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Last post Author Topic: IDEA: Desktop progress meter  (Read 40221 times)

raybeere

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IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« on: April 07, 2009, 04:02:00 PM »
I don't know if this can be coded quickly or not, although the basic idea seems simple. I'm looking for something simple that can display a meter on my desktop. Specifically, it must allow for multiple instances / meters. This meter would have a text title, then a progress bar that would indicate a target and the amount completed. Ideally, there'd be a text line underneath with the completed / target amounts. Although I suspect others could use this for other types of projects, I'd use it as a word count meter.

I'd put up meters for every book, article, or story I'm actively working on, listing the title. The meter itself would show targets of, say, 12,000 words, or 90,000, or whatever my target for that work was. Then I'd enter a word count (total if needed, daily if it is easy enough to add this to the previous total) and the meter would display the result. Say, 3,000 words of 12,000, and the bar would be 25% filled. Below, it would read "3,000 / 12,000". Of course, most actual percentages would not be so easily calculated, but that's what a computer is for, isn't it? ;)

Ideally, if this isn't too hard to code (I shouldn't think it would be), I'd like to be able to specify the colour of the meter. If it isn't that hard, different colours for text, progress bar, and filled in portion of bar would be even nicer. In either case, the ideal would be settings for each meter, not just overall settings. (So I could make certain projects stand out, if I needed to.) Oh, and choice of fonts would be nice, rather than putting up with whatever MS decides is the default. But I have no idea how hard this stuff is: I know in HTML it is easy enough to specify fonts and colours, but selecting them from an app isn't anything I've tried playing with yet.

I have a feeling this might make it too complicated, but if not, the ability - just for the filled in progress portion - of being able to set different colours at different "levels" would be a real plus: say, for a particular work, any count under 20,000 would show up as red, any count under 45,000 would show up as yellow, and anything over that would be green. But with custom colour choices.

The idea is to have an easy way (yes, I know, if I go into Samurize and go through enough work - including editing every day when I need to update - I could probably get this) to list all my active projects, with a visual, easily updateable meter and stats on my progress on each. If there's no way around it, a simple pop up window with the information would be better than nothing, but I've found the ability to show something right on the desktop where I can't avoid seeing it at least sometimes to be very helpful. In fact, if it can't be on the desktop (I don't know how hard that aspect would be) the next best option would be to combine this with a routine to pop up the window at set intervals (user choice) headed by a customisable reminder / prompt.

One caveat: I don't want to mislead anyone. Right now, I don't have any spare cash to donate. I'd gladly hand some out to anyone who could do this - but I can't say how long it might take before I have the ability. I do know a lot of other people who could use this, and I'd happily point them to it, along with a plug for a donation - but writers tend to be broke, so I don't know how much result you'd see. Although we are good at understanding the position of others who are struggling to see some reward for their efforts. :) That may be why I think the idea behind DC is so cool. :D
« Last Edit: April 07, 2009, 05:10:41 PM by raybeere »

mmdoogie

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2009, 11:45:47 PM »
If you are using Vista, you might try looking for a sidebar gadget that can do what you are looking for.

Another option is a Yahoo Widget Engine widget. http://widgets.yahoo.com/
These can be made to hide on a separate overlay pulled up with a hotkey, or can be forced to stay visible on the desktop.
I don't know if there is one that is directly what you want, but these are often fairly customizable with respect to colors and things as you asked.

--matt

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2009, 01:52:05 PM »
If you are using Vista, you might try looking for a sidebar gadget that can do what you are looking for.

Another option is a Yahoo Widget Engine widget. http://widgets.yahoo.com/
These can be made to hide on a separate overlay pulled up with a hotkey, or can be forced to stay visible on the desktop.
I don't know if there is one that is directly what you want, but these are often fairly customizable with respect to colors and things as you asked.

Thanks for the suggestions, but I use XP Pro, and although I can't say I've checked every Yahoo widget, I searched them pretty carefully and didn't find anything that was quite what I wanted. Word counters are actually not that hard to find - for the web. I have never seen anything for a desktop that was at all similar. The closest idea would be the meters in Samurize: the horizontal bar type meters are just about what I'm thinking of. The trouble is they require far too much effort to set up and to update the data. A system will not work if using it is too difficult.

On a side note, although I call this idea a word counter, it could be used to monitor progress on many types of projects. The visual feedback is helpful in getting a quick overview of things. A customisable label after the numbers (that is, for example: 27,253/90,000 words - where "words" is the custom label) could help if some wanted to use it to track different types of projects. The number could represent words, lines, pages, items, stages, messages - whatever the user wanted. I know I can think of many types of projects where such visual feedback of my progress would not only help me keep on top of things, but would also provide encouragement.

I understand the idea may be too much for a coding snack. I was hoping it was not, since Web meters (often code you can cut and paste, inserting your own numbers to update it) seem common. But if anyone can figure out a quick way to do it, it might even be useful for the Great Organisation Experiment, as they are neat little productivity tools. I won't claim they work for everyone; no tool I know of does that. But they do urge a lot of writers I know on when they're tempted to lose steam. I assume there are non-writers who could benefit from a more general version; if the idea suits your personality, any project with a goal that lends itself to a fairly accurate representation of percentage completed could be tracked using such a meter.

Sorry, can't resist the little 'plug' urging someone to see if they can think of a way to do this... ;D

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2009, 10:21:33 AM »
I posted a similar request recently and it was added to TopBar, a project by dc member jake78:
http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=13908.0

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2009, 11:07:49 AM »
Hey, thanks! I'll go take a look at that.

The really annoying thing (to me) is that I suspect, from the ease of finding progress bars for web pages, it wouldn't be that hard to whip up what I want - if I knew a lot more about coding. I find learning never comes as quickly as I'd like it to. ;D Especially since I do have to do other things in the meantime...
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 11:10:07 AM by raybeere »

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2009, 12:34:02 PM »
I posted a similar request recently and it was added to TopBar, a project by dc member jake78:
http://www.donationc...ex.php?topic=13908.0

Actually, I looked over the project you mentioned. The principle is similar, but your idea was for a date based progress bar. While useful in its own right, it is different than what I had in mind. I think I'm just going to have to wait until I learn enough coding. I found a web page that generates HTML/JavaScript to include in a simple HTML page for a meter much like what I want (http://honorless.net/progressbar.htm), so I guess my goal should be to see if I can learn enough about how this page / the meters it generates work to translate the process to something like AutoHotKey, tweak it for the details I want, and have it generate the meters on a transparent window on my desktop. Does that sound like a sane approach, or am I headed up the wrong tree?

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2009, 01:10:17 PM »
sounds reasonable, but i think it sounds like something that might be a good coding snack.. maybe try to formulate a more concise description of what you would like the tool to do, and maybe a coding snack author will give it a try.

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2009, 01:54:17 PM »
I've got some ideas rolling around in my head for coding this up.  I think it's quite a bit more than a coding snack, though.

1) How many meters were you thinking of?
2) I was thinking of a main listview that would aggregrate all the meters' information.  The meter GUIs themselves would be based off of this.

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2009, 04:49:28 PM »
1: I didn't have a specific number of meters in mind; personally, I have 11 projects active right now that I'd track with this, but the number might go up or down over time.

I found a web page that generated code, which I was able to play with to put together a HTML page with meters, which might give a better idea what I'm talking about. I'm attaching a screen shot of my HTML page with the type of meters I had in mind.

The essential points are this: The title (top line of each meter), and the last word(s) on the bottom line need to be user specified. The target count would be specified in the beginning; every gain in a project would either be added (650 more words) or the total gain would be updated. The simplest option for the user would be to simply add that day's count, of course. The background and the progress section each need to have custom colours set for them (the lighter background on two are items I'm ready to start editing). I assume calculating the percentage would be pretty simple, as it is a very basic formula (done/target)*100

Custom font colours would be nice but are not as important, especially if at least the basic background and font colours could be set for the overall list. Not sure if that answers all your questions...

(Sorry about the image, I'm not sure what the issue is. I thought I'd used too low a quality setting when I saved, so I did another one. I checked this one first, and it looks fine on my computer. If I click on the image in the "footer" to the message, the result seems okay, too. If I put the image in the message, it appears smeared and blurry.)
« Last Edit: April 09, 2009, 05:30:40 PM by raybeere »

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2009, 05:50:06 PM »
I was going to write the meters using standard Windows controls but, if you would like it done via HTML like this, please send me the HTML you used.  I still plan to use a listview to allow management of the meters but I can dynamically generate your HTML from it.

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2009, 06:14:09 PM »
The page that generated the original code is linked above. The image is from static code I edited by hand to set the numbers and percentages, so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. As far as that goes, I have no problem with standard Windows controls; I just found this and thought I'd try it out to see how easily it worked.

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2009, 03:12:17 PM »
The page that generated the original code is linked above. The image is from static code I edited by hand to set the numbers and percentages, so I'm not sure if that's what you're looking for. As far as that goes, I have no problem with standard Windows controls; I just found this and thought I'd try it out to see how easily it worked.

Apologies, I missed the link you gave beforehand.  Here's what I had in mind:

Meters_2009-04-12_030922.pngIDEA: Desktop progress meterMeters_2009-04-12_031045.pngIDEA: Desktop progress meter

Your thoughts?

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2009, 11:24:13 PM »
It looks great to me! :) When it's ready, I know a lot of people who might be interested in this, if you don't mind my mentioning it on a certain forum. (I'd give a quick explanation of the idea behind DC, too, of course.) Your idea looks much easier than editing HTML all the time, too.

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2009, 11:49:46 PM »
looks great.  :up:

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2009, 11:50:38 PM »
possible request: use a standard file format for configuration (xml?) so that alternative tools could also use the same configuration files?

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2009, 01:32:21 PM »
possible request: use a standard file format for configuration (xml?) so that alternative tools could also use the same configuration files?
I wasn't planning on it but I went ahead and implemented it.  It currently looks like this:

Code: Text [Select]
  1. <?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>
  2. <meters version="1.0">
  3.   <meter>
  4.     <title>Groping for Truth</title>
  5.     <type>articles</type>
  6.     <number>6</number>
  7.     <total>8</total>
  8.     <bar_fg_color>Blue</bar_fg_color>
  9.     <bar_bg_color>Aqua</bar_bg_color>
  10.   </meter>
  11.   <meter>
  12.     <title>The Swordsmith's Son</title>
  13.     <type>words</type>
  14.     <number>6486</number>
  15.     <total>12000</total>
  16.     <bar_fg_color>Purple</bar_fg_color>
  17.     <bar_bg_color>Fuchsia</bar_bg_color>
  18.   </meter>
  19. </meters>

Apologies for the delay in providing something tangible to play with; I just need to implement a few more things before releasing the first version.  As always...any ideas on a name for this?

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2009, 01:46:09 PM »
looking great.  :up:

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #17 on: April 14, 2009, 05:46:55 AM »
Here's something to play with:  Barbecue

It's not finished by any means but it should give you an idea of where I'm going with this.  Give it a play and let me know your thoughts.

ToDo:

1) Proper tray menu (clicking the tray icon will show the meters, etc.)
2) Your ideas here...
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 12:27:53 AM by skwire »

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2009, 08:00:24 AM »
I uploaded a new build with some basic tray handling added.  Now, closing the main window will just hide it to the tray.  If you want to exit the app, choose File, Exit or Exit from the tray menu.  Double-clicking the tray icon will show the meters.

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #19 on: April 14, 2009, 11:45:09 AM »
It looks great to me! You even made it portable. And I like the tray functionality. That makes it easy to access whenever you want to check it out. It makes a very excellent tool. :Thmbsup:

I did think of one feature some people might find useful, assuming it can be added easily. An option to add a line (below the title or at the bottom of the meter) with a deadline is something I suspect some users will ask for, although personally I'd find it a bit like decoration on the icing on the cake - nice enough, but the cake is just as sweet without it. :)

Is it okay to spread the word about this, or would you rather I wait?

mouser

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2009, 11:52:05 AM »
very cool.
an option to allow bars to be clicked on to adjust the position in the main progress display would be nice.

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #21 on: April 15, 2009, 02:00:11 AM »
An option to add a line (below the title or at the bottom of the meter) with a deadline is something I suspect some users will ask for

Thanks for the kind compliments.  Try the latest and see if this is what you had in mind: Barbecue

Is it okay to spread the word about this, or would you rather I wait?

Sure, feel free.

an option to allow bars to be clicked on to adjust the position in the main progress display would be nice.

This will be a little more complicated since the the Progress Bar isn't really designed for this sort of thing in AHK.  However, I managed to do it for Trout so I'll see what I can do for this app.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2009, 12:28:19 AM by skwire »

skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #22 on: April 15, 2009, 02:45:49 AM »
I'm trying to track down a bug where the meters.xml file is getting deleted.  Soooo...if you have a lot of meters configured, back that file up for the time being.

raybeere

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #23 on: April 15, 2009, 03:18:06 PM »
if you have a lot of meters configured, back that file up for the time being.

I assume I have to back up any file I don't want to lose... I've had programs that ran perfectly - and some other app that didn't even have any business in that folder came along and deleted files on me. That has happened to me almost as often as, ummm, that well known technical issue: operator error. ;D

I will wait to post about this until the bug has been fixed, though. Too many of my fellow writers have a distressingly unfounded faith in the infallibility of anything digital. I know someone whose only copy of their 300,000 word novel was on their hard drive, and someone else who had fifteen years' worth of work they left on floppies. Notice the tense I used...

Quote
Try the latest and see if this is what you had in mind:

Exactly like that. I'm impressed.


skwire

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Re: IDEA: Desktop progress meter
« Reply #24 on: April 16, 2009, 02:19:53 AM »
I will wait to post about this until the bug has been fixed, though.

I think the meters.xml deleting itself was due to me watching that file with another editor as I was developing this.  I changed up the loading/saving routines so they should be much faster.  Also, here are some built-in shortcuts for manipulating the listview:

ctrl-a: Select all
ctrl-u: Deselect all
ctrl-i: Invert selection
ctrl-up: Move continguous selection up a row.
ctrl-down: Move continguous selection down a row.
Delete: Deletes a selection.

You can use the ctrl-up/down to order your meters (since they are generated from that order).

Barbecue

Anybody able to come up with a better name for this so we can call it done?
« Last Edit: April 21, 2009, 01:36:13 AM by skwire »