Are discussions of the state of the product welcome?

First off, the disclaimer: I do not want to offend anyone, just trying to be constructive.

Having said that, I noticed that most topics here are based on mapping, as they should. But from other products forums I'm used to a lot more discussion of the tool itself. So my first question would be: Is it alright to adress and discuss feature wishes and parts where there's room for improvement?
Hoping for a yes, as most developers welcome constructive feedback, I'll just go ahead now. If no, please just delete this thread.

As someone who just comes back to CC from a 9 year hiatus, I can't help but notice a few things that are either missing or could be improved. Of course, some things are simple restrictions due to the existing code base, but as a user I have little insight and can only offer the feedback on my experience. Now I could just start and list the few little things I noticed and written down so far, but I'd like to get two important things out of the way first:

1. Is there an open wishlist, backlog, trello board or the like, where I can see what the devs already know about and have on their lists. Because so many experts here on this forum, that most things I notice will most likely have already been posted by others.
2. I know CC is based on FastCAD, but judging from the FastCAD website, this underlying product is dead. Their last update is from nearly six years ago. This doesn't mean that it is not a functional product, but it means that ProFantasy can not rely on new features from Evolution Computing and instead need to do everything themselves. So basically this is not really a question, more a concern about the future development options for ProFantasy.


  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    Yes, there have been lots of threads, both here and more prominently over on the CC3 FB Group page, where Profantasy have actively sought for suggestions for the future.

    Profantasy have themselves mentioned CC4 a couple of times in the past, so whatever the state of Evolution it looks very much like PF might be more self-sufficient than you think.
  • That's good to hear - both that discussion is welcome and that PF is actively developing a new iteration.

    Facebook though... the one network I try to avoid. Haven't logged in for 3 years or so. Is it worth it? Is there a condensed list of feature wishes? I had hoped for an open jira or trello board...
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    The trouble with FB is that things vanish fairly quickly on an active group page, and the Group is pretty active. So although there was a really long thread initiated by Profantasy I wouldn't like to try and find it now, even if you did log in and join the group.

    So maybe its just time for another suggestions thread like this one :)

    I really don't know what a trello board is.
  • edited April 2020
    Trello is a Kanban tool used by many software developers and project managers. But was just an example.

    You mentioned the problem with the vanishing of threads, be it here or on FB (except if it is stickied, of course). That's why I thought an external tool could/should be used.

    It took me maybe a minute to set this up: "

    The problem is the content of course. All the ideas and feature wishes already mentioned need to be aggregated there.
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 45 images Cartographer Administrator
    edited April 2020
    While those external tools might technically be a better platform for such type of content, I recommend you come with your suggestions here, rather than set up an external tool. Here on the forums, (and also on that other place Sue mentioned) you have the attention of ProFantasy staff and devs.

    Many new features have stemmed from people expressing a need for a feature here on the forums. Of course, not every suggestion will be taken into account, many people have some weird ideas, and other ideas are really difficult to implement into the current frameworke even if they are great.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    Remy is right. The best places to discuss Profantasy software is here and the FB Group page - that other place Remy doesn't like. I don't actually like FB myself, but the specialist groups like the CC3 one and the PF page are ok.
  • I know, I know. It's just that forums are just so inefficient for these things. Especially for the devs who are meant to interpret the list. Such a list is bound to be riddled by duplicates, things the devs already have heard or ruled out and no quantified way to indicate what the majority of users wants most. That's why I hoped that there would be access for the users to the tool the devs use as backlog anyway. Hence the mention of trello or jira.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    PF seem to manage ok with forum threads ;)

    So... what suggestions did you have?
  • On top of my head I got these:
    - Seamless Glow Effect - if possible
    - Light sources that are not only points but lines and polygons
    - A copy sheet option would be nice. I know I can create a new sheet and copy/paste the sheet effects, but just copy, rename, done would be even smoother.
    - 64bit should be a no-brainer
    - Better UI!
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    I'm not a tech, Merion, but the 64-bit option was discussed in some detail over on the FB page. In summary, it seems that would be a hell of a lot of work and involve completely re-writing the app from scratch. It would be a cost v benefit consideration. That is not to say it would never happen - I can't say either way because I'm only a relatively tiny part of the team and not technically 'in the know' about the really important things.

    I'm not really understanding the light source thing. You can set up the current lights to give angled beams...
  • I understand the 64bit issue, this is likely due to the FastCAD base. Still a shame and feels weird to use such outdated tech, at least when sitting at a high-end gaming PC where only a fraction of the available resources are used. It's great that CC works on old machine and should continue to do so, but it just feels like wasted potential.

    And concerning the lights - I can make angled beams, but they always originate from a single point. I want them to originate from a line or polygon - think neon tube or led plate. There are likely work arounds, but it was an idea I had, when I created that outhouse map. There I wanted light to shine into the courtyard from a door. In this case an open door is a line-like feature where the light originates and I had to jump through some hoops to end up with the desired effect.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    One of the workarounds might be to arrange a series of lights in a line or polygon. I know its not an ideal solution, but it might work.

    An ordinary light set up some reasonable distance away from the door in question could work. Remember that there is no real limit to how far away you can put the light on a virtual and almost limitless 2D plane. Just watch you don't zoom extents at any point!
  • 7 days later
  • Simon RogersSimon Rogers Traveler Administrator, ProFantasy
    In general bugs should be reported directly to tech support, where they will be triaged. We are quite happy to get the same bug reported more than once; it's useful data. We do post occasionally post for feature requests and we are perfectly happy with duplicate requests. If you want to post feature requests on the forum, go ahead.

    The code base is not dependent on Evolution Computing, nor has it been for many years. All our code is written in-house to work with the latest OS developments and toolkits. It uses multithreading and other hardware boosts where they are available. Backwards compatibilty is a consideration but that's all.
    Posted By: MerionOn top of my head I got these:
    - Seamless Glow Effect - if possible
    - Light sources that are not only points but lines and polygons
    - A copy sheet option would be nice. I know I can create a new sheet and copy/paste the sheet effects, but just copy, rename, done would be even smoother.
    - 64bit should be a no-brainer
    - Better UI!
    I don't know what a seamless glow effect is. Can you enlarge on this?
    Copy sheet option. Do you mean add a Duplicate button to the Sheets and Effects dialog?
    What benefits are you hoping to see in the software from 64 bit technology?
    "Better UI" what do you mean by this?
  • Hello Simon,

    thank you for taking the time to respond and the clarifications! It's good to hear that you're not held back by a legacy codebase - seen it happen before to other products.

    Concerning the addressed points:

    - I stumbled upon the fact that the glow effect offers percent values but is actually a stepped effect. See her:
    - Yes, duplicating a whole sheet including the effects and renaming it would seem like a small quality of life improvement.
    - When I tried to export maps with a huge pixel count (<10k x 10k) I got a out of memory error - or something the like. Don't have the program in front of me. Checking my system panel showed that CC only used 2.x Gb of RAM out of my 32. So in short: better performance through more memory. But I'm an interested layman at best when it comes to these things.
    - Well, I know critizing the User Interface is opening a special can of worms, but I think it can't denied that CC's interface shows it's CAD heritage. This can be a huge threshold for new users. Newer competitors like wonderdraft offer a much easier to learn user interface. I know that they also offer A LOT less features and I don't have a suggestions ready on how exactly am easier to learn UI would be achieved, but I feel like it is an issue that should be addressed in some fashion for a major update or new version.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    edited April 2020
    I have a question about the interface for you, Merion :)

    A GUI is both the least and most important thing about an app. Least, because it has no effect whatsoever on the scope and agility of the engine behind it, and most because people really hate a functional but non-beautified GUI and end up looking elsewhere.

    A good GUI is one of the hardest things on Earth to design, simply because what people generally want to see is based on what those same people are used to seeing elsewhere - at which point the producer of a new GUI is faced with the almost impossible task of making something almost exactly but not quite like A or B and dropping themselves straight into some incredibly hot water with copyright issues and law suits, or trying to somehow better those other interfaces with a completely new design of its own - a time consuming and shockingly expensive thing to do.

    The question is - is it really worth spending all that money on a complete revamp of the interface, when it will likely mean that all those new styles, symbol sets and other art assets that are made available every month for all us users might become a thing of the past for however long it takes to fund the development of a GUI? Bear in mind that there is no guarantee that a new GUI will make anyone any the happier either, so all that money would have been wasted.


    There is the other matter of concern for me at least, and this is that whenever a company completely redesigns its GUI I start to get a bit uncomfortable about what this says about that company. I start to wonder if everything is ok, or if this is a last ditch attempt to save everything. That might just be the way I see it because of the personal experiences I've had with other companies when they have been in their last throws of failure, but it would certainly have me quite worried if PF suddenly threw something at me that was nothing like the old GUI, but an awful lot like one of its competitor's GUIs!

    I don't believe PF will ever be in that situation, but its the message that people get if changes are too sudden and dramatic.
  • I don't think it is wise to ditch the whole GUI and develop a new one from scratch. As you said, that would be a huge investment of developer time and might break a small company like PF, especially if it ends up not being the be-all end-all solution, because you then alienate your userbase.

    But seeing the many posts of people who come here struggling with the GUI and posts I read elsewhere of people who gave up on the software because of it's arcane handling, make me think there should be at least an overhaul. I'm confident that the existing GUI can be improved by changing some things to make it more like other programs people are used to.

    Just two examples that pop into my head right now:

    - Redrawing - this was really weird to me at the beginning. Why do I have to hit the redraw button all the time? Change that around, auto-redraw by default and add an option to redraw manually for people with slow computers.
    - The "right-click -> do it" thing. Feels like bumpy UI to me. Why so many clicks? For example, as a new user I click "change properties", mark some objects and then nothing happens. I'd expect the change properties gump to pop up immediatly. Then let me shift-click to add further objects while the gump is open, instead of having a glass pane over the map.

    It's things like this that could be streamlined without throwing the whole UI out of the window.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    I actually agree about the redrawing thing. To get around it I've developed the habit rocking my mouse wheel one click back and forth every time I've finished doing something so that it automatically refreshes in a sort of manual-automatic way. Maybe now that most PCs are capable of managing the processor load of continually refreshing the screen it could be something worth consideration?

    I'm really not sure how I might expect anyone to get rid of the "do it" system. It's kind of built into everything like a basic building block, but maybe PF are better placed to say.
  • I think a excellent feature would be multiple screen support. I'd like to be able to move many, if not most, of the toolbars off the screen to maximize the drawing area. I have three monitors, which I find more useful than one large one. A single large monitor doesn't really give you more screen area for drawing. It just makes a picture larger.

    Other things are the ability to be able to:

    Delete nodes from paths/polygons when using the drawing tools (instead of the symbol catalog tools that have the capability) as well as tracing. (I know I can make my own drawing tools, but it hasn't worked out well for me.)
    Be able to scroll the map using the arrow keys or the numeric pad instead of having to use the mouse on the scroll bars. This always results in wierd artifact appearing on the map which are distracting, if harmless.
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 45 images Cartographer Administrator
    Yea. The Do It system is a bit clunky for beginners. It is one of the things that makes the software difficult to pick up and just use without reading the manual or quick start guide.

    However, as an advanced user, I'll have to say that CC3+ has one of the best selection systems out there. It is extremely powerful.

    You can kind of skip the Do It already by setting your selection mode to '1 each click', this makes commands complete immediately on the first selection, although it isn't possible to select more than one thing at a time using this though.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    edited April 2020
    One of the things I've often thought about is how handy it would be to have a sort of "current palette", or "recent history" of tools that you can go back to doing what you were doing before you had to stop to delete something that was in the way, for example. Maybe the last 3-5 tools used would be a good one, in a floating box that you can show if you want that option. In an example of the possible application of a recent history box, I was working on a maze earlier and alternating between just 3 tools - delete, move node, and Draw Like. If I had been able to just pick each one with exactly the same settings as before from a floating box it would have been much easier.

    (I bet Remy will tell me now that this also exists already! That's part of my trouble - I don't know half of what you can do with CC3)

    A slightly different variation would be a Favourites palette of tools in a small floating box that pops up when you hit a button for them and stays where you chose to put it until you hit the close button. To be able to save a group of tools you seem to use in every map you draw would be a huge help.
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 45 images Cartographer Administrator
    One way to accomplish that would be to edit the right click menu and add the commands you need to it. A bit more involved than just dragging a tool to a favorites box, but it is a nice way to put some tools within easy reach.
    You could also edit the global toolbar (fcw32.imn) and put buttons there for tools. Each button could be a direct tool, or pop up a menu with a selection of tools.
    I don't think there is a good way to automatically get a list of recently used tools though.
  • LoopysueLoopysue 🖼️ 28 images Cartographer ProFantasy
    edited April 2020
    Maybe, then an actual "Favourites" toolbar that's a dynamic thing in its own right. One where you can actually drag and drop copies of things from the menus, drawing tools and even buttons from other menus. And from which you can then remove things by dragging them away again?

    I'm much more of a graphic drag and drop sort of person than a macro or menu writing person.

    It's not an easy thing to do. I work with lots of other apps as well, and even though Krita has a favourite brushes AND a history of brushes panel on tabs adjacent to the main tool box, the history doesn't always record what you used every time and its the Devil's own business getting what you want in the Favourites to stick and not have it vanish next time you open it! LOL! (the number of times I've muttered nameless curses and re-re-re-re re-re-recreated the same old favourite pen I use isn't something I like to think about)
  • How do you use that right hand click edit command, Remy? I would love to add a few command line only commands to Some of the preexisting or new buttons
  • MonsenMonsen 🖼️ 45 images Cartographer Administrator
    It is just a menu file, editing it is described in the Tome and in this article.
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