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EZEmulator for E-TRAC / SE

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Click images to view larger version. Once open, click image to close,
drag image to move it, or use the arrow keys to flip through all the images on the page.

Note: Bug found 3/8/11 by Bill A. (thanks Bill!) - SE coordinates are showing up under E-Trac label in View Targets. Will fix and change this note when done.
TBGO

11/15/2010

Creating emulator target files by hand requires the following steps:
  1. Acquire target ID data including target description and E-Trac and/or SE target coordinates
  2. Create text files for each target, all with the same name (infos.txt), listing the description and coordinates in machine-specific format
  3. Acquire images for each target, resize them to 140x140 or less, and name them all the same name (image.gif)
  4. Create a directory having the same name (for convenience) as the desired target file name
  5. Create numbered sub-directories (starting at 0) for each target
  6. Put the appropriate image and text file in the corresponding numbered sub-directory
  7. Create a Zip file having the desired target file name and add the numbered sub-directories
  8. Copy the resulting Zip file to datazips sub-directory and test
None of this is very difficult, but can be hard to manage. The main difficulties are the images and file and directory management, especially with a bunch of files all having the same name. Having worked with these files in the past and knowing that some might like to create emulator files, but not wanting to go through the hassle, I tried to create something that would remove the tedium and allow folks to concentrate on the data and target collections without the worry of logistics.

Basically, a user only needs to enter a target description and one set of coordinates. You can choose a default image to be used if you don't have appropriate images for your targets. In this case, a user will rely on the target description alone. It does remove a large roadblock by not requiring an image for your targets...we can't see the targets in the ground after all...it wouldn't be much different. Another image issue is resizing them all. It can take some time if you have a lot of targets. When you browse for a target image it will automaticaly copy the image and resize it appropriately.

The data for the application is in three XML files. You can edit them directly if you like. There is no rigorous referential integrity or keys linking the data. The only rule that is somewhat enforced is that every target needs a description. This means that when the app creates target files, you must ensure that the data is correct and complete. The emulator, for instance, will accept a target without coordinates, but will, of course, not respond to those targets. The Targets form is good for reviewing your data. You are looking to ensure that the description, coordinates and images are in place, and, importantly, that the targets are assigned to a target list and are ordered properly.

When your data is complete, click the Generate Files button to create all the directories and files for you, Zip them up and copy them to the datazips sub-directory.

One cool feature is the ability to import existing emulator target files. This will give you hundreds of targets to review and modify for use in your own files if you import them all.

Highslide JS
Main form for targets and lists
  Main form for targets and lists
Highslide JS
Settings form
  Settings form
Highslide JS
Targets form showing a minimal data record, a record without an image and a complete record
  Targets form showing a minimal data record, a record without an image and a complete record
Highslide JS
EZEmulator directory structure
  EZEmulator directory structure


The file is in .zip format. I tried to wrap it as a self-extracting executable, but it corrupted the code every time. Once you download and unzip the file, double-click the Setup.exe file to initiate the install. Besides the program itself, there are three dependencies: .Net 3.5, MS Installer 3.1 and the included DotNetZip .dll file. .Net 3.5 is a sizable install, so this might not be for everyone.

I've included the six .zip target files I created in the past. Since there is no data in the system in a new installation, go to the Import Menu, select Samples and choose one of the files to import so you can see how the application works and have some data to play with.

This is a first version and it hasn't been tested very much, so I expect errors. Please let me know if you run into any or have any questions.

Don't forget to go to the File Menu and click on Settings to set your datazip paths.

Vista Users: I believe you will need to install this as Administrator as it is a "full rights" application (only because it needs to deal with files).


EZEmulator.Zip v1.1 12/6/2010 3.04MB

EZEmulator.Zip v1.1 12/6/2010 5.43MB - This is a zip file containing the directory structure and files of an installed copy. You should be able to, with the proper permissions, extract it to any directory and double-click on the .exe file. This method will not work if you are missing dependencies.

Note: v1.0 was adding an extra icon to the desktop. Fixed in v1.1.

HH!
The Beep Goes On



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