March 24, 2005

Suunto Ski Manager software is crap

As I mentioned a while ago, I got a Suunto S6 ski watch for my birthday from Miche. The watch itself is pretty good though I've only really used the ski run and descent counting functionality so far, the PC software on the other hand is pretty crap.

I guess I'm pretty fussy about software as it's what I do for a living... The version of the software that I have is 1.1.4 which may or may not be latest version but it's the version that comes on the CD with the watch - I'll check their web site at some point to see if any later versions are available. The first and most obvious failing in the software is that it's written so that it looks "cool" rather than simply doing things the standard Windows way. Cool is OK when done very very well but if you're not clever enough to work out all of the ways that your cool app could end up looking crap then don't bother trying to be cool...
To give you an idea of what I'm complaining about, there's a screenshot.


Notice how they've cleverly created "neat" little non-standard icon buttons with explainatory text underneath and then managed to create a little box to keep them in but made the little box the wrong size? How cool is that! Looks like they're making some hard coded assumptions about font sizes and stuff; a real schoolboy error for a GUI programmer and something that would have shown up if they'd tested the program on several different display resolutions with different system fonts, etc. The thing that's most amusing about this is that I have a pretty standard display here and it still doesn't work properly. I'm actually pretty lucky that I could run the program at all as when it starts it presents a user login dialog that doesnt display properly and only just manages to display the details that are needed to be able to start the program...

The next issue that I have with the software is that it actually provides less functionality than the watch itself when reviewing logs. On the watch as you scroll through the log data it displays a snapshot graph of how the current data point relates to previous points and the time and altitude and the descent/ascent per minute (or second, depending on the watch settings). The PC program, on the otherhand, displays a pretty graph of all the data, and that can be zoomed in to display a particular segment of the log in more detail but it doesnt display the rate of descent or ascent, just the altitude and time.


You can display the log data as a list box of values by selecting the Data "tab" and from here you can click on the "Copy data" button which copys the log data to the clipboard and pointlessly scrolls the list box whilst it does it - this means that the simple copy operation takes way longer than it needs to... As this is the only way to get the data out of the program this is a bit of a pain; far better would have been for them to store the logs in the file system as seperate files in a standard format (CSV or, perhaps since they're so cool and trendy, XML)... Instead the data is stored in a propriatory database file...

Given the sorry state of the software my options seem to be as follows: Check the web site for an updated version and hope that it was written by a differnt team ;). If not then I can see if Suunto publish the serial protocol that's used to talk to the watch (or reverse engineer it using a serial port snooper) and write my own software...

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Posted by Len at March 24, 2005 01:33 PM | Categories: Gear

I had always fancied a Suunto but its disappointing to hear that the software is so poor and, particularly, that data export is so clumsy. Lately I have been leaning more in favour of a GPS to collect my snowboarding data instead.

Posted by: Luke at March 29, 2005 11:20 AM

The software is disapointing but the watch itself is pretty cool. I expect I'll try and build some better software once I get away from the snow...

Posted by: Len at March 30, 2005 04:26 PM
Due to the proliferation of comment spam, Iíve had to close comments on this entry. If you would like to leave comment, please use one of my recent entries. Thank you and sorry for any inconvience caused.