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Re: [pcgen-xml] [Frugal] Converting the PCGen Data Files (WAS Re: (unknown))

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  • Paul M. Lambert
    ... I ve been reading this discussion and I d like to make sure I understand what you mean, andargor. Tell me what below matches your thoughts and what
    Message 1 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
      On Sun, 04 Jul 2004, andargor wrote:

      > Nice wrench. :)
      >
      > I don't want ot discuss semantics, but the example I gave is not
      > specific to any engine. For example, I do not plan to use the
      > fighter_bonus tag in my program and I doubt Frugal or PCGen will ever
      > use it.
      >
      > The point is to use XML for what it is intended for: tagging data,
      > nothing more, nothing less. It is a machine readable version of
      > publisher data, that's all.
      >
      > fighter_bonus gets transformed into engine specific tags:
      > <bonus><type>Fighter</type></bonus> or <bonus id="Alterness"
      > type="fighter.bonus"> or even TYPE:General.Fighter if you want to
      > regenerate LST. You use XSLT to do that.
      >
      > The marvelous thing is that you only coded the publisher data once.
      > All you have to do is maintain a transform (XSLT). Ain't that sweet?
      >
      > Andargor

      I've been reading this discussion and I'd like to make sure I understand
      what you mean, andargor.

      Tell me what below matches your thoughts and what doesn't, so we can get
      on the same page. Then I'll be able to tell if I actually agree with
      you. :-)

      As I see it your "data neutral" format idea could be re-expressed as a
      high level pseudo language. This language could then be converted into
      a given engine's native format (LST, PCGEN-XML--whatever that is,
      "plambertgen", whatever) if someone writes such a converter. And then the
      engine can handle that data as it sees fit.

      I see this to mean that the data neutral format would allow tag
      (re-)definitions, so, for example, <figher_bonus> could be a tag
      used in one data file, and it might be definied in coarser game
      terms in another. This would allow "libraries" of definitions for
      a given game system or rule set that would allow easy mapping to
      specific engines in the converters.

      I'm trying to think of a concrete example. Perhaps something like:

      <str>7</str>

      in a character definition for a 3.5 SRD character. And in the
      library data file for 3.5 SRD, you might have:

      <character>
      ...
      <attribute>
      <name>Strength</name>
      <abbr>STR</abbr>
      <tag>str</tag>
      <description>Physical strength and prowess</description>
      ...
      </attribute>
      ...
      </character>

      These are extremely rough non-scaling examples, of course, and not
      necessarily how I actually suggest doing attributes, but anyway...

      A converter then might take that information and turn it into LST data.
      The converter would know the limits of its target format. For example,
      if it's not possible to actually change/rename/add attributes in LST
      format, it would basically know to ignore the attribute definitions and
      use the ones inherent to the engine. If another were used, it could
      generate a warning or error.

      A converter might even have full internal knowledge of a given "library"
      as well, if it was a good choice for the coder/engine/etc. For example,
      an engine extremely specific to a certain game rule set (maybe an SRD3.5
      only web character repository, or whatever) could ignore the library
      entirely, since the author would know what was and wasn't defined in
      there.

      This would mean the libraries and the converters could be maintained by
      people with strong such skills, while the casual user who just wants to
      say "I'd like to add a Bow of Tumultuous Angst to my equipment lists;
      it's a Long Bow that gives +2/+4 only to Chaotic Neutral wielders."
      could do it with dirt-simple, straightforward tags. Still valid XML, but
      really simple tags whose inner workings are defined elsewhere, out of
      sight.

      However, if they want it to give the wielder +1 to hit for each pound of
      bat guano they're carrying, they'll need to dig deeper. But simple
      things will be easy and complex things will be possible. Right?

      Please let me know where I misunderstand.

      --plambert
    • andargor
      Answers inline. ... (snip) ... then the ... You sure think ahead :) Actually, what I propose is more basic: just convert publisher data into a machine readable
      Message 2 of 28 , Jul 4, 2004
        Answers inline.

        --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Paul M. Lambert" <plambert@p...> wrote:
        (snip)
        > As I see it your "data neutral" format idea could be re-expressed as a
        > high level pseudo language. This language could then be converted into
        > a given engine's native format (LST, PCGEN-XML--whatever that is,
        > "plambertgen", whatever) if someone writes such a converter. And
        then the
        > engine can handle that data as it sees fit.
        >
        > I see this to mean that the data neutral format would allow tag
        > (re-)definitions, so, for example, <figher_bonus> could be a tag
        > used in one data file, and it might be definied in coarser game
        > terms in another. This would allow "libraries" of definitions for
        > a given game system or rule set that would allow easy mapping to
        > specific engines in the converters.


        You sure think ahead :)

        Actually, what I propose is more basic: just convert publisher data
        into a machine readable format with a minimum of context (i.e. XML
        tags) so that it can be manipulated. Your library concept could then
        be implemented, if you wish to do so. First things first :)

        (snip)
        > This would mean the libraries and the converters could be maintained by
        > people with strong such skills, while the casual user who just wants to
        > say "I'd like to add a Bow of Tumultuous Angst to my equipment lists;
        > it's a Long Bow that gives +2/+4 only to Chaotic Neutral wielders."
        > could do it with dirt-simple, straightforward tags. Still valid
        XML, but
        > really simple tags whose inner workings are defined elsewhere, out of
        > sight.


        Yes, the general idea is to leverage the large quantity of people that
        have the willingess to help but not necessarily the coding skills.
        They could describe that bow very simply, and fill in the logic
        portion as a description. Someone with coding skills could then craft
        an engine specific XSLT and translate the logic into engine-specific
        "scriptlets" for a particular tool.

        Andargor
      • Frugal
        ... The LST parser is already up on the groups file section: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-20031216.tgz As
        Message 3 of 28 , Jul 5, 2004
          <quote who="andargor">

          > Frugal, is it possible for you to do a "neutral" dump as I described
          > if it's not too much trouble? It would allow me to demonstrate what I
          > mean. I could even craft an XSLT that would format the neutral data
          > into one compatible with your engine (as much as possible). It would
          > be much appreciated :)
          >
          > If you don't have the time, could you upload your LST parser so I can
          > fiddle with it?

          The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:

          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-20031216.tgz

          As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle of
          december. Be warned: "here be kludges".

          Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header at the
          top of each file ;O)

          --
          regards,
          Frugal
          -OS Chimp
        • David Finch
          ... A first good step would be that the data had been input. If the logic has been typed in english then at least when the conversion to PCgen format is done
          Message 4 of 28 , Jul 5, 2004
            andargor wrote:
            > Yes, the general idea is to leverage the large quantity of people that
            > have the willingess to help but not necessarily the coding skills.
            > They could describe that bow very simply, and fill in the logic
            > portion as a description. Someone with coding skills could then craft
            > an engine specific XSLT and translate the logic into engine-specific
            > "scriptlets" for a particular tool.

            A first good step would be that the data had been input. If the logic has
            been typed in english then at least when the conversion to PCgen format is
            done someone can go though at 'specialise it' to PCgen format. This has the
            added advatage that someone can check that the english logic matches the
            real programming logic.
          • andargor
            ... 20031216.tgz ... of ... at the ... Yikes! There be kludges :) Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile properly... What version of
            Message 5 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
              --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
              >
              > The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:
              >
              > http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-
              20031216.tgz
              >
              > As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle
              of
              > december. Be warned: "here be kludges".
              >
              > Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header
              at the
              > top of each file ;O)
              >
              > --
              > regards,
              > Frugal
              > -OS Chimp

              Yikes! There be kludges :)

              Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile
              properly...

              What version of the data files were you using? The parser is croaking
              on several of the 5.7.2 ones.

              Andargor
            • Frugal
              ... Oh, yeah, oops. I was using Eclipse and it managed all of the building for me ;O) ... I was using the CVS data as of the date of the
              Message 6 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
                <quote who="andargor">
                > --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                >>
                >> The LST parser is already up on the groups file section:
                >>
                >> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pcgen-xml/files/sample_source-
                > 20031216.tgz
                >>
                >> As the date indicates this has not been worked on since the middle
                > of
                >> december. Be warned: "here be kludges".
                >>
                >> Feel free to do with it as you will, There should be a GPL header
                > at the
                >> top of each file ;O)
                >
                > Yikes! There be kludges :)
                >
                > Well, I had to craft an Ant build.xml, and it seems to compile
                > properly...

                Oh, yeah, oops. I was using Eclipse and it managed all of the building for
                me ;O)

                > What version of the data files were you using? The parser is croaking
                > on several of the 5.7.2 ones.

                I was using the CVS data as of the date of the archive. So any new tags
                will fail.

                IT would be so nice if every time someone messed around with a data tag
                they were forced to increment the LST version number. It would make data
                management a lot easier if you could state which version of LST syntax
                your LST files were.

                --
                regards,
                Frugal
                -OS Chimp
              • andargor
                ... tag ... data ... syntax ... Or if the data were in XML and the rule logic described somewhere for PCGen, the LST could be regenerated with each new version
                Message 7 of 28 , Jul 6, 2004
                  --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, "Frugal" <frugal@p...> wrote:
                  >
                  > IT would be so nice if every time someone messed around with a data
                  tag
                  > they were forced to increment the LST version number. It would make
                  data
                  > management a lot easier if you could state which version of LST
                  syntax
                  > your LST files were.
                  >
                  > --
                  > regards,
                  > Frugal
                  > -OS Chimp

                  Or if the data were in XML and the rule logic described somewhere for
                  PCGen, the LST could be regenerated with each new version ;)

                  Andargor
                • Mark Coletti
                  On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:55:51 +0100 (BST), Frugal ... It was put the rules in the data that did it for me. What you re talking about is really a knowledge
                  Message 8 of 28 , Jul 14, 2004
                    On Thu, 1 Jul 2004 08:55:51 +0100 (BST), Frugal
                    <frugal@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > <quote who="Tir Gwaith">
                    > > There is no "neutral" version, just the perception of one. [...] there won't
                    > > ever be a stable version, because new rules will
                    > > always be written.

                    > I think that a 'neutral' version of the data can be farily easily created.
                    > The problem the D20 is not the data, but the manipulation of the data.
                    > Every time a company brings out a new rule the way the data is to be
                    > manipulated needs to be changed. As you stated the problem is not the
                    > data, but the extra rules that are always added.

                    > As I see it encoding the rules can be done in 3 ways:
                    > - The PCGen way: every thing is hard coded into the program, new rules
                    > mean new code
                    > - Put the rules in the data: As well as encoding the data, also encode a
                    > scripting language to manipulate the data.
                    > - Plugins: New rules get encoded as plugins that are loaded into the
                    > program as needed. So a dataset would contain data and a list of plugins
                    > that are required to manipulate the data.

                    It was "put the rules in the data" that did it for me. What you're
                    talking about is really a knowledge base; which makes sense in that
                    PCGen *is* essentially an expert system that relies on a
                    knowledge-base containing rules for various d20 based gaming systems.
                    The problem is that most of the knowledge is either hard-coded in Java
                    or in LST files, and most of the "inferencing" for the huge cloud of
                    rules is also hard-coded. (Think IF-THEN and SWITCH statements as a
                    crude sort of linear, data-driven 'inferencing'.)

                    JESS is a free, open-source, expert system implemented in Java. I can
                    easily see where most of the PCGen "knowledge-base" currently spread
                    among Java and LST files could be rolled into a knowledge-base
                    containing explicit rules. Specific systems would just add new
                    knowledge-bases that contain fresh sets of rules (including some that
                    may remove or modify existing ones).

                    A JESS (or similar system) based PCGen system would be inherently
                    smaller since the brunt of the inferencing will be left to the
                    inference engine, and the rules would be explicitly codified as, well,
                    rules. You could also set up the knowledge-base such that you can
                    generate explanations. One thing about the d20 systems is that
                    they're very complex once you consider all the different rules and
                    their respective interactions. If, say, a character has an 18 AC, it
                    might be nice to know *how* and *why* it's currently 18. All the
                    rules that trigger AC mods could contribute to explanatory text. "AC
                    base 10, +2 for Dexterity, +3 for ring of nimbleness, +3 to <mumble>
                    spell effect."

                    Of course this is all pie-in-the-sky ramblings implementing JESS in
                    PCGen would entail quite a bit of work. (Um, I think.) But, what the
                    hell, it makes for a pleasant gedankenexperiment. %-)

                    More info:

                    http://web.njit.edu/all_topics/Prog_Lang_Docs/html/jess51/

                    Cheers!

                    MAC
                    --
                    I'm taking reality in small doses to build immunity.
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