ZBoard – FEN setup dialogue

Download:   ZBoard v0.1 (google drive)    (board flip problem fixed – good to go)

I’m not sure if I want to release the source code (if only because it’s still only half-baked), but I’m happy to release the byte-complied module for any use that people might wish to use it for. It’s fairly compete, but still in need of testing, and user feedback. Well, let’s have a look square-off, to see what I’m talking about:

(Click on image to enlarge)

It looks very similar to SCID’s FEN setup board:

One difference is that the ZBoard version can be run stand alone, as z-fen.pyw. Another difference is that the piece selector isn’t just buttons, but rather, an array of selectable images, which can be scrolled through (when focused) with the mousewheel, or even selected via the keyboard (e.g. “pnbrqk”).

Another big difference is that the pieces on the board can be moved from one square to another. Or removed by clicking, but not moving. (This behavior may change – through right-clicking a piece should always remove it).

There’s also a FischerRandom generator button – which might be handy for some. Additionally, there’s an explicit copy button – which will copy the current FEN into Window’s clipboard – a handy feature for pasting into another application.

Lastly, as a convenience, the input FEN entry allows for shorthand notations to place pieces on the board for later rearrangement. Thus “kp kp” can be entered to give White / Black the given piece configurations – here, each side gets K+P. Normally the pieces are arranged on home ranks, with pawns going on 2nd/7th ranks, and major/minor pieces on 1st/8th ranks. But in some cases I’ve decided to arrange the pieces in well known endgame configurations – assuming it still just as easy for someone to rearrange if desired. (Maybe I’ll eliminate this, or add a syntax for it).

(Note: Input FEN: kp kp gets automatically undated to proper FEN when <Return> is entered)

Here’s one showing the piece layout for “kbnp kq6p”, which shows the multiplier shorthand (useful), and how the feature can be overdone (maybe not so useful):

Here’s one to show the more natural default arrangement when a piece combination isn’t recognized:

One feature I’ve eliminated is the FEN entry dropbox, which I never used, myself. Instead, old FEN’s can be retrieved by giving the entry box focus, and using the standard up/down cursor keys.  It should also be mentioned that there is tighter updating of the FEN Input entry and the dialogue widgets in the right panel. This should become obvious during usage, and will hopefully be appreciated.

Before letting this topic the “Color Flip” button should be mentioned. Consider the following tactical position, which has Black to play:

I like ChessTempo’s convention of putting the side-to-play facing the user. The FEN input board can be flipped in ZBoard, unlike in SCID, by clicking on the bottom right corner of the board, just outside it (i.e. on the board border pixels). This requires a steady hand and will be updated with a real board-flip icon soon.

But some sites always show the board from White’s perspective. Thus, the “Color Flip” button, which allows the exact same tactical problem to be shown with White-to-play. The pieces get color reversed, as seen here: By flipping the color-revered board one can see how the colors get reversed from the original position:

Being able to input a position from a flipped board is another useful feature which I wished SCID had. Maybe someday all these new features can be reintegrated into SCID.


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