Talk:Calculation tools

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Forum sweep history

When I made this page, I did a full forum sweep (of both the Addons section and Tools subsection) and I think it is a good idea to do that periodically to make sure the overall information on the page is recent. Thus, I'm starting this section on this talk page to keep a record of forum sweeps, so that editors and users can know when one was last performed. If you do such a sweep yourself, add the date with your signature here. The latest date should indicate that the information contained on the page is at least as recent as that date. --MechaLynx (talk) 07:46, 5 May 2014 (CDT)

  1. 17 Apr 2014 (MechaLynx) (latest)


OK so there is this ksp maps guide here: and I think we should add it, I'm just not sure how.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Bashir 203 (talkcontribs) 11:48, 16 April 2014‎ (UTC)

Is the problem to add it technically or logically? If it is logically, I would suggest something like External resources where we can link to that. Are there more external resources which aren't calculators? — xZise [talk] 13:26, 16 April 2014 (CDT)

Both, I had trouble figuring out how to add it technically, as I'm new to wiki, and logically, as a map guide didn't fit anywhere. I'll try looking for more external resources that aren't calculators.— Preceding unsigned comment added by Bashir 203 (talkcontribs) 22:02, 16 April 2014‎ (UTC)

I already added a couple of diffs ago. There is indeed a bit of a question of whether certain entries fit into the article with its current title and I've elected to be a bit elastic so far, leaning on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion since it isn't clear where to put some stuff either way (although I have excluded plenty already, though nothing that neatly fits into the category of "calculator"). I'm almost done adding information and, if it's ok, I'd ask for 8-24hrs longer to make sure I've done as full a sweep as possible and finished formatting the page and categories while everything is still fresh in my head, before decisions are made to cut and split stuff from this page into others or expand the scope if necessary. So far, it seems I overestimated the amount of tools out there and it is actually possible to track down everything and include it. This is just a request for practical purposes and because there's no real rush (this article isn't linked by any other page yet as far as I know). I think once I'm done with this initial build, it will be a lot clearer whether we need a new section, title or page.--MechaLynx (talk) 19:09, 16 April 2014 (CDT)
If you want to move this page, let me know I can do that quickly (especially as nothing has really linked to it yet). — xZise [talk] 05:38, 17 April 2014 (CDT)
You mean change title right? Thanks for that, I was a bit worried it would be harder than necessary :P Once I'm done I'll make a post on this page with some details that will make the evaluation easier and I'll check to see if some entries fit better on other wiki pages. If after that it seems necessary, I'll drop you a line :) --MechaLynx (talk) 05:46, 17 April 2014 (CDT)
Done for now, if you want give it a quick look to see if there's stuff that needs correcting. If it's ok, I think it's ready for inclusion on the main page. --MechaLynx (talk) 10:21, 17 April 2014 (CDT)
Holy shit dude thanks for the template! :D It'll make errors much much less likely. Since you already made a page-specific template category, I'll try to make something to make it easier to indicate open source and forum members/posts (because that's really all the blueboxing used) xD so cool! oh and thanks for fixing the silly numbering error above :P --MechaLynx (talk) 10:40, 5 May 2014 (CDT)

First build notes - editing information - TODO list

Just finished the first build (17-04-2014). I've searched Google and the KSP forums for entries:

  • Google: "ksp calculator", "ksp delta v calculator", "ksp science calculator", first 10 pages each.
  • KSP Forums: Addons section and Tools subsection, all pages.

Of course, google provides different results for each user, but I stopped when I started getting too many repeats on the results or they started to look irrelevant.

TODO list:

  • Clean up tables
    • Some entries might need to be moved to the corresponding deprecated table
    • Some entries do not fit neatly into the scope of the article as it is [note 1]
    • Entries need to be sorted with this (proposed) order:
  1. Notability
  2. Up-to-dateness
    1. KSP version compability
    2. Last update
  3. Licensing
    1. open source and permissive licenses
    2. any license
    3. no license
  4. Blue cell to Red cell ratio
  • Table cell vertical alignment between tables (see more below)
  • Make table colors colorblind-friendly
  1. See my post on this page in the "Maps?" section

The table vertical alignment is a pile of donkey poo right now and needs fixing so that things are easy to scan vertically. Ideally, information should vertically align so that a reader can quickly see the information they want and there is little to no possibility of them reading the wrong information. I tried to remedy this with a sloppy width hack, but it obviously hasn't worked very well, though it is still better than letting mediawiki handle it automatically. If you have a better solution, please make the edit.

Justifications for some choices I made during the editing:

-Why links aren't in the title of a tool:

Because users are less likely to check the status bar to see where the link will take them - essentially, it's my attempt at the least surprise principle. Some long links have been hidden behind text that describes the general web location (dropbox, google play etc.) since they are so long they kill the table formatting making it hard to scan and the user knows enough about where the link will take them.

-Why licensing is in notes instead of a separate column:

Lots of these projects have no licensing information, so the column would stay mostly empty while taking up space, making the rest of the cells smaller without any benefit. Besides, licensing is something few people will care about and the license information is consistently recorded ("License: " etc.) with a link that normally is a different color from the rest of the text, making it stand out if a user cares for it and is scanning for it.

-Why tools like scilab and octave are included:

Some projects use them as platforms, so it made sense to me to provide links to them on the same page since they are calculation tools for this kind of thing anyway, just not directly related to KSP. Matlab specifically isn't included because it isn't free (whereas everything else is, so it would break expectations and violate the least surprise principle, even if the user is warned right after the title - in spite of the warning, the lack of non-free tools on the page trains the user to expect things to be free, thus the exclusion). Another reason is that many users might find them useful in making their own calculations - lots of KSP players learn about calculating orbital mechanics (rudimentarily but still) and other mathematical compuations, so I don't think it is a stretch that many would like to know of these tools and it seems fitting for the links to be on a page for calculation tools.

-Why old and useless tools are included:

For completeness and to avoid people that discover them from hastily adding them to the list in a way that would imply they are currently relevant. Also, they serve as clues for developers that might want to make a tool but don't know what exists and has already been done (in which case they might see an old and unmaintained tool and decide to make a new version). It also provides an easier transition for tools that fall into disrepair, like the recycle bin on a desktop, so there isn't as much drama about whether something should be removed or not, when it can just be moved to the "deprecated" section. These theoretical benefits are of course reduced somewhat by wrapping the "deprecated" tables into flipboxes but I'm not sure what's best right now; have them taking up space for no reason or have them hidden with the risk no-one will ever notice them. To prevent the latter, I left in the section headings even after I wrapped them up, so it's obvious there is such a section, even if that makes the flipbox title redundant.

-Why the blue boxes:

To provide easy visual cues on the proximity of a tool's development to KSP and whether they are open source, promoting those that are closer to the KSP forum and wiki community and those that, being open source, are more likely to be maintained and up-to-date, setting better standards of quality overall.

-Why the random xkcd pic:

Because the article (if you can call it that at all) is otherwise as dry as a constipation turd, which makes it feel needlessly out of place. you can call it manipulation if you want, i call it marketing and I think it is required to make the page fit with the wiki overall. xkcd is what kame to mind, if you have a better idea, go ahead. as long as looking at the page doesn't feel like eating sandpaper. perhaps some more descriptive text would help but i didn't want to write bullshit for the sake of it, so I left it simple.

If you want to add entries and don't have objections to the current format, here's some guidelines on how to keep entries consistent:

Formatting guidelines:

-Links on developer names should preferrably point to the KSP Forums profile of the developer. If that isn't available, the link to a forum profile of whatever forum they posted the tool in comes after that, followed by linking to their personal website if they have one. If they have a forum profile and it is linked, shade the box blue.

-Descriptions should be simple but not clinical. Not too verbose, just enough information so the reader can easily know what the tool is about. Oversimplification is ok. Link keywords to wiki articles if they haven't been linked before and a page/section exists.

-Last update should ideally be taken from the source repository (if it exists), then the website/tool about box, then the forum post, then an educated guess or otherwise omitted entirely. Educated guess should be based on what version the tool appears to be compatible with, including only the year unless a month is clearly discernable by something in the tool.

-KSP version compatibility should indicate the latest version to tool is guaranteed to be compatible with, hopefully indicated by the last update (if clearly stated somewhere) or directly by the tool or developer themselves. It doesn't mean it isn't compatible with later or the latest versions. If it is however compatible with the latest, shade it blue (as of May 5, we have a new template to use for version coloring, thanks to xZise :D - check the page source on existing tool entries to see how to use it). If it is still relevant but is clearly written for a much older version, shade this cell red.

-Notes should include anything the user should know without having to read a related forum post. If something is based on something else, say so. If it's open source, link to the repository and color the box blue - make sure to link to the license if it is mentioned! (that means link to the license of the project, not the prototype - in other words, don't like to the FSF's GPL text for example, link to the project's bundled version of it, if provided). Specific cases: client-side javascript counts as open source, but when a developer provides no repository but the binaries and source separately, it counts as "source available" for safety and clarity reasons - after all there are "shared source" licenses which aren't the same as open source. If the developer however provides a license that would make it open source, count it as open source regardless of how source is provided. In the case of something being non-free, clearly state it in this cell and shade it red.

-When platform information is pertinent, even if something is cross-platform, make sure to make practical separations that could be important (for example, GNU/Linux is not the same as Unix compatible, although the software might be compatible with both). If something is a spreadsheet, java application, script or whatever, be specific and provide an external link to get the software it depends on, if such a link hasn't been posted on the page already.

-The forum post can contain a link to the KSP Forum post that the developer themselves made (or someone else if the developer never made one). If there is no such post on the KSP forums but it exists on another forum (but here iff the developer made it themselves) put the link here as well - this includes reddit. If it is on the KSP forums, shade the box blue.

-The link should point directly to a website or download; if it is too long, replace with a text link indicating the general domain the link belongs to (google play, dropbox, mediafire etc.). If there's 2-3 links that can be reasonably shortened to fit comfortably into the cell, link each one separately with the same rules that apply to long links. If there's too many links -or- the user has to choose (for example, with cross-platform tools) point them to the relevant forum post or just link to the website.

In general: Scanning an entry, the reader should know if they want/care to use a tool, if they can and if it matters, before they even look at a forum post or link. That's the ideal of course. Also, if they want to see who made something (to contact them or just know) or find the source, it should be obvious from the entry.

Also, group stuff from a single developer into one entry, unless they clearly fall into different categories or are too important by themselves to be lumped together.

My own entries might actually not reflect the above guidelines because most where made before I had decided on these rules. If you find something that doesn't comply with the above (and you don't object to the format in the first place), feel free to edit it because it's probably a mistake or oversight.

PS: I wrote most of the above last night at like 5 am, so if it feels weird, it's because it is. :P

--MechaLynx (talk) 10:19, 17 April 2014 (CDT)

page upkeep

This page is a big cluttered mess right now and is in dire need of some upkeep. I've removed a dangerous link, and after a cursory look, I don't think there's any others. However there's still several links that just don't exist any more. Also a bit of organization is in order to put a lot of deprecated stuff in the right place.