I know I promised this tutorial about a year or two ago but now that we had the Jan 2010 challenge and three extra copies went as prizes out I feel compelled to start one now so that the winners can have a go at doing something with it.
ViewingDale is my app and it can be classed as a map making tool, a VTT and a campaign organizer. It is all three tho there are better map maker applications out there, more popular VTTs and other campaign organizers and yet I still feel that it sits apart from anything else so this tutorial is going to cover all three and why I believe that statement to be true.
The app is for windows 2000, and beyond. It is checked on Win2K, XP, XPx64 and I have seen it running well on Vista and Win7 as well as Ubuntu under VirtualBox. The app makes extensive use of the graphics card so it requires one suited to games. NVidia and ATI both being well suited as well as some higher end Intel chip cards & 3DLabs cards too. The app can run without using the graphics card tho its *very* slow. Theres a test program made which is a free download so that you can tell whether your card is suitable and set up correctly for the app.
Little bit of history. I started writing an app around 1991 on the Amiga and it was a vector based line map program. What I wanted was a way to create hierarchies. You make a tree shape and then put several trees together to make a copse, several of them to make a wood, several of them to make a forest. The idea worked but the Amiga being a bit gutless died trying. The problem with that was you have to make every single little shape. By about 2002 I tried again and used images as the tokens instead with OpenGL on the graphics card cos it can shift images about much faster than the CPU.
Lastly in this anecdotal intro, the app is designed to share maps and campaign notes. The whole point of the app is to bring all of your maps together into one giant set and to bring in lots of other DMs maps and put them into one giant repository like the web is for information. I wanted to go anywhere and have it mapped by someone. So given that all the maps drawn by different people would be at different scales the app does not work at any one fixed scale. You never ever need to know the feet per pixel rating of any map or image set for it. Also, there is no complexity limit for the world being mapped and in fact every map is one layer in an infinite set even if that map is the whole world. So one of the design aims of the program is that it can take bits of mapped areas and allow people to connect in and transfer missing bits on their machine from the one who has them. To do this it uses a very efficient method to store the maps. It turned out to be so efficient that you can make changes to the map and connected clients got real time updates and it became a VTT at the same time.
So assuming that you have a boxed disk in front of you ill start with installation and set up.