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Introducing...LochJournal! [Aug. 19th, 2001|03:06 am]
LiveJournal Client Discussions


Well okay, here's my debut post as a client author, at least on this journal. I've posted to lj_dev a few times, but now it's time to get official! Or something like that. :) Anyway, greetings from the chilly land of Seattle, where we're having a droubt right now--it's only raining every other week! ;)

LochJournal is a Win32 client, which means it's built to run under 32-bit Windows operating systems. It does not use the MFC or any external libraries. Totally self contained and written in Borland's Delphi, a very nice programming environment that I highly recommend to anyone interested in Windows/Linux GUI development. The entire goal of this client, from the start, has been power. It is (or will be) the only client you'll ever need, or that's the goal. Currently supported features that make LochJournal unique are:

  • Downloaded journal history - LochJournal can download your journal to your hard drive so you can look through it while offline.

  • Easy entry editing - The built in Journal History setup lets you edit an entry by seamlessly integrating it into the posting system, providing an intuitive interface.

  • Multiple profiles - Tired of having to reset your username and password for your two journals? want to use a LiveJournal server other than livejournal.com? LochJournal supports multiple profiles, so you can connect to all of your journals on various servers easily.

  • Multiple user capabilities - So your brother has a journal too? Never fear, LochJournal allows you to create user accounts within the program, within which you can create your profiles and set your individual options.

  • Auto-save - Never lose a post again! Every minute (configurable) LochJournal will automatically save your post in progress, and upon restart, will ask if you wish to pick up where you left off.

  • Built-in browsing - Instead of spawning Internet Explorer windows like flies, LochJournal sports a built-in encapsulation of the IE browser, letting you quickly and easily check out your friends journals or do any other surfing.

  • New post notification methods - Not only can you get the tray icon to blink, but you can have the program window appear, a notification message appear, or a custom sound be played (five sounds are bundled with the installation providing a range of voice responses.)

Of course, I could go on for hours about what else LochJournal does, but those are the nifty things that I think would be interesting to folks. Now, just so you know, the client IS in Alpha phase testing, which means that there are bugs. I know, I'm working on it. Actually, right now I've decided to rip out 90% of the code, and rewrite from scratch. It's been needing it pretty badly, so I decided today to do that. After the rewrite is complete, the program will enter the Beta phase, and should be much stabler than it is now.

If you're interested in helping out, I'm currently looking for someone who has some graphic art skills to design some graphics for the program. Button glyphs, a splash image, et cetera. Feel free to drop me a line at xb95@yahoo.com and let me know.

Here are two screen shots, one of the Accounts / Profiles page and one of the History page, the two features that really make LochJournal stand out from the crowd of clients out there.

Screenshot 1
This is a shot of the History section, specifically a post that I made to a group I have defined. Notice how it shows all the information about the entry, and if I wanted to edit this entry, I could easily click Edit Current Entry and I would be able to edit it on the Update page. Also notice the drop down boxes in the bottom left corner. LochJournal handles downloading and viewing of multiple journals, all in one encrypted database file. Also note the handy group readout in the upper right. The mouse cursor should be there but didn't appear in the screen copy. ;)

Screenshot 2

You can see the Accounts / Profiles page in this screen shot. Unfortunately WinXP seems to have a problem displaying the selected items in list boxes, so it's solid black. Haven't fixed that yet. It's on my todo list. ;) Notice the list of Profiles on the right side, including xb95 @ LiveJournal (this account) and xb95 @ Local (an account with my local LJ server.) Setting an account as the default means it's automatically logged into (see the Auto-Login option on the left.)

That's about all I'll say here. I'm already rambling. ;) I'm interested in suggestions, and feedback. LochJournal has its own group which can be found at lochjournal. Thanks for taking the time to read this post! Oh, and as a final note, if you're interested in getting LochJournal, the web site can be found here. (Thanks to tydel for hosting the site.)

Peace ya'll.

[User Picture]From: dottey
2001-08-19 07:29 am (UTC)

Some suggestions/observatons/feedback/questions

1. The options page should have OK and Cancel buttons. Switcing from tab-to-tab without pressing OK leaves a user insecure as to whether or not his options were saved. It also doesn't give a way for a user to cancel (go back to the way things were before I started clicking on check boxes).

2. Debug mode was turned on by default, but the check-box was not checked in the options. Debug mode should not be on by default - should only be on if the user selects it. I found two Debug.Txt files in C:\Program Files\LochJournal\ but I had never turned on Debug Mode in the options.

3. What are the "View Types" on the eft-hand side of the History window? The View type listed is "L" but I'm not sure what that means. if the View Types are ways of sorting the "List of Entries" then thats great. Because I'd like to suggest you add a way of sorting that list. It seems that right now it lists things by their "Last edited" date.

4. I like how the posts in the "List of Entries" thing o the History window are color-coded. I think Pink means private and purple means friends-group.

5. Is there a way to (I know the "regular" win32 client doesn't have this either) change the time of the post (useful for backdating) when posting? I have times where I won't post in my journal for 2 or 3 weeks, but when I do - I want them to come up under the right days - not all showing up from today. The web-client http://www.livejournal.com/update.bml has this ability. Can the win32 clients do this too?

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[User Picture]From: xb95
2001-08-19 07:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Some suggestions/observatons/feedback/questions

First of all, wow, thanks for the feedback! This is what I love getting. Yeah it kinda seems daunting to see a huge list of points with a and b sections and such, but damn, way to go. :) Alright, let's see...

1) Gotcha. So you know, options are saved as soon as you change tabs, so if you click away from the Options page, your changes are written out to the registry. An OK and Cancel button won't be hard though.

2) Well... since it doesn't load your options until after you've already logged in, the program has no way of knowing whether or not you want debug mode on, so it defaults to on until you log in. At that point it disables debug mode if you have it turned off in the options. I should make it delete the file at this point, hm. Thanks for pointing it out.

3) View types... L is for Journal Entry, T will be for To-Do items, C for Comments, et cetera. Right now LiveJournal only supports type L entries, but hopefully before too long the server development team will write the ability to download comments and todo items, and LochJournal needs to be ready to support them.

4) Yeah. Pink (I prefer to call it light red. ;)) is private, and the other color is for friends/group only posts. This will all be detailed in the help file, as soon as shattered gets his life settled again.

5) At this time, no. However, it IS possible with the protocal, I just haven't included it. I'm intending on writing a Post Options page and moving the more esoteric per-post options there, to unclutter the Update page, so I'll include this when I do that.
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[User Picture]From: dottey
2001-08-19 07:30 am (UTC)

Some suggestions/observatons/feedback/questions

6. What does the option "Auto-fill subject" actually do? Sound sinteresting.

7. I click on the subject line and type in my subject. I hit "tab" and expect to be dropped down to the text-entry window, but instead I get passed over to the "Auto-Fill" subject button. I think the tab-order should be changed, so a tab from the subject line brings you down to the text-entry window.

8. The history window looks like I can edit my entries on that page. I personally would like this option, as opposed to having to click "Edit Current Entry" and being brought to the "Update" page.

8a. Along with that, I see this as a good option: Be able to edit any/all entries in the DB locally, and then click an option to "refresh the server." This option would send to the server every local entry (for a full refresh) or just the local entries which have been altered.

8b. If you're not going to make the History window editable like suggested above, then you need to grey-out the boxes so a user won't think he/she can type in them and have their typings saved. A better option would be to not use text-boxes ... Use some other non-ditable field.

9. What does the "Records" button in the History window do?

10. The friends-group security posting method really needs to be reworked. It was very confusing.

11. Option needs to be added for "delete post" unless it is there already and I just couldn't find it. The "regular" win32 client has this, so I know its possible.

12. You probably know this already, but the "View/Download from Journal" option on the History window doesn't currently work. I assume this would let me save local histories for all the journals I can write to. Sounds good!

13. I love the fact that I not have a local copy of my journal, its sitting here in LochJournal's database. This serves as a great backup.

13a. Create that "refresh the server" option and you're now able to restore your online journal from a backed up copy!

13b. Add an option to export a user's journal to .txt or (since this is Windows) .rtf ... I've already got my journal saved locally on my computer. Now I'd like to be able to get it out of your database, possibly to print it. You'll want options in the "export function" to save just the displayable data (user date and time, subject, text, mood, music) or all the date (the above, along with EventID, post date and time) etc...


All in all, its a great program for LJ! I see a lot of potential here. I look forward to the next release.
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[User Picture]From: xb95
2001-08-19 07:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Some suggestions/observatons/feedback/questions

6) Go ahead and type an entry. A sentence or ten in one or multiple paragraphs, then click Auto-Fill Subject. Give it a shot. :)

7) Hm... I'm not sure if this is fixable given that the Subject line and the Auto-Fill button are grouped on the panel there. However I could move the Auto-Fill button to the left and accomplish the same thing. I'll look into it.

8) In the version I'm working on now (unreleased as of yet) I've disabled editing in the history window. The logic for using the Update page to edit posts is that I didn't want to maintain Yet Another List of your picture keywords, moods, and other things. As it is they're stored on the Update page and in the Profile, so then I'd have to keep three of them synced, and two already has problems--but not for long! ;)

8a) Hmm... the only problem with this is that bradfitz might -kill- me for letting it dump that many posts on the server automatically. The first person with 1400 entries who changes all their posts to private only and reposts everything to the server will increase the main database workload by 2%. While that may not seem like much, we're already having problems, so this might not be a good idea. Though, I could possibly write it to have a settable server niceness delay or something... hmm. Worth considering.

8b) Reference comment 8 above.

9) At this point it goes through all of your downloaded items and tells you your longest one. I actually added it as a novelty feature to see what my longest entry is (over 20k, second place weighing in at 17k.) I was contemplating making this option actually dump out an HTML page which you can upload somewhere which shows (and links to) your longest entry, and other stats. (Number of words, all the links you've included, people you've mentioned, all the moods you use, your favorite songs, et cetera.)

10) Yeah. Sorry about that. :) It's something that I threw in without planning out first. Heck, the whole program has been unplanned. Hence the current state of disarray and rearrangement. :)

11) The program doesn't support this yet. It'll be easy to add, I just haven't done it yet. :)

12) Yeah... this is a known issue and is actually a server problem. You can't download your shared journals, it seems. The server responds with an error saying you're not allowed to do that. halkeye has expressed interest in fixing this, but he's on vacation this week, so eventually... :)

13) Thanks! Glad you like it.

13a) See comment 8a above.

13b) Hmm, that's a good idea. I haven't thought about that. I could also write in an option for you to specify an input .txt or .html template, which you could do use things like {SUBJECT} and other coded phrases to insert the parts of your journal. I.e. you could have it print out only your subjects with links to them by having a template like this:


<head><title>My Journal!</title></head>

<tr><td>{DATE}</td><td>{TIME}</td><td><a href="{LINK}">{SUBJECT}</a></td></tr>


And it would print out an HTML page with your subjects linked to your journal entries. Hmm. I could even put in FTP support so it could automatically upload it to your server! Ohboy. Now I'm getting a bit out there. ;) You get the idea though.

Well okay! Thanks for the feedback. Keep an eye on the lochjournal community to watch for new releases. I'll probably crosspost to this list too, at least for the Beta release, since that's a significant jump.

Thanks again. :)
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[User Picture]From: scottfreeman
2001-08-19 11:17 am (UTC)
Amazing! The best "home-grown" LJ client I've seen yet.

A few bugs and suggestions, but since you're going to re-write I'll keep quiet since you are most likely well aware.

Again, SUPERB effort. I'm very impressed and I never get impressed. :-)
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[User Picture]From: xb95
2001-08-19 07:34 pm (UTC)
Wow, I'm thrilled to receive such a compliment. Thanks for the feedback. Yes, hopefully this rewrite will address many of the issues that LochJournal has faced recently. janinedog lets me know -every- time her copy crashes, so, I have lots of encouragement to get the new version out. ;) Progress is coming along well, hopefully sometime this week, possibly next weekend at the latest. (Don't hold me to that. You know how things go sometimes...) :)
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From: beier_d
2001-08-19 08:23 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is a seriously beautiful-looking (and -sounding) client! I can't wait until the final version comes out, if this baby is your idea of an alpha-test ... excellent work!
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[User Picture]From: mart
2001-08-23 07:59 am (UTC)

Can you make the path to the log script (/cgi-bin/log.cgi) configurable too? It makes it then possible to talk to other things which have implemented the LJ protocol but don't have the script in the same place!

I'm downloading it now, so I might give more feedback after I've played with it.

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[User Picture]From: halkeye
2001-09-01 10:12 pm (UTC)
awww, i've found many many bugs
yet tydel gets mention?
*pouts* :P
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[User Picture]From: visions
2001-09-03 11:19 am (UTC)
its pretty nice. one major comment though, the interface is very daunting... take that how you may.

when programming for the lj community (windows using community particularly) you have to KIS (keep it simple).

the "power" should be there, but hidden by default... "advanced vs basic" type approach.
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