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It all started with online Character Builder. For many years, I was spending 3 hours on public transport each day. Sometimes I spent them on the original, offline Character Builder.
Until it went online. Wanting better offline access, the prototype as seen on right was born. It was a bookmarket that just grabbed entries from online compendium into a popup, applied DataTables on top of it, and then you can manually save the popup for offline use.
It is nice to have an offline catalog. So I keep working on it. Inspired by DataTables' search code, I coded a search term parser that works with Google like syntax.
With the ability to search for feat with
"bonus to damage" OR "extra damage" -"feat bonus", it is now possible to build characters using a goal-oriented approach, instead of choosing from valid options.
New features are also being added. Preview panel, multi columns, or pick out items and generate a simple sheet such as character power list. The script also grabs a nice wallpaper through Coral, output fancy CSS styles, data uri icons etc.
It helped me a lot in the two years that follows, both as a DM and as a player.
The problem with first version is that it is big and slow even on PC, much less mobile. "Powers" is a 15MB html file, and the browser has to layout all 8800 powers when it is opened.
Thus come the second version, powered by the then prototype jQuery Mobile. It looks good. Impressive animation, elegance style, familiar icons. An index was created from Ails' RPG icons, data are processed in multiple threads, and appcache used to preload data.
Then disaster struck. Most mobile browser refuse to load local HTML, and Google Chrome disabling a lot of features for local file. Biggest problem is, jQuery Mobile takes very long time to display entry list (rightmost screen). Two to three times longer then displaying their _contents_ in previous version. This is when I give up.
At least the nice icons are reused in later versions.
Sadly, soon after the first prototype, Firefox killed file writing permanently.
That leaves IE as the only supported browser, until IE 11 arrives which hides (and breaks) file writing too.
After playtesting D&D Next (5th edition) for a few months, work restarted in May 2013. With the data split into many small files to speed up access, the second prototype works like a charm. But then my time diverted to 5e and other games, and major development stopped around May 2014.
By 2016, I gave up 5e and switched back. The world changed a lot. Mobile has overtaken desktop, Internet Explorer is dead, DDI has frozen and switched login system, JavaFX 8 brings a scriptable browser to standard Java. Our firstborn is due in October, too, so I better fix the download problems asap.
In July 2016, a downloader is coded in Java. Code is simple. No need to check new data, no need to fool security, and clean separation of input and output. I can fix errors, add new columns, or exclude flavour text from full text search. Things that were too complicated to do in v3.
The plan was to bug fix the old viewer and write a new one. But it works so well, I keep improving it after our baby is born. As of writing, a new build is released every few months, and over a thousand rule entries has been fixed or enhanced. I cannot promise to keep up the pace, but if there is something you want, just file a feature request on GitHub.
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