VK Contest Log

Version 3 Preview

 

Work on Version 3 of VKCL is progressing slowly. The main purpose for updating the current version is to remove the size restriction so that those with larger screens than 800 x 600 can have more information displayed at the same time. Other reasons for updating are to use later versions of the Graphical User Interface (GUI), the version in use now being about six years old and there have been many updates since, and also to replace the rather ancient dBase IV database files with something like SQLite3.

The first problem is to define the user interface. I have grown quite enamoured with the icon-free and menu-free user interface of the current version and would like to keep it into the future (but I am open to suggestions). It is simple and minimises possibility of getting confused under the stress of contest conditions. The biggest need seemed to be to increase the size of the center logging window, so that perhaps more information could be displayed about each contact, or more contacts displayed, or other lists displayed. for example, a list that has been mentioned by many users is one that shows call signs worked on other bands and not on the current band.

Multiple Document Interface (see MDI if you want to know all about it) is used to provide an "application desktop" on which a number of windows can be opened and treated as part of the application. A bit unusual aspect of the MDI use here is that the borders, which are usually thin to provide maximum area for the "desktop", in this case are quite wide so that the previous positioning of all the controls around the logging window can be maintained. At first glance therefore, Version 3 is very similar to the previous version with just a bit of colour added, for example:

But you may note that now the centre logging window is an independent window in itself and no longer part of the main frame. On a 1280 x 1024 resolution screen, it look as follows:

VKCL can now be re-sized to the available space on the screen and even maximized to use all of the screen. The borders remain unchanged, but the centre area is now increased to allow increasing the size of the logging window, or to activate other auxiliary windows beside it to show additional information, for example:

If you have dual monitors connected and your desktop extended over both, then VKCL can be stretched over both screens as shown below. The additional application desktop space can allow tiling of the auxiliary windows within the application desktop so that it is possible to see all the windows of interest without continual rearrangement of windows.

So far three auxiliary windows can be activated and co-exist with the logging window on the application desktop. Additional auxiliary windows may be added in the fullness of time. Currently the available auxiliary windows are:

  • View Log -- essentially the same as the View Log display in the current version without the ability to create log or ADIF files, but now can be viewed all the time.
  • Worked List -- a list of all call signs that have been worked in the contest and the number of times they have been worked on each band. If there is a time out before that call sign can be worked again, that is also shown. (For some contests such as the Spr/Sum/Win Field Days and RD, this may become a CanWork List, showing directly woked call signs for which the waiting period has expired so that may be worked again.)
  • Statistics -- either tabular and/or graphical as appropriate for the contest.

These auxiliary windows are activated by clicking on the long flat buttons above the application desktop. When the buttons are the default gray colour, it indicates that the corresponding window is closed. Clicking on the button opens the window and the button takes on the colour that is on the title line of the window. A window may be open but hidden behind other windows, in which case the button is still coloured and clicking on it brings that window to the foreground. Clicking on a coloured button with the corresponding window in the foreground closes that window. These windows may also be closed by clicking on the in the top right hand corner of the window.

The logging window itself always opens when VKCL starts and always remains open, that is, it cannot be closed although it can be minimised if desired, as can all the auxiliary windows too. (Maximising a window on the application desktop is inhibited, as it can be difficult to restore the window in some situations.) The windows may also be moved off the application desktop in the same manner as on your actual PC desktop. If VKCL is closed with any of the windows minimised or almost off the application desktop, they will re-open on next start in their default size and position, otherwise VKCL should re-open as closely as possible to the same configuration as when it was closed.

If the logging window is hidden behind other windows, click on the Clear button to bring it back into the foreground, although that has the side effect of also clearing the entry fields. If that is not desired, then if any part of the logging window is visible, clicking on it will bring it into the foreground, or close some or all the auxiliary windows until part or all of the logging window is visible. Changing bands also brings the logging window to the foreground.

The pre-view copy of VKCL Version 3 presented here does nothing useful, just displays the log from my last RD Contest. The logging window functions exactly in the same manner as in current versions of VKCL, except that it can be resized to show more contacts if desired. Similarly the View Log window also functions as before, except that probably only the Edit function will be available from it, with the creation of log and ADIF files being performed as currently, or possibly from a dialog window omitting the log display if it proves unnecessary.

The Worked List shows all call signs worked during the contest and the number of times they have been worked on each of the bands using during the contest. If the contest allows re-working after a certain time, the time to re-work will also be shown, see VK3NCE and VK2XD on the sample worked list. Individual bands or all bands may be selected, with the Except selection showing all bands except the current band in use. It may be possible to double click on a call sign on this list and have all relevant information pre-filled into the entry fields from a previous contact.

The Statistics auxiliary window will probably vary the most from contest to contest. For the RD Contest, a graph of contacts/hour seemed useful and I cannot think of anything else at this stage. Such a graph would probably be useful for every contest, and it will probably have the same configuration of horizontal and vertical axes, the horizontal axes essentially representing the 'contest weekend'. The blue line under the horizontal axes represents the contest interval, which may be as short as one hour or as long as 48 hours.

In summary the "look and feel" of the current version of VKCL has been largely preserved so there should be a minimal re-learning necessary. The additional information that will be possible to provide need not be used during the contest and may well be more interesting after the contest. The code written for this pre-view may be the bulk of the code required for the new version, the remaining work being to integrate the remainder of the code from the current version to work within the MDI environment, plus of course the inevitable consolidation and "improvements".. To assist with that, the replacement of the dBase IV database files with SQLite3 or anything else may/will probably be deferred to the next major revision.

 

 

Download VKCL Pre-View Version 3 is no longer available.

 

 

Page last updated: 27/11/2010, 26/05/2011