Cumulus.ini (preserving history)

From Cumulus Wiki

This page has been renamed from "Cumulus.ini" to preserve the early history of that page.

The information that was on this old Cumulus.ini page has been moved into separate pages for Cumulus 1, MX early releases, and MX latest releases.

History of this page

This page has proved the most complicated of all those in the Wiki to maintain:

  1. Settings change extremely often
    • Therefore it is a lot of effort to keep the documentation up to date
    • It is obviously easiest if an update is made here as soon as the settings change, sometimes that happens (perhaps by developer doing an update here)
  2. The design of configuration menus/screens/pages to edit the settings periodically changes
    • This means information about how to change settings often depends upon which release someone is using
      • In turn that means, either Cumulus users of latest release, or those using an earlier release, will struggle with the documentation
  3. Developers often provide limited information about settings,
    • Sometimes new settings are mentioned in an answer in a forum post, and do not get mentioned as a change in release announcements
      • This means that finding accurate information to update this page requires an awful lot of research that is very time consuming

The above observations applied for the legacy software, when Cumulus 2, and then 3 (MX), came along the documentation was originally split. When MX started (in 2019 to early 2020) to try to replicate much of what Cumulus 1 offered, it made sense to reuse what was written on this page for Cumulus 1, instead of duplicating it on a second page.

Then from mid 2020 to early 2021, there was rapid development of MX by the new developer, and MX began to increasingly diverge more and more from the legacy configuration, this page reflected that by introducing sub-sections (Cumulus 1 only, MX only, and both). From early 2021 onwards that 3 sub-section design for this page failed because new MX releases began to diverge from earlier MX releases. In other words, parameters that had existed at an early MX release, were no longer used by later releases. It was possible, but increasingly more and more difficult, to track new parameters to add that were added at particular releases, so the documentation got more and more obsolete.

To sum up, it was impossible for this page to show information for the legacy software, for early MX releases, and for later MX releases. The response was to move off this page anaything not relevant to the latest MX release, and to restructure this page based on how MX settings are altered, rather than where a parameter appears in the file.


Steve Loft Era

The configuration file content relating to the legacy software (e.g. 1.9.4) has been moved to legacy page

Legacy Software 1.x.y releases Beta builds of legacy software Cumulus 2 alpha releases MX beta 3.0.0
This page was created for the legacy Cumulus 1 software (up to 1.9.4). If you look at the history tab of this page, user‎ Shamrockspider created this page at 12:55 on 27 August 2009 for the purpose of Documenting the cumulus.ini file content and its function.

Back in 2009, the file was fairly simple, and therefore documentating it was also fairly easy.

Some settings were in configuration screens, and the file was arranged so that those settings were stored under a heading that generally (not in every case, for historic reasons) reflected the screen name. Documenting these was comparitively easy, the setting could be found easily and its allowed values could be easily tested.

A lot of extra settings were added to the file, but not added to the configuration screens. Documenting these was particularly difficult as only some got mentioned in release announcements, so the others were hard to discover, and allowed values were not always clear.

Each time a beta version of Cumulus 1 was available, any parameters specific to that beta appeared in Cumulus.ini_(Beta), and only moved to the main page when that beta finished, and became the main release. The same beta page, Cumulus.ini_(Beta), was briefly used for Cumulus 2. Finally, that beta page, Cumulus.ini_(Beta), was used for all the changes in Cumulus 3 (the MX beta):
  • Some of the parameters for Cumulus 1 were not used by MX beta
  • Some of the parameters for Cumulus 1 were used by MX beta
  • Beta MX only added 3 new parameters

This was the position when Steve Loft ceased his involvement with Cumulus. This page contained all parameters used for Cumulus 1, some of these were used by MX beta too.

The beta page contained some Cumulus 1 beta parameters that were still under development and the parameters that were only used by MX.

Mark Crossley era

  • Cumulus.ini content has changed drastically, and therefore the documentation page called "Cumulus.ini" has also had to change drastically
  • There was a period when it was possible for one page to document both the legacy Cumulus 1.9.4 and all MX releases, but that has long gone.
MX beta releases 3.0.0 to MX release 3.4.6 MX releases 3.6.0 to 3.7.0 MX releases 3.8.0 to 3.9.7 MX releases 3.10.0 to 3.11.4 MX release 3.12.0 onwards
  • Until MX release 3.4.6, people using MX needed to refer to the page now called Cumulus.ini_(Cumulus_1), which was called "Cumulus.ini" at the time, and the beta page, Cumulus.ini_(Beta), as MX still used most of the parameters that the legacy software used and just a few new parameters. The latter still contained information from the last Cumulus 1 beta relating to Proxies section of Cumulus.ini, as that had not been finalised.
  • When Mark Crossley brought MX out of beta, he started adding new features to MX:
    • Some features represented functionality in the legacy software that MX had lacked, these used parameters that had been used for the legacy software
    • For other new features, like interfaces with new weather station types and new sensors, he created new parameters, and the beta page began to rival the legacy page in the number of parameters it covered
  • The information about MX on the beta page stayed there until April 2020
  • Release 3.6.0 was when the functionality of MX first started to exceed the functionality of the legacy software
  • Between April and June 2020, information on the beta page was slowly moved across to the main page, it took some time as it needed to be verified because as MX developed configuration file content was changing
  • Suddenly, a lot of people were migrating from the legacy software to MX
  • To help people migrating, from June 2020, all settings (for both the legacy software and MX) were covered on a single "Cumulus.ini" page
  • As people migrated, they could see on that single page clearly which parameters in their Cumulus.ini file were still valid, and what new parameters were needed when they migrated
  • For those using MX, the page was recording the new parameters that were being added to the file as MX developed
  • Now the history of all the changes at that time can be viewed on this page, as this was originally the page that once held that combined information.
  • From release 3.8.0, the pace of change in MX was so fast, and the contributors to the Wiki so few, the page then called "Cumulus.ini" (with its previous content) stopped being maintained.
    1. The main problem was somebody needed to do a lot of research, and devote a lot of time, to track what the developer was changing.
    2. There was a second problem, it was clear that it was too complicated to use the same page to describe configuration for the legacy software, older MX releases, and the latest MX release
  • Consequently, the "Cumulus.ini" page had to change, and the first move meant accepting MX and the legacy software could not be documented any more on the same page
    • A new page was created Cumulus.ini_(Cumulus_1), and all the information specific to the legacy software was split off from this page
  • This still left the problem that this page, at that time called "Cumulus.ini", had information that related to a release that had been superseded
  • Finally, this old "Cumulus.ini" paqe, with the attached history, but without any parameter information in the main page, was renamed to its current name, so it has preserved the history of the old page that had been split into two new pages, neither of which had the past history
  • At release 3.10.0, the settings pages in the admin interface were given a significant makeover, and huge numbers of new settings were created, while many others became redundant
  • It was clear the old MX "Cumulus.ini" page was badly designed for the way 3.10.0 operated
  • That old page was already out of date as it had not been updated for 3.8.0 changes
  • It became obvious it was easier to start a new page that would would be based around 3.10.0 MX release, but would incorporate changes from 3.8.0 onwards, and would ignore anything that was now redundant
  • The other change was a redesign of the page, so it focussed on explaining how to change the settings using the admin interface, rather than just documenting what each parameter in the file was used for
  • As MX was developed, its settings pages were being redesigned, and so where you changed particular parameters in the file was modified making the documentation that already existed obsolete for people using latest release, but still valid for people who were using an older release.
  • As release 3.12.0 was planned to add many, many more parameters to the Cumulus.ini file, and the Settings pages get another redesign, it was decided the documenting of the changes in 3.8.0, 3.9.2, and 3.10.0 would be delayed until it became clearer what might change in 3.12.0
  • The new Cumulus.ini page to cover all these recent releases was created in June 2021, a year after the last big change to a page with that name.

Original content of this page

How this page used to be laid out, and why

For both Cumulus 1 and early MX releases, the content on this page was arranged assuming people were editing the file directly.

Therefore, the file was described by working through the sections on the file, and explaining the parameters that could go in each section.

For the longer sections, parameters might be split into separate tables to make it easier.

Before release 3.10.1, there were two types of parameters in Cumulus.ini.

  1. "read-only" settings were made directly in the "Cumulus.ini" file, there was no way to adjust these parameters using the settings screens/pages
  2. "read-write" settings could be changed in two ways, either by editing the file with Cumulus stopped, or by finding the parameter on a setting screen (for MX, these are in admin interface).
You will see in the two pages split off from this page (Cumulus.ini_(Cumulus_1) and Cumulus.ini (MX_3.0.0_to_3.7.0)), how the parameters had to identify themselves as read-only or read-write.

Why has this original "Cumulus.ini" page been renamed, cleared of old content, and made historic?

  1. One big change in 3.10.1 is that (almost) all settings are now made via the Admin interface.
    • Therefore it makes no sense any more to organise this page how someone editing the file directly might want.
    • The replacement Cumulus.ini page is now organised by how you change settings in the admin interface (i.e. similar to how settings have been explained in MX_Administrative_Interface#Changing_Settings).
  2. Another change is that some of the settings that used to be made on the “Station Settings” page, are now made on different pages in that interface.
  3. Yet another change is that what you pick in some settings can affect what settings are shown later on the admin interface page.
    • You could say the settings pages have become intelligent.
    • For example, when you select a weather station type it ensures only parameters that relate to that weather station type are shown.
    • As another example, you can opt in or out of the default web site design, so that determines which parameters relating to web sites are shown.
  4. A final change is that some parameters are grouped as “Advanced”, so that novices can avoid those.