Why 7Mb?

Wilhelm Sanke sanke at hrz.uni-kassel.de
Sun Sep 5 17:55:06 EDT 2004

On Fri, 3 Sep 2004 Troy Rollins <troy at rpsystems.net> wrote:

> Not quite sure what you were expecting a response to. I saw the
> original message. I took it as commentary.


While that may be surely true for a greater part of my post, further 
down you would have found questions and questionlike statements.
And I didn't have specific expectations as to a response.
There is such a broad community behind the "run" list with quite a lot 
of broad minds and also sometimes short tempers (a category I myself 
belong to now and then) and above all with widely diverging interests 
and different focus in their work. Therefore it is fully normal and 
acceptable that once in a while a post remains uncommented, because the 
topic may barely touch the present interests of others or is still out 
of view for lack of similar experiences.- I then just "re-posted" when 
some issues I had dealt with came up again on the list.

> The Dreamcard player is big, but is oriented to allowing a single
> download for all purposes. "Custom" ones, output by a full Rev license
> would be smaller, but would not allow all DreamCard stacks to run, as
> they would be custom to an individual application - thus defeating the
> intention of a one-player-fits-all purpose. The concept with the player
> is obviously "once you have it, you don't need to get it again."
> (snip)

In the meantime I had a look at the Dreamcard Players for Windows and 
MacOS and also at Dreamcard itself. Although a Metacard and Enterprise 
user I do this to find out whether a Dreamcard version would qualify - 
and be affordable - for inclusion into our classes and workshops for 
programming and multimedia development. Last year we had stopped using 
newer versions of Revolution when the "Free Edition" was no longer 
available. We still acquaint our students with the older versions and 
direct their attention to Revolution in general and to the trial versions.

I'll first address questions of the functionality of the Dreamcard 
Player(s) and then express some opinions about size and design of the 

A. Present Functionality

It seems that in the initial stage of development of the Dreamcard 
Player it is difficult to distinguish intended features from unintended 
functionality or bugs. The players work differently on both platforms 
and mostly not in accord with the Readme text:

 > To use it, double click it, then either open the
 > Dreamcard program you want to run using the Open button to the right 
of the
 > address bar, or navigate to a program stored online by clicking on 
the User
 > Spaces button."

The Dreamcard Player on MacOS X can be used in three different ways:

1. When the Dreamcard Player is launched by double-clicking on the 
Player icon, first the Revolution Online Viewer comes up. To access 
offline stacks you have to use the second control from the right on the 
Online View Viewer, which opens the file selection dialog.
The "Revolution" button at the right of the Online Viewer opens a 
Preference Dialog, which however cannot be set in a way to skip the 
Online Viewer next time the Player will be opened.
There is also nothing of this kind in the Revolution item of the Mac 
Menubar that would allow to switch off the "Online Viewer" preference.

2. The second way to use the Dreamcard Player is to drag stacks onto the 
"Revolution Player" icon. This leads to the simultaneous starting of the 
respective stack *and* the Online Viewer.

3. The third way to use the Dreamcard Player is to first rename the 
"Revolution Player" to "Revolution" and then again drag stacks onto this 
"Revolution" icon. This time, finally, only the used stack is opened - 
fortunately not accompanied by the Online Viewer.

Apart from the name, files "Revolution Player" and "Revolution" (as the 
engine) appear to be identical. Probably an internal check is carried 
out inside the engine what label is used for the file - in the same way 
as it is checking whether the label is "Revolution" or "Metacard" for 
use within the Metacard IDE.

On Windows (XP) the Dreamcard Player only behaves as described above as 
the third way for MacOS.
When you try to start the Dreamcard Player by double-clicking on Windows 
XP, nothing of what is described in the Readme happens, in fact nothing 
at all happens!
But you can drag stacks onto the "Revolution" icon of the Dreamcard 
Player, which then indeed then opens Rev and Metacard stacks like in #3 
for MacOS, i.e without simultaneously opening the Revolution Online 
viewer. Unfortunately, however, no mouse cursors are visible inside the 
stack area of the opened stacks and you need to move the mouse "blindly".

B. Questions of Design

It seems to me to be annoying that when a user wants to open a specific 
stack and he can only do this via the Rev Online Viewer as in Mac 
example #1 (see above) or getting the Online Viewer in addition to the 
intended stack (Mac example #2).

It would be sufficient to have a file selection dialog that would of 
course provide the extra possibilty to open stacks online, but in such a 
case by simply opening a file "revonline.rev" before.-

You said (i.e. Troy) that "The Dreamcard player is big, but is oriented 
to allowing a single download for all purposes" and there you have 
indeed this "one-player-fits-all purpose" kind of application.
There is a German expression for such a type of things, namely the 
"eierlegende Wollmilchsau" - literally to be translated as  'the 
egg-laying wool-milk-sow' .

If you think such a wonderful all-purpose animal is the perfect design 
example for a player then you indeed need an application the size of 7.4 
MB to open a stack of maybe only 20 KB, a situation of tremendous overkill.

On the extreme other side of a number of possible design solutions for a 
player could be a "minimal" player that only contains the engine and a 
small stack with only  two buttons: One to open stacks, the other to 
save stacks (in case changes made by a user in a stack have to be 
saved). Given the new engine size of 1.7 MB such a  player application 
would need no more than 1.8 MB.

The extra resources needed in a stack - that are contained in the IDE, 
but not in the engine - could be moved into the stack for use with the 
player (script libraries, database support, dialogs, icons etc.) before. 
In the Metacard IDE this is the purpose of the "Resource Mover", which 
is independent from the "Standalone Builder", in the Dreamcard version 
there is no equivalent for the "Standalone Application Settings" of the 
more expensive Revolution versions, but could be easily provided for 
Dreamcard, too, in a format similar to the Metacard "Resource Mover".

Of course a Dreamcard user could always move his special resources into 
his stacks "manually" but it is in most cases somewhat difficult to find 
where the needed scripts reside in the IDE and how they interact. Thus, 
given the complexity and often extreme interrelatedness of the 
Revolution IDE, it would be a better solution to offer a Dreamcard 
Resource Mover.

Among the different "philiosophies" of design for a player application  
of course intermediate solutions are possible as I have implemented them 
in my "MC-Player" for Revolution and Metacard stacks, with has a size of 
2 MB and contains some basic resources like icons and dialogs.


Wilhelm Sanke

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