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Who wants to test a new Android app? Atari Manual Database

VCS manuals database android

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#1 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 2, 2016 1:49 PM

Hello, everyone. 

 

I've found myself, more often than not, needing to pull a manual for a VCS game, to read it...

 

After the 4,623,136,126,842nd time of doing so, I thought,

 

"Gee, isn't there an EASIER way to deal with this?"

 

Now, before I start sounding like a fucking Ronco commercial, I'll just get right to the point:

 

I've created an Android App, which I am currently feeding every VCS game manual that I can get my hands on, for the purpose of being able to quickly find the game, flip through it, and read it. 

 

This first version of the app, has these features, and a small subset of the total # of games which will be available, when it's finished (I intend to go from A-Z, finding as many, as I can.).

 

You can:

 

* Select the manual from the list

* flip through content

* pinch-zoom and pan

 

dirt simple.

 

An upcoming release will add the ability to take photos of high-scores to attach to a game, for record-keeping.

 

That'll be about it.

 

There will be no full text search.

 

Why?

 

The manuals are on average 4 to 12 pages long...With an average of 350 words a page, lots of pictures. This isn't an index of law journals, nor is it an engineering cross reference of airplane engine block internals, nor is it even a historical text in the typical sense. I do not see the point, and it would drastically increase the complexity of the program, for no real benefit.

 

What do you need?

 

* An Android tablet. While it will work on phone, it was ultimately designed for a tablet. Feel free to share your experiences anyway, if you only have a phone. 

* Android 4.0 absolute minimum (Ice Cream Sammich)

* 0.1GB of space. The final will need approximately 0.6GB of space.

 

The manuals are stored on device, inside resources, so they do not clutter up your gallery.

 

No on-line connection needed to use the app in its present state.

 

You can get it here: https://drive.google...d1FMSWViZF84ZFk

 

Please let me know what you think. This is for my own use, but I always try, even with things for my own use, to apply the same standards as for something I do for commercial work.

 

Since this contains copyrighted material, it will NOT go into the Android Play store, ever. It will be available from a site.

 

Will there be an iOS version? Yes, at some point, BUT, it will require UDID registration, as it will never go into the Apple App store.

 

-Thom



#2 lucifershalo OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 2, 2016 3:25 PM

I just installed it and test it....it is great....hope you will classify the manuals per company....

#3 BZachLaLonde OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 3, 2016 3:35 PM

This is a pretty slick app! The only thing I would add/change would be two minor things:

 

1) Fix the Atari 2600 picture on the drop-down menu. It looks a bit odd and cut off, at least on my phone.

2) The 2600 has a HUGE catalog of games so adding a search function to find the specific game's manual you're looking for would be really beneficial, especially as you add more games.

 

These are just two small things, though. The app itself uses the updated Google interface so it's very clean. It also doesn't require any special permissions, which is something I am fond of. I like how you used the Atari font style too. Overall, I really like it. Kudos to you, tschak909!!



#4 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 3, 2016 3:45 PM

This is a pretty slick app! The only thing I would add/change would be two minor things:

 

1) Fix the Atari 2600 picture on the drop-down menu. It looks a bit odd and cut off, at least on my phone.

2) The 2600 has a HUGE catalog of games so adding a search function to find the specific game's manual you're looking for would be really beneficial, especially as you add more games.

 

These are just two small things, though. The app itself uses the updated Google interface so it's very clean. It also doesn't require any special permissions, which is something I am fond of. I like how you used the Atari font style too. Overall, I really like it. Kudos to you, tschak909!!

 

1. I have not done any per-device dimensions, yet. This is actually a large part of app development to do right, so I am holding off until I finish manual ingestion. 

2. title search will be added, after I finish doing data ingestion. I really want to make sure that the approach that I've taken will hold all the games, first. (basically, all of the manual pages are being stored as JPEG bitmap resources, which are being paged in and out, with predjudicial memory recycling)

 

I will also be adding a snapshot/hi score feature, after I finish ingestion, as well. 

 

-Thom



#5 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 5:07 PM

AtariAge Manual Database Android app update: Currently starting the L's. I hope to be done with manual ingestion soon, so far have manuals included for roughly 166 games, expect that number to almost double.

 

-Thom



#6 atarifan88 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 5:29 PM

AtariAge Manual Database Android app update: Currently starting the L's. I hope to be done with manual ingestion soon, so far have manuals included for roughly 166 games, expect that number to almost double.

 

-Thom

When will the next version go out and do we need to uninstall the current version or will it overwrite?



#7 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 6:26 PM

Next version should be out very soon, I am tearing through the ingestion process as fast as I can.

 

Since it is the same package, only the version # will change, and it will overwrite the version already there, upgrading it.

 

 

 

With that said, if the package name changes (altogether possible!), it will create a new app on the device for it... I will let everybody know if this happens, and that they can safely delete the old app.

 

 

 

-Thom



#8 TrekMD OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 7:13 PM

I just downloaded it to test it out! 



#9 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 4, 2016 8:56 PM

Thanks, let me know how it works, for you. :)

 

I am striving to include every manual that I can get my hands on, (with a few exceptions)... This includes the manual for the Computer Magic MagiCard, a hobbyist programming cartridge which came with a 139 page manual (!).....which I am ingesting, right now....one page....at a time.... :)

 

-Thom


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#10 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Aug 6, 2016 11:26 PM

I am currently pushing through the "R"'s.... 

 

-Thom



#11 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 2:54 AM

Has anyone else used the app, thus far?

 

-Thom



#12 atarifan88 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 6:03 AM

Has anyone else used the app, thus far?

 

-Thom

I've used it and it works great!  The resolution of the scans are good as they are crisp when you zoom in.  This makes it very convenient as I don't have to go to my computer to look up my stored PDF's.  I can just go on my phone.  Can't wait for the next update!



#13 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 12:00 PM

Thanks! There is a balance that must be kept with the source material. It's very tempting to do 200dpi scans, and then scale them down, but this slows down the app considerably, and I want to keep the app as snappy as possible.

 

I am trying to get everything ingested, as quickly as I can... the app seems to be holding up fine with all of the included resources. (currently at 225MiB)

 

Once that's done, I'll continue polishing up the app.

 

-Thom



#14 TrekMD OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 12:06 PM

I gave it a spin and I like what you have done.  It's cool to have these all in one place like this. 



#15 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 12:08 PM

I want to do apps like this, for other systems, as well. (There are reasons for keeping them contained like this, one of them is sheer simplicity, I see no reason to slip between different versions of the same game, in typical use.)

 

-Thom



#16 atarifan88 OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Aug 7, 2016 2:41 PM

I want to do apps like this, for other systems, as well. (There are reasons for keeping them contained like this, one of them is sheer simplicity, I see no reason to slip between different versions of the same game, in typical use.)
 
-Thom

Would love to see you do an Intellivision one next!

Sent from my LGL34C using Tapatalk

#17 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 12:42 AM

Latest build here: https://drive.google...iew?usp=sharing

 

Continuing the ingestion, decided to do a new build, it contains everything to "S" ... Now I'm on to to the "T"'s

 

Interesting manuals to check out:

 

* Space Attack (excellent port of Space Battle, you need the manual to know how to dispatch squadrons, etc.)

* Space Shuttle (this game _REALLY_ needed the manual, and I took extra care to bring in the overlays, as well as the diagrams, and the checklists, procedures...

* Space Invaders (The difficulty matrix!)

* Star Raiders (includes the keypad overlay)

* Star Trek (includes Joystick overlay)

* Stellar Track (you _Really_ need this manual to play the game)

 

and more...

 

Enjoy,

-Thom


Edited by tschak909, Tue Aug 9, 2016 12:43 AM.


#18 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Aug 9, 2016 11:34 PM

Okay, so I've gone through the Z's, first pass... need to write the metadata for entries T-Z, then I need to make another pass to find homebrew manuals.

 

In the mean-time, the whole source code, including data is here in github: http://github.com/ts...09/atarimanuals

 

Anyone can take this, look at the data, and make a manual database for their needs.

 

I'm hoping to finish this thing in the next two weeks.

 

Meanwhile, can somebody verify that this thing checks out and builds?

 

-Thom


Edited by tschak909, Tue Aug 9, 2016 11:35 PM.


#19 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Wed Aug 10, 2016 9:40 PM

Now that i've gotten the first pass of manuals in, and the app didn't break, or become slow, I've gone to implementing the rest of it, but who would have thought:

 

* Implementing search? 10 minutes.

* Implementing extra keyboard focus code to get rid of keyboard when selecting something after doing a search (and not explicitly pressing done), 10 minutes

* Theming the app so that you can see the search box? ... STILL ONGOING... JEEBUS #@(%#@( CHRST!  ;)

 

So, just trying to polish up and get this app looking good, before I do a beta release.

 

-Thom



#20 Rom Hunter OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 1:58 AM

Now that i've gotten the first pass of manuals in, and the app didn't break, or become slow, I've gone to implementing the rest of it, but who would have thought:

 

* Implementing search? 10 minutes.

* Implementing extra keyboard focus code to get rid of keyboard when selecting something after doing a search (and not explicitly pressing done), 10 minutes

* Theming the app so that you can see the search box? ... STILL ONGOING... JEEBUS #@(%#@( CHRST!   ;)

 

So, just trying to polish up and get this app looking good, before I do a beta release.

 

-Thom

 

Where do these manuals come from?

 

8)



#21 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 8:45 AM

I have pulled these from various sites (including possibly yours):

 

* archive.org

* scott stilphen's digitpress.com

* atariage

* gamesdbase

* replacementdocs

 

All of these sites will receive proper credit in the about box.

 

-Thom



#22 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 11:03 AM

Hello everyone, I'm posting the last pre-release build, before calling it a beta. Why is it pre-release? I still have the last batch of manuals, for which to write metadata.

 

https://drive.google...bTh2TnAxTUtNbW8

 

Added features:

 

* Last manual and page are now persisted using android preferences persistence.

* first pass of title search (still TBD, tokenize it so that sub matches work better, there are some little edge cases that fall through the cracks)

* Go to Page dialog box, to quickly jump to another page (e.g. magicard manual)

* app goes full screen after manual is selected. Tapping screen toggles the menu toolbar.

 

TBD:

 

* Refine search feature so that it works even better as expected.

* fix graphical glitch where status bar turns white on phones when going full screen.

* get rest of manuals ingested. (T-Z)

 

Please test, Thanks.

-Thom



#23 Rom Hunter OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:55 PM

All of these sites will receive proper credit in the about box.

 

Or inform them beforehand in the future?

 

8)



#24 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:12 PM

Sure. I was writing this for myself, decided others might like it. I am not profiting off of any of it, now or ever. 

 

-Thom



#25 tschak909 OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Aug 11, 2016 3:13 PM

@Rom Hunter, have you tested it?

 

-Thom







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