Braxton Hicks Contractions

Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

Stress levels have been pretty high for a few days at Touchstone HQ. We’re at the business end of alpha and experiencing the typical Braxton Hicks that a start-up experiences as they prepare for beta.

It’s been long tiring week and the team are exhausted. But it’s ok – it lets us know we’re still alive.

A (seriously) lucky few have had the opportunity to actually play with the beta version and so far the feedback has been extremely positive (perhaps they will write something pleasant in the comments to this blog post to make us feel special). The only problem preparing for the long anticipated beta is that, at some point we have to turn off the ideas (something we’re all struggling with).If you’re a newbie to our humble little blog, please make sure you sign-up (on the side <– over there) as a matter of urgency. Trust me! It’ll be worth it.


Cross-posted from the Particls blog.

Today (hopefully) will mark a milestone in the life of Touchstone. While Chris is in the States, talking with many of the people we’ve been engaged in conversation with since we started, I have been passed the helm of our Australian Operation in his absence, and prepping a build for tonight, which I *hope* will become our first Beta build.

With the Touchstone Team growing, we have surrounded ourselves in positive, interesting people passionate about what Touchstone is all about. This positive drive, has been accelerating the momentum of Touchstone and has given us the ability to produce a build which is far superior then anything we have previously produced.

I thought it might be interesting to post a few of the recent enhancements this build of Touchstone will bring, a sort of Elaborate Release notes to show you our direction and to convince those who have not yet signed up to the mailing list to receive this build, to do so now (over there <– on the left). So, here are a few of the enhancements of Touchstone 0.4.397:

The first and most obvious change is the new slick interface as it was just too difficult and too cumbersome to use the previous one. We designed this window to be a little more “normal” while at the same time empowering us to do more with it. Now all inputs, prioritization and interuptions are all controlled within a single window.

The user now has a more verbose status area, where they can view the items Touchstone is “tracking”, sources found, Inputs and Outputs. It also shows the current state of the automatic profiler (another overhauled system for this build).

The event log is another useful tool we’ve included in this build. Originally designed as a debug tool, we thought a way for users to see exactly what’s going on inside the core during Touchstone’s standard operation would be helpful. Especially for our Adapter Developers.

While the new interface still has a few things we need to iron out, overall it makes a massive difference to the Touchstone user experience.

Another big shift is the way ranks and ranges are set. Gone are the Trackbars of old and replaced with a new star control which we feel makes selecting values and ranges more immediately obvious at a fraction of the screen space. Black stars are negative values and Gold stars represent positive values.

The development team has also been optimizing the default adapter set. The ticker is now fully dockable (thanks Paul 😉 and behaves nicely compared to the floating topmost ticker before.

The ticker also has a number of modes, Multi-Item mode (which works just like a normal Ticker) and a fade mode, which was requested by the community as an additional optional transition to the Top and Right Sliding modes.

Optimizations to the cache and core importance algorithms have made Touchstone more responsive and more discerning about what items to interrupt the user with.

Age now more heavily effects the results of an item, and this has eliminated “item spam” the user got when they used to initially launch Touchstone. This is still a work-in-progress, but the effects are really effective.

We are preparing the build now, so it should be ready for release tonight or early tomorrow morning AEST (/me touches wood). Cross your fingers for us, and signup to get in on this awesome build.

“Almost beta” indeed 🙂

Ash Out