Redesigned Alliance Selection Screen

I am not a fan of the alliance selection screen built-in to Tournament Manager. I consider it to have a number of flaws, including, but not limited to, lots of wasted space, unnecessarily small font sizes, and lack of a focal point for attention.

As such, I decided to develop my own alliance selection interface, intended to alleviate many of the shortcomings of TM’s implementation.

Before I continue:
No, my system does not interface, interfere, or in any other way interact with Tournament Manager, its files, or its network packets.

We piloted my new, custom system at the Arizona College Prep - Erie VRC Qualifier.
You can see it in action, starting at timecode 5:22:00, here:
(The live camera feed was an intended supported feature of my system, though other software is required to actually implement the feed.)

I would appreciate any feedback on my system. If sufficient interest amounts, I may even release it publicly in the future.

When I saw the interface at the tournament today, I thought “Oh good, they finally updated the alliance selection screen in tournament manager.”

I personally love it. Does the interface allow between 8 and 16 alliances or only 12?

Count me interested in a public release. I would use it at our event.

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It’s designed in a modular way to accommodate any number of alliances and any number of teams per alliance (within reason – I have neither implemented clamping of these values nor tested unreasonable values).

It would be interesting to use pixy2 to realize the real-time automatic statistics of scores under Windows 10.

I agree. My team just ran our first match yesterday. The emcees could not read the alliance selection screen where we had it and because of this it got kind of confusing for the teams.

As a side note is there a way to contact Vex and REC to see if they will redesign the alliance selection screen? (or a way to give any feedback related to TM)

The best way to contact TM support is via email to This address forwards to everyone at the company. Or you can contact Dave Flowerday here on the forums.

They can pass on any suggestions you might have to the RECF, who determine the spec for the software.

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I really don’t think redoing the alliance selection screen would be a priority for them, if they even bother in the foreseeable future. They have actual bugs to tackle first. Perhaps it would be implemented for next season at the earliest.

Regardless, back to the point of this thread…

I may investigate the ability to use a tablet, etc. (that an emcee could have during alliance selection) to interface with my alliance selection system. It’s not uncommon at events for the display to be inconveniently placed for alliance selection purposes.

Tablet definitely sounds like a good idea. Placement of displays and difficulty of communicating with the person at the TM laptop are the primary reasons why I try and use mobile devices wherever possible.

I’m curious - what technology did you use for this screen? And if it’s not interacting with TM, I’m guessing you’re entering the alliance choices in parallel in TM and your system?

Yes, alliance choices were entered in parallel.

My system, as it stands currently, is built as a standard webpage. HTML/CSS for the frontend; JavaScript handles the logic and modifies the HTML appropriately. As a result, my system can be used on any device with Chrome installed (I used new web standards not implemented in other browsers).

My previous interactions with DWAB have been positive. I realized my post above was probably unnecessarily critical of them and have edited it accordingly.

Also, I am not officially an EP and thus cannot access the EP forum.

They recently just posted asking for ep feedback and responded to everyone that posted on the thread. @Dave Flowerday and the rest of the team are the best. Of course, rolling out revisions and things like the RPI take time, They have to be slow to change anything, especially for that EP that does one IQ tournament per year and doesn’t keep up with everything. It is the single most important thing that must work and it always does.

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Hi all, a few comments:

  1. VEX Robotics has a whole team of people who are responsible for graphics and media (game/company logos, assets, all the banners you see at Worlds, a million other things that I don’t know about, etc). They design all of the the audience-facing screens, including the current alliance selection screens. Thus, if you have comments or complaints regarding those screens, please do not send them to us as there’s not really much we can do about it. My advice on topics like that is to bring them up to your RECF representative and they can forward it on through the right channels.

The current designs have been in place for a few years now and I do think at a minimum there’s some tweaks needed. The alternate alliance selection screen here looks very very similar to a proposal I saw from @Karthik a year or 2 ago that I believe was posted on (can’t find it now due to the new forum in use there). I think having a screen that allows video to be shown as well as the alliance selection data would be a nice improvement. However, screen designs have a number of requirements that need to be considered, several of which aren’t addressed in the sample here. This includes things like including appropriate branding/sponsor recognition and attention to title-safe areas among other things.

  1. Regarding the comment about bug reports (now replaced with a comment that “they have actual bugs to fix first”) - I don’t want to get into it too much here other than to say we look at all reports even if we don’t necessarily respond directly to them. However, said report was headlined by a bug which was identified in May and a fix was released this summer, meaning the event was running very old code. The remaining issues are not critical (one isn’t a bug at all, but rather a limitation the user just didn’t like, and another one also sounds like an already-fixed issue as well). With a lot going on already, it’s hard to justify spending time trying to reproduce minor bugs when we know the report is based on outdated software. We will look into them, but we’re also not going to drop everything during the holiday break to do so.

  2. We have been instructed by RECF to only make a few TM releases each year. I personally would prefer to release more frequently as I’d like to get small features and minor bug fixes into EPs hands sooner, and we used to do that until a few years ago. However, RECF RSMs and many EPs have apparently given a lot of feedback that they do not like frequent releases occurring during the season as they feel it is too hard to keep up with the changes, and I can appreciate that. As @sankeydd said (and thanks for the nice words), we do have to be careful about making changes and adding features. TM has to work, and we also have to try to balance the needs of power users (of which there are relatively few) and all the other TM users (of which there are a lot - 100+ events each weekend).

As noted, we have asked for feedback in the TM forum, so please share any additional feedback there.

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What if they released a TM2 in the future, with a completely redesigned look? Both versions would be functional, but the newer one would have more user-friendly graphics, at the possible expense of early bugs. I don’t know, just an idea.

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I believe this is what you were referring to. The image he provided doesn’t seem to display properly on that page, so here it is as well:

idk, id be willing to redesign TM graphics for vex if theyre overloaded… id love to do something like this

I fully agree that my design/implementation is not production-ready (hence my lack of public release in its current state).

Again, as mentioned, I felt my original post was unfairly critical and thus edited it accordingly. However, it would definitely have been nice to be told the event was running old code. The same individuals will be hosting another event, and only now do I know to follow up with them to make sure TM gets updated.

The RECF would probably reject such an idea, but I would also support having a second release channel for TM. It would allow the power-users in each region, of which many probably end up as unofficial TM support for their regions, to become acquainted with new features before said features are incorporated into the main release channel.

I want to use pixy vision +brain recognition score .And real-time display of scores. Is this feasible?

How is this even remotely relevant to this thread? And why are you misattributing your own quote to @Dave Flowerday?

The VEX Forum does some weird things when you use the auto quote feature. I have had the same thing happen twice. It is a bit of an annoyance. It would be a nice bug to see fixed, but it happens so infrequently i haven’t even tried to identify the specific circumstances that cause it. The last time it happened to me, i had inserted two quotes and it changed the name from one to match the other.

Fun fact - the current Tournament Manager is TM2. We’ve even used “TM2” to refer to it at various times. The previous TM was developed starting in the 2005-2006 VEX season, prior to the existence of VRC. When VRC was created, we threw away the original TM and rewrote it from scratch, incorporating lots of lessons-learned as well as a lot more forward planning for things like multiple fields (original TM only supported 2 fields), multiple divisions, displays, skills challenges (then known as “side challenges”), etc. That new ground-up rewrite was known as “TM2”.

No one suggested that VEX was overloaded. VEX designed the current screens and they have their reasons for wanting them the way they are. I’m sure they’re open to feedback (as I indicated), and the right way to supply that feedback is via your RECF RSM.

Yeah, that’s what I was thinking of. I thought it was closer to the design in this thread than that though. Pretty sure I’ve seen something similar somewhere. Anyway, I do like the general idea presented here.

Yes, you’re right. I think the issue was that it was a very lengthy email and we didn’t have time to look into everything right away so an immediate response wasn’t sent, and then the holidays hit.

This has been discussed before and in fact I just brought this up again last week internally. There’s some logistical issues there that would need to be resolved of course. If we can get past those, it might be an option. I wouldn’t necessarily say that RECF would reject the idea. There’s been a lot of good changes recently and that includes more interest in doing things with TM that make EPs happy - the recent rollout of RPi wifi support is a great example of that. It’s always a balancing act though.

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