Saturday, November 5, 2011

SwitchList: Keep Those Sidings Open!

If there's one problem all small layouts have, it's space. There's never enough yard tracks for the incoming freight cars, and the sidings never are long enough to hold the arriving cars.

The new version of SwitchList keeps your sidings from overflowing. SwitchList 0.9.0 now lets you name the length of each siding. If SwitchList notes that an arriving car will cause the siding to overflow, it'll hold that car at its current location till space opens up.

Don't worry, you don't have to go and measure all your sidings right now. Like SwitchList's door spotting location feature, you can turn the siding length checks on and off. SwitchList also doesn't demand you fill in every single detail about your layout. You can fill in the lengths of only the troublesome or short sidings, and then add information for the rest of your layout when you've got time. SwitchList works just fine with partial information.

Also in SwitchList 0.9.0: The new version also allows you to design your own report styles, just as you can design your own switchlists. If your railroad has a custom or recognizable style of paperwork for yard crews, you can now provide a template for SwitchList that matches that look, and SwitchList will print that report exactly the way you want. You can do this for the common report styles. The industry reports that show locations of cars grouped by siding, car reports that list cars in reporting mark order, and yard reports that show the train for each outgoing car all can be customized.

Check out the example custom reports in the Handwritten, Southern Pacific Narrow, and Line Printer reports inside SwitchList. Check out the documentation on how to write your own switchlist and report styles at the SwitchList development site, and consider sharing your favorite switchlist style with the rest of the SwitchList user community.

Finally, our next stop is SwitchList 1.0! What features do you think SwitchList needs before it can be declared "complete"? Add your suggestions on SwitchList's bug list, and join the SwitchList mailing list and discuss your ideas, and consider making your own changes to SwitchList!

[Photo: Snoboy transload facility on Seth Neumann's Niles Canyon layout.]

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