Ease of Use
Because usability is critical for software, one of the most important features of Deep-Sky Planner is it's user interface. It is designed following Microsoft's Windows Software Logo guidelines, so it has the consistent look and feel that you expect of Windows products. Using it is easy and straightforward. Version 6 includes improvements in the user interface, including new sorting capabilities and extensive customization of report content, layout and general appearance.
In Deep-Sky Planner, you open a document which displays the parameters you might need to request a calculation for planetary information or to search deep-sky and stellar catalogs. Different types of documents accommodate different types of requests. Once you have set the parameters, you perform the search or calculation and the result is presented in the same document window. You can edit the parameters and repeat the process as desired, and the parameters can be saved to a file for future use. You can print the document (including the reported data), save it as formatted text, HTML or delimited text (CSV). You can also open multiple documents at once which is nice for researching more complex situations. In fact, you can open and use multiple copies of the same document so that you can explore what-if scenarios.
There are many convenience features included that are typical of Windows products:
- a customizable tool bar
- tool buttons for nearly every product function
- tool button tips
- re-sizeable multi-pane document windows
- drag and drop objects from search reports to observing plan documents
- most-recently used file list
- context-sensitive HTML help accessible with F1 key
Opening document(s) by dragging and dropping from Windows Explorer or the desktop onto Deep-Sky Planner is also supported.
Works with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP: Pain Free UAC
Deep-Sky Planner 6 is designed to 'play nicely' with the new security scheme that appeared in Vista and continues with Windows 7 and 8: it can run from either an administrative or standard user account with User Account Control turned on. Three features require administrative privileges to run: choosing the ASCOM driver for your telescope, setting system time using a time service or a telescope mount, and using Smart Chart Interoperation™ with Starry Night with Deep-Sky Planner. You may need administrative privileges when Using Smart Chart Interoperation with TheSky and Redshift on 64-bit Windows. Other than these situations, UAC stays happy. You can resolve these situations by running Deep-Sky Planner as Administrator.
Two installation modes are available - one for individual user(s) and one for all users of the computer. Product maintenance (patching) can be done without administrative privileges when installed in individual user mode. Knightware recommends installing for individual user accounts.
Open a document
Open & print a document
Open & export a document
Deep-Sky Planner supports several Windows Explorer integration features that make opening, printing and exporting CSV, HTML or formatted text reports from a saved document a snap. All of these functions can be done from inside Deep-Sky Planner but they can also be done directly from Windows Explorer.
The screen shots to the right depict these capabilities using Windows 7, but they work the same way with other versions of Windows too. Note that the document file(s) must be created and saved previously with Deep-Sky Planner, and that open, print and export functions are available from within Deep-Sky Planner too.
To start Deep-Sky Planner and open a document, select the document in Windows Explorer and click the Open button on the tool bar.
To print a Deep-Sky Planner document, select the document in Windows Explorer and click the Print button. The usual Print dialog is displayed for you to select a printer and any special printing options such as landscape mode.
To export a report from a Deep-Sky Planner document, right-click on the document to display the context menu and select an export format for the report (e.g., Export HTML). You can also export a report to CSV or text format, or open or print a document using this method.
Deep-Sky Planner permits customization of reports whether the report is displayed on screen, printed or exported to HTML, formatted text or delimited text. Customizations include data formatting, report content and layout formatting, font and color choices.
|Dates||Examples: Dec 31 2005, 31 Dec 2005, 2005 Dec 31, 12/31/2005 etc|
|Times||12 hour or 24 hour, local or universal|
|RA||Examples: 01h.234, 01h02m.3, 01h02m03s|
|Decl||Examples: +01°.23, +01°02'.3, +01°02'|
|Latitude/Longitude||Examples: 89°.99 N, 89°59'59" N|
|Azimuth||Reckoned from south or north|
Report Content Formatting
Any data item (column) can be switched on and off in reports. Columns can also be moved. These settings are retained and can be changed at any time.
New in Deep-Sky Planner 6 are column presets. These are preconfigured layouts that are available with a mouse click.
Report Layout Formatting
Most reports are presented as tabular text. The columns can be resized for optimal viewing and printing, or you can use the Optimize feature which calculates the minimum column size necessary for each column's content. In addition, columns can be moved to any order that you wish. Column ordering is retained and can be changed at any time.
Users can choose font and color combinations that suit individual needs. These stylesheets can be saved and exchanged with other users online through the Deep-Sky Planner Community.
Editing a StyleSheet with the Report Style Browser
Deep-Sky Planner provides a comprehensive online help file and user's manual. The help file is provided in HTML Help format which allows you to use the Full Text Searching facility. The user's manual is provided in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format.
Deep-Sky Planner provides context sensitive help for all menus, dialog boxes, and document windows. These are accessed by pressing F1 or by pressing the Help button in each document or dialog box.
Deep-Sky Planner uses the software library that accompanies Jean Meeus' Astronomical Algorithms. A few problems in that software have been found and fixed in Deep-Sky Planner.
The accuracy of deep-sky and stellar data relies on the original catalogs: size, magnitude, etc are taken directly from the catalogs; positions are precessed to epoch and mean equinox of J2000.0 where necessary.
The accuracy of calculated data has received special attention. Calculated data include planetary events and ephemerides, apparent positions of objects, ephemerides of visual binary systems, predicted extrema of variable stars, and rise, set, transit times and angles for deep-sky and stellar data. The accuracy of each type of calculation is documented so that users can be confident in the quality of the calculations.
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