Comical v2 Work Log

Comica (formerly Comical) is a configurable web-comic viewer and downloader. [link]
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BootBlock
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Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:45 pm

This is for the old v2 of Comica. An entirely-new version of Comica v2 is being written as of early 2015.

Why not just continue the version 1 series?
The main reason for going to v2 is that Comical requires a rewrite of its interface. Even though it's very young as application lifetime goes, only WPF will provide the performance that is required, and that involves changing from Windows Forms (GDI+) to Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).

What will happen to the version 1 series?
It will be continued, but the new bigger features will only be implemented within v2.

What will a high performance interface bring?
A large part of the drive behind the move is, to be honest, eye candy. Comical is an ideal candidate for skinning due to its highly visual nature. In addition to the non-functional visuals, hardware acceleration will also allow for real-time image rotation and scaling. This will also be a learning experience; even though I've done WPF work in the distant past, I still need much more practice and I'll essentially be re-learning as a beginner.

Any other features planned?
Comical 2 will be more multi-purpose than its predecessor. CBZ (an archived file containing a series of images pertaining to a comic book) support was added in v1.03, but it was only achievable by decompressing the archive into the Comical archive directory, thereby essentially creating a standard virtual comic (added in a previous version).

By making Comical more general purpose, support can be added for CBZ/CBR without having to decompress the archive at all. Ebooks (text) and other formats can be supported. This may all be provided via plugins; an SDK will be released if this is so.

When will v2 be complete?
Ordinarily, as BiQubic.Comics is already done, it would take a few days of constant work if it was written with the same framework as v1. But, because I'm learning WPF as I go along, it's going to take a lot longer as I find different ways of doing things and understand how the theming system works. Language translation support may also be required. I need to ensure that Comical 2 will be general-purpose enough to support anything that is thrown at it, and this is going to require some thought.

What is this thread for?
This thread will contain the latest information on Comical 2, from journalling the latest progress to screenshots and downloads. The thread may get quite spammy depending on the amount of progress I make.

What isn't this thread for?
This thread is not for feature requests, suggestions, or discussion regarding v1. If you would like to suggest something for Comical 2, then please post in this thread here.
This thread is to be used for discussing the work-log entries that I'm posting.


Will preview versions be available?
Yes, I will be making alpha and beta versions available. This post will be edited when a new version becomes available, along with a topic bump for any email notification-enabled members.

Requirements: Microsoft .NET 3.5 SP1
Released: 7th April, 2010.
Download: Comica - Alpha 1

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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Sun Apr 04, 2010 2:50 pm

It doesn't look like much, but this is entirely hardware accelerated, and as such, is the very first step on the road to version 2. The category control above the comics list is actually a listview and not a combobox dropdown like in v1.

The background image is some random Google Image space scene used for theme testing purposes.
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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by Zallist » Sun Apr 04, 2010 3:31 pm

First question: When can we expect the first Alpha version? O:

Second question: Will v2 be built from bottom-up or top-down? (EG: Built to look nice but be low with features at first, or filled with features but look horrible to begin with?)

Third question: What d'you reckon the minimum specs will be for v2? I know that once Hardware Accelerating comes into the equation, MOST of the time a minimum specification for the program is given. Usually just the base Operating System's specs, but you probably know what I mean. (not worried for myself, worried for people with older computers who may not realise this might be resource-intensive)

Fourth question: The definition system will remain the same, right? So, all the definitions we've got at the moment will still work without any problems, or with a simple batch edit?

_________________
First answer to curious people: The picture in the preview is just there to fill up empty space, since Boot's yet to actually do anything with the blank area. Or so I've been led to believe

Second answer: A listbox is different to a combobox in visual-appeal. A list box shows all the options without a dropdown being given, while a combobox requires a dropdown. This will be better in that you won't need to click twice. One downside, however, will be that it may mean you run out of vertical space if your monitor is unbelievably small, or you make windows tiny.
A workaround for this, if you DO have such a tiny monitor: Move the taskbar to one of the sides. Feels great. :D
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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:43 pm

Zallist wrote:First question: When can we expect the first Alpha version? O:
Within the next 5 BILLION YEARS. Give or take 5 billion years.
Second question: Will v2 be built from bottom-up or top-down? (EG: Built to look nice but be low with features at first, or filled with features but look horrible to begin with?)
More from... the middle-outwards.

The very first thing is to see what sort of effects I can get happening in the interface, and then build on that. I need to do lots of a-learnin' about WPF. But features can't exist without the respective interfaces, so they'll both be worked on in tandem.
Third question: What d'you reckon the minimum specs will be for v2? I know that once Hardware Accelerating comes into the equation, MOST of the time a minimum specification for the program is given. Usually just the base Operating System's specs, but you probably know what I mean. (not worried for myself, worried for people with older computers who may not realise this might be resource-intensive)
Worst case, it will fall back to software rendering if the hardware doesn't support acceleration. There will be all sorts of optional stuff in there such as pixel shaders and that.

As far as I know, WPF doesn't have any minimum requirements. There will be flashy effects in Comical, but I can reduce them depending on the capabilities of the hardware. I haven't read this yet, but this site site here has some info on requirements.

I'll still maintain the original Comical v1.xx series, but the big features will be going into its show-off brother.
Fourth question: The definition system will remain the same, right? So, all the definitions we've got at the moment will still work without any problems, or with a simple batch edit?
Definitions are exactly the same.

Comical uses BiQubic.Comics, which I started for a home-theatre PC project ages ago. Comical v1 was a test-bed for it, which I've been expanding to be more useful.

There's actually nothing stopping someone from using BiQubic.Comics in their own project. Comical is merely a shell to it.
First answer to curious people: The picture in the preview is just there to fill up empty space, since Boot's yet to actually do anything with the blank area. Or so I've been led to believe
Comical v2 will support skinning, with the background showing through the comics list, etc. That background there is just a static one I'm using for testing purposes as theming isn't in yet (in fact, nothing is in as I've only just started ;)).

The background can even be images streaming directly from Flickr, or be a playing video.
Second answer: A listbox One downside, however, will be that it may mean you run out of vertical space if your monitor is unbelievably small, or you make windows tiny.
The idea behind using a listbox (or Listview, I suppose) is that I'll be making it just one-line high. When you hover the mouse over it, it'll (smoothly!) expand vertically to show more of its contents. Click on an item (category), and it'll shrink back down with that item selected.

That's the theory, anyway!
A workaround for this, if you DO have such a tiny monitor: Move the taskbar to one of the sides. Feels great. :D
That reminds me about another one of the v2 aims - minimalism. Things only appear when they're required. More info on that when I come to actually implement 'em...

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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:59 pm

I'm going to refer to Comical v2 as Comica from here on out. Probably not the final name, but I had to name the project something. Hell, Comical's project directory is called Comic Viewer.

After showering, eating an obscene amount of meat, swearing on Twitter, and generally monging about, I'm able to continue working on Comica.

Working on the Common.Locations class so Comical knows where to find its directories and files. Boring, and not really much to say about it.

I did realise that all of the controls I created and am using in Comical v1.xx won't work in WPF as they're based on WinForms. Damn.

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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by Zallist » Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:09 pm

BootBlock wrote:
A workaround for this, if you DO have such a tiny monitor: Move the taskbar to one of the sides. Feels great. :D
That reminds me about another one of the v2 aims - minimalism. Things only appear when they're required. More info on that when I come to actually implement 'em...
..it'll be able to read my freakin' mind?! WOAH.

Gogo obligatory boring code segments. :D
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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Sun Apr 04, 2010 6:20 pm

Behold, the current version of the Common.Locations class! Please don't use this for terrorism as it could quite easily be used to destroy entire countries.

Image

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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by Zallist » Sun Apr 04, 2010 7:34 pm

BootBlock wrote:Behold, the current version of the Common.Locations class! Please don't use this for terrorism as it could quite easily be used to destroy entire countries.

Image
I'm glad you took the time to shrink some of the more incredibly dangerous lines. You may have saved billions of lives with that thought.
O:
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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:34 am

Well, yesterday was entirely wasted. Made absolutely no progress at all.

The auto-expanding Category listbox... doesn't auto-expand. WPF throws an exception when trying to animate a Height property saying it's NaN (Not a Number). Apparently this can be worked around with an attached property to return the control's actual height, but the code was totally spacked and I wasn't able to get it working.

As I don't want to spend more time on getting the stupid listbox animating at the moment and would like to get something done, I'm changing the Category control into a standard combobox like in Comical v1.xx, with the aim of turning it into its originally-envisioned animating listbox at a later date.

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Re: Comical v2 Work Log

Post by BootBlock » Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:44 am

Starting to get used to Blend now. Currently working on styling the category combobox.

Also found out that text can be gradiented. Didn't know that. I like.
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Gradient within the text of the ComboBox drop-down.
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