Regarding the discussion around overcomplicating things, I think this is a general discussion regarding the necessity of automating things in the darkroom. Most of the programs features can be found in the more advanced darkroom stop clocks as well. The program basically just adds the possibility to store the data in a database. I'll make a short screencast showing the program in action this week. Maybe this clarifies a few things that are hard to describe with words.
Oh, and I don't think developing this software takes away time from me while I could get better as a photographer or darkroom printer. I don't photograph on the bus or do printing there ;) If anything, it lead to me thinking a lot more about my printing approaches than I would have without it. Even with the risk of overthinking this stuff. So maybe "Way beyond monochrome "wasn't such a good choice after all for a beginner.. ;)
"Way Beyond Monochrome" is a great choice for a beginner, because it gives you lots of examples of what a good print can look like, and some of the ways to get there.
And my post about those other resources was included to support your efforts by showing that there are gaps in the availability of useful darkroom aids.
You might also consider contacting both of them - they might be happy to assist and collaborate,
sounds like a fun idea !
I can appreciate wanting to create (and actually creating) a computer program for this, as well as controller interfaces. I'd do something that was platform agnostic so it would run on any OS (I use Linux). However, for me it would be a fun project, but not something I'd use much past proof of concept. Someone into computers can take great joy in computerizing many things and seeing it work, just for the fun of it.
When the computer is down, however, one hopefully didn't become so used to it that they forgot how to do things manually.
Actually, I have toyed with the idea of automating the exposure and development of 4x6 prints. Sort of an home-made minilab. This would be for quick-and-dirty prints from a roll of film, but not for "good" prints. I'd do those by hand. My idea would also be mostly analog circuitry in case the computer failed, as well as manual over-ride in case the analog circuitry failed. Of course, this is all outside my skill-level in programming at the moment.
Oh and I love "Way Beyond Monochrome"! As I learn this stuff from scratch, I wanted to do it properly from the start. It's hard for me to judge what are really essential techniques and what's just unnecessary baggage. Discussions here and at the public darkroom I attend from time to time really help a lot with learning things.
Hi, If you think you need suxh a complex program, or even think you don't need it but feel more comfortable with it, more power to you and I hope you get beautiful prints as a result. I can tell you that, with experience, your movements in the darkroom become more adherent to muscle memory and , as a result, you will make less careless errors and the errors will become less egregious. I do basically all the things you do via the program except its all in my head and in the notes that I record on the back of my contact sheet. Before I undertake a darkroom action, I take a few seconds and go through the various steps of exposing, burning, dodging, filtration changes, etc. and, much more often than not, all goes according to plan. Sometimes I have to throw a paper away; that's about the worst of it. I'm usually pretty satisfied with my efforts and they are repeatable. But good luck with your efforts. Maybe you will get less formal as time goes on, or not. Just enjoy yourself and keep trying to become more perfect.
You non-programmers are judging this from a user perspective, not a programmer perspective. The user perspective to using a computer in the darkroom is "take the thinking out printing and make an idiot punching buttons on the computer". Programming is about a desire to understand a process thoroughly, and use the computer to help that process. It requires learning about the process of printing rather than ignoring them. It's about the brains of it rather than the computing idiot.
I don't program, but went to college for it. It taught much ingenuity, teamwork, and problem solving skills that I use regularly in all sorts of situations.
Here's the issue: the darkroom is only part science and heavily about feeling, art, and the experience. You want less cerebral activities and more innate feel with the materials at a certain point. A large amount of printers couldn't imagine punching in a bunch of numbers for any significant period of time and just want to get to the actual exposing, dodging/burning, and development phases. I know even having to calculate dodge/burn times is annoying enough that sometimes I just freehand a large amount of it. Having to think, excessively, greatly brushes up against the dangerous border of Thinking Too Much.