Discussion in 'Permanent Way' started by FiftyFourA, 15 June 2015.

  1. FiftyFourA

    FiftyFourA Western Thunderer

    Not sure if this is the correct forum but here goes anyway.

    I have been trying to use Templot for a while now. I have twice deleted it from my laptop in disgust as I find the tutorials so impenetrable (and I was a computer science lecturer until I retired 3 years ago) and dont always match the drop down menus that I have on my screen, but I reinstal it each time because other modellers say it is getting better and is just the job for 'personalised' trackwork. I cant say that I totally agree with that sentiment.

    Anyway, I have tried the latest reinstal for a couple of days now and all I am able to do is draw a curved LH point - oh no, that is the default when I open it up!

    Can anyone help - or draw what I want from a specification. It is now not worth my learning to use it as this is the only thing I will EVER want to use the software for as it has to fit a rather cramped site in my loft.

  2. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    Sorry I can't help with the plan - I seem to have the same problem as yourself using the software. I think the problem is that I write and use a lot of software at work and Templot doesn't conform to any of the norms. So for the technical or CAD savvy users have a great problem switching to the Templot style of working.

    I saw this youtube video a few months ago about a reverse steering bike and I immediately thought that explains the Templot conundrum perfectly. This guy built a bike that has reverse steering, i.e. turn the handlebars to the left and the front wheel turns to the right. If you have been riding a bike for years you will be unable to ride it. It took him 8 months of daily practice before it finally clicked and he could ride it. But by that point he couldn't ride a normal bike. He made one for his young son who had only been riding for a few months and it took the lad only 2 weeks to rewire his reactions to ride the reverse steering the bike. I suspect that this learnt behaviour is exactly the reason why I can't cope with Templot so I don't feel any failure in failing to get to grips with Templot.

    The best I can suggest is what I have done. I struggle to get a complete plan drawn out to flow so I draw out a group of pointwork in Templot, print it off . I then lay it out on lining paper, adjust by hand and then draw out the connecting plain track using a variety of bits of string and long steel rules.
    Last edited: 16 June 2015
    richard carr, iak63, pakpaul and 3 others like this.
  3. jc2001

    jc2001 Western Thunderer

    One of the best analysis of Templot I seen. It's a shame as it is clearly a very capable program under the skin - but Martin Wynne seems blind to the issues.

    I once managed to wrap it with a more intuitive GUI control but this was thwarted by later updates.

  4. Railwaymaniac

    Railwaymaniac Western Thunderer

    Does anyone on here remember a full-screen based text entry program called 'WordPerfect'? - Originally DOS based, I think, and it used a TOTALLY WEIRD set of key functions for doing things. And an inordinately HUGE number of people used it every day, no problems.

    My point here (I think) is that Templot does things the way that the author wants to do them, and not the way Micro$oft wants, and this leaves folks with exactly two choices - learn how to use Templot or use something else.

    You can consider learning Templot to be like learning Russian or Chinese. You wouldn't expect to be totally fluent in either of these languages in a short time-period, nor without a lot of practice, tutoring and plain hard work. Learning to use Templot is exactly like this.

    I too have struggled hard with Templot, and my final conclusions are:-
    • Be prepared for a tough learning experience - coffee and midnight oil are your friends here.
    • Print out *and use* the key combination 'cheat sheet' - encapsulate it, if you can.
    • Go through the 'read this if you don't read anything else' tutorial at least THREE times.
    • Go through any other tutorials at least twice each - you can find lots of tutorials on Youtube
    • Be very prepared to scrap anything that you achieve in the first month or two - it is often easier to start again rather than continue with error-filled work.
    • When you think that you have your final version of the layout, scrap it and do the whole thing one more time - you will *still* be learning at this stage.
    • Be prepared to print out your layout *at least* four times before you are done - not very kind to the trees, but a printed version often shows up things that the screen doesn't display very well.
    I hope this helps you, Peter. Templot is indeed a frustrating struggle, but it really is worth all the effort because it can produce some flowing and very realistic looking trackwork.

    simond, Dog Star, S-Club-7 and 2 others like this.
  5. Len Cattley

    Len Cattley Western Thunderer

    I've used Temple when it first came out and find it a good programme (mind you I have no cad or any other training). If you need to find out what it can do I suggest you go to the Temple forum website, then you can ask what you need to do and how to do it.

    martin_wynne likes this.
  6. AndyB

    AndyB Western Thunderer

    I'm sure we've had this debate on here before - as has been on other forums including the 'Templot' forum.

    My 2p worth for this time around:
    I really don't get the complaints about the Templot 'way of working'.
    Templot is a tool for designing track. It follows rules and principles for designing track. Track is simply not made from prismatic shapes - so time to forget about CAD (and yes, I've used at least 6 'professional' level CAD packages and tried some of the freebies).
    Track design is complex - just look at the thickness of the published works on the subject by the Permanent Way institute. There is a 'language' which needs to be learnt before one can converse on the subject (either with another person or with a computer program). That isn't a fault of the software.

    Impenetrable tutorials - true of much other software too, even that from vendors that have a team of technical authors (unlike the one-man band behind Templot). Martin has long struggled with the fact that it is such a huge job to bring them up to date - but also with the fact that he'd need to write them in about 6 different ways to even start making them penetrable by people who will come at a problem from so many different angles.

    User inteface - it is menu driven, as are most other software once you can dig under the array of baffling, 3D, dynamic icons that seem to be the current trend. Like any other software that enables complex tasks, it is a case of learning ones way around.

    A final positive suggestion - if you want someone to do some Templot design for you, put a request on the Templot forum. It has been done before with a successful outcome.

  7. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer

    I've used Templot for several years and I can get fairly good results from it, but it did take a while to get into the way of working with it. I have a lot of experience with CAD programs, but that is of little use in Templot and can be a definite hindrance. :) But once you hook into how Martin Wynne's brain is working a lot of it becomes clear. :)

    I believe Martin developed the program for his own personal use in track making many years ago, then decided to make it available to other modellers. I suspect that the present day program still relies on the central calculating engine that was developed all these years ago and re-writing it to allow a program which matched modern day CAD program styles would probably require a lot more work than would be worth while.

    I've occasionally had a few thoughts on how I could re-design Templot to suit people who didn't like its interface, but it is not all that easy and the end results could raise more problems than it solved. :)

    martin_wynne likes this.
  8. richard carr

    richard carr Western Thunderer

    Templot is sadly far from easy to use, it has improved immensely over the past few years but it is still a difficult program for beginners to learn.
    It is a shame because it is such a powerful tool once you have mastered it, so please persevere it really is worth it, we couldn't have built our layout without it, and now I'm used to it I don't think I would want to change it that much. Its a track layout program, its not a CAD program and if you ask me CAD programs are just as difficult to learn.

    martin_wynne likes this.
  9. BrushType4

    BrushType4 Western Thunderer

    I think any new software is difficult to learn to a certain degree. Templot is a powerful piece of software and is necessarily complicated to enable all the features and content. I've tried Templot a number of times and I can see a glimpse of how good it is, unfortunately it seems that Martin had a falling out with the Microsoft GUI guys so feels difficult to use. I'm surprised in a way that Templot is not Mac based.

    Still it's a minor critique and one day I'll have it cracked. Keep with it and you'll get there. :thumbs:
  10. FiftyFourA

    FiftyFourA Western Thunderer

    :)Thanks guys, you have made my mind up.

    I am deleting Templot and going back to pencil, paper and ruler to draw it out the old-fashioned way. Quite frankly, I have more important things to do with my time ... like actual modelling (and the odd glass of wine).
    BrushType4 likes this.
  11. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    I wouldn't delete it - it's still extremely useful for printing out templates for turnouts. You can very quickly produce a suitably curved template for a turnout for whatever scale you are using with very little effort, print it off and then layout the turnouts manually.
  12. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    I wouldn't be blind to the issues if someone would properly tell me what they are. No-one ever has, despite my several times asking. For example, what is the correct Microsoft way to adjust the length of a clothoid transition?

    What do you want changed? If I can make such changes within my remaining lifetime I will do it.

    But first, please watch this video. Then tell me, with exact frame times, which bits you don't understand:

    In Templot, click the help > watch a video > single slip menu item on the trackpad.

    If you don't have Templot, the same video is here: http://templot.com/companion/index.html?add_slip_roads.htm

    Or here, in fuzzy MP4 format (use the playback button for restarts): https://flashbackconnect.com/Movie.aspx?id=RxdwQczwCvgPpdDu1OJJhA2

    But in the final analysis the solution is simple -- if you don't like Templot, don't use it.


    Last edited: 17 June 2015
  13. BrushType4

    BrushType4 Western Thunderer

    Thank you @martin_wynne I'm going to give this another go. It's complicated because it's complicated to learn any new software. The unfamiliar GUI doesn't make it any harder, it's just unfamiliar. I paid for this software many moons ago so even though it's free now I'm going to get my money's worth! :thumbs:
    martin_wynne likes this.
  14. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    Hi Phil,

    Be sure to download and use the latest version. If you get stuck there is lots of friendly help on the Templot Club forum: http://85a.co.uk/forum/

    Also, Allan Ferguson wrote a simple beginners tutorial several years ago. It's here: http://templot.com/companion/index.html?getting_started_allan_ferguson.htm


  15. adrian

    adrian Flying Squad

    I have watched the video's and I have gone through the tutorials and I understand all the bits so I can't point to a bit that I have problems with, however it just doesn't "click" with me. It's why the bike video resonated with me - have you watched that video? Everyone can understand the reverse steering bike, it's quite simple you turn the bars to the left and it steers to the right. Perfectly understandable but if you try to ride it you can't, your inbuilt patterns of behaviour means that you will crash. This is exactly how Templot feels for me, I'm reluctant to invest a significant amount of my time to rewire my brain.

    It's not that I don't like it, it's more that I can't cope with it. I'm happy to accept that's my failing and I'm quite happy to use it in a way that suits me, printing off templates for the turnouts and joining them up with a long steel rule.
    Dog Star likes this.
  16. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    Hi Adrian,

    That's fair enough. Templot is intended to be a tool for modellers, and you can use it or not use it, or parts of it, any way that suits you.

    But I would like to understand which bit of Templot "goes to the left when you steer it to the right"? There are drop-down menus, tick boxes, keyboard shortcuts, mouse movements, modal dialogs. It uses the Windows Common Controls (actually a very old version to be compatible with Wine on Linux and Mac), so on the face of it, most users should find it familiar. The only significant difference is that it doesn't use the Windows Document Model, which is founded on text-based activity and doesn't work well for technical design work. That's a difference which is noticeable only for file handling, not when doing design work on the screen.


  17. JimG

    JimG Western Thunderer


    I know that we all say that Templot is not a CAD style of program, but underneath the hood it is basically the same, with a database of all the elements of a design or drawing, this database storing thew vectors and properties of each element of a drawing. The major difference in use is how this database is accessed. In a CAD program, if you want to select an item to modify it, you usually click on it to highlight it, then alter it to suit your needs, then deselect it and the changes are automatically stored on the internal database. The images on the screen are a window to the items in the database.

    In Templot, you have to get your hands dirty to a certain extent and manipulate the use of the database. You select an element on the screen image - called the background - then you have to make a decision about what you want to do with it. You can delete it to the control which means removing the data for the element to the control area to make adjustments with the image of the element being highlighted - similar to clicking on an element on a CAD screen. When you have finished any adjustments you have to store the data for the element back into the database and the image reverts to the background colouring of the elements. If you don't store this information and move on to work with another element, then you have lost that information. In a CAD program, the storing is done for you automatically and I suspect this is one area that new users may find a problem - i.e. they've done work on an item then it's disappeared - really disappeared. :).

    If you copy the element from the store to the control, work on it, then store it back at the completion of the actions, then you have two versions of the item in the database - the original one before the modifications and the modified version. So new users can finish up with a lot of versions of elements in the database because they were playing it too safe - maybe after losing information using when deleting an element to the control area, and you might have to carefully pick through all the duplicates in the storage box to make sure you delete the ones that are not required.

    The third action on the store of elements is to wipe from the store. This action copies the element data into the control, but the display feature of the background screen is switched off - i.e. the data is still stored in the database but not shown on screen which allows elements to be stored for later use, but not shown on screen. In a CAD program you might do the same by switching an element to another layer then switching the layer off

    So I think a lot of new users are probably mystified by all these actions in Templot when they have been used to the click/select to work on an item and deselect to save an element which is common on probably every graphical or CAD program these days. And the semantics is probably confusing as well - I always think twice before selecting a menu item with the word "Delete" in it, and "Delete to Control" is probably one of the most used actions in Templot. In "Windows Speak", the wording would be "Move to Control" and I think new users would understand that better.

    However Templot does give you a huge amount of control over what's in its Storage Box (database) and I can assume that the particular method of handling of database elements in Templot would dictate a different method of access and storage.

    But for actual track design there is nothing better - well not at the hobby level. :) For example, you want to model a block post on a double track main line - a sweeping reverse curve double track with a trailing crossover. It takes you a short wile to lay out the one track with your curves. Then once that is done, copy the track to make a double track at the appropriate track centres (a second or two), insert a turnout in one track, set switch and crossing angle and position it (a minute or less), make a crossover from this turnout to match the other track perfectly (a second or two), then tidy up the other track around the turnout (under a minute). Job done. :) I would suggest that would beat the pencil and lath method by quite a margin. :):)

  18. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer

    Hi Jim,

    It's not lost, or at least not immediately. There are 80 slots in the undo register, so pressing or holding down CTRL+U or the blue left-arrow toolbutton will find it again if you forgot to store it.

    You can work that way if you wish. It is called make-on-click mode. Left-clicking on a template deletes it to the control and stores the previous one. The setting is on the program panel:


    Right-click on a template to see its usual menu.

    The toolbuttons at the top of the trackpad gain an orange background to remind you that this mode is in force. This option is included in your program preferences if you save them.

    However, almost everyone who has tried this, including me, found it very difficult to use and quickly reverted to the normal mode. It's fine if you just want a string of plain turnouts, as in a pick-and-place track design program. But it gets very tricky to the point of impossible when working on overlaid partial templates to build complex formations. More about this and other things here:


    Many thanks for your kind words. :)

    Last edited: 18 June 2015
    Stumpytrain likes this.
  19. Wagonman

    Wagonman Western Thunderer

    I too had an early (paid-for) version but just could not come to grips with it – as a mere Arts graduate I probably should have stuck with burger-flipping! Now that I am older, if no wiser, it seems time to try again. I have been a Mac user for the last 16 or so years so will presumably need a Windows emulator of some sort. As Mac OS X 10 won't let me install WINE, can the collective wisdom of Western Thunder recommend some other emulation software that is both free and acceptable to my picky computer?
  20. martin_wynne

    martin_wynne Western Thunderer


    Have you tried Winebottler to install Wine (it's free): http://winebottler.kronenberg.org

    Or Codeweavers Crossover is an inexpensive supported Wine installer with a free trial: https://www.codeweavers.com/products/crossover-mac/

    Lots of users are running Templot on a Mac this way, and I haven't heard any other reports of Wine not installing (except on pre-Intel macs of course).