Reports | July 22, 2009 23:44

New game viewer - Linux users and others: please test along!

new game viewerOur switch to a new, Silverlight game viewer back in May led to an enormous protest by especially Linux users. We never liked the idea that they couldn't replay the games on their computers anymore, so we kept on searching for a Javascript-based viewer with similar functionalities, also keeping in mind the growing number of mobile phone users. We think we've found one, and before we implement it we'd like you to test it.

With our May 13th report on the U.S. Championship we stopped using the Palview/Palmate Javascript game viewer because it was just too time-consuming to create the games for our articles. We started using Martin Bennedik's Silverlight gameviewer which is also used by Mark Crowther at TWIC.

In the following weeks the comments under our reports were cluttered with off-topic reactions about... this game viewer. Some of them were useful feedback and Martin Bennedik actually improved the game viewer in subsequent weeks (and we improved the way the moves were shown on the pages).

But from the start we regretted the fact that we had to disappoint many Linux users - Silverlight simply doesn't work on Linux yet. There is something called the Moonlight project, an open-source implementation of Silverlight, primarily for Linux and other Unix/X11 based operating systems. Bennedik’s chess viewer should work as soon as Moonlight 2.0 is stable. This was promised by Novell to be the case "before this summer" but it at the moment they've not managed to keep their promise, as far as we can see.

In the meantime we received a few more complaints about the Silverlight viewer: it was said to be slow sometimes, it could leak memory according to some, the moves were not shown correctly in IE8 (due to an HTML error on our side, this was not an issue of Martin Bennedik's viewer). Besides, we realized that many mobile phone users also can't replay the games. Especially the number of iPhone users is growing rapidly and, well, in general we want to disappoint as few visitors as possible!

Chess Tempo Game Viewer
Therefore we'd like to introduce a new game viewer, created by Richard Jones of Chess Tempo, an interesting website where you can train your tactical skills with combinations, endgames and problems. After testing it on Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome and Opera and exchanging many emails with Richard, which helped him to tweak and improve his viewer a bit more, we're ready to display it over here and ask your opinion. (We can already reveal that it brings back one feature that the Silverlight viewer didn't have: auto-replay!)


Known issues

  • Opera users might have problems when clicking on a move somewhere in the notation window. (Replaying the game from the start shouldn't be a problem.) We're working on this. Edit: as Felix pointed out in the comments, a double-click solves this problem!
  • Internet Explorer doesn't correctly show the drop-down list of the games above the board. The players should always be shown, though.
  • Safari on the iPhone doesn't show a scroll bar in the notation window next to the board (Safari on a Mac should be OK). This is not a problem because the user can scroll using two fingers, just like on a MacBook mouse-pad. For iPhone users it's good to know this trick!
  • The notation is presented with brackets "(" and ")" and without paragraphs - this is a CSS matter which we're working on. Edit: Frank Sträter helped us to get the presentation of the moves just right! Thanks Frank!
  • The flip button sometimes doesn't react - try again after replaying a few moves.

Feedback

We're seriously considering to switch to this game viewer, but before that we would first like to know what you think about this game viewer. What works well? What doesn't? Any other suggestions? Please, do leave a comment below and please mention the Operating System and browser (+ version) you're using.

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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

Chess.com

Comments

Peter Doggers's picture

This is not a very helpful comment, sporty. You're not even saying what problems this viewer gives? If you can elaborate more that would be appreciated because otherwise we cannot even try to solve these problems. If you do, please mention your Operating System and browser (+ version).

marpada's picture

Hi Peter,

That's great news, Thank you very much for supporting the Linux community.

Looks great in Ubuntu 9.04 + Firefox 3.5 :D

Looks funny in Opera 9.64 whem jumping to the moves

sporty's picture

Palview was the best, may be time consuming, but had no problems. The rest give problems and chasing away users is not good.
So not this viewer, nor the previous, they are both not good.

iLane's picture

My biggest problem with Silverlight was that I mostly visit Chessvibes.com from public computers (Internet cafe, friends, laptop, office PC, etc) and there you don't have admin rights, you cannot install silverlight, end of story. That's why I stopped visiting chessvibes.com recently. Now I'm happy to see that you are back to basic Javascript technology. This viewer works perfectly (Firefox 3.5 + Win XP). Thank you! Just one thing to mention: I hate animated moves (it's too sloooooow anyway) is it possible to have an option to switch it off (...or at least make is faster)??

Bno's picture

Nice, JS rules! I especially like the "Play sequence of move" button. I agree with @iLane about the animation which is too slow.

Rowdy Blueman's picture

I think this is a very nice viewer-- well done and thank you, Richard! I would welcome the change to this viewer. Love that it works on linux, and no way I'll install silverlight on my win box.

Felix's picture

Finally I can see the games again :)

In Opera click on a move twice, then you get the right position.

bernd's picture

welcome back to civilisation, Chessvibes :)

Honestly, the web should be html + css + javascript. With html5 even flash videos will become obsolete eventually.

Thanks again for this nice viewer !

Mark Crowther's picture

Most viewers are really quite useless if you're doing a lot of work with games. You want to update the PGN file and then have the viewer display the games. If you're using a content management system this is even more important.

The problem in the past was that most required actual processing to produce the pages, ChessBase's is a case in point, I have disliked it from day one, no automation in the production of the page has ever been available and incorporating it into another page required a huge amount of work each time, you had to produce a page every time you updated it. Palview I looked at but could never quite work out the automation either. Java viewers like MyChess have always seemed very heavy on the page but were at one point the only choice.

I noticed http://www.fuernhammer.de/ichess/wiki/index.php?title=Hauptseite which looks as though it is in some way related to the one Peter is talking about. I always assumed a PGN reader was impossible in Javascript, but this doesn't seem to be the case. I was already thinking along the lines of providing alternative viewers in the future which I think may be very possible on the new website design I'm working on.

At the time I started using and helping development of Martin's viewer it was the only one that had the functionalilty I needed. I always supply the PGN file link aswell. I also don't understand Microsoft's attitude, they want websites to use silverlight but they don't support it properly. I use and will continue to use the silverlight board but if there is a good reader out there that supports live updates and notes I'm certainly interested! I too have been uncomfortable about the issue of Silverlight not working on all machines, but my attitude has been I wouldn't have a viewer at all if it wasn't for Martin's board.

Finally there seem to be some choices out there.

Mark Crowther

M's picture

Thank you!!

jussu's picture

Loud and clear, not bad at all (Windows XP and Mozilla 3.0.4). Animations are annoyingly slow here, is it my antique computer or do others see the same?

christos's picture

Looks nice. Although I have never seen the Silverlight viewer to compare.

ikalel's picture

Nice improvement, Peter!

I tested it on an iPod Touch using Safari mobile and I agree that the main issue is SPEED, moves take too long to execute in animated mode. Also, the notation window should auto scroll as you move forward. It's kind of awkward to move forward five moves and then have to scroll down manually. I had this issue both on the iPod and on my PC (Windows Media Center.)

The auto-replay feature does not work on the iPod touch because the moves execute so slowly.

Overall, I like the new game viewer much better than the previous one. But the developer needs to get these issues sorted out.

Hope you find these comments useful. Keep up the good work, Peter!

Jagdish Dube.'s picture

I use Mozilla Firefox & never faced any Problem with any game-viewer in any system.In the trial system,like Java,it is fractionally slow but the delay is negligible.I don't have any objection to your modifications.

Thorn's picture

Hey Peter!

Thanks for listening to our opinions. I'm on vacation now but I'll test it on Ubuntu tomorrow night when I'm back home.

Cheers,
Thorn

Bootvis's picture

Hulde!

Ayumi Yonosa's picture

Mac OS X 10.4 with Camino 1.6 - Works okay although the animations are quite slow...

Stephen Dunning's picture

Working well on linux mint + firefox (both up to date). Personally, I would like to see the pieces move quicker, but there to be a longer gap between moves on autoplay - the game goes by to quickly.

max's picture

Thank you very much for implementing this. I do have some suggestions:
1. Perhaps the a,b,c... and 1,2,3... can be removed since they overlap on the squares.
2. The move forward and move backwards buttons should be made bigger because it is really hard to press them on an iphone.
3. It should be checked that it scales up gracefully on zoom (Ctrl + and Ctrl -). At the moment, this causes some overlap. Perhaps the width of the right column of this page can be reduced to give more space to the chessboard.
4. Perhaps some more space could be included between the drop down menu for the games and the board.

Regardless, thank you again for making this change. Mx

bedaa's picture

Looks and feels nice on iMac OS X 10.5.7 with Safari 4.0.2. Highlighting of the current move in the annotation is highly welcome, animation really a bit slow. Wonderful!

Andrei's picture

Works fine on Firefox 3.5.1 with Vista. I prefer it to silverlight.

Dirk's picture

Works fine on Gentoo linux 64 bits with firefox 3.0.11.
With Silverlight, I would have no change to watch those games any time soon.

S's picture

Firefox, chrome; this works good with both.
I prefer it over silverlight-not all computers have silverlight installed.

Ashish's picture

I didn't get very far into the game. On move 1, the e4 pawn displays to the top right of the d5 square, and then on Black's response, the c5 pawn displays on the border between c5 and b5. And on subsequent moves, that pattern continues ... :-(

Hope this isn't too hard to fix - I do appreciate your efforts to find an alternative to Microsoft.

This is using Safari 4.0 on an iBook G4 running OS X 10.4.11.

Bootvis's picture

Looks good (but indeed slow) but going back in a game by clicking on a move doesn't work correctly. The backbutton does work.

Linux + Opera 9.64

VolleyD's picture

My feature request is to add option that will turn off animation (e.g. animated moves). Thanks.

Preben Guldberg's picture

Yay! And keyboard short cuts, too :-)

Works well across the test I had available: OS X w/ Safari and Opera,
iphone (if a little slow in animations) and Firefox under OpenBSD.

Preben

Meppie's picture

Works good on IE8

erral's picture

Great! I was highly dissapointed with the Silverlight viewer as far as I am Linux and Mac user, I tried the Moonlight thing, but nothing :(

ChessTempo viewer is great, is the one I use in my club's site http://www.deporeibar.com/xakea and also the one we used at Donostia Chess Festival site http://www.donostiachess.com/en/results/games

I found almost no compatibility issues except from some IE8 users at Donostia Chess Festival site that couldn't see the games, but he could see the games at ChessTempo site. Perhaps it was a site-load issue.

Congrats!

Mikel

Peter Doggers's picture

Thanks Frank. Even better would be the way we did it before: having only the analysis / text on a new paragraph, but not each move number.

Appaz's picture

Great move Chessvibes!!

As a Linux/Opera user I'm used to be harrased by incompetent web-"developers", but I will NEVER download a web-incompatibel platform specific tool like Silverlight.

Ubuntu 9.04 and Opera 9.63: Except the quirk you mentioned about single clicking on a earlier/later move (I have to double-click and hit ESC to get rid of the pop-up menu) it works great.

Thanks!

Appaz's picture

"the moves are not shown correctly in IE8"
LOL!
Typical microsoft, breaking their own breaking of standards. WAKE UP PEOPLE, microsoft ARE SCR.... YOU!

Matthijs's picture

Hi Peter,

Works fine on my Mac. Though I can't get it working on my mobile (Nokia e71 and Opera mini). Chessvibes is rather big for mobile use anyhow. Isn't there a mobile version of chessvibes available?

Pauwbase's picture

Works perfectly fine on Vista + Opera 10.00 Beta 2, no problems whatsoever when clicking on a random move in the notation pane.

pedro's picture

Hi Peter,

Good to know that you moved of viewer. Although i like silverlight, we have imcompatibility issues.
Answering the first comment @sporty: I use Palview yet, but I have to agree with Peter, it is really hard work put the games in this viewer, you waste too much time on it.
I'll try this viewer in my website. Thanks for the tip.

Frank Sträter's picture

Peter,

Could you pleas add the following parameter to the javascript of the PGN viewer?

movesFormat: 'main_on_own_line'

I'm not sure this is what you mean with the 'paragraph problem', but this will show the main variation on it's own line and the sub-variations and or comments after a linebreak.

Frank Sträter's picture

Ok, I wasn't expecting that, but it shouldn't be too hard to make it look exactly like the notation in the Silverlight app. I'll get back to you on this.

Frank Sträter's picture

Hi again,

I have played around with the js and css a bit and this comes pretty close to the Silverlight viewer: http://www.svdepionier.nl/PGNvibes/

If you want I can give you step by step instructions, or you can compare my source files to yours.

Paulo Schreiner's picture

OS: GNU/Linux (Gentoo). I use epiphany, which is based on firefox (gecko).
THANKS A LOT!
It works, i can see the games. Compared to the previous viewer, this is a 1000000% improvement.
I'm very happy you take compatibility seriously, I'd be really glad to be able to check the latest games from any device.

Georg's picture

Peter,

This viewer works better than Silverlight (I'm using Windows XP + Firefox 3.5.1). Other than on Silverlight you can use the 'arrow right' key (instead of the mouse) to jump to the next move and the 'arrow down' key to scroll the notation window. That simple feature also worked really well with PalView.

The dropdown for choosing the game looks better in this viewer than on Silverlight as the whole line appears (Silverlight used to truncate long lines).

I agree though with other comments that the move animation is too slow (either make it quicker or turn it off altogether). Instead of the animation mark up the square where the last piece moved to with a border or draw an arrow. Ideally the user can turn that feature off if he doesn't like it.

Castro's picture

Hi!
I can't see anything (don't know whether to laugh or cry).
Just an empty rectangle.
Is there something to download? (Hope not)
WinXP IE6.0 (My computer couldn't bear much more)

red-white-chess's picture

this viewer works in my computer, running on IE 8. previous viewer did make the page loading time become very looooong.

for this viewer it is just the animated move too slow.

yeb's picture

slow and choppy motion with Firefox 3.5.1 on my MacBookPro.
Movements were complete nonsense with Safari 4.0.2 on same laptop.

Michel83's picture

Windows XP and Firefox 3.0.12: No problems.
I personally don't mind the "slow" animation either.

chessbuzz's picture

I can't see it using IE6. Just getting an emtpy rectangle.

Gaurry's picture

Works without problems here on Windows XP SP3 + Chrome 2.0. Imho I also think the move animation speed is a bit too slow.

Arne Moll's picture

I'm having the same problems as Castro with XP + EI7.0. It doesn't show anything at all except an empty rectangle, not even the option to download a plugin or whatever. It does work fine in Firefox on the same operating system.

Meldrew's picture

Windows 2000 - firefox 3.5.1

Thanks chessvibes , works great - I couldn't get silverlight to work as it didn't think my 7 year old processor was up to it !? Good to see that you cater for our minority Linux comrades. Good call.

Thomas's picture

With IE vs. 8 and Windows Vista, I first also saw only an empty rectangle. The solution was to click on "compatibility mode" ('for websites designed for older browsers'). And for my taste, the auto-replay is too fast(!), as if it was a blitz or bullet game. No problem for me, I don't use this feature anyway ... .

Peter Doggers's picture

Strange. Here on XP & IE8 it works fine - it's certainly not an app designed for older browsers.

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