Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions from the socializer group, personal accounts of people involved in the development of the Client and elsewhere. This is the first place where you should look for answers to your questions before asking in the group. If you've got a question that is not covered here, please ask us in the Socializer's VK group and someone will be happy to assist.
When a new version will be released?
Socializer is a project in constant evolving and development, as we want it to be as good as possible for most people. However, due to the normal complexity of projects growing up, plus the fact that I work on it during part of my free time, it is not possible to schedule a release periodically. Most of the times, the release process is as follows:
- Define a roadmap which will serve as a guide in the features or bugfixes that will be implemented in the next stable version.
- Start to work in the roadmap's implementation, sending all changes to alpha versions. If errors are detected during this stage, those errors should be fixed or otherwise the feature should not arrive in socializer yet.
- Once the roadmap features are implemented in the application, we can freeze the alpha version for a few weeks. That means new changes in alpha will take care of making things stable, fixing bugs, updating translations and documentation, but probably will not add any new feature.
- When we consider everything is fully updated (documentation and translations included), we can release a new stable version.
- After every release, we will rest for a week or so and get back to step 1 :).
This release process seems slow for some people, but it ensures higher software quality in stable versions and it makes everything cleaner in the development process. Also, there are special circunstances which can make us to release a stable version earlier in the process, mostly when there is an important change that must be fixed, or otherwise it'd affect users in some important way.
What is the difference between Stable and Alpha versions?
In short, it can be summarized in the following way:
- Stable versions. Are the most tested and, obviously, stable versions of the program. We work hard to ensure that a stable version does not contain important bugs or problems for people.
- alpha versions. Every day, if there are changes added in Socializer's source code, we send it to a special repository which builds, automatically, a new version of Socializer alpha with the latest changes included. That means users will receive the latest changes as soon as they are being added in Socializer.
So, which should I use? Stable or alpha?
Both Stable and alpha versions can be used almost without problems. But please do remember that, as this is software, we cannot guarantee you never, ever will have issues with socializer, even in its stable version. Advantages of the alpha versions are newer features, faster fixes for bugs and generally the opportunity to participate and be up to date with the ongoing development. However, it comes at a price, and the alpha version can suddenly have new problems after an update, or new features may introduce new issues. Something else about the alpha versions, normally translations are not included in the process, until when the alpha is frozen and the stable is about to be released. I do this because otherwise it would be harder for the translators to work in unstable features which may be modified anyways. So:
- If you want the most up to date experience, new features as soon as they are being added, quick fixes and you don't mind reading a changelog in english or parts of the interface in this language, the alpha version is calling you.
- If you prefer more stable versions, with everything fully translated and don't mind waiting a couple of weeks for features to arrive, then the stable will be perfect for your needs.
Also, remember that you can switch between Alpha and Stable versions at any time, so updates will be available for the channel you choose in the configuration dialog.
Why alpha versions sometimes don't get updates for several days?
Alpha versions will generate an update at 4 AM (Moscow time) every day, just if there are new changes added in the source code. In other words, if for some reasons I did not send anything new to the code, the alpha version will be skipped for that day.
That said, there are a variety of reasons why sometimes there are no updates for some days. As the coding part is done only by a single person, you may not get dayly updates if I have extra things to do at work, or am playing with a new electronic toy, or my internet said bye for some time, or my dog entered my room and chewed my computer, and so on. Though, I hope to bring you significant updates rather than just a dayly version without changes.
Why I cannot download the alpha version from the Socializer website?
As the alpha versions are generated automatically, sometimes it may happen that you cannot download the latest alpha version from the website, instead it gives you a 404 error, that basically means the file was not found. If that happens, please do the following:
- Firstly, try to wait about 5 minutes. Alpha versions are deleted prior generation of a new one, so if you are trying to access the file and does not exist, chances are that the version is being generated. Take into account into it, especially if it's about 4 AM in Moscow.
- If you already waited for some time and still doesn't work, there is a change i did something wrong in the alpha's generation. Please let me know via my personal page, or even better, tell us in the socializer's group and I will fix the problem as soon as possible.
Why app controls don't look properly in the window?
I have received feedback about this situation, especially from partially sighted people, about the controls not fitting perfectly or some opportunity to use the available window space better in the application. Unfortunately this issue is due to the fact that I have to calculate, more or less, the proportion of the controls and the space they will take in the window manually and I have no way to see the result. In the near future I will add a few algorithms to deal with this kind of problems (control proportion and calculating window positions dinamically). The result should be a better looking of most controls (text controls are not in the list for now, unfortunately) and better distribution of the space. But take into account I am already working in the best approach to deal with this issue.
Where can I get more updates about the project?
If you enjoyed the project or just want to be sure you do not miss any important announcement from us, you can join our VK Group and get the latest news right there. We try to engage in the community with posts and polls whenever is possible, so we will build the future of socializer together. Also we post all releases or important news about Socializer.
How do i...
Switch from stable to alpha versions?
In order to switch to alpha updates, or get back to stable, you can change the update channel in the preferences dialogue. Take into account that this will affect how Socializer will check for updates from now on. If you already have an alpha version and get back to the stable update channel, it doesn't mean you will update automatically to the latest stable version, but you will be informed the next time a new stable version will be released.
Play specific songs in a buffer?
If you have an audio buffer and want to play a subset of songs located in that buffer, you can select the tracks you want to play. In order to do so, just press space in the items you want to select. A checkbox will indicate if the item is being selected. Also, you should heard a sound indicating that selection. When you're moving along the list of items, a sound will be played when you are focusing an already selected item. If you want to unselect an item, just press space when you're on it. After you have selected everything, just press enter, or the play button, to play the list of selected tracks.
Open someone's wall, audios or videos buffer?
Socializer allows you to open special buffers which contain wall posts, audios or friends of VK users. You can do it by following this procedure:
- From the menu bar, select the buffer menu.
- Press in the new timeline option.
- From the first control, select the user for whom you want to create a buffer. You can type some characters of his/her name, or use the up and down arrow keys to navigate the user's list.
- By default you will create a buffer for wall posts. If you want to select something different, press tab and use the down arrow for choosing between posts, audio or friends.
- Press tab and select the OK button.
- The new buffer will be created in the 'new timelines' section and will be deleted when closing Socializer. Also, you can delete the buffer manually by going to the buffer and choosing 'delete buffer' from the buffer menu, also in the menu bar.
Report an error?
There are a few ways to report an error. You can use the method you like more, though we'd prefer to use the group to deal with issues, as the communication will be easier (I don't speak russian natively, thus is difficult to talk about software problems with my still beginner level).
- The socializer's group is a good place to tell us about your issue with the application. There more people will read the same problem, thus we can have more info about an issue, also we can request for more info and reply you faster, fully in Russian.
- There is an integrated bug reporter in socializer. It may work if you are not in the group or for some reason you don't want to participate there. Take into account, however, that this method does not allow us to gather more information about the problem.
- You can contact me directly in my VK profile. and let me know about the problem. This may work if the problem should not be public (for example, some important security problem present in socializer). This is the least suggested method because I cannot guarantee I will reply quickly (I have quite a few things to do at the same time) and probably the reply will be in English. I can understand russian, but writing it myself is still a difficult task.
Why Does Socializer...
Take a long time when starting up?
This is one of the most asked questions in our group. And, in order to explain it properly, let's talk a bit about some background.
Socializer requires to contact the VK API for retrieving all data associated to your account. As soon as Socializer starts, it will perform some tasks that can be summarized in the following short list:
- Check for updates (this is done in a different thread, so it doesn't count against the loading times).
- Authenticate in VK.
- Load main buffers: Home timeline, wall, audio, video and people buffers are loaded here.
- Load special buffers: Buffers like audio and video playlists are partially created, but we need to call VK API for some data.
- Create (but not load, yet) all conversation buffers.
- Start loading all conversation buffers.
- Start the chat server, thus allowing Socializer to receive messages and connection events in real time.
- If groups are created during startup, their buffers will be partially created.
- Socializer is fully loaded and ready to go.
As you probably noticed, if you try to do something during the tasks 5-8, probably the program will respond a bit slower, this is mostly because it is creating graphical controls and elements for the new dynamically created buffers. Take into account that the more items you load, more time it will take to load those. If you want to see some improvements in first load, try to reduce the number of items loaded from the preferences dialog.
Some people have suggested to start the chat server inmediately after we authenticate in VK. But, unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks about this approach, namely:
- You can't receive new messages if there are no conversation buffers ready to hold those.
- You can't receive notifications of friends online/offline if there are no buffers to place or remove them.
- That means, we will have to create all conversation buffers, load those and create people buffers, too. It doesn't reduce significantly the loading times, according to a few isolated experiments we have performed a while ago.
Does it mean Socializer will never load faster? not exactly. There are some techniques we could do for making things to go a bit faster, though this is still a work in progress and does not guarantee it will be applied in the future.