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Will ST4 be night vision friendly
Much of my time with ST3 Pro is spent on a tablet computer, chair-side out in the field.  Utilizing ST3P that way is enormously beneficial and productive.  One feature of ST3 that I would improve in ST4 is how it behaves in night vision mode. 

Preserving night vision adaptation may not be a high priority for astro-photography but it's of top-most concern for visual.  ST4 for Visual has unique requirements almost as challenging as were those of the version dedicated to photography. 

When 'night vision mode' of ST4 for Visual kicks in, title bars, drop-down lists, dialog boxes, window transitions, task bars, etc should all remain completely subdued with only the printing and diagrams emphasized for readability.  This will include being able to increase the size of on-screen print for those of us entering maturity. Then, the next day, when ST4 is closed down, things revert to normal.

I know this is a tall order but boasting rights about a flawless night vision feature will be a game-changer.  I'm eager to see the new version but I'd gladly wait for such a revolutionary observing field astronomy aid.  ST4V is going to take us to new heights in observing the night sky.


While there have been improvements in the Nightvision for SkyTools 4, most people find that it works well in ST3. Due to back lighted monitors that never go completely black, and the limitations of Windows, the Nightvision mode is designed to always be used with a red screen over the monitor. If, after adding a red screen, you have any specific suggestions for improvement, I would love to hear them!

As for font sizing, that is extremely difficult to do in Windows. This is something that is designed to be handled by Windows itself outside of any application so there are no easy ways to do it just for SkyTools. I can't force a change in the font sizing globally (for all of Windows) because a log out/in is required to reset everything after the change is made.
Clear skies,

SkyTools Developer
I'm addressing these issues because I've had a generally outstanding experience with SkyTools and I want it to continue to be the leader among astronomy applications.  I want ST4 to succeed - to set the new standard.

As recently as this new moon period, we've had some of the best observing conditions in a long time.  I spent the nights at a dark-sky location with ST3Pro on a tablet with an 11 inch screen and a red filter.  Repeatedly, I remember thinking to myself when faced with the bright title bars, dialog boxes and drop down lists, etc -- "why does it have to be this way".  At a dark sky location, these intrusions make a difference.

Nowadays, changing font size on many applications is as simple as CTRL+scroll wheel. Almost everyone does it.

The SkyTools information engine is remarkable and is getting even more so in ST4.  As constituted, ST3 (and maybe ST4) is pretty comfortable to use on screens of 15 inches and up in the living room. The challenge for widespread success as a Visual Field Application lies in adapting its user interface for small-format screens and subduing bright display features in a dark-sky, night-time environment.  Astro-photographers have the luxury of big screen functionality; visual astronomy is a different animal.

I would encourage you to at least consult with a Windows wunderkind on transforming the human interface aspect of ST4.  See what's possible.  Kids these days are amazing.  Refreshing the application and bring it up to today's standards is where you want to go.  It'll be worth the wait.

Let me give you some advice. If you are going to insult someone and then feel the need to add a smiley face, it is far better to reconsider the insult than to cover it up with the smiley face. That smiley face should be your sign to stop and reconsider.

You have no idea what you are talking about when it comes to font scaling. Sure, maybe there is an app out there that dynamically changes font size for one window, or in a game environment, but there is no way to do that across an entire Windows application without introducing huge time-consuming kludges that are non-portable and could stop working with the next change in the OS.

I have 25+ years of experience with programming in Windows. When they introduced Windows XP they decided to completely do away with the customization of window screen elements, such a scroll bars, in favor of "skins." At the last moment before release they changed their minds and backtracked. As a result, Microsoft has been inconsistent in how these things are handled ever since. Open your Windows 10 Personalization and see for yourself. You need a third party app just to change more than the main and accent colors, and for some reason only known to Microsoft, the ability to change the background of a scroll bar or menu stopped working years ago. All SkyTools dialogs use the Nightvision settings. You can change the title bar color within Windows itself, but because they changed how this works internally, there is no longer an way to change it via software.

If your red filter is not strong enough to dim the screen elements, then use a darker red filter. There may also be possible ways to use a red Windows theme or mess with the high-contrast settings. Maybe if you ask nicely, others here might offer help with that.
Clear skies,

SkyTools Developer
I apologize for the tone of my reply.  I intended no insult.  The smiley was to imply honesty, humility and enthusiasm for success of your endeavor.  Please delete reply if possible and try to ignore it.  I have absolutely no expertise in programming.  Sincerely.
Thanks for your response.

Look, I use a tablet in the field too. I am aware that the menus and the scroll bars can be too bright (depending on your windows color settings). As I said, there are improvements being made for ST4 Visual. I have discovered why the scroll bars don't change color like one would expect them to, and there is another approach that can be used. But right now it doesn't actually work for reasons unknown. And even when it does, it will only color SkyTools scroll bars rather than do it globally. So I am working on that. I know that the menus can be colored, because I have seen them colored in other apps, but I have not yet figured out how. The legacy way to change the colors does not work. So I am working on this too.

But, there is a reason this isn't a top priority. What I have found in practice is that there is always something that ends up too bright. Often this is a window from other software, which you may need to open, but does not properly respond to the messages that tell it to change its colors. Sometimes it is a Windows dialog that SkyTools calls up, such as a dialog to browse to open a file. Because I have to sometimes handle things internally, I can make SkyTools color an aspect of a dialog, but I may have no way to make Windows do it. So this is why I suggest using a dark red filter over the screen. In the end, its the only way to handle everything.

Consider: the main purpose of the Nightvision mode isn't really to turn things red. It is to make important items visible through the red filter.

I am open to specific complaints, such as "the scroll bars are too bright," and suggestions. At the TSP this year it was suggested that the NightBar not be so bright, and I am going to dim it. But please understand that Microsoft does not normally consider astronomy software when they make their decisions, so these things may be difficult or impossible to deal with fully.
Clear skies,

SkyTools Developer

Here is how I use ST3 to maximize my dark adaptation. I use a dedicated 10" tablet for this as using Windows without a red filter in this mode is not the most convenient. Also note, this applies to Windows 10. I'd assume you can do similar in Windows 7. Finally, I exclusively use Sirius Astro Products Xtra Dark Cling.

  1. Set your display to use 'Light Mode'
  2. Go to Ease of Access in Settings
  3. Select 'Color Filters'
  4. Enable 'Turn Color Filters' to On
  5. Select 'Grayscale inverted'
This will emulate an inverted grayscale in Windows. You may want to tweak a few of the normal colors to change things like title bars and the task bar to darken them a bit. I leave ST3 in regular mode (NOT night mode). When used with a red filter, this looks pretty good. I got the idea to try setting windows up this way because I use SkySafari in monochrome mode with a red filter as well. This (too me) results in contrast that is MUCH better than using night modes.

Thanks for describing how you handle night vision. Your method has the advantage that it will work on everything that is displayed on the screen and that can be very helpful.

Personally, I would also use the SkyTools Nightvision mode because it is designed to make items in SkyTools more visible through the filter. I don't see a downside to it.

Regarding your comments about font sizing, I hope you don't mind my addressing the misconceptions in what you have stated. I see this written all the time, and I do not know where it is coming from. Maybe its people who don't know what they are talking about complaining on Cloudynights, which I don't monitor regularly. It seems like I can't turn around without someone repeating this misinformation.

For the record (once again). The graphics problem where the lines and labels are not properly scaled on the charts is not directly related to the dpi setting or the font sizing that high dpi often requires. These things simply make the problem visible. The problem is due to a bug in some video drivers. SkyTools 3 uses the graphics in a complex way, a way that is not common for other software. As a result, some video drivers fail to scale these screen items properly, and this goes unnoticed by the manufacturer until someone complains about it. There are no limits to the dpi or font scaling in the SkyTools 3 graphics.

Some facts:

1. This is a bug in the video driver. That is not speculation, or opinion, it is known a fact.

2. The majority of devices running SkyTools 3 do not suffer from this problem.

3. Updating your video driver sometimes solves the problem. All the ones I had trouble with are now working.

4. Rather than blame SkyTools, which is not at fault, satisfaction can often be had by complaining to the manufacturer of your video hardware.

5. SkyTools 4 Imaging has been out for nearly a year now. It uses the same code for drawing charts as SkyTools 4 Visual will. There have been no problems reported with the graphics. This is because it uses a more common approach to the graphics, which is a bit slower, but looks much nicer. As a side effect, it is not affected by the video driver bug.
Clear skies,

SkyTools Developer
Greg, you're the dev so I'm not the expert when it comes to video drivers. If you've had success then cool. I've used a variety of Intel drivers on tablets and my two desktops use current Nvidia hardware and drivers and the issue persists for me. Anecdotal, but relevant for my usage.
Thank you, Tempus and theSkyHound, for the work-arounds. It definitely sounds like something I'll be able to do. I want to save my current settings in case the changes I make will mess up something.  My computer uses Windows 10 also.  I'm thinking of cutting my cling filter into strips. I'll then be able to arrange the strips to cover scroll bars, title bars and task bar and tone them down a bit. Leaving the core of the display unfiltered may make it a little easier to read.

I'll give the modifications a try. I'm fortunate you would take the time to share your experiences. Thanks again

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