playBunny: Merry Christmas, DailyGammoners!!

I've got a Christmas Present for you. Here, open it up and have a look...

DG: A present? For us? What is it?

[unwrap, unwrap] ...

DG: Ooooh, DG Extras- a DailyGammon Customisation Kit!! Wow! What does it do? How does it work?

(Actually, I know what it does, I just want to go straight to the Setup page, thanks)

It's a project that I've been working on ... a way to change the look and behaviour of certain aspects DG, especially the backgammon boards. There are some small but useful changes to Quick Messaging and also in the forum. And then there's ... well, let's go through the changes.

Windows only
DG Extras works in Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Opera but only on Windows. There's the possibility that it can work with Linux using Wine but I'm unable to test that. Mac users can only use DG Extras via a virtual machine running Windows.

The second thing to be said is that the following doesn't describe changes to the DailyGammon site. Nothing has changed there at all. Everything that follows is done on your computer by manipulating the web pages as they come in from Dailygammon. This is important because Jordan is not responsible for any of this. This means that Jordan is not to be hassled with any questions or problems. If it doesn't work, it's my problem. If there are things that you'd like it to do for you, ask me. And it'll go on the todo list or the "sure, one day" list or the "er, well, maybe one day" list. ;-)

It is, of course, possible that Jordan likes some of the ideas here and puts them into DG proper but there should be no expectation of this. (If he'd like me to do with/for him. ;o) .... )

Okay, that's the warnings on the side of box dealt with, let's open it up and see what's inside!

Not just a colour change but a completely new board.

I've found a way to map the DailyGammon image set to the ones used by the backgammon program GnuBg and I've provided a few such boards. The boards are stored on my website and there's very limited room there, so I've only uploaded seven out of the dozen or so designs that I've done. More board styles are planned and I'm happy to create designs at people's request. It's also possible for other users of GnuBg to create their own boards. If they, or others, can provide web space then the choice could be vast.

More about the boards later. ;-)

Quick messaging:
All Quick Message boxes have been expanded. More than 80 characters. More than one line. The input box is resizeable so you can keep it small but expand it when you're writing a ten page essay to a friend. (DG can actually handle sending ten page essays, as I found out when someone sent me a huge message by mistake! ;o))

There have been a number of changes made in the forum. The most noticeable of these is that all New messages now appear at the top of the board. Once read, and thus no longer new, the thread will take its normal place in the thread order. (If you have a lot of New messages this may make it seem as if the thread has disappeared. No wories, it'll be down below all the reds.)

The forum page and table headings provide little information once a person has got used to them and so they've been removed to save space. This allows about 5 more threads to be seen on the page (at medium text size in IE).

The Add New Thread link is now at the top along with an additional link to go down to the bottom.

Threads may be bookmarked. This means that they will also be shown at the top of the forum whether they're new or otherwise. No more searching for your tourney threads. That's as long as they're visible; inactive bookmarked threads will still be lost (at least until a later version of DG Extras which will be able to save the thread titles and then display a list of all your bookmarked threads. At the moment only the thread ids can be saved, which is not so handy).

Some changes have been made in threads. The thread title is repeated above the first New post. It's also repeated after the last post.. This is very handy within a long thread, especially when you don't know what thread you've arrived at.

Down at the bottom there's a new link Next new thread - which is why you might not know which thread you've arrived at! ;o) There's also the link to bookmark the thread.

The other item of interest in the picture above is the Add a comment button. This displays a comment box within the thread which allows you to reply in context. The thread remains available for reading and cut-n-pasting. The Preview button is highlighted to encourage its use! lol.

For those who enjoy more than one account there is now a way to switch instantly between accounts. No need to log out and log back in again. Your accounts will appear in the menu bar and clicking an account name there will change the login and refresh the page.

The Menu:
As you can see, the names of a couple of the menu items have been shortened. This is to make room for the user names, if you have more than one. It's also for new menu items!

The Friends and QM items are new pages. They don't do anything yet but anyone who has used my previous DG Extras web site will know what to expect. They will allow you to create and maintain a list of players, representing those who you send messages to frequently, or whose profiles/game sheets you tend to check. This latter use is with tourney directors in mind. The exact nature of these pages is still open at this stage, I just mention them to illustrate the concept. More extra pages, eg. stats, rating graphs, are at the gleam-in-the-eye stage. All additional ideas are welcome.

Although the menu is static at the moment, it's planned to make the item order, text and functions editable. This means that you could, for instance, change the Forum item to go to Politics rather than General, or add a Politics item, or have a link in there to nip to another site, etc, etc.

Just a reminder. These new facilities will not come from DailyGammon. Even though they appear on a DailyGammon page they will either be generated by your own computer using local data (eg your Friends List and other private information) or public data stored on my web site (eg. the active players list, as much of the ratings data as I have space for, etc).

As you'll already have noticed, the page background and menu colours in the images above are different. It will be possible to have any colour scheme that you like but there wasn't time before this release to include a built-in theme editor. The colour scheme at the moment is therefore the blue one that you can see here. As it's based on a very simple stylesheet, anyone familiar with CSS can change their styles immediately.

"Stylesheet" and "CSS" may be meaningless technobabble to you but I'd still recommend that you push any aversion aside and allow yourself to get interested. It's very easy to make a few pleasing changes to the stylesheet to get the colours that you'd like. But if that's still daunting, I do plan to create that theme editor fairly soon.

In the meantime, once this project is underway, I (and maybe one or two interested people) will be creating alternative themes for downloading.

If two or more people use the same computer, DailyGammon stores their colour preferences separately. DG Extras allows this too but doesn't at present make it easy to change it on the settings page. You'll need to create a stylesheet in a particular folder and include your user id in the name. Doing this is highly recommended if you have multiple accounts. Getting confused is easy when a user change is only a click away!

Instructions for all this will be forthcoming...

Top Page:
The top page has been tweaked a bit. The welcome message is now alongside the logo to save space.

The links at the foot of the match list have been expanded. The profile page can now be viewed by just active matches, finished matches, or all matches. The profile information can also be viewed alone, without matches - very handy for quickly checking your rating. The List of Players link from the Lounge has been brought to the top page. So, too, has the Find a player box (which I find myself using a lot), though the forthcoming QM page will do the job when friends are involved.

Well, that's all the minor stuff. Let's move on to The Boards (or go up to the top).


DG Extras - Features, Christmas Day 2006.