is passionate about the program and still new enough to remember what a opaque process it was to get started.

Dan

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