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Summary Tab

Background for anyone coming in fresh to this - John produced an earlier prototype of the summary tab. The biggest difference was that prototype did not include borders around the various fields. He then created a 'way out there' version of the Summary tab for feedback and more recently a minimilist makeover version of the Summary tab. Hopefully having both concepts there will allow the community to discuss this page in full.

General Thoughts

  1. Regarding specific items:
    1. "Things to do" should refer to specific tabs or dialogs. Vague terms are not helpful to beginners, especially since they may feel lost due to number of available options.
    2. "Statistics" depends heavily on game system used. As such, "modifier total" and "stat total" are unlikely to be useful.
    3. "Summary" / " Summary" - replace with with a statblock template output (chosen by user, default set by main preference of a specific subsystem). This will both make it more adequate, and make dependencies easier on developers (dependencies specific to systems supported).

--Ruemere, 10 March 2010

  • The racial hit dice get added as class levels automatically when you select the race, without even giving the user the stats warning, so the skill points are going to be foobared for all the racial levels if the user didn't set the stats first.
  • Either adding the racial hit dice needs to be suppressed until later (addable with an extended 'Create Monster/Add Kit', or some new option on the races tab), or races with racial hit dice shouldn't be listed on the dropdown in the summary page.
  • I'd also like to continue polling for adding a Deity dropdown to the Character Basics section.

--Eric Jarman

Extreme Makeover

  • The 'scrap parchment' design will, I think, be quite difficult to implement. I also feel that the borders are a bit heavy.
  • Our planned approach to handling the parchment background was to add that to the tab by means of a custom Java Look and Feel. Each panel (e.g. Character Basics) would then be made transparent so that the parchment was shown in that panel. This preserves the normal function of having the UI resize when the window is resized and giving extra room where it is helpful. With the 'scrap parchment; design we would be up for a lot more work with a backing image needed for each panel and custom borders for each side of each panel. Resizing would also be problematic - presumably we would have to allow for borders and the panel image to be resized. To my mind this is a lot more effort then the first prototype and I think that one looked fantastic as is.
  • The new headings look great and shouldn't be too tough to implement. The only factor that might be difficult is internationalisation - here we might need to try and render these as text rather than graphics, to allow for different languages, but with a suitable font that should be ok.
  • In your Statistics section could you show a racial and other modifier just to show how the columns should work please?
  • I assume the fonts used are either open source or distributed with Java? Bets to avoid commercial fonts in an FOSS application like ours.
  • Oh and lastly - as I mentioned before - John, I am really impressed by the design and I think this is an amazing makeover. I'm looking forward to getting in and making it happen.

--James 20:44, 9 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I'm just one user voice in the crowd, but I think the whole parchment thing is a bit busy and hokey. I get my RPG feeling at the gaming table...I don't really need it within the character editing program.

--Allen Cohn, San Francisco, 9 March 2010

  • The eye-candy should be left for the final part of development and, additionally, it should be optional in case it does not fit a particular taste.

--Ruemere, 10 March 2010

  • The new color theme on the summary tab looks great. I like the icons in the middle summary panel too. I think those style of icons should be extended to the tab bar at the top too.
  • The ordering of the layout from left to right does make it more obvious what order things need to be added to the character in. This works well with standard races, however there is still a problem with races that have racial hit dice.

Eric Jarman

  • Will this be a choice or somehow selectable? I'm not a fan of this "torn paper" look, or generally any kind of "fancy" look for applications and windows that deviates too much from the general look and feel of the operating system. If this is a fixed look, I'm not really happy about it.


  • I really hate the torn paper thing.

--Andrew Wilson

  • The Summary is okay, the UI "needs" to be spiffed dp for new users. But it needs to be skinnable, for the ones that are used to it, or are playing in non-fantasy systems (note make it an option setable by the gamemode/dataset). Also we should keep in mind that not all systems will have the 6 (or 7 with deities) stats that d20 has.

Nylanfs 02:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

Minimalist Enhancement 0.1

  • The race section doesn't need to show the whole race. Some of the ones in the full SRD currently squash the right hand panels way down on my 1024x768 laptop. If it shown a certain number of character's followed by ... then when you clicked on it, it would show the full race name would be excellent. This applies to both screens.
  • Two things that I would "like" to see, a) Current weight listed on the load section for the what the currently selected equipment set b) Better design for smaller resolutions (ie netbooks, my ancient laptop). I'll email you and John a screen shot of what I'm curently seeing with the full RSRD loaded.

Nylanfs 02:04, 16 March 2010 (UTC)

  • I certainly like the minimalist version. I don't particularly like showing the same information in more than one place, though. Looks like most of the information in the "Statistics" section already appears somewhere else on the summary page. That's just asking for confusion.


  • I like the Minimalist version a lot more than the previous extreme version, although I think the content on the tabs is similar. I'm not sure what purpose the "Open Race Tab" and siblings serve. Are they supposed to replace the tabs along the top? (which don't seem to have gone away).
  • Shouldn't the ability scores section have some means to roll/reroll the stats?
  • An indication of the current roll method or point buy system would be nice.
  • Also, if the stats are generated by point buy can we have some means to say whether the character is "legal" according to that point buy system, please.
  • Where did the icons beside the details below the Ability scores come from? Do they serve any purpose?

--Andrew Wilson

Minimalist Enhancement 0.2

The only thing support wise I'd like to ensure is the Six Abilities are expandable to cover more or less Stat Abilities. I'm not sure if we covered that in the skype discussion last time or not.

Also, it may be me; but can we change the icon from a little checkmark on a clipboard to a Red Exclamation Mark '!'... Something that indicates something is needed here. I think a Red Exclamation Mark would be a better eye-catcher and univerally understood then a checkmark in a clipboard that almost blends in with the tabs. Perhaps a Dark Solid Circle with the Exclamation inside it... That's just me though.

This is me, but can we have the 'Need Something Done Here' Icon 'space' stay fixed spacewise on the tab (i.e. the tab size stays constant instead of change if the icon is present)... it's a pain to click on a tab only to have the wrong tab opened because the tabs changed size due to an item needing attention.

In fact, I don't know how hard this would be, but can we get something like that for the Subtabs...

"Ability: Bonuses Remain to be selected" < What is that referencing?

--Andrew Maitland

I (almost) always use point-buy for Ability scores so it would be useful to me to see the points spent on buying abilities: both total spend and per-ability.

I don't see any need to see the sum total of Ability scores (can't think where it is used in game system), nor sum total of ability modifier scores.

I second suggestions for a bolder brighter "this tab needs attention" - eg the red exclamation point. (Beware with "red" that some Windows colour schemes may use red for borders, rendering red markers unintelligible...)

Remember also that some "need attention" is more important than others - eg if you allow the option to spend language points later than 1st level (eg when taught a new language by strangers) then "need to spend language points" is a low-attention nag", not a "high-attention nag"

Is (left) handedness really a front-page item, as important as race, alignment and deity? It has almost no in-game effect...

The central statistics block repeats other front-page items like race and alignment. You could make some central boxes have pop-over editors - click on them and an editor is drawn there. (Makes it look to humans like the text is actively editable even though it's not.)


The 'edit' button next to HP in the Encounter details pane seems out of place since everything else in those panels are just display. I would suggest the Edit hit points button belongs over in the class and level pane where there is already a HP column in the class table. The HP total can stay where it is, just move the button.

I like the layout but I'm concerned that it doesn't address the issue of being able to fit on smaller screens which is a problem with the current layout. Most of the other tabs allow the user to adjust the window borders as desired and it's always bothered me that the summary tab didn't allow for that. How hard would it be to implement that?

What happens to the Languages and Class tables when the overflow? Can we assume a slider will appear so you can scroll?

The languages table is a good addition to the summary tab and get us 1/3 of the way to eliminating the odd tab/window it came from. However it needs to account for adding languages from two different sources, bonus languages for high INT and those purchased with skill points. Maybe this can be handled within the design of the window that opens when you click the add language button so that it is apparent how the language is gained in there rather than just having two buttons in the summary tab.

I would love it if the program could remember where you set your windows to.

-- Eddy

I use a netbook on occasion and PCGen doesn't fit within its 1024x600 screen as it is.

Also, in relation to the other tabs and the ability to resize the panes, PCGen on the Mac doesn't remember the pane sizes well. I am constantly having to resize the panes back to where I can see whats in them. PCGen seems to want to provide the most real-estate for the lower right pane.


  1. Me likey, a lot =)
  2. That being said, I like the idea of changing the clipboard w/checkmark to either an exclamation mark, or colour the tab differently for things that still need to be addressed.
  3. @ Saxum: some older farts (like me) still use random determination when generating stats, as such having the sum total of ability

bonuses/penalties is handy, being that if they are 0 or less you can scrap the character and generate new ability scores. Not so sure about having the sum total of ability scores handy though <shrug>

  1. I also agree w/Eddy's comments concerning language selection and the "Edit" button next to HP in the 'Encounter Details' section - unless that button is meant for temporary adjustments to the HP total during encounters, in which case it makes a lot more sense to have it there as I know lots of people actually have PCGen up and running at the game table.

Nicer than the "Extreme Makeover". It would be better is the background to the panes where white.


I like these suggestions, Andrew. I will admit that I like the looks of all three on the page, but can see how the Extreme is graphics intensive (and therefore like CPU intensive on slower machines).

Abilities comment is a good one, because I like that this program is designed to be programmable by users.

The red exclamation point would work really well. Being able to have something next to what needs to be worked on would make it quite clear - you need to pick languages? Click here. You need Feats? Click on that tab. Something that clearly stands out from the tab or area that it's in.

Just my thoughts as a user and NOT a programmer.

--Keith McComb

I kind of like the "Extreme Makeover" option, but that would be graphics intensive. Either of the minimal options are improvements over the current interface. I would like to see how the spells and inventory tabs would layout in this new interface, as they are just as busy as the front screen. Any ideas there?

Thanks for a quality product!


With regards to "This is me, but can we have the 'Need Something Done Here' Icon 'space' stay fixed spacewise on the tab (i.e. the tab size stays constant instead of change if the icon is present)... it's a pain to click on a tab only to have the wrong tab opened because the tabs changed size due to an item needing attention." - I second this. This is so annoying. Especialy on a PC where PCGen for some reason is very slow. (In reference to )

I would like to mention one little annoyance which is loosely GUI related. You go the the Description tab and open a note. Description for instance. There you edit a bit and then switch focus to an other application. When you switch focus back to PCGen it will switch to the Portrait note. Very annoying.