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Date: April 7, 2004
From: Bob Jacobsen
Subject: Re: Differences between JMRI Programs?
"What's past is prolog..."
Originally, JMRI was a library project, and JmriDemo was just a little driver program that would let you test the library.
Since my layout at that time was LocoNet based, I wrote some tools for LocoNet. A couple people asked for copies of them, but were confused by JmriDemo's references to tools for NCE, etc. The preferences system in the code back then wasn't very smart, so there was no easy way to have just tools that work with the current system appear. So I created the LocoTools application to bundle the LocoNet-specific tools together.
Then the idea for DecoderPro came along from Mark Gurries and Dave Falkenburg. It started as menu items in JmriDemo, but soon people wanted a _program_ by that name, so one was created. Over time, the menus in DecoderPro have changed a lot. The original idea was that _only_ decoder-related items would be there, to reduce confusion. But people would request that other things be put there: First control over power, then turnouts (to flip the turnout to put the loco onto the programming track), then throttles, etc. About eight months ago, that was stripped back down, but people wanted the stuff added back, so it was.
At last summer's NMRA convention, a couple people suggested that the panel tools needed a program of their own, so PanelPro was created. (And that gave a place to put the cool PanelPro logo!)
With the addition of the preferences for adding your own buttons at startup (and your own menu items if you dig a little deeper), the differences between the various programs have really become quite minor.
Throughout, this has been an attempt to balance power and simplicity for both new and experienced users. I don't at all claim the current situation is the right balance; suggestions are always welcomed, and often acted upon.