Saturday, August 4, 2012

FIG is evaluating Gymnastics Software Symbol Fonts

Thursday before the Olympic Games began, I received a message that the WTC is considering using our WAG Symbols font in the new Code of Points. Unfortunately there was too little time to make it in the final document because it had to be sent to the translators only two days later. However since then some members of the WTC are evaluating every symbol from Gymnastics Software that is in the current and the new code.

It might not be obvious to everybody, but symbols change from time to time. Because I have freed all available resources to get the changes finished as fast as possible, I expect by the end of the games all symbols will be up to date with current FIG standards. If I get the permission I will post the excel symbol sheets on my website.

Besides updating the fonts I am also working real hard (although with limited time) on an improved symbol keyboard. When finished, it will first be released as a plug-in for Microsoft Word 2010. What I have done is recreated the symbol sheets on the keyboard: one apparatus, one tab. This will make it much easier to find the element you need. The look will be exactly the same as the official symbol sheets (see picture). Clicking a symbol will insert the symbol into the Word document. Additionally, right-clicking the element will display a list of elements that are one way or the other related to it. For example, right-clicking backward salto tucked will show salto piked, salto stretched, salto stretched with step-out. Also available will be the elements that the original element devaluates to (right-click switch-leap shows split leap), etc...

What I did not expect was the incredible amount of work that is required to paint these symbol sheets in the application. Up until now I have finished vault, balance beam and half of bars and it took me already 30 hours (and over 4000 lines of code). I still must start deciding what elements relate to each-other. I wish I could spend more time on it. Especially now the new code is on its way.

The picture below is the code required to display one row of elements on the symbol sheet:

This picture gives you an idea of what I mean with the new keyboard:


Sunday, May 6, 2012

New version GS Judge (2.0.5)

I have just released a new version of GS Judge on the website. Don't hesitate to email your remarks to Below the list of changes.

Version 2.0.3 - May 5, 2012

  • signed setup file and GS Judge.exe
  • bug fix in setup (cannot locate resource file Main.xaml)
  • Version 2.0.4 - May 5, 2012

  • BB bug fix: The take-off from both feet value and the landing type value were not read from the meta-database. These characteristics of elements are required to recognize a connection with rebound. Therefore CV with rebound was never rewarded. Thanks for reporting this Monique (BEL).
  • FX bug fix: when an element or its value was devaluated, the value was no longer drawn at the correct position. Thanks for reporting this Marleen (BEL).
  • Disabled Create Vault button functionality: was not finished and was not supposed to be released yet.
  • Slightly bigger font size for D-, E- and Final score text blocks. The same for Gymnast number, name and country.
  • Version 2.0.5 - May 6, 2012

  • Signed all dll's in the project
  • Friday, May 4, 2012

    European Championships

    I will be attending the European Championships in Brussels. Not as spectator but as representative for Gymnastics Software. I will have a table near the accreditation desk. I will not be on site from morning till evening, but I will announce here on this blog when I plan to be there.

    What will I be doing?
  • Collect as many as possible exercises from coaches and judges.
  • I will save these exercises with GS Judge and check with the coach/judge whether the difficulty value is correct.
  • Later on, I will create a nice report with the exercises. That is for each team I received exercises from.
  • As soon as I have finished GS Analytics (new), I will be able to generate nice statistics about the competition, more or less like the report FIG generates after each WC or OC.
  • If you want me to assist you with installing GS sofware on your PC, ask me, I will be glad to help you out.
  • If I have a spare moment, I will be programming for Gymnastics Software.

  • For teams that hand over their exercises: we will not publish them, nor distribute them before the end of the competition. When you hand over your exercises, I will ask your permission to share them with the gymnastics community after the Europeans have finished. If you don't allow it, we won't do it.

    Today, Saturday May 5, I hope to arrive in the afternoon. I will stay until late tonight.

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    Now you can trust me!

    Two weeks ago I had a meeting with Marleen and I wanted her to install a software upgrade on her home computer. Man, what a horrible experience was that! It seemed like Internet explorer and all kind of virus scanners had unleashed war against all malicious software that originates from the internet. Not a bad thing, except that I almost felt like a criminal when I saw all those big red warnings appearing on screen telling the user that the software is probably unsafe and that you must be really stupid if you ever wanted to run this software. Because I trust myself, I clicked my way through all those warnings but I realized that this was going to be a big issue if I wanted my software to be downloaded and used. So I went looking for a solution.

    The solution comes from a digital signature that I must add to all software that I want you to download from the internet. The signature tells you that the software was published by Amberes IT Consultants bvba, which is the legal name of my company (it is not 'Gymnastics Software', I wouldn't be able to pay my bills from that). The signature comes in the form of a certificate and I had to buy it from a certification authority who did a background check on my company before they agreed to sell me a certificate. Now every time I put new software on my website, I add the digital signature to it, so that your web browser and antivirus software can verify that the software really comes from me, and was not hacked.

    Knowing that the software was written by me, is one thing. Knowing that the software will not harm your computer is another thing. After all, every hacker can get himself a certificate (would not be smart, because the certification authority would know where he lives). Therefore, Microsoft introduced in Internet Explorer 9 a technology called 'reputation'. Every certificate (or digital signature) that is used to sign software on the internet, receives a 'reputation' score. This reputation score is incremented when more people start downloading software that was signed with it, and also when virus scanners report that the software contains no virusses or other threats. This means that from now on when you download new software from my website, you will be notified that the publisher is known as 'Amberes IT Consultants bvba', but that the software is not commonly downloaded and potentially harmfull. This warning will eventually disappear in the future when more and more people start downloading the software and virus scanners report back to Microsoft that software signed by 'Amberes IT Consultants bvba' never contains viruses.

    To show you the different user experience between signed and unsigned software downloads, I placed screen captures from Internet Explorer 9 for unsigned downloads and signed downloads (the first picture is always the unsigned software):

    First you have to tell whether you want to save or run the file. The browser has not downloaded anything yet, so it doesn't known if the file is safe or not: no difference in warnings between the two files. ( is hosted on my companies web site

    In both cases I clicked [Run]. After downloading the file, you can notice the first difference. The message is the same: the file has a low reputation score, so be cautious. The difference between signed and unsigned files is in the color of the warning window: red versus orange.

    On my pc runs Norton Antivirus, and it immediately scans the file. Again there is a difference between the outcomes of the scans:

    To install the software, we must click [Actions]. That brings us in both situations to the same dialog box. I must admit, in neither case you are encouraged to run the software. At least you get to see the name of the publisher in the signed download: 'Amberes IT Consultants bvba'

    We must click [Extra Options] before we can launch the software, and again little difference here:

    If I click [Run Anyway], internet explorer launches the software. The signed software actually starts installing. The unsigned software still must pass the virus scanner and a terrifying window appears trying to convince you not to run the software.

    A long blog post to tell you that from now on, our software will be signed, and hopefully in the near future the reputation score will be high enough so that internet explorer will immediately recognizes our software as safe.


    Moving on ...

    So I ended up with a computer crash during the WC in Tokyo and it took me a while to get the thing fixed. I must say that I lost all sympathy for Dell after having received the most miserable support ever. No more Dell for me.

    In the mean time I took a 7-day Windows Server administration course that should allow me to manage my own little IT infrastructure better.

    And now with the European Championships approaching (held in Brussels, that's where I work), I was asked to pick up the pace with the development of gymnastics software products. More info to follow soon.


    Tuesday, October 11, 2011

    Computer crash

    Working on the train has its advantages, but it takes its toll on the laptop. Last sunday it broke down. Just at the moment when I needed to release the next version for Tokyo. I've ordered replacement parts but who knows when they will arrive. Until then I am kinda stuck.

    I hope to be back in business soon.


    Sunday, October 9, 2011

    Software for Macintosh users?

    Marleen who is currently demonstrating the GS Judge application at worlds in Tokyo, has received several times the question whether the software is also available for Apple computers. When I look at the statistics of our website (see picture below), it is quit obvious that my target audience likes the Macintosh.

    The short answer is: no there is no Macintosh version and there are no such plans as I speak.

    Does this means all Macintosh users are left in the cold? Not completely, but they will have to rely on emulation software for Windows. I suppose that most Macintosh users use this approach when they want to run software that was developed for Windows only.

    The reason why there is no Macintosh version is that I have no experience at all either with using a Macintosh or with programming against a Macintosh. Last week I consulted a fellow software developer at work who is a Macintosh user, and asked him what the effort would be to build GS Judge for Mac. It could not be done he said, because I am using Microsoft .NET framework version 4.0 that is not fully ported to Macintosh (yet?). The mono project was started just to port this framework to Macintosh and Linux. But wikipedia has this to say about mono:

    Mono's aim is to achieve full support for the features in .NET 4.0 except WPF (which the Mono team do not plan to support due to the amount of work it would need), Entity Framework and WF, limited WCF.

    Unfortunately, GS Judge is a full-blown WPF application and apparently mono does not plan to support it ever. WPF is a graphical engine that makes it possible to display the WAG exercises with many graphical features (such as zooming the exercise and highlighting individual symbols).

    If you are still reading: this all means that there is no easy way to convert existing code from Windows to Macintosh. If we decide to take on the challenge, we must start with buying Macintosh hardware and software, and hire a developer. That is going to cost a lot of money. Which I don't have. Now. Maybe later. I hope.


    Saturday, October 8, 2011

    Hurray, the Belgian team qualified 16th

    Being a Belgian, I am glad to see that our team qualifies 16th and therefore will go to London for the Olympic Trials! Well done team!

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011

    Documentation: Mini-language

    Because knowing the mini-language is important if you want to use the full potential of the GS Judge application, I created a document that explains all special codes.

    The mini-language.pdf

    A complete user manual is not for next week, but given the increasing number of features, it is about time that I start working on it. A problem is my English. Is there any native English speaker among the readers of this blog that volunteers proof reading the user manual?

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    Tokyo to Antwerp: Where is the MS-Word AddIn?

    It is 4 o'clock in the morning when I receive an sms: hey Tom, judges with a clean pc don't have the MS-Word AddIn after installing the new software.

    That is true, I knew it. Those who already have installed the MS-Word AddIn last year, still have it. The reason why it is currently not available, is because the code of it (I mean the code of the programming language, not the code of points of course) is broken.

    As you all know, software is changing constantly. The gymnastics software from last year (WC 2010, Rotterdam) uses a Microsoft framework version 3.5. The new software uses the same framework but version 4.0 (In the setup.exe from GS Judge this framework is included, hence the size of 50 MByte). All parts of the application did get converted to this new framework without problem, except the MS Word AddIn. I must rebuild and test it from the ground up. So I guess that is what I will do the remaining of this week.

    Stay tuned.

    Sunday, October 2, 2011

    New version released

    The new version is online and can be downloaded for free:

    GS Judge version

    Please uninstall the previous version of GS Judge (or WAG Judge) if you installed the version from the WC 2010.

    The new application includes: Uneven Bars, Balance Beam and Floor Exercise. Vault is still under construction.

    Check it out. Verify if it calculates the exercises of your gymnasts correctly. If it does, let me known! If it doesn't, let me know too.

    Have fun!

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011

    Ooops... a netbook

    Tonight was the big night: I had a meeting with Marleen who will go to Tokyo to judge for the Belgian team. She will also meet with the WAG commitee to give a demonstration of the software. So I finished the setup applications and was ready to install it on her pc.

    And there it was ... a mini, mini pc.

    I thought: that screen will probably not be big enough for the GS Judge application. And right I was. So I did some modifications to the startup size of the applications, but it was clear that I needed additional functionality to deal with PC's with small screens. And fast. So this is what is on my feature list for the next days to come:

  • Screen parts can be resized as wished
  • Windows size, position and state will be stored when the application is closed and restored the next time it is started
  • The exercise canvas will be scalable so that large exercises can be scaled to fit the window
  • Scroll bars will be added to enable vertical and horizontal scrolling

  • By the end of the week I will put it all online. Come check it out.

    Saturday, September 24, 2011

    Friday, September 23, 2011

    New mini-language extension

    The mini-language had two possibilities to indicate that an element is devaluated:

  • Typing a minus "-" character after the symbol indicates that the DV value must be one lower than the original DV (D becomes C, C becomes B, B becomes A)
  • Typing a less-than "<" character after the symbol indicates that the lower element from the code must be awarded (Double pirouette on floor becomes pirouette)
  • These two situations cover all devaluation scenarios.
    So I thought.
    Until I encountered this on the judge score slip:

    It is clear what happened here (I checked with a video on Youtube): the gymnast intended to do a double pirouette with one leg above horizontal, so that is what is written down by the judge. However the double pirouette was not double, so it is devaluated to single pirouette with one leg high (D becomes B). But the leg was not the entire turn held high enough and then it gets devaluated to a normal, single pirouette (B becomes A) (now this sets me thinking: at least 360 of the pirouette was with one leg high enough, so shouldn't a DV=B be awarded?).
    Anyways, there is no way with the "-" or "<" syntax of the mini-language to devaluate a double pirouette with leg high to a normal pirouette. So I extended the mini-language with a rather universal solution: after typing the actual performed element, the intended element is added between brackets. The GS Judge application then displays and counts the performed element, but also shows the intended element - whatever it was - with a red circle around it to indicate it was not rewarded.

    All this will become available in next weeks release.

    What is meta-data?

    When I am coaching, I find pleasure in explaining the biomechanics behind an element. I find the same pleasure in talking about the mechanics that drive the GS software. This time I want to talk about meta-data.

    What is meta-data? Meta-data is an IT term and in short it refers to data about data. When you enter a symbol into the GS Judge application, that is data. The DV that appears above the symbol, is the meta-data. Every symbol on every apparatus requires a lot of meta-data. For example on balance beam, we need to know for every symbol:

  • Difficulty value (A-G)
  • Is scale (yes/no)
  • Is mount (yes/no/maybe)
  • Is dismount (yes/no)
  • Acro or dance
  • Split direction (cross split, side split, upward, diagonal)
  • Is salto (yes/no)
  • Is turn (yes/no)
  • Is roll (yes/no)
  • Is handstand (yes/no)
  • Is hold
  • Lower element
  • Has flight
  • Supporting hand count (0,1, 2)
  • Take off from both feet (yes/no)
  • Element direction (forward, backward, sideward)
  • LA rotation (180, 360, ...)
  • BA rotation (360, 720)
  • Landing type (on 1 foot, 2 feet, straddle sit, ...)
  • Can repeat for CV (yes, no, once, ...)

  • Having one of these values wrong for a symbol, can have a serious impact on the calculation of an exercise. Today I encountered such a problem. The acro line below was not recognized as a series with two different saltos. The reason was that the meta-data of the whip salto was incomplete: it lacked the BA rotation value and therefore was not recognized by the program as being a salto. The end result was one CR missing, which was a mistake of 0.5 points.

    When the new version will be released next week, I expect that more meta-data bugs will surface. If you detect one, don't hesitate to report it so we can improve the product.

    Regards, Tom