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Vassal 4 vs Java

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Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby LoadEffectiveAddress » November 28th, 2020, 8:09 am

For the longest time, there's been a plan to work on a better-designed Vassal 4 and ditch Java. Years. But then Covid-19 came along and apparently spurred some new interest in Vassal and there are now some forward-looking plans to significantly improve the v3 client over several releases.

I've been avoiding v3 since I heard about v4, but it's hard to tell if it's still going to happen. Even desktop Java has improved since the original complaints about it. I don't want to argue for or against it, I am just wondering: is v4 still likely, or is this resurgence of interest going to keep rolling on v3 into the foreseeable future, and end up being the new goal?

I was hoping to be a part of the new project eventually, learning about it as it grows rather than jumping into that quagmire of v3's code again. If there's not going to be a new project, it would be good to know.

I hope this doesn't come across as pushy or entitled, I understand everyone is a volunteer and things can take time and be interrupted by real life. I am just unclear on the future plans, given the recent (relative) flurry of activity. It feels like there have been more releases this year than over the last five.
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby Brent Easton » November 28th, 2020, 1:02 pm

Yes, there are still plans for a Vassal version 4. Our 'Master Designer' is hoping to start in earnest in December on fleshing out the design.

The current spate of activity on Vassal 3 is partly due to additional manpower, but mainly because we wanted to get Vassal 3 up to a suitable level in terms of bug, usability and performance fixes, plus some new features and get it to the point where we can stop worrying about it so much and leave it to stand on it's own two feet for a while:) We have managed to fix pretty much all outstanding bugs, including many that have existed for more than a decade, as well as significantly improve performance in several key areas.

I expect Vassal 3 development will quieten down over the next year, however, we do have some keen developers with more ideas for V3.
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby uckelman » November 28th, 2020, 1:12 pm

Thus spake LoadEffectiveAddress:
> For the longest time, there's been a plan to work on a better-designed
> Vassal 4 and ditch Java. Years. But then Covid-19 came along and
> apparently spurred some new interest in Vassal and there are now some
> forward-looking plans to significantly improve the v3 client over
> several releases.

That's only partly due to the pandemic. Work on 3.3 started in Autumn
2019.

> I've been avoiding v3 since I heard about v4, but it's hard to tell if
> it's still going to happen. Even desktop Java has improved since the
> original complaints about it. I don't want to argue for or against it,
> I am just wondering: is v4 still likely, or is this resurgence of
> interest going to keep rolling on v3 into the foreseeable future, and
> end up being the new goal?

Once 3.5 is released, my own development time will be going into V4.
We released 3.5.0-beta1 yesterday, so that will be happening fairly
soon.

> I hope this doesn't come across as pushy or entitled, I understand
> everyone is a volunteer and things can take time and be interrupted by
> real life. I am just unclear on the future plans, given the recent
> (relative) flurry of activity. It feels like there have been more
> releases this year than over the last five.

From my point of view, the purpose of much of the work since last fall
has been to get V3 into a state where it doesn't require much maintenance,
in order to give me time to work on V4 while people use V3.

--
J.
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby LoadEffectiveAddress » November 28th, 2020, 1:33 pm

Thank you both, I was looking at the roadmap which appears to contain a significant amount of work for 3.5 and hints of 3.6 as well. I look forward to seeing what comes next.
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby palanolho » May 15th, 2021, 2:15 pm

Hi guys,

Not sure if someone already mentioned or if there is already a decision on the tech stack for Vassal 4, but I would like to suggest you to have a look at FoundryVTT and how it was build.

I believe it's done using Javasript, HTML5, possibly pixiJS and if I'm not wrong a NodeJS server behind it.

It can run locally or on the cloud and you don't need everyone to have it installed. you just need one instance running and multiple players can connect to it.

I don't know if you are still pursuing a freeware "business model" but either way, it would work well for both people running it locally or for those that want to put it on the cloud for better access to other players.

That being said, they do offer a set of APIs that other developers can use to implement modules that can be added to the system (if approved). These modules work as independent features that help improve the experience or provide additional functionality to the system.

This tech stack has its own advantages and one good one is that works on any web browser. It is also a good framework to implement 3D stuff like dice, tokens and possible add some more interactivity to other tokens with minimal effort (like having "proper" cards and tokens that can flip in a visual way). Please note that I'm not saying that we should go full 3d with table cameras and such. I have tried many other "more modern" apps that allow to do what vassal does, but I didn't like them because of the full 3D asped. It's too intrusive and confusing while a plain top view with some 3D elements it's easier to follow and closer to the "boardgame on the table". (Also, despite the need for some improvements, I think that vassal handles components management be).

If any of you would like to have a look at how Foundry VTT works, I would be glad to invite you to check my server and I can show you around for you to have an idea. I would be also glad to help structure the functionalities and interactions for Vassal 4 is you guys want/are interested in such help and ideas (I do that for work, wound't mind doing it for fun, especially for an app that I use heavily).
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby palanolho » May 15th, 2021, 6:22 pm

Just a bit more detailed info on the tech stack I mentioned above:

Foundry's built in JS/HTML/CSS running on Node.JS, using PixiJS for the rendering of the canvas layer and TinyMCE for the text editor. The standalone app uses Electron to bundle Node.JS for the Foundry server itself and a Chromium browser hard-coded to point at the local server.
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Re: Vassal 4 vs Java

Postby keefersa » May 21st, 2021, 3:40 pm

I don't know about the technical side of this issue, but it would be great if Vassal 4 could incorporate some of this functionality as you've described. I'm currently working on a module to use with online teaching, and it would be much easier to run it this way rather than making sure students are able to download the program.
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