Hi folks, I just wanted to share with you something I'm working on and get your input.
I am currently developing a Pocket PC tactics application for myself in VB.NET. I realize that CT-ART has a version for the Pocket PC, but I feel that if I make my own, it will suit my purposes more. I'm creating it to be a major part of my own study program, and will gladly make it freely available to anyone else who wants it when I'm done. I expect to have it mostly finished before December (06).
I'm writing the application mainly because I'm finding that carrying around the tactical books is a little annoying. I'm always losing my place, or having to flip back and forth to check answers. Plus, most of the books won't fit in my pocket so I can't sneak them into the john at work. What?!! Who said that?
Here are some of the features my app will have.
It's primary purpose is to show a tactical puzzle, and allow you to enter the correct move. If a puzzle requires a series of moves, the application will make the opponents moves and make you enter each move correctly for your side. For instance, with "Mate in 3" puzzles, you will be required to enter all three moves. If there are multiple ways that the opponent can respond, I'm going to try to get it to play out all variations. It then will display and store your results and allow you to move to the next puzzle.
It will run on Pocket PC 2003 or later. I have an old Dell Axim in my drawer that I'm going to put to use here. I won't be able to make this available on a Palm or Blackberry, so don't ask.
It will contain a database of around 10,000 (and growing) puzzles taken from both of Fred Reinfeld's "1001" books, Polgar's book of 5344 puzzles, and a few thousand more from other sources, including endgame and opening traps. (Pocket CT-ART only contains 1200 puzzles). I may not be able to include all the correct moves in a series for every puzzle. For instance, my PGN of Polgar's book only has the first correct move listed. I'm not about to go through and finish those up. As I understand, chess moves and positions, even collections, are not copyrightable. Chess analyses are copyrightable, but that doesn't include a suggested correct move. So I'm in the clear here. Besides, from what I have read, "The Big Book of Combinations" is an almost exact copy of another book without permission and Schiller got away with it.
It allows you to filter the database on the puzzle's source. For instance, you can filter on Reinfeld's "1001 Winning Chess Sacrifices and Combinations" until you have it mastered, or filter it even deeper on just the "Knight Forks" chapter of that book.
When you filter you can select to only repeat puzzles that you have not already mastered. By default, Mastering a puzzle requires you to satisfy one of the following rules.
Mastery rule 1.
You must solve it at lease two time correctly in a row with at least 66% accuracy.
Mastery rule 2.
You must solve it 3 times correctly in a row with at least 60% accuracy.
Mastery rule 3.
You must solve the puzzle correctly four times in a row.
The following results will count as mastering the puzzle
Example A: Solve Solve (Rule 1)
Example B: Miss Solve Solve (Rule 1)
Example C: Solve Miss SOlve Solve (Rule 1)
Example D: Miss Miss Solve Solve Solve (Rule 2)
Example E: Miss MIss Solve Miss Miss Solve Miss Solve Solve Solve Solve (Rule 3)
After you solve or miss a puzzle, you cannot take it again until it cycles through the rest of the unmastered games in the current filter. Once you have mastered a section, or before if you want, you can clear your results and start over.
The application will accept PGN files for import, but the correct moves must be included in the PGN. The FEN alone won't allow the app to know what the answer is. It will load the FEN diagrams and answers into a database. After that the PGN file can be deleted.
Some short comings of the application will be as follows:
It won't allow multiple user profiles. That would require a larger database, tracking each users results for each puzzle. That might not fit on the Pocket PC. Also, I'm primarily making this for me and I won't use that feature.
It won't have a rating system, or know the relative difficulty of a particular puzzle. The above described puzzle mastery system is my attempt to replace a rating system. Some PGN's also might have puzzles separated into sections based on difficulty.
Naturally, it doesn't have a chess engine. I'm not that good of a developer. I could make a chess engine, but you would get more of a challenge by playing against an average house plant, so...
It won't allow you to save new moves or input games/diagrams using the interface. If you want a good notation software, I use CEBoard.
The graphics suck. I'm not a very good artist and all my artwork is done using Paint (Zoomed in, baby!). Perhaps when I'm done with it I'll offer to let someone redo the graphics for Version 1.1
Does anybody have an comments/suggestions? Again, this should run on anybody's Windows Mobile based device, so I'll try to make it available to everyone when I'm done. Thanks.