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Re: [pcgen-xml] It lives! And is reborn!

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  • Keith Davies
    ... Please don t quote like that. It s very hard to read. I ve fixed it this time. ... That was part of my original impetus -- making all syntactical
    Message 1 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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      On Thu, Sep 29, 2005 at 09:42:09PM +0000, gamer_dude@... wrote:
      > I know I'm new to PCGen and the e-lists, but I have a reasonable
      > background in computers, data, etc. and for what it is worth offer my
      > 2 bits.

      Please don't quote like that. It's very hard to read. I've fixed it
      this time.

      > > I just finished an interesting IM conversation with Devon. Here's
      > > what he's looking for -- and it's pretty easy, I think. Continue
      > > using LST format for PCC files, for now at least. We may revisit it
      > > later and convert the LST files to XML. The character file would
      > > consist of three sections. Each section is optional, but there are
      > > reasons for each.
      >
      > I like the idea of eventually going to XML. Getting rid of all the
      > tabs in favor of tags would make things easier to 'read'.

      That was part of my original impetus -- making all syntactical elements
      visible. Another was properly representing the hierarchical data.

      > > Section 1 The first is the primary working data for PCGen. It logs
      > > all construction decisions, but no consequences. For instance, it
      > > will log that you add a level of fighter, the hit points gained,
      > > the feat selected, and where the skill points were assigned. ...
      > >
      > > Section 2 The second expands on the first, showing the
      > > 'non-decision' data... Actually, I'd like to go a step further and
      > > show running totals: "add a level of fighter (now Ftr8), gain 8 hit
      > > points (57 total), take Cleave, assign 3 skill points to Swim skill
      > > (6 ranks now), +1 BAB (+8 total), +1 Fort (+6 total)".
      > >
      > > (All examples above 'translated to English')
      > >
      > > This has two primary purposes. One is to allow third-party tools to
      > > reconstruct the character at various points -- show what a character
      > > looked like at fourth level, when now nineth. It should also be
      > > very useful for debugging purposes, especially if it shows running
      > > totals. It would basically be a (partial) dump of the character
      > > after each transformation. (I'd limit it to just showing the bits
      > > that actually change at each transformation, or it'd be an ugly
      > > thing to try to examine.)

      > Great Idea! Being able to roll a character back WITHOUT having to
      > save it at each level is a concept overdue. Imagine a program like
      > PCGen offering the option to view (and print) a character at each
      > stage of it's life. Wow talk about almost no headaches when the big
      > warrior gets drained of two levels in the middle of the session.
      >
      > My only concern in reading the suggestion is "why have TWO sections
      > with basically identical data?" I think the proposed section 2 could
      > easily handle the purposes of what sections 1 and 2 are for, without
      > the near complete duplication of the same information.

      These two sections have different purpose and application, despite being
      somewhat similar.

      The first is intended to tell PCGen how the character is constructed.
      It depends on the rest of the data (class definitions, etc.) being
      available. It is expected to have minimal redundancy. It will be
      highly resilient in the face of changes to these definitions.

      The second would be *very* redundant, but also very incomplete. That
      is, if you have eight levels of fighter, it describes the effects of
      those levels of fighter on your character... with no indicatation that
      the fighter class even has a ninth level. It could be transformed to
      create the third section, if necessary, but contains way more than is
      needed by PCGen.

      Also, and very important to me, it runs the risk of introducing
      inconsistency. If the definition of an entity changes, the information
      in the second section could be rendered incorrect.

      I don't mind being *wrong*, but I had being inconsistent.

      Now, this potential inconsistency isn't a problem the way I propose to
      use it. In fact, it's quite useful because it makes it very easy to see
      what changes are being made and when, which can uncover problems with
      the data or software. I.e. *here*, inconsistency serves a useful
      purpose.

      Granted, we could simply ignore the inconsistencies, just picking up
      what we need when loading it for editing by PCGen.

      It's probably a matter of preference. The first section as I've
      described it is *necessary*. The second section isn't, but is useful.
      I don't like mixing optional data and required data in the same
      containers, especially when it isn't evident through examination which
      is which.

      Also, frankly, the first section as described is pretty easy to
      implement. The second will be harder and probably more error-prone.
      There's a certain amount of overlap between them and probably code
      reuse, but we can prove the first section fairly easily. The second
      will be more work.

      IOW, I want a nice, simple, easily implemented and proven section, and a
      rather-useful-but-not-*required* section... especially if that second
      section will be harder to implement and prove.

      > > Section 3
      > >
      > > The third is the reason we're doing all this. It contains the
      > > character in final form. All totals shown, no subtotals, etc.
      > > (except where they are themselves useful, such as Touch AC).
      > >
      > > This section could be imported into other programs, pushed through a
      > > transformation to be output, or even imported by PCGen for
      > > presentation (but *not* for deconstruction, I think... way too
      > > hard).
      >
      > First thought that comes to mind is... Wouldn't it be simpler to just
      > have a field noting the current level of the character. When a
      > character has to be 'rolled-back' a nubmer of levels, none of the
      > leveling information would be deleted, and instead of storing a
      > duplicate of the information contained in the "current character
      > level", the file just stores a simple field indicating the current
      > character level. No destruction of data and allows the GM/Player to
      > store the character at their current level while using a minimum of
      > space for all the information.

      Not really.

      See, the first section knows nothing about running totals. It's useless
      without the rest of the data.

      The second section *does* know about running totals, but *doesn't*
      include a snapshot of the entire character with each transformation. It
      would be huge, which makes it harder to use for a couple of reasons.

      1. storage requirements. Who cares? It seems highly unlike that it'd
      get big enough to matter.

      2. examination difficulty. This is a much more important one, IMO. If
      you show the entire state, that means the whole thing needs to be
      examined if you're trying to figure out what happened. If you only
      highlight what changed (including the new (and possibly old) values)
      then it's very easy to see the effects of the change.

      I see no reason why you couldn't generate the third section "as at" a
      particular transformation (right after 4th level, say), despite having
      10 levels of information present. In fact, you could generate *just*
      the third section, without including either of the others.


      Keith
      --
      Keith Davies "Always code as if the guy who ends up
      keith.davies@... maintaining your code is a psychopath
      keith.davies@... who knows where you live."
      http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Damian Conway
    • Keith Davies
      ... Ease of processing and implementation, to start. . Section 1 is relatively easy to implement and prove. It has minimal redundancy (but depends on the rest
      Message 2 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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        On Thu, Sep 29, 2005 at 06:21:00PM -0400, Brass Tilde wrote:
        > > Section 1
        > >
        > > Section 2
        > >
        > > The second expands on the first, showing the 'non-decision' data.
        > > For instance, where section shows "add a level of fighter,
        > > gain 8 hit points, take Cleave, assign 3 skill points to Swim skill",
        > > this would show "add a level of fighter, gain 8 hit points, take
        > > Cleave, assign 3 skill points to Swim skill, +1 BAB, +1 Fort".
        >
        > Why have two sections containing the same data? Ease of processing,
        > or some other reason?

        Ease of processing and implementation, to start.

        . Section 1 is relatively easy to implement and prove. It has minimal
        redundancy (but depends on the rest of the data being present). It
        has only what is needed to construct the character. It's also highly
        resilient in the face of data changes -- a change to the rest of the
        data won't introduce inconsistency because there's nothing to be
        inconsistent with.

        . Section 2 contains potentially huge redundancy, even apart from it
        being a superset of Section 1. It shows the effects of the decisions
        made and stored in Section 1. It's primarily of interest to PCGen
        developers (LST and code) since it makes it easier to see exactly what
        happened -- what the program and data decided to do, rather than what
        the monkeys *thought* would happen.

        > It would seem simpler to either confine section 2 to the
        > "non-decision" data, in your case +1 BAB, +1 Fort, or to just
        > eliminate section 1 entirely.

        Ease of processing again. In part, showing the decision information is
        necessary because it makes it possible for a human to map between the
        decisions and their effects, and putting them all in one place makes
        them easier to see.

        See, the decisions are nested:

        add level {
        // may add ability score bump
        // may add feat (before or after class level)
        add level of class {
        add hit points
        add skill points
        may add feat
        may add spells known
        // etc.
        }
        // may add feat (before or after class level)
        }

        As such, it's necessary to hold the 'parent decisions' for the internal
        ones to be at all meaningful.

        Also, I'd like to store "old value, change, new value" in here. This
        lets an examiner see "what it was, what happened, what it is now", very
        useful for debugging. The structure also demonstrates where the change
        came from, making it clear what happened. Consider:

        change {
        Str += 1
        BAB = 8
        BFort = 6
        Feats += Improved Critical(greatsword)
        Feats += Greater Weapon Focus(greatsword)
        Skills: Swim += 3
        }

        vs.

        add level (8) {
        Str += 1
        add level of fighter (8) {
        hit points: 57 + 8 == 65
        BFort: 5 + 1 = 6
        Feats += Greater Weapon Focus(greatsword)
        Skills: Swim += 3
        }
        Feats += Improved Critical(greatsword)
        }

        (syntax obviously not XML, but shows structure)

        Which would you rather see, from a debugger's point of view?

        The second is much clearer what happened... but contains information
        that isn't needed by PCGen.

        > Unless I've missed something obvious, or you've left something out.

        I don't think it was anything obvious, but I did have reasons.
        >
        > > Actually, I'd like to go a step further and show running totals:
        >
        > Which is what section 3 is for, no?

        No. Well, not really. Section three shows the final results. Section
        two shows only the running totals of what has changed -- showing *all*
        running totals and the like would get unwieldy when trying to examine
        it.


        Keith
        --
        Keith Davies "Always code as if the guy who ends up
        keith.davies@... maintaining your code is a psychopath
        keith.davies@... who knows where you live."
        http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Damian Conway
      • Edwin Holley
        I agree, this seemed lost on me as well. I would love to be able to put PCGen into a mode where I can see the character progress. This is something difficult
        Message 3 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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          I agree, this seemed lost on me as well.
          I would love to be able to put PCGen into a mode where I can see the
          character progress. This is something difficult to do in P&P RPGs. While
          you could easily create a new character sheet for each level, you would miss
          out on "granted +1 spell success by wild magic misfire at level 1.43".
          Although this level of logging would make pcg files BIG (say at level 10
          from a first level character), it would be very cool to be able to turn this
          on and see the characters improvements and losses over the long term.

          -----Original Message-----
          From: pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com [mailto:pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
          Of Brass Tilde
          Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2005 18:21
          To: pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: RE: [pcgen-xml] It lives! And is reborn!

          > Section 1
          >
          > Section 2
          >
          > The second expands on the first, showing the 'non-decision' data.
          > For instance, where section shows "add a level of fighter,
          > gain 8 hit points, take Cleave, assign 3 skill points to Swim skill",
          > this would show "add a level of fighter, gain 8 hit points, take
          > Cleave, assign 3 skill points to Swim skill, +1 BAB, +1 Fort".

          Why have two sections containing the same data? Ease of processing, or some
          other reason? It would seem simpler to either confine section 2 to the
          "non-decision" data, in your case +1 BAB, +1 Fort, or to just eliminate
          section 1 entirely. Unless I've missed something obvious, or you've left
          something out.

          > Actually, I'd like to go a step further and show running totals:

          Which is what section 3 is for, no?

          As I say, if I've missed something, let me know.
        • Fred Drake
          ... I m surprised technically-literate people are having a hard time with this. I don t even think the sections are all that similar, though I d expect the
          Message 4 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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            On 9/29/05, Keith Davies <keith.davies@...> wrote:
            > These two sections have different purpose and application, despite being
            > somewhat similar.

            I'm surprised technically-literate people are having a hard time with
            this. I don't even think the sections are all that similar, though
            I'd expect the structure of the second would largely mirror and extend
            the structure of the first.

            > Also, and very important to me, it runs the risk of introducing
            > inconsistency. If the definition of an entity changes, the information
            > in the second section could be rendered incorrect.

            I actually disagree on this point, however. As the sections have been
            described so far, I think of them this way:

            1. User decisions.

            2. Software decisions.

            3. Fluffy stuff.

            The third section can clearly be regenerated, but supplemental tools
            that only care about the "current" value of the information only need
            to look there. This is nice to have, but could be dropped.

            That leaves the first two, where all the contention seems to be.
            Section 1 is obviously necessary, and seems well defined. Section 2
            *appears* derivative of section 1 + game rule information (race &
            class definitions, etc.), and usually will be. Where you're looking
            at inconsistency, I see an opportunity to check that the character is
            being viewed relative to the right "universe" (the game rule
            information set); it also allows you to separate changes in game rules
            from the characters created under different versions.

            For example, suppose I create a character and play her until level 5.
            The GM decides he doesn't like some rule, so forks the universe by
            reducing the number of spells my character would have received at
            level 3. Whether my character loses a spell or not, since she's
            already in play, depends on the GM's policy for handling that. As
            described, section 2 allows that decision to be handled either way.
            The application that checks for this sort of inconsistency should
            allow the policy to be applied on a case-by-case basis by inserting
            "inconsistency approvals" into the second section for each
            inconsistency. This would allow a character from a legacy universe to
            continue to be used in the new universe in the same way that happens
            in real games.

            > I don't mind being *wrong*, but I had being inconsistent.

            Absolutely understandable!

            > It's probably a matter of preference. The first section as I've
            > described it is *necessary*. The second section isn't, but is useful.
            > I don't like mixing optional data and required data in the same
            > containers, especially when it isn't evident through examination which
            > is which.

            Understandable, but I think the information is necessary.

            > Also, frankly, the first section as described is pretty easy to
            > implement. The second will be harder and probably more error-prone.
            > There's a certain amount of overlap between them and probably code
            > reuse, but we can prove the first section fairly easily. The second
            > will be more work.

            Most definately. They also serve clearly different purposes.

            > 2. examination difficulty. This is a much more important one, IMO. If
            > you show the entire state, that means the whole thing needs to be
            > examined if you're trying to figure out what happened. If you only
            > highlight what changed (including the new (and possibly old) values)
            > then it's very easy to see the effects of the change.

            This is very valuable. Anything that makes development easier is a good thing.


            -Fred

            --
            Fred L. Drake, Jr. <fdrake at gmail.com>
            Zope Corporation
          • Keith Davies
            ... The structure probably would be very close to the first, just with more information. ... ... I didn t write that, but that summarizes what I was trying to
            Message 5 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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              On Thu, Sep 29, 2005 at 09:11:43PM -0400, Fred Drake wrote:
              > On 9/29/05, Keith Davies <keith.davies@...> wrote:
              > > These two sections have different purpose and application, despite being
              > > somewhat similar.
              >
              > I'm surprised technically-literate people are having a hard time with
              > this. I don't even think the sections are all that similar, though
              > I'd expect the structure of the second would largely mirror and extend
              > the structure of the first.

              The structure probably would be very close to the first, just with more
              information.

              > > Also, and very important to me, it runs the risk of introducing
              > > inconsistency. If the definition of an entity changes, the information
              > > in the second section could be rendered incorrect.
              >
              > I actually disagree on this point, however. As the sections have been
              > described so far, I think of them this way:
              >
              > 1. User decisions.
              >
              > 2. Software decisions.
              >
              > 3. Fluffy stuff.

              ... I didn't write that, but that summarizes what I was trying to say
              very well.

              > The third section can clearly be regenerated, but supplemental tools
              > that only care about the "current" value of the information only need
              > to look there. This is nice to have, but could be dropped.

              I agree. The second should provide sufficient information to regenerate
              the third section for the character at *any* point in the series of
              transformations.

              > That leaves the first two, where all the contention seems to be.
              > Section 1 is obviously necessary, and seems well defined. Section 2
              > *appears* derivative of section 1 + game rule information (race &
              > class definitions, etc.), and usually will be. Where you're looking
              > at inconsistency, I see an opportunity to check that the character is
              > being viewed relative to the right "universe" (the game rule
              > information set); it also allows you to separate changes in game rules
              > from the characters created under different versions.

              I agree that it could be used for sanity checks -- does this version
              match what the software thought before?

              That kind of falls down, though, in that if they differ between
              versions, they *should* differ (code or data patch, most likely). I
              wouldn't want to try to implement an automated check for this. Until we
              decide to do something with a discovery of a mismatch, I wouldn't worry
              about.

              > For example, suppose I create a character and play her until level 5.
              > The GM decides he doesn't like some rule, so forks the universe by
              > reducing the number of spells my character would have received at
              > level 3. Whether my character loses a spell or not, since she's
              > already in play, depends on the GM's policy for handling that. As
              > described, section 2 allows that decision to be handled either way.

              Or at least automatically discover it.

              > The application that checks for this sort of inconsistency should
              > allow the policy to be applied on a case-by-case basis by inserting
              > "inconsistency approvals" into the second section for each
              > inconsistency. This would allow a character from a legacy universe to
              > continue to be used in the new universe in the same way that happens
              > in real games.

              That's getting into the question of branching data and having multiple
              versions extant -- to the point of "this is how it is for *me*".

              I don't want to go here right now. It's an interesting idea, and
              potentially quite valuable, but I'd like to keep it simple for now.
              We're already going somewhere the program doesn't yet, let's not go too
              far.

              > > I don't mind being *wrong*, but I had being inconsistent.
              >
              > Absolutely understandable!

              Heh, I learned that working for government. You can make a mistake
              without it being *too* embarassing, but an inconsistency indicates you
              didn't even *check*... and that's *very* embarassing.

              > > It's probably a matter of preference. The first section as I've
              > > described it is *necessary*. The second section isn't, but is
              > > useful. I don't like mixing optional data and required data in the
              > > same containers, especially when it isn't evident through
              > > examination which is which.
              >
              > Understandable, but I think the information is necessary.

              I think the second section would be terribly useful -- not necessary,
              but from a pragmatic sense a damn good idea.

              What I want to avoid is "here's a bunch of stuff, some of which you need
              and some you don't, and it's up to the reader [program] to know which is
              which". This is much more complex than "here's what you need to know,
              and you need to know all of it". Simpler rules almost invariably lead
              to simpler software.

              > > Also, frankly, the first section as described is pretty easy to
              > > implement. The second will be harder and probably more error-prone.
              > > There's a certain amount of overlap between them and probably code
              > > reuse, but we can prove the first section fairly easily. The second
              > > will be more work.
              >
              > Most definately. They also serve clearly different purposes.

              Yes. Even though the first one could be derived from the second, being
              a subset of it.

              > > 2. examination difficulty. This is a much more important one, IMO. If
              > > you show the entire state, that means the whole thing needs to be
              > > examined if you're trying to figure out what happened. If you only
              > > highlight what changed (including the new (and possibly old) values)
              > > then it's very easy to see the effects of the change.
              >
              > This is very valuable. Anything that makes development easier is a
              > good thing.

              Such is my thought.


              Keith
              --
              Keith Davies "Always code as if the guy who ends up
              keith.davies@... maintaining your code is a psychopath
              keith.davies@... who knows where you live."
              http://www.kjdavies.org/ -- Damian Conway
            • Fred Drake
              ... Exactly how an application should respond to such a mismatch should not be defined by the data model. It s likely fine to start by expecting the model of
              Message 6 of 19 , Sep 29, 2005
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                On 9/29/05, Keith Davies <keith.davies@...> wrote:
                > I agree that it could be used for sanity checks -- does this version
                > match what the software thought before?
                >
                > That kind of falls down, though, in that if they differ between
                > versions, they *should* differ (code or data patch, most likely). I
                > wouldn't want to try to implement an automated check for this. Until we
                > decide to do something with a discovery of a mismatch, I wouldn't worry
                > about.

                Exactly how an application should respond to such a mismatch should
                not be defined by the data model. It's likely fine to start by
                expecting the model of the universe to match the fragments of the
                universe model exposed in the character data (section 2).

                I think it important to keep separate the (abstract) data model and
                the application requirements. If you don't require sharing data with
                an application that may have a different universe model, there's no
                need to ever perform the checks of even store section 2 (other than
                for debugging). However, the model should certainly *allow* an
                application that cares about interchage or a universe in flux can make
                the additional use of the information from section 2 to support
                whatever operations it cares about. (For some reason, this makes me
                think back to Jack Chalker's Flux & Anchor books; not really sure
                why...)

                > That's getting into the question of branching data and having multiple
                > versions extant -- to the point of "this is how it is for *me*".
                >
                > I don't want to go here right now. It's an interesting idea, and
                > potentially quite valuable, but I'd like to keep it simple for now.
                > We're already going somewhere the program doesn't yet, let's not go too
                > far.

                Again, we need to keep distinct the model and the application. PCgen
                is one application; perhaps it doesn't need all the bells and
                whistles. I work on web-based content-management applications with
                highly inter-related content objects, and the rules for checking and
                enforcing relationships always belong in the software. The data model
                needs to provide enough information for checks and future application
                evolution; keeping these sorts of aspects separated is amazingly
                important. (I also imagine any software I write that consumes more
                than section 3 of this format would be very interested in detecting
                changes in the universe after the fact rather than having to dig
                through characters every time something in the universe changed.)

                > What I want to avoid is "here's a bunch of stuff, some of which you need
                > and some you don't, and it's up to the reader [program] to know which is
                > which". This is much more complex than "here's what you need to know,
                > and you need to know all of it". Simpler rules almost invariably lead
                > to simpler software.
                ...
                > > Most definately. They also serve clearly different purposes.
                >
                > Yes. Even though the first one could be derived from the second, being
                > a subset of it.

                Certainly. It could even be stored as a single piece, but the data
                model should certainly distinguish the two aspects. Section 2 could
                be viewed as a set of annotations on section 1. Keeping them separate
                could make it easier for a human to consume the storage file directly
                (in a text editor, for instance). Keeping them together could make it
                easier for a human to modify the stored data in a text editor.

                So I'll go so far as to suggest that applications should write out
                both sections 1 & 2, and that humans armed with text editors remove
                section 1 if they modify section 2, and let applications regenerate
                that as needed.

                Hmm. Should the sections have better names yet? I could see
                something like Decision, Transformation, and Sheet sections. (Where
                Sheet sections can occur zero or more times, and each has a reference
                to the point in the Decision or Transformation section that it
                corresponds to.


                -Fred

                --
                Fred L. Drake, Jr. <fdrake at gmail.com>
                Zope Corporation
              • andargor
                ... I would strongly suggest that the character should be saved in a format based on a de facto XML standard for the sake of not reinventing the wheel, and
                Message 7 of 19 , Sep 30, 2005
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                  --- In pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com, Keith Davies <keith.davies@k...> wrote:
                  > Hi All,
                  >
                  > I just finished an interesting IM conversation with Devon. Here's what
                  > he's looking for -- and it's pretty easy, I think.
                  >
                  > Continue using LST format for PCC files, for now at least. We may
                  > revisit it later and convert the LST files to XML.
                  >
                  > The character file would consist of three sections. Each section is
                  > optional, but there are reasons for each.
                  >

                  I would strongly suggest that the character should be saved in a
                  format based on a "de facto" XML standard for the sake of not
                  reinventing the wheel, and interoperability. I have been citing
                  OpenRPG for some time. (get it here:
                  http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=2237&package_id=2193&release_id=201695))

                  Look in the OpenRPG\orpg\templates\nodes\d20character.xml file for the
                  format they use.

                  It could be another format, such as Twin Roses' or DMGenie, it doesn't
                  really matter, as long as tools out there can support the format.

                  I realize that PCGen might need "internal representations" or
                  additional info within the character just for PCGen. This is where the
                  power of XML comes in: you just add a <pcgen version="x.x"> section
                  and include whatever extra "mechanics" are needed by PCGen. The other
                  tools that support OpenRPG will simply ignore it, and use the common
                  OpenRPG data to import.

                  Please let us be truly open, and allow PCGen to finally be able to
                  work with other tools.

                  As for data sets, that's an entirely different discussion, but we'll
                  get to that eventually. I suggest you look at Frugal's stuff in this
                  list. He is in the process of revamping his XML based character
                  generator, and some ideas could be reused or expanded upon for the
                  future of PCGen.

                  Needless to say that I'm excited about this... :)

                  Andargor
                • Edwin Holley
                  ... From: pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com [mailto:pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of andargor Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 10:17 To:
                  Message 8 of 19 , Sep 30, 2005
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                    -----Original Message-----
                    From: pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com [mailto:pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf
                    Of andargor
                    Sent: Friday, September 30, 2005 10:17
                    To: pcgen-xml@yahoogroups.com
                    Subject: [pcgen-xml] Re: It lives! And is reborn! [Using defacto standards]

                    >SNIP< I should look at this stuff :-)

                    I would strongly suggest that the character should be saved in a
                    format based on a "de facto" XML standard for the sake of not
                    reinventing the wheel, and interoperability. I have been citing
                    OpenRPG for some time. (get it here:
                    http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=2237&package_id=2193&r
                    elease_id=201695))

                    >SNIP< I don't know that being open means that your software works with
                    other programs. This program is very unique; it has capabilities far beyond
                    any commercial program. I have compared any programs I could for evaluation
                    and found them severely lacking in even half the features\capabilities that
                    pcgen has. Even excluding some of the decent XML files. The available
                    programs do not have the capability to incorporate the games or character
                    classes that pcgen is currently includes or being used by various members.
                    Including creating new worlds like ice planets. The capabilities that we
                    wish to include in the data will require a level of sophistication far
                    beyond anything else I have seen. Also by creating an output sheet, you are
                    able to create your character in just about any format you can imagine.

                    Please let us be truly open, and allow PCGen to finally be able to
                    work with other tools.

                    >SNIP< I agree

                    Needless to say that I'm excited about this... :)

                    Andargor






                    Yahoo! Groups Links
                  • Devon Jones
                    ... In fact, in our discussions, section 2 will be the last to be implemented, as there are potentially major code hurtles. Section 2 is a debugging to IMHO,
                    Message 9 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                      Keith Davies wrote:

                      >It's probably a matter of preference. The first section as I've
                      >described it is *necessary*. The second section isn't, but is useful.
                      >I don't like mixing optional data and required data in the same
                      >containers, especially when it isn't evident through examination which
                      >is which.
                      >
                      >Also, frankly, the first section as described is pretty easy to
                      >implement. The second will be harder and probably more error-prone.
                      >There's a certain amount of overlap between them and probably code
                      >reuse, but we can prove the first section fairly easily. The second
                      >will be more work.
                      >
                      >
                      In fact, in our discussions, section 2 will be the last to be
                      implemented, as there are potentially major code hurtles. Section 2 is
                      a debugging to IMHO, intended as a log so that we can more easily detect
                      errors. I don't see a real use for section 2 outside pcgen developers.

                      >I see no reason why you couldn't generate the third section "as at" a
                      >particular transformation (right after 4th level, say), despite having
                      >10 levels of information present. In fact, you could generate *just*
                      >the third section, without including either of the others.
                      >
                      >
                      Indeed, we essentially do now, the third section is for most intents and
                      purposes already implemented - it's called base.xml. My goal here is to
                      be able to drive exports completely from the new pcg format, as well as
                      allow other programs to transform section 3 into usable input for their
                      program.

                      Here is how I see the sections:
                      Section 1: this is designed to tell pcgen how to build a character.
                      This is meant purely for internal pcgen consumption. Using this and
                      cdom, there is no reason that we can't show a character at multiple
                      points in their development. This section will be absolutely necessary
                      if I want CDOM to happen.

                      Section 2: This is a log, and as such is mostly useful as a debugging
                      tool. This section in the hardest one to implement (for internal pcgen
                      reasons I don't want to go into right now). This section contains a log
                      of decisions and their consequences. It's really mostly useful for
                      debugging.

                      Section 3: This is for export, as well as import. This section allows
                      us to show a complete character, sans lst data, and sans decisions. It
                      can be used for exports, it can be use to generate character sheets, and
                      it can be used to build an object structure in pcgen such that we can
                      import read only characters from other programs.

                      Devon
                    • Devon Jones
                      ... Ok, my position on this is that we probably shouldn t. By being xml, we are being open, and we can certainly build xslt to transform to other formats, but
                      Message 10 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                        andargor wrote:

                        >I would strongly suggest that the character should be saved in a
                        >format based on a "de facto" XML standard for the sake of not
                        >reinventing the wheel, and interoperability. I have been citing
                        >OpenRPG for some time. (get it here:
                        >http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=2237&package_id=2193&release_id=201695))
                        >
                        >Look in the OpenRPG\orpg\templates\nodes\d20character.xml file for the
                        >format they use.
                        >
                        >It could be another format, such as Twin Roses' or DMGenie, it doesn't
                        >really matter, as long as tools out there can support the format.
                        >
                        >I realize that PCGen might need "internal representations" or
                        >additional info within the character just for PCGen. This is where the
                        >power of XML comes in: you just add a <pcgen version="x.x"> section
                        >and include whatever extra "mechanics" are needed by PCGen. The other
                        >tools that support OpenRPG will simply ignore it, and use the common
                        >OpenRPG data to import.
                        >
                        >Please let us be truly open, and allow PCGen to finally be able to
                        >work with other tools.
                        >
                        >As for data sets, that's an entirely different discussion, but we'll
                        >get to that eventually. I suggest you look at Frugal's stuff in this
                        >list. He is in the process of revamping his XML based character
                        >generator, and some ideas could be reused or expanded upon for the
                        >future of PCGen.
                        >
                        >Needless to say that I'm excited about this... :)
                        >
                        >Andargor
                        >
                        >
                        >
                        Ok, my position on this is that we probably shouldn't. By being xml, we
                        are being open, and we can certainly build xslt to transform to other
                        formats, but we need more and different information then these programs do.

                        Section 1 is absolutely necessary. period.
                        Section 2 is not
                        Section 3 is IMHO utterly necessary, as I intend to drive our Sheet
                        exports off of it, and it makes a perfect interchange format, as it will
                        literally contain *all* the final data about a character, with zero
                        information that is driving the pcgen program.

                        Having looked at OpenRPG's format, their format is purely an internal
                        program representation, and (IMHO) not useful for really anything else -
                        it depends on things that are basically internal needs of their
                        program. What I intend with section 3 is essentially a representation
                        of a character that is utterly complete, and would result in the
                        capability of transforming into really any other data format that uses
                        xml. Furthur, if we *find* something that it can't be transformed to, I
                        would see us as adding to out format to make it capable of that kind of
                        transformation.

                        Finally, with this kind of transformation capability, we could finally
                        add the ability to save characters in these other formats, much like you
                        can save as rtf in word. The problem here is that these other programs
                        (OpenRPG, DMGenie and Twin Rose) were not designed as interchange
                        formats, and were designed with their programs in mind. I want to break
                        this model, and design a format that can function as a full interchange
                        format (section 3), and have sections designed in this format for other
                        usage (section 1 and 2). That being said, I would seriously consider a
                        section 4: external Apps. An optional section (since all the sections
                        are optional) that can contain the character, already transformed for
                        OpenRPG, DMGenie, Twin Rose, etc.

                        This is getting somewhat stream of consciousness now, but I could see us
                        developing one top level format that is intended to embed any number of
                        other formats, and then consider sections 1-3, and any other formats to
                        each be their own xml format, that is embeddable in the upper level
                        pcgen xml document.

                        Devon
                      • Brass Tilde
                        ... Ah hah! Now I get it. If this was explained earlier, I apologize for not understanding. Put this way, it makes excellent sense, though I might prefer it
                        Message 11 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                          > Section 1: this is designed to tell pcgen how to build a character.
                          >
                          > Section 2: This is a log, and as such is mostly useful as a debugging
                          > tool.

                          > Section 3: This is for export, as well as import. This section allows
                          > us to show a complete character, sans lst data, and sans decisions.

                          Ah hah! Now I get it. If this was explained earlier, I apologize for
                          not understanding. Put this way, it makes excellent sense, though I
                          might prefer it if the presence of the second section were a
                          configuration option. I don't feel very strongly about that, though.

                          In your design, I'm assuming that it would be possible to generate a
                          "section 3" from any set of levels in section 1, e.g. if I have 10
                          levels, but I want a sheet that shows what the character looked like at
                          level 9.

                          Good stuff. I wish I had more time to help with it.
                        • Brass Tilde
                          ... the ... we ... programs do. Honestly, I don t think you two are that far apart on this. andargor s element is Devon s section 1 .
                          Message 12 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                            > > andargor wrote:
                            >
                            > >I realize that PCGen might need "internal representations" or
                            > >additional info within the character just for PCGen. This is where
                            the
                            > >power of XML comes in: you just add a <pcgen version="x.x"> section
                            > >and include whatever extra "mechanics" are needed by PCGen.

                            > From: "Devon Jones" <soulcatcher@...>

                            > Ok, my position on this is that we probably shouldn't. By being xml,
                            we
                            > are being open, and we can certainly build xslt to transform to other
                            > formats, but we need more and different information then these
                            programs do.

                            Honestly, I don't think you two are that far apart on this. andargor's
                            <pcgen version="x.x" /> element is Devon's "section 1".

                            > > andargor again.

                            > >Please let us be truly open, and allow PCGen to finally be able to
                            > >work with other tools.

                            This would be Devon's "section 3". The end product of all the
                            calculations and other stuff that PCGen does, in a format that can be
                            transformed to virtually anything anybody else needs. If a piece of
                            info isn't there, it can be added (as long as PCGen processes that
                            information).

                            Publishing the schema to section 3 enables other programs, should they
                            wish to do so, to publish transforms that can be used to use that data
                            in whatever way they want.

                            Brad
                          • Devon Jones
                            ... Section 2 will take a long time, and may never be fully realized. Section 2 may not appear it, but it s *hard* ... Precisely, we can even contain if we
                            Message 13 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                              Brass Tilde wrote:

                              >
                              >Ah hah! Now I get it. If this was explained earlier, I apologize for
                              >not understanding. Put this way, it makes excellent sense, though I
                              >might prefer it if the presence of the second section were a
                              >configuration option. I don't feel very strongly about that, though.
                              >
                              >
                              Section 2 will take a long time, and may never be fully realized.
                              Section 2 may not appear it, but it's *hard*

                              >In your design, I'm assuming that it would be possible to generate a
                              >"section 3" from any set of levels in section 1, e.g. if I have 10
                              >levels, but I want a sheet that shows what the character looked like at
                              >level 9.
                              >
                              >
                              Precisely, we can even contain if we wish, more then one section 3, and
                              if we can get the code fast enough, that may end up defaulting to that
                              for each level. If not, it'll be optional.

                              >Good stuff. I wish I had more time to help with it.
                              >
                              >
                              >
                            • Brass Tilde
                              ... I ll reiterate someone else s point here though, that some things are *not* necessarily level dependent, such as one s possessions. It *is* true that most
                              Message 14 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                                > > In your design, I'm assuming that it would be possible to generate a
                                > > "section 3" from any set of levels in section 1, e.g. if I have 10
                                > > levels, but I want a sheet that shows what the character
                                > > looked like at level 9.

                                > Precisely, we can even contain if we wish, more then one
                                > section 3, and if we can get the code fast enough, that
                                > may end up defaulting to that for each level. If not,
                                > it'll be optional.

                                I'll reiterate someone else's point here though, that some things are
                                *not* necessarily level dependent, such as one's possessions. It *is*
                                true that most people gather those things over the course of their
                                careers, so a strict "point in time" snap-shot section 3 would show
                                different equipment for each level.

                                However, in the case of losing one or more levels, the equipment would
                                need to be retained, and displayed for the new lower level. Not a
                                showstopper by any means, and not terribly difficult to implement I
                                imagine (I can think of at least one way to do it right now). The whole
                                thing implies a sequence to the character, even if part of that sequence
                                is going backwards!

                                Again, good stuff. Keep up the good work.

                                Brad
                              • Fred Drake
                                ... They were right, of course. Sections 1 and 2 are strictly level-based information; possessions or other point-in-time information ( broken arm ) is
                                Message 15 of 19 , Oct 3, 2005
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                                  On 10/3/05, Brass Tilde <brasstilde@...> wrote:
                                  > I'll reiterate someone else's point here though, that some things are
                                  > *not* necessarily level dependent, such as one's possessions. It *is*
                                  > true that most people gather those things over the course of their
                                  > careers, so a strict "point in time" snap-shot section 3 would show
                                  > different equipment for each level.

                                  They were right, of course. Sections 1 and 2 are strictly level-based
                                  information; possessions or other point-in-time information ("broken
                                  arm") is separate. I don't know if this really belongs in section 3
                                  or not, but seems parallel. Points in time also don't generally
                                  correspond to level transitions. (If you require training in-game to
                                  learn/advance skills, then levelling up earns skill points, and the
                                  decisions on spending them happen outside the levelling process.)

                                  I suspect that full point-in-time rollback should reasonably be
                                  considered out-of-scope for the data format. This sort of
                                  functionality is easily enough implemented using copies of the data
                                  files, either directly on the filesystem or using an external revision
                                  control system.

                                  Which is not to say that it's a bad idea to included other timestamped
                                  information: "Noon, 12 Octember 2345, -1 STR damage (permanent) from
                                  cursed ray gun." But that's game time; real-world time should still
                                  be handled externally. There's a lot of messy interactions between
                                  game time and real-world time, and more tricks to pull if the game
                                  world isn't on the Gregorian calendar.


                                  -Fred

                                  --
                                  Fred L. Drake, Jr. <fdrake at gmail.com>
                                  "Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless." --B.F. Skinner
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