xboard and WinBoard 4.2.4 released

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Tim Mann

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Dec 9, 2001, 10:57:50 PM12/9/01
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** Announcing the release of XBoard and WinBoard, version 4.2.4 **

A new release of both XBoard and WinBoard is now available. Version
4.2.4 is strictly a bugfix release. It corrects about 30 bugs in the
4.2.3 release, upgrades the included copy of GNU Chess 5 from 5.00 to
5.02, and adds a couple of very minor features. See the ChangeLog
included with the release for details.

Several new features contributed by various people are still in the
pipeline for a future release, as are several additions to the engine
communication protocol that have been discussed on the chess-engines
mailing list but which I have not implemented yet. I wanted to work
through my large backlog of small bug reports and fixes before moving
on to these larger items.

You can get both programs from my Chess page on the World Wide Web.
In addition, they should soon be available from GNU FTP sites.

- http://www.tim-mann.org/chess.html
- ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/xboard/
- ftp://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/winboard/

XBoard is a graphical chessboard for the X Window System that can
serve as a user interface for GNU Chess, Crafty, and other chess
engines, for the Internet Chess Servers, and for electronic mail
correspondence chess. XBoard can also be used by itself. It can read
and write game files in PGN (portable game notation).

WinBoard is a similar program for 32-bit Microsoft Windows. It
includes all the major features of XBoard except email correspondence
chess.

Some known bugs and deficiencies in previous versions have not been
addressed. It is not necessary to report your favorite bug again if
you have reported it before, unless the ChangeLog erroneously says it
has been fixed. Most known bugs, deficiencies, and suggestions
received are now listed in the ToDo file. If you find a bug not
listed there, please report it to me.

--Tim Mann <t...@tim-mann.org>

--
Tim Mann t...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

--
Tim Mann t...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

--
Tim Mann t...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

--
Tim Mann t...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

Clifford Stern

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Dec 10, 2001, 9:30:40 PM12/10/01
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On 10 Dec 2001 03:57:50 GMT, Tim Mann <use...@tim-mann.org> wrote:

>** Announcing the release of XBoard and WinBoard, version 4.2.4 **
>
>A new release of both XBoard and WinBoard is now available. Version
>4.2.4 is strictly a bugfix release. It corrects about 30 bugs in the
>4.2.3 release, upgrades the included copy of GNU Chess 5 from 5.00 to
>5.02, and adds a couple of very minor features. See the ChangeLog
>included with the release for details.

A belated thanks for version 4.2.3 which fixed the bug that crept in
sometime after 4.0.7 in which games didn't always load with automatic
stepping. But why is this latest version so much bigger? It seems
strange for merely a bugfix release:

winboard-4_2_3.exe 2,299,250 bytes

winboard-4_2_4.exe 10,020,579 bytes

Tim Mann

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Dec 11, 2001, 2:32:54 AM12/11/01
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In article <3c156fbf....@news.lafn.org>, Clifford Stern wrote:
> But why is this latest version so much bigger? It seems
> strange for merely a bugfix release:
>
> winboard-4_2_3.exe 2,299,250 bytes
>
> winboard-4_2_4.exe 10,020,579 bytes

It's a byproduct of upgrading the bundled GNU Chess 5 from 5.00 to
5.02. The 5.02 release has a new book builder and comes with a large
file of PGN games to build the book from. The book built from that
file ends up being over 12 MB. I was a bit doubtful about including
it in the release, but ended up doing it anyway. The alternatives
would have been to include 5.02 with no book, or to stay with 5.00 and
its tiny book. The 5.00 book doesn't work with 5.02.

I think I'll make an alternative download available without the GNU 5
book, since 10 MB is a lot for someone with only dialup access to
download. Maybe one of the GNU Chess 5 folks would like to make a
smaller book that I could include instead of leaving it out
entirely...?

--
Tim Mann use...@tim-mann.org http://www.tim-mann.org/

Simon Waters

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Dec 11, 2001, 5:53:32 AM12/11/01
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Tim Mann wrote:
>
> I think I'll make an alternative download available without the GNU 5
> book, since 10 MB is a lot for someone with only dialup access to
> download. Maybe one of the GNU Chess 5 folks would like to make a
> smaller book that I could include instead of leaving it out
> entirely...?

I was planning on keeping the book out of the 5.03 release
entirely for the same reason.

Perhaps a smaller book would be a better option.

Since it is just a (very clean) PGN files, of which it extracts
the Grandmaster games, the advice in the notes is just to "head"
the pgn file and use as much as you can bare.

5.03 will have improved book handling, and a more upto date list
of Grandmasters.

Users should "add" GNUchess's own games to the book if they want
it to learn to avoid openings it does poorly in.

Alberich

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Dec 11, 2001, 8:57:05 PM12/11/01
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In article <slrna1bdl7...@giga.mumblefrotz.org>, usenet@tim-
mann.org says...
Been using Winboard for a while now. Why isn't there a commandline option
to set the hashtables in Winboard?! You'd think that option should be
there.

Time control option is terrible. Only two options but only ONE for the
normal time control option?! You gotta do better here.

For blitzing, it would be nice to have the option of selecting the square
for the pieces BEFORE selecting the pieces that go on the square. Would
make playing alot faster. Just a thought.

You've got a great set of board size options...but add another...and this
allows for individual sizing of the board and pieces. For example, I love
the board, but the pieces are still too small for the board. I would like
to "scrunch" the board NOT relative to the pieces acutal sizes so that
together it gives the layout a more eye pleasing view of the positions.
(Hint: I can do this in Fritz) And while we're at the topic of the board,
take out the black borders running through the squares. It's very
distracting.

I see you now include the index option for the games in PGN databases
when you open the databases in Winboard. I'd like to see you implement
the option to select multiple game index files to open CONCURRENTLY.
Right now, it only allows ONE game at a time to be opened this way.
C'mon, I know you can implement that. Just add a few more lines of code
to the program.

Once a game is autostepped, you have to reselect the option from the menu
to reanimate the game you loaded?! C,mon, this can be better! I should be
able to hit an F9 option on my keyboard to simply reanimate the game
that's already there after it's already been autostepped.

No ability to select the board position in a game instantly with the
mouse through a PGN move list?! Get real. Implement that feature, fast.

Oxymoron

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Dec 11, 2001, 11:24:22 PM12/11/01
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Sounds like someone is just begging to donate some code...

--
Oxymoron
oxym...@freechess.org

{snip}

Tim Mann

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Dec 12, 2001, 1:09:18 AM12/12/01
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In article <MPG.168084f72...@news.cyburban.com>, Alberich wrote:
> Been using Winboard for a while now. Why isn't there ...

> You'd think that option should be there.
>
> ... is terrible. ... ?! You gotta do better here.
>
> add another...
> ... (Hint: I can do this in Fritz)
> take out the ...
>
> ... I'd like to see you implement
> ... C'mon, I know you can implement that. Just add a few more lines of code
> to the program.
>
> ...?! C,mon, this can be better! I should be able to ...
>
> No ability to ... ?! Get real. Implement that feature, fast.

Would you like fries with that, sir? May I polish your shoes too?

Alberich

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Dec 12, 2001, 4:40:07 PM12/12/01
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In article <slrna1dt4f...@giga.mumblefrotz.org>, usenet@tim-
mann.org says...

So, I hit a nerve, huh? My accurate assessments of the deficiences of
Winboard are pretty on the nose, I'm sorry to say. And yes, maybe you can
send me fries with that. But I don't need you to polish my shoes, just
improve Winboard to make it the BEST product on the web out there.

It's these little things that annoy me because they're the kind of "why
didn't they include that?" kind of gripe about the program. To your
credit, Winboard is very stable, much more than other software that I've
seen out there like, well, I won't embarrass other chess software program
titles out there if only because they're not as good as Winboard is.

But I will name a competitor that's catching up fast. Have you heard of
ChessPad? Check it out. It's got SOME of the features I'd like to see you
implement in Winboard. But once you include the features I see in
ChessPad, I'll switch over to Winboard entirely. Until then, I'll
continue to carefully choose and pick my way to the right chess program
out there to play with.

Currently, I'm waiting very patiently for my delivery of Fritz 7 on CD
from my online chess store I visit frequently to buy chess material from.
Can't wait for that. Now THAT'S a real Christmas present to play with.
I'm going to enjoy that. But again, my problem with Fritz 7 is simple:
the lack of retail chains carrying this title. I can't believe the giants
like CompUSA or BestBuy or heck, even CircuitCity don't carry Fritz 7 in
their game sections?! Funny thing is, they DO carry Chessmaster 8000...a
piece of **** as ever I've seen that's totally unworthy of aspiring chess
players and serious tournament chess club addicts.

In any case, try to take some of my suggestions about Winboard seriously.
I didn't mean to list them in such a cynical manner, but they are
legitimate. Just making it possible for loading multiple game index files
simultaneously would be a nice Christmas present. But getting that
feature will take alot of time, because I know you'll have to spend
untold hours just testing out such a feature. So, I'll be patient and
I'll wait til next year and hopefully by then you'll be able to address
at least some of my concerns about the Winboard program. The black
borders crisscrossing the chessboard squares is a no brainer thougn. That
can be taken out very quickly, it's just a matter of redesigning the
board bitmap files. That shouldn't take too long.

In any case, you're doing a good job with Winboard. It's the best program
on the web. I'm just being prickly only because I know you can do better
with it. IT's sort of like lighting a fire under your feet to get you
going and get the juices flowing. Besides, that's what sports
commentators do when they write commentary articles on their favorite
baseball, football teams. They don't spare the hurt. They expose the
flaws so that the teams can address those concerns. And I'm doing my
patriotic part in exposing the deficiencies in Winboard not to denegrate
the program, but to force you to find ways to improve it. I'm only trying
to help.

Simon Waters

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Dec 12, 2001, 7:46:50 PM12/12/01
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Alberich wrote:
>
> So, I hit a nerve, huh? My accurate assessments of the deficiences of
> Winboard are pretty on the nose, I'm sorry to say. And yes, maybe you can
> send me fries with that. But I don't need you to polish my shoes, just
> improve Winboard to make it the BEST product on the web out there.

I suspect just looking at Winboard you underestimate the amount
of effort Tim has put in, remember xboard supports all those
other platforms, I mean if it was just Win32 users, and one
chess engine, he had catered for I dare say he would have
implemented eternal life by now ;)

> It's these little things that annoy me because they're the kind of "why
> didn't they include that?"

I must say the limited fixed sized boards are a little annoying
in X, I suspect some of it dates back to the early days when
architecture decisions needed to be made or nothing would ever
have been written. Software is like that, and we forget too
quickly just how things have changed during the life of a
project. Cross platform GUI stuff is a lot more approachable
than it was even a few years ago.

> In any case, you're doing a good job with Winboard.

Seconded (and a great job picking up the deficiencies in certain
engines as well).

> It's the best program on the web.

Hmm, I'm not sure how you would compare it with something like
the linux kernel, but it is definitely my most used "chess"
program.

All this and he has a real job as well.

Tim Mann

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Dec 12, 2001, 11:19:36 PM12/12/01
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In article <MPG.16819a496...@news.cyburban.com>, Alberich wrote:
> So, I hit a nerve, huh? My accurate assessments of the deficiences of
> Winboard are pretty on the nose, I'm sorry to say.

No, that wasn't the nerve you hit. The nerve you hit was one that
gets raw for a lot of free, open source software authors -- the one
that aches when people who get things for free just keep demanding
more and more, and are not even polite about it.

In writing free software, I'm giving you something at no charge that
you are free to use if you like, and free to contribute to and improve
if you see things that need improvement. But your attitude is to sit
back and harshly criticize the software for lacking some things you
want and for not being as polished as a commercial product. You speak
condescendingly, and order me (all your "suggestions" were in the
imperative) to do things. You take the position of a dissatisfied
customer who has paid money for a product and threatens to take his
business elsewhere unless the product is improved in the next release.

That's not how it works with free software. Some people might write
it for fame and glory and be constantly striving to get as many users
as possible and to be better than any of the competing products. But
most of us write free software to "scratch an itch" -- we write it
because we want it to do something for ourselves, or for fun. Then we
give it away so that others can use it, or improve it, to scratch
their itch. Attempting to light a fire under someone like me only
gets me grouchy, because I don't like sitting on top of fires.

I personally am pretty tired of xboard/WinBoard after having been
working on them on and off for 10 years. For the last couple of years
I've done very little on them. I don't play chess myself anymore, nor
am I interested in writing chess engines or collecting them and
matching them against each other, so I no longer have an itch to
scratch. Actually, working at my regular job is much more fun. But
since there is a large user base including many nonprogrammers, and
I'm a nice guy, I've continued to put in a small amount of effort.
Version 4.2.4 is the first release in 10 months, and is a bugfix-only
release, precisely because I'm no longer excited about this project.

I guess you think your message was a sort of contribution -- you say
you're trying to help. Well, it's helpful to know what users want.
It's more pleasant when they can say what they want with some
politeness and respect. Also, in this case, all but one of the items
you suggested have been suggested many times before, and I'm well
aware that adding them would be an improvement. None of them can be
done with "a few lines of code" -- if I'm mistaken about that, please
demonstrate by writing those lines of code and contributing them. The
one new suggestion was having multiple PGN files with index windows
open at once. The fact that no one else suggested that before may
give you a hint that others don't see it as being such an important
feature as you seem to. I'll certainly record it on the wishlist,
though, where it will sit with the couple hundred other items people
have asked for until someone gets itchy enough to code it up and
contribute it.

Joel Rivat

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Dec 13, 2001, 4:09:55 AM12/13/01
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Tim Mann <use...@tim-mann.org> wrote:

: In article <MPG.16819a496...@news.cyburban.com>, Alberich wrote:
:> So, I hit a nerve, huh? My accurate assessments of the deficiences of
:> Winboard are pretty on the nose, I'm sorry to say.

: No, that wasn't the nerve you hit. The nerve you hit was one that
: gets raw for a lot of free, open source software authors -- the one
: that aches when people who get things for free just keep demanding
: more and more, and are not even polite about it.

<...>

: I guess you think your message was a sort of contribution -- you say


: you're trying to help. Well, it's helpful to know what users want.
: It's more pleasant when they can say what they want with some
: politeness and respect. Also, in this case, all but one of the items
: you suggested have been suggested many times before, and I'm well
: aware that adding them would be an improvement. None of them can be
: done with "a few lines of code" -- if I'm mistaken about that, please
: demonstrate by writing those lines of code and contributing them. The
: one new suggestion was having multiple PGN files with index windows
: open at once. The fact that no one else suggested that before may
: give you a hint that others don't see it as being such an important
: feature as you seem to. I'll certainly record it on the wishlist,
: though, where it will sit with the couple hundred other items people
: have asked for until someone gets itchy enough to code it up and
: contribute it.


There was a time when xboard and gnuchess were almost
the only chess tools available as free software. So people wanted
them improved to be everything, a chess database, a powerful
PGN editor and so on, but nobody has contributed the code.
Now there are other programs like SCID which satisfy these wishes,
and I think xboard is now the most pertinent as it has always been:
a simple and easy tool to play chess against a chess engine or
with an opponent via ICS.
So Tim instead of adding anything on the wishlist, just remove
from it what is about database and so on, and continue to maintain
and improve slowly your engine interface. This is the strong point
which has permitted the concept of chess engine, even in commercial
products. It must be continued as free and open standard.
Thank you so much for having made xboard !

--
Joėl Rivat

Raggio

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Dec 13, 2001, 11:30:12 PM12/13/01
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Some of the suggested features sound pretty cool, but this guy is a bit over
the top if you ask me. How much does Winboard cost again? Oh yea, it's
free....

In article <slrna1dt4f...@giga.mumblefrotz.org>, use...@tim-mann.org

Andrew Fan

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Dec 16, 2001, 11:17:17 PM12/16/01
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May be he can pay for a month's holiday for Tim to build those features - another two months for testing.

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