Are OXZ's an improvement ...

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Zireael
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Zireael »

The OXP format will slowly die in a corner. :P

Frankly, I don't see many OXPs which will still attract people without updates/conversion. Maybe Anarchies and GalNavy...?
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spara
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by spara »

Smivs wrote:I do see what you are saying, and yes, the distribution method is the main issue I am discussing. You might even be right in saying that we only therefore need OXZs, but then what happens to the OXP format itself, and all the OXPs that will never be converted? I also still personally prefer to develop in OXP format, then convert to OXZ for addition to the manager.
I will be keeping some of my old OXPs alive, as OXPs not OXZs, and may even release new ones in the future if I don't view them as OXZ material. You see I don't see any point in producing an OXZ that won't be added to the manager, and it might well be that some of my future work (like some of my old work) is not considered by me to be suitable for the manager.
Ok. I think I see your point. I have no desire to get rid of the AddOns/myoxp.oxp functionality as for me that's the only sensible way of creating OXPs. And I have not seen anything that even hints that we would be losing that.

If there at some point would be some consensus that anything released as an OXZ should be a well behaving, finished expansion, that's fine too. But for now, I just see it as a renamed zip, that has a manifest file inside.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Neelix »

Smivs wrote:I do see what you are saying, and yes, the distribution method is the main issue I am discussing. You might even be right in saying that we only therefore need OXZs, but then what happens to the OXP format itself, and all the OXPs that will never be converted? I also still personally prefer to develop in OXP format, then convert to OXZ for addition to the manager.
I will be keeping some of my old OXPs alive, as OXPs not OXZs, and may even release new ones in the future if I don't view them as OXZ material. You see I don't see any point in producing an OXZ that won't be added to the manager, and it might well be that some of my future work (like some of my old work) is not considered by me to be suitable for the manager.
I on the other hand didn't start developing OXPs until after the release of 1.80 and since I've used cim's build script right from the start all my testing during development is actually done in the OXZ format. While the script does actually produce a OXP format zip file as well I've never seen any point in distributing it in that format. (even when I was only offering the download from the wiki and my thread)

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Redspear
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Redspear »

It seems to me that both formats have their merits but that a recurring concern is one of the oxp incarnation being marginalised. Format is quite a strong word here (and perhaps misleading) in that it's mostly a difference in packaging.

I do think however, that there's a strong association between distribution and format, to such an extent that they can almost be considered exclusive.
I'm still new to oxz (aren't we all?...) so my understanding may be a little shaky but the following seems to be true.

Consider:
  • in-game download = oxz
    external download could mean either format, but if it was oxz then it seems much more likely you'd have gotten it via the in game manager
As for ease of editing, the method as well as well as the format can be significant.

In-game download:
  • harder to find the file
    tinkering requires repackaging/moving
External:
  • easy to find the file
    tinkering (for personal use) requires no repackaging/moving (unless you're reinstalling as oxz in which case might there also be a version number conflict?)
I recall the BGS oxp would (once installed) prominently reference the address of these boards within the game. Perhaps the oxz downloader could also direct to the oxp list on the wiki as an additional/alternate resource. Oxp could be thought of as a 'format' that trades off ease of installation for ease of customisation. That way both formats remain alive (and signposted) as options for choice... something that I'd have thought oxps/oxzs are all about.
Zireael wrote:The OXP format will slowly die in a corner. :P
Should that be true then it will become apparent. One problem we've got at the moment (or at least a pitfall) is that many of us are trying on some level to predict the future (myself included).
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by spara »

Redspear wrote: in-game download = oxz
This is not true. It's in-game download => oxz.
Redspear wrote: In-game download:
harder to find the file
This has been discussed many times already, but there's no real need to find the downloaded file. If you want the oxz-file, download it straight from the Oolite website.
Redspear wrote: External:
tinkering (for personal use) requires no repackaging/moving (unless you're reinstalling as oxz in which case might there also be a version number conflict?)
No need to repackage anything. OXZ is just a zip file containing the OXP+manifest. Create an oxp folder to your AddOns, unzip the oxz there and that's it. Tweak as much as you like.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Neelix »

Redspear wrote: tinkering (for personal use) requires no repackaging/moving (unless you're reinstalling as oxz in which case might there also be a version number conflict?)
Once you move an OXZ from ManagedAddons to the Addons folder, the expansion pack manager will see it and list it but it won't be able to update it anymore, so it will no longer really care about the version number. This makes sense as if you have tinkered with it then updating to a new version will be a manual process anyway as you have to manually reinstate your modifications in the new version.

Also as has been pointed out previously, if the tinkering consists of editing a file already in the archive most archive managers will let you do this in-place without having to extract and repack the entire archive.

As an example, a few hours ago I used an file-roller (the archive manager included with my linux distro) to open up my working copy of Thargoid's Flight Log OXZ (which I had already previously moved to the Addons folder) and open the script file in an editor. I edited the script to test a bug fix and saved the file. File-roller noticed that the file had been changed and asked if I wanted to update the archive. I pressed the update button. (File-roller reported an error when I did this, but despite the error message it did actually successfully update the archive.) I then restarted Oolite - because the time-stamp on the OXZ file had changed it reloaded it without me having to press shift - and I tested the functionality I had altered. (which did exactly what I had hoped it would)

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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Redspear »

cim wrote:Another option - and this is something I've thought of just now, so it may be a terrible idea - for improving quality of OXZs without affecting ordinary users is to make the "OXP Developer" builds considerably harsher about what they'll accept than the deployment builds)
Meaning that fumbly oxpers like me could still try to get something working (and therefore learn as they went along) with a standard (deployment) build before ironing out errors and bad practice whilst using the developer build, right?

If I started with developer as you described above then I think I'd find it very tough to get started when in unfamiliar territory.
spara wrote:
Redspear wrote: in-game download = oxz
This is not true. It's in-game download => oxz.
But in no case does in-game download => oxp (without conversion)
Am I right?
spara wrote:
Redspear wrote: In-game download:
harder to find the file
This has been discussed many times already
In that case, my apologies...
spara wrote:...but there's no real need to find the downloaded file.
For installation that's true but not for tinkering with once installed.
spara wrote:If you want the oxz-file, download it straight from the Oolite website.
Is the assumption that someone will have needed to find the website in order to download Oolite in the first place? (if so, I concede that it's a pretty good one :wink: )
spara wrote:
Redspear wrote: External:
tinkering (for personal use) requires no repackaging/moving (unless you're reinstalling as oxz in which case might there also be a version number conflict?)
No need to repackage anything. OXZ is just a zip file containing the OXP+manifest. Create an oxp folder to your AddOns, unzip the oxz there and that's it. Tweak as much as you like.
Which, if I'm understanding correctly, is a simple process for externally downloaded files (already unzipped to install) but not for internally downloaded one (i.e. using the in-game manager no unzipping necessary to install).

I appreciate that this might sound like a moot point (if you're going to unzip it then what does it matter at which stage you do so) but it means that the gap between installing and tinkering has become bigger in some cases, potentially leading to discouragement to tinker. Why? Because with oxp you are told you will need to unzip and where to put it at the source (wiki or bb) and you've already 'lifted the hood' but with the download manager you may not know this because you no longer need to (game itself doesn't tell you).

My argument in my earlier post largely hinges on my linking method of installation with format:
Redspear wrote:I do think however, that there's a strong association between distribution and format, to such an extent that they can almost be considered exclusive.
If there's no truth in that then much of what I wrote on the subject won't follow and I'm probably not helping...
Neelix wrote:Also as has been pointed out previously, if the tinkering consists of editing a file already in the archive most archive managers will let you do this in-place without having to extract and repack the entire archive.
Apologies again, I thought I'd read this thread but I must have been too hasty...
Neelix wrote:As an example, a few hours ago I used an file-roller (the archive manager included with my linux distro) to open up my working copy of Thargoid's Flight Log OXZ (which I had already previously moved to the Addons folder) and open the script file in an editor. I edited the script to test a bug fix and saved the file. File-roller noticed that the file had been changed and asked if I wanted to update the archive. I pressed the update button. (File-roller reported an error when I did this, but despite the error message it did actually successfully update the archive.) I then restarted Oolite - because the time-stamp on the OXZ file had changed it reloaded it without me having to press shift - and I tested the functionality I had altered. (which did exactly what I had hoped it would)
Very helpful. Thanks :D
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by spara »

Redspear wrote:
spara wrote:
Redspear wrote: in-game download = oxz
This is not true. It's in-game download => oxz.
But in no case does in-game download => oxp (without conversion)
Am I right?
Correct. What I meant is that oxz is not equal to an in-game download. In-game download downloads an oxz into the system, but you can get/use oxz-files just fine without the manager.
Redspear wrote:
spara wrote:If you want the oxz-file, download it straight from the Oolite website.
Is the assumption that someone will have needed to find the website in order to download Oolite in the first place? (if so, I concede that it's a pretty good one :wink: )
In the old days one would go to the wiki and find and download the suitable oxps from the long list. I'm so used to that, that I still compare everything to that memory. So in my eyes it's the same to go to the Oolite website and browse the list and download from there.

The thing that has changed, is that installing OXPs has become very easy. Should tinkering be made as easy as that? When comparing the old "download from the wiki method and tinker" to the new "download from the Oolite website and tinker" it looks the same to me. The current manager system is not built with tinkering in mind. If that really feels like an issue, then it might be something to consider about.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Stormrider »

spara wrote:The current manager system is not built with tinkering in mind. If that really feels like an issue, then it might be something to consider about.
I think the devs did a great job and the manager works fairly well, I use the it quite extensively but apparently incorrectly. I like to tinker so many of the OXZs I've downloaded via the manager I've extracted and converted to OXPs. I mean some of them I had already downloaded anyway. I haven't experienced any issues with this method. Are the files in a managed OXZ and one downloaded from the wiki not identical?

When I first saw a discussion about this I had been looking for cim's Ship's Library OXZ a few weeks earlier. I was not able to find it on the wiki and did not yet know the location of the managed addons folder. I was dismayed by the response. The implication seemed to me like if I didn't know the location of the managed addons folder then I really hadn't the intelligence to do anything in it anyway. I lost any interest in releasing anything after that.

When I first started playing oolite It seemed like there was a friendly attitude towards players interested in learning to create their own OXPs even if they had little or no experience with coding, texturing, modeling, or any other skills required to modify the game. This attitude, though, I feel, is contrary to that.

I first found oolite 1.76 in the software manager for linux which did not take me to oolite.org, although there is a link. I never clicked it though, just installed it via the software manager.

I mean no disrespect and I am thankful for all the work the thats been done. I just think considering how much has been done with the OXZ manager it seems silly that we are not supposed to use it.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by spara »

Stormrider wrote:
spara wrote:The current manager system is not built with tinkering in mind. If that really feels like an issue, then it might be something to consider about.
I think the devs did a great job and the manager works fairly well, I use the it quite extensively but apparently incorrectly. I like to tinker so many of the OXZs I've downloaded via the manager I've extracted and converted to OXPs. I mean some of them I had already downloaded anyway. I haven't experienced any issues with this method. Are the files in a managed OXZ and one downloaded from the wiki not identical?
Yes indeed, all respect to the devs for creating the manager. It's a huge step forward IMHO. It was so good that many OXPs were converted in a fast pace (too fast?). The original idea to my understanding has been that generally you're not supposed to mess with the OXZs downloaded via the manager as you can potentially break things. If you know what you're doing, then there's no problem, move them and tinker to your heart's content.
Stormrider wrote: When I first saw a discussion about this I had been looking for cim's Ship's Library OXZ a few weeks earlier. I was not able to find it on the wiki and did not yet know the location of the managed addons folder. I was dismayed by the response. The implication seemed to me like if I didn't know the location of the managed addons folder then I really hadn't the intelligence to do anything in it anyway. I lost any interest in releasing anything after that.
If I recall it correctly, that was before the new Oolite website was released, so the situation has changed. Now you can get the exactly same OXZ externally from the website. I still think it's not a good general advice to dive into the notorious managed addons folder and mess there and potentially break something. Then again, if you know what you're doing, there's no one to stop you.
Stormrider wrote: When I first started playing oolite It seemed like there was a friendly attitude towards players interested in learning to create their own OXPs even if they had little or no experience with coding, texturing, modeling, or any other skills required to modify the game. This attitude, though, I feel, is contrary to that.
I'm very sorry, if I have made it sound anything like that :( .
Stormrider wrote:I mean no disrespect and I am thankful for all the work the thats been done. I just think considering how much has been done with the OXZ manager it seems silly that we are not supposed to use it.
On the contrary, use it and make suggestions how it could be better.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Diziet Sma »

Smivs wrote:I also still personally prefer to develop in OXP format, then convert to OXZ for addition to the manager.
Give cim's build scripts a go.. you may be pleasantly surprised..
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by Thargoid »

Diziet Sma wrote:
Smivs wrote:I also still personally prefer to develop in OXP format, then convert to OXZ for addition to the manager.
Give cim's build scripts a go.. you may be pleasantly surprised..
Do these actually work on Mac or PC? I haven't had chance to look at them yet (I'm on holiday at the mo), but I note from the comment at the top of their thread that they may need some work to get them to as they were designed and set up on Linux.

As I said before, I'm with Smivs about preferring to develop under OXP, as accurately working on files within an archive is usually not fun on a PC (or at least on my PC with my software load-out).
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by aegidian »

I hesitate to post this, but I've been reminded recently of the value of candour, and I therefore ought to.

I have come to the conclusion I do not like the concept of OXZs.

Oolite's chief advantage has been that it is easy to mod and edit, ideally with the simplest of text editors and graphics editors. OXZs seem only to get in the way of doing that. I like the expansion manager, and appreciate the ease it allows new users to download mods, but in my opinion the OXZ format (in hiding information from users) hinders those new users who want to peek and poke behind the curtain - and they are our most important new users.


So my answer to the question posed in the OP is a reluctant, but forthright, NO, OXZs are a mistep and should probably be quietly deprecated.


Sorry.


The expansion manager however, is a positive step, but should be rewritten to handle OXP folder hierarchies instead of OXZs, and check, mark and note when a managed folder has been changed (by consulting a checksum or hash) and warning the user in the manager that the OXP and its dependents may no longer work as intended, with the option of downloading and re-installing to fix any issue.
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by spara »

Would it be an idea for Oolite to unzip the OXZ package so that the contents are easily accessible/tweakable?
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Re: Are OXZ's an improvement ...

Post by maik »

spara wrote:Would it be an idea for Oolite to unzip the OXZ package so that the contents are easily accessible/tweakable?
That, and keep only one folder for add-ons. Rather mark OXPs without a manifest as unmanaged in the in-game add-on manager. That would seem to return tweakability to the level it was at before and keep the OXZ distribution format for authors, which can be validated and only requires one file to be uploaded in the general case. Of course changing that to a zipped OXP folder (with manifest) would yield the same advantage. The additional advantage for OXZs though is that I don't need to allow uploads of all sorts of zips on the wiki but can restrict it to one mime type (I know, anybody can take any zip file, change the extension to .oxz and upload it, but that would be cheating).
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