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Hi all, (I hope this is the right forum for this, mods please move if inappropriate).


I've been browsing the forum, and have been finding a multitude of posts asking for advice on which lighting desk to choose for a given situation budget etc. etc..., (I'm sure you've seen them) which many posters seem to find frustrating and often hard to answer.


anyway, while investigating possible upgrades to my lighting setup, I thought up what I think, (and I hope you'll agree), is a rather good idea. :)


The idea is this; (I'd do it myself, only I don't have the necessary skills :) )


Basically it's an internet site, perhaps similar to those insurance comparison sites, for comparing lighting desks (from all (reputable) manufactures).


I.e, the user visits the site and selects various options for the spec of desk they are looking for and then the database would then bring up a list of desks which meet the users requirements. from this the user can click on a desk link to view more detailed information about it including user reviews.


off the top of my head, some suitable requirement options would be;


* Number of channel faders * Number of DMX channels

* Number of Submasters * Sound-to-light

* Moving light control (palettes etc) * Midi I/O

* Offline Editor * Backup Storage

* Theatre Stack * Chaser options


This would be a non-profit making site, purely to help people choose the right desk for their needs.


Please comment; what do you think of the idea ? Is there already something similar out there? If you like the idea would you, or know someone who could put it into practice?


Look forward to your comments... :rolleyes:

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It's a supprisingly complex thing to acheive if it is to be useful.


A basic version may not be to bad to create - given the time to get all of the data.


The biggest issue is designing the database behind it and working out which features on the desks to compare (and which desks have certain features but are sort of something different)


On the positive side I've a few suggestions for URLs!!!





I'll get my coat now


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We've discussed something similar to this using the Blue Room Wiki in the past - we already automatically collate the data from the Lanterns and Lamps using a bit of custom php script. We started working on one for Consoles but got distracted - if there is sufficient interest this could fairly easily be expanded to a fully searchable table like you describe.
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That looks like Flash in which case I wont be able to do it. You can get a nice looking inteface without flash though.


I don't see it as being that hard to do though.


Once my exams are all over. I will try to mock something up.



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I can do flash and it would be possible if you were accessing external XML file for example. However, I think the best application would be sever side scripting like PHP with SQL or something. However, I can't do PHP so I'll leave that to you Josh! Also, not everyone has flash player on their computers so something more generic such as PHP would be the preferable option.
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All of the flashy inteface stuff is do-able with jQuery (Javascript Framework) PHP, CSS and some AJAX.


It is also possible to generate XML with PHP so if someone did whip up a flash front end and provided a template XML file. I may be persuaded to give it a shot.



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Well some good news everyone, it turns out all our Wiki code was missing was one conversion between underscore and space in the names, so I'm pleased to announce the Lighting Desk Data Table is now live and running. For now you'll need to prod a mod to do the updates when you edit a desk page, but we're in the process of looking at automating that too.
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Not quite - just create a Wiki page for the desk, then add this code:


{{Lighting Desk|
name=Fat Frog|
manufacturer=[[Zero 88]]|
controlchannels=12 fixtures +48 generics|


(of course customising the numbers and details to suit), then PM a mod and ask them to update the table - it's just a quick click of a link to force it to redo the table.

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That would be a pretty simple script with PHP/MySQL. Easy with some nice frontend jQuery / MooTools & sweet CSS etc...
Yes the script is in theory easy cheechm (and indeed everyone else in the thread), but as Peter and I have just been discussing, actually storing the data in a suitable format in a database so you can query it is basically impossible, even just a simple question of how many dimmers and fixtures you can control, on a Strand 500 you are limited to how many attributes you've paid for, on a JesterML48 it would be 78 maximum, if you fudged it a bit and used single channel movers as dimmers too, on a Sirius you could link two consoles to increase the channel count, the list goes on. As far as I can see there is no way you can realistically store all that information (especially when with something like the Strand, the number of movers depends on how many channels they each use, or how much you're willing to pay in unlock codes). I kind of see it a bit like the old problem of fixture profiles, a dimmer is easy, a mover is a little bit more complicated, how do you handle an LED fixture which needs three or more intensity channels, then a scroller or autoyoke, where it has a dimmer at one address and then the rest of the fixture somewhere else entirely. Can anyone actually handle a scroller on a fixture that's moved via an autoyoke?


Anyway the point of my rambling is that for now I'd recommend we just try and get all the data into the wiki (well I would say that), then we can produce a nice human readable table, with text comments as necessary, that can generally be sorted fairly well. At least it gives people one place to look so they can get an idea of the range of desks to suit their requirements and they can look into the relevant ones further from there.


However now is certainly a great time to propose any fields that the existing Lighting Desk template/table fails to capture that ought to be added; MIDI, Timecode etc possibly being worthwhile ones.



A concurrent post has been automatically merged from this point on.


Not quite - just create a Wiki page for the desk, then add this code
You can also have a look at the relevant template page for a bit more documentation/information on the template and how to use it/what fields it has available.
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I'm not sure what other people were thinking, but I was thinking more along the lines of the specs which the "out of the box" desk has, as in DMX channels, DMX universes, other protocols supported & submasters etc...
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As an informative cross-referencing of existing Wiki data it's a nice idea, but as a standalone website of the ilk of confused.com as originally suggested would it really be worth it? When you think of how many people renew insurance daily it's no surprise that there are websites out there for searching for good insurance deals. How often do venues buy desks? A desk could last a good ten or more years, and when you consider the small size of the market they're aimed at just how many people are regularly going to find a dedicated site for comparing lighting desks useful? I hazard a guess that it'll be far less than the thousands of people who daily need to renew or purchase insurance.
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