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Guest rdg

Program Flow -- Confused most of the time

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Hi All,1.I probably have 4 or 5 hours working with the software, and I am very confused because there does not seem to be a flow to the program, and I have numerous questions. This not a rant. I am in awe really of what has been accomplished and am very pleased with it's capabilites and I am loving what I am seeing in the sim, but moving around trying to execute the functionality has been very frustrating. Most of my frustration comes from not understanding what the software is doing most of the time, and I performed a task, but not sure what to do next because the message window is silent and not providing any feedback. The message area on the home page where the program attempts to keep you informed of what ASA is doing. after a request is made by the user. There is alot of info in this message area that I as a user really dont need to see. As a user, I am really most interested in simple progress messaging and knowing when my request has been processed. It seems depending on your request, the last line of the message is not always the same, and I always end up staring at those lines wondering if there will be another one coming. The last line seems to be dependent on what your request was, and again the last line is not always the same when it appears to be done. Instead "Done processing xxxxxxx", would be very appropriate, or "Waiting for FS to Load" "Weather processing complete". If I dont see "Done" then I really dont have the confidence that it is working properly. Now most of you who have had previous versions of this software may have a better understanding of how this works, because you have, by trial and error, learned what or what not to do. I mentioned that there was alot of information given to the user in the message area. I guess I could ignore all the unimportante messages as long as I know when it is "Done". So, maybe there is a way to have a checkbox which states "Verbose Messages" for those who wish to see it all, or use Verbose messaging for maybe Debug purposes. Do I need to know how long it took to parse the file? I personally dont care, but some of you may. Many of these lines mean nothing because I dont understand them and they seem to complicate the process. 2. If ASA is processing my request, and I need to cancel that because I made a mistake, can I cancel that request, or do I have to wait until it is "Done" that is if I am sure it's "Done"? 3. If ASA is processing my request, what buttons/functionality that are available to me to execute should I not push to avoid any problems. Should I wait until it is "Done" processing my last request. If something can be pushed, but should not be pushed, should this button not be available to push?4. When ASA loads initially, I know it checks the Databases etc, but is it downloading weather even though I do not have FS Loaded yet? If it is downloading weather, what area is it downloading for and how does it make that decision. Is it based on my last flight, or does it use the default flight? What if I use DisablePreload = True in FSX.cfg? Does this influence ASA when initially loading? I just really dont know enough about how it works. The docs are informative, but it leaves alot of unanswered questions because it does not talk about program flow. What you can and cannot do or should not do. But for all intent and purposes, the ASA user interface should be so designed to keep the user from creating any problems.Any help, explanations, agreements or disagreements I would love to hear. I really like what this program does, but from a user perspective, it is very confusing.RegardsBob G

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Just another really quick suggestion in addition to Bob's, if the GUI is going to be looked at: Is there a way to not force any dialog boxes to apppear on top so that it can't be moved or resized or even minimized? From memory I think the wx download dialog box behaves this way and I can't do anything else until it is complete because it appears on top, taking a large chunk of the screen space. In another instance, ASA showed a box saying that some database was corrupted (I forgot the exact words) and that I need to restart FS. FS happened to be on the Load Fuel/Payload screen and the cancel button was blocked behind by ASA's dialog box. Eventually I had to kill ASA to regain access to the Cancel button. (After restarting FS, everything worked ok and ASA was happy).So it is possible to disable ASA's dialog boxes being forced on top of screen?Thanks, and keep up the great work :o)Subs

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If it helps with Bob's suggestions, I happened to see a perfect example so I thought I'd paste it here:9:33 AM - Station data export completed9:33 AM - **** ASA Initial Weather Synthesis Complete! ****9:33 AM - Loading weather file: C:\Documents and Settings\Subs\Application Data\HiFi\ASA\Weather\28 December.wx9:33 AM - Parsing line items9:35 AM - Forcing synthesis reset...9:37 AM - Synthesis updated...I started ASA at 9:33, then loaded some saved Wx within the same minute. The time now is 9:52 (15 minutes later), but I'm not sure if ASA has finished doing what it needs to do?Subs

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Ok I have oneI did a weather find. Got the weather and looking at it in the map. Now I am sitting at KSEA (sim Open) and the weather I downloaded is on the other side of the world. At this point, I do not know how to apply the weather that I just requested to the area I am now flying.I tried Refresh (not really sure why this is needed). I did Apply weather on another screen. But, nothing happened. The message area said nothing, so I pressed refresh again. I got a message "Manual Refresh requested" or something like that but nothing happened.So, the program flow is really discouraging. I went to the briefing screen, and it showed the station on the other side of the planet, tried a few other things but could not apply the weather. This is the confusion that I am talking about. Can anyone supply a step by step example on this find weather and then use that weather in my current location.RegardsBob

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Hi All,The GUI is not being looked at, so I don't want to mislead anyone there.I will try to answer some things:1. There is a learning curve with ASA, lots of screens and options and stuff. Take it slow and don't rush things. Post specific questions on this forum and there will be many helpers.2. If you make a mistake, just continue on. No need to wait.3. Don't watch the messages in ASA. Watch FS for the complete message on initial load. After that, when the weather in FS matches the weather in AS you know things are ready.4. When ASA starts, worldwide weather is downloaded and processed. Nothing in FS influences this process.5. When you jump to a new location in FS, you need to do nothing in ASA. ASA will recognize your new location and process the new data. However you need to give ASA some time to do this. Don't refresh anything, because everytime you do, you re-set the whole process.Hope this helps. If not, list some more specific questions.Thanks,

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Hi All,The GUI is not being looked at, so I don't want to mislead anyone there.I will try to answer some things:1. There is a learning curve with ASA, lots of screens and options and stuff. Take it slow and don't rush things. Post specific questions on this forum and there will be many helpers.2. If you make a mistake, just continue on. No need to wait.3. Don't watch the messages in ASA. Watch FS for the complete message on initial load. After that, when the weather in FS matches the weather in AS you know things are ready.4. When ASA starts, worldwide weather is downloaded and processed. Nothing in FS influences this process.5. When you jump to a new location in FS, you need to do nothing in ASA. ASA will recognize your new location and process the new data. However you need to give ASA some time to do this. Don't refresh anything, because everytime you do, you re-set the whole process.Hope this helps. If not, list some more specific questions.Thanks,
Hi Jim,Ok I asked one just above your post. Honestly, it is just not apparent how you accomplish certain tasks. Whenever someone builds anything, it is difficult sometimes for that builder to see the forest through the trees, because they already know how to work it, because they made it. This is a very common occurance in many projects, not just software development. GUI design has certainly been an area of software development that has taken scrutiny over the years and rightly so in many cases. You can have the best technical staff, the tightest code, algorythms that are incredible, but the user only cares about the end result. In this case flying in the weather that they created or asked for. Everyone loves ASA including myself. I am amazed of the realism this program has brought to the sim,and most, just want to see it get better. RegardsBob GMaybe a document that describes the program flow. I agree that it does have a learning curve, and the reason is that ASA is not really what you would call "user friendly".

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Hi,The "how" of every feature is explained in the manual.You use the Wx Config page to set up your own weather at your current location. Once you use the Finder you can enter that ICAO code and get that data into Wx Config and apply it to a range, then apply and save.Keep the questions comming.Thanks,

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Hi,The "how" of every feature is explained in the manual.You use the Wx Config page to set up your own weather at your current location. Once you use the Finder you can enter that ICAO code and get that data into Wx Config and apply it to a range, then apply and save.Keep the questions comming.Thanks,
I did go to the wx config and saw that the ICAO code was the same as that on the map screen. I do see that you can apply global, but I just would like to give you a scenario I went through personally for one process of finding and applying weatherThere is a button at the top of the wx Config screen that states "Load Current". Hmm now, this one was a little inviting. Load the weather I thought was a good choice, until I saw the "Apply Weather" button. I decide not to push the "Load Weather" button yet, but I am still curious about this button and I may need to push it at some point, but i decide to first add a layer of clouds. After adding the layer, and looking at some of the other buttons around the screen I decide to set "Application Range" to Global so I can get this weather in Miami to Seattle. This seemed like a logical next step before I push the actual button(s) that will get the ball rolling. Everything looks OK. Now and I am ready to get this out to FSX. At this point I am staring at the "Load Weather" Button, whose hint states "Click to Load current station Weather". So maybe I need to push this because I did add the cloud layer and it seems logical that I do this before I push the "Parse Metar" and the "Apply Weather" buttons. Makes sense to me. I made the changes "Added a layer", now I need to Reload in order to "Parse" and "Apply" . Here goes. Oh know. It set the weather back to it's original state and I lost my added cloud layer.I wont do that again. Let me write this down so I dont do it again. Maybe a popup would be nice that states "Are you sure?" "You will lose any changes you have made to this metar". Ok so I must hit the "Parse" then "Apply". Ok I got this little bugger figured out. I added back in the cloud layer and I pushed the parse then apply weather. Wow, I got the popup "Your weather has been applied" Great, I am a happy camper. Oops the Application Range had been reset when I clicked the other button. Ok, I got it now. I know this seems a little sarcastic, but it is an actual scenario. I just wanted to give you an idea of what most users will do. Currently we have to learn for the most part by trial and error. I dont know how many messages you guys may get where some are confused or they state something is not working. It very well could be the lack of program flow presented to the users. Again, I am appreciative of the technical accomplishments. I do like what it does for FSX, and the interface is pretty. I will learn how to work it, but it has not really been fun doing the trial and error path. RegardsBob G

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I know this seems a little sarcastic, but it is an actual scenario. I just wanted to give you an idea of what most users will do. Currently we have to learn for the most part by trial and error.
hi, i'm not sure that's really what most users are doing. for me i never use any of those interface elements you described, as i prefer to use real world weather instead of customizing the local metars. i guess i might do that for a screenshot sometime or something but i have only even glanced at that screen. 99% of the time my usage of ASA consists of 1 step..i run the exe file and let it load.. :) i have messed around with the options a bit when i first got it but that was mostly to tune things such as number of layers to my liking.i'm sure there are a lot of folks at various stages along the way between those extremes. you said that "Honestly, it is just not apparent how you accomplish certain tasks." but to be honest, from your posts i'm not really sure what task you are trying to accomplish :) i think that's why jskorna is saying to keep the questions coming ! hehecheers,-andy crosby

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hi, i'm not sure that's really what most users are doing. for me i never use any of those interface elements you described, as i prefer to use real world weather instead of customizing the local metars. i guess i might do that for a screenshot sometime or something but i have only even glanced at that screen. 99% of the time my usage of ASA consists of 1 step..i run the exe file and let it load.. :) i have messed around with the options a bit when i first got it but that was mostly to tune things such as number of layers to my liking.i'm sure there are a lot of folks at various stages along the way between those extremes. you said that "Honestly, it is just not apparent how you accomplish certain tasks." but to be honest, from your posts i'm not really sure what task you are trying to accomplish :) i think that's why jskorna is saying to keep the questions coming ! hehecheers,-andy crosby
Good point. Others use it in different ways. I would take a look at the features list. This will be a good indication of what the program is capable of. Take each of the features, and make an attempt to accomplish the task. I do explore. Without exploration and the understanding of what something is capable of, then you may be missing something along the way. That something you discover may be exciting. Ah, I didnt know it could do that, that is really cool. Anyway, the point of all of my frustration is trying to accomplish those tasks whick the software says it is capable of. Simply put, any GUI should be so designed to help the user accomplish his/her task. The GUI is the interface between the user and the features of the program. This program I am sure can accomplish all that it says it can do, but the GUI falls short in accomplishing these tasks easily. If I asked you to create a document step by step that would allow my wife to change the car battery, how would you accomplish this so that she could effectively accomplish the task. Or what are the steps to find weather and apply that weather to your current location, and what are the little in between attributes that can enhance the main steps? Yes the GUI can accomplish this, but it is not really clear exactly what the steps are. I did figure it out, but that should not be my job for the most part, it should be the GUI's along with good documentation to step me through the more complicated processes. The manual does not do this. The manual only tells you what the buttons do, but it falls short when there is more than one button that needs to be pushed. Again, with ASA, you must make mistakes in order to find your way. One of the most important attributes of a good GUI is to keep the user informed, and to always keep the user out of trouble. The interface is pretty but falls very short in user friendly category. Now, if you set auto download and go then you dont need any buttons. This program has a few buttons.RegardsBob G

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