What's New in Astrocalc Version 6.2 November 2012

This document brings you up to speed with the very latest and most important changes/additions introduced in the current version of Astrocalc. It is at large a subset of the longer document Quick start guide to Master Astrocalc version 6.2 which also will guide you on the very first steps needed to get up and running. Once installed, you can access the Quick Start Guide as well as this document from the programs help menu (simple format) or open them in your word processor from the program group in the Windows Start menu.

Windows 8 compatibility
Starting with release 6.2.0.53 Astrocalc is now compatible to run on Windows 8. It will run on both 32 and 64 bits Windows systems. At the same time has also Astrogeography 6.2, Starword 6.2 and Transits Forecaster 6.2 been updated for Windows 8 compatibility.

Graphic Transits and Progressions
Included in the Advanced and Professional Editions, or if you previously had the older standalone program, Astrocalc now let you project your transits or Progressions in 2 different types of graphs.

The curve graph will show you planets moving against a scale of degrees, crossing each other’s paths as well as horizontal lines marking Natal planet positions. The scale can be set to any harmonic between 1 and 60 which is a divider of the 360 degree circle, thus with harmonic 12 you will get a standard scale of 30 degrees.

The graphic bar chart will stack aspects shown as blocks on a time line, one aspect per line. The block may vary in height showing increasing or fading exactness of the orb. This gives a very visual experience of how several transits may operate together over time and truly lives up to the proverb “a picture says more than thousand words”.

Natal Quick View
While you usually want to blow up a wheel on the screen to study a chart, sometimes we still just need a quick splash of basic data like planet positions etc. The new quick view gives you just that, whenever you load a chart it displays that information right on the data entry screen.

A New, undefined chart
Starting with version 6.0 Astrocalc began to store charts in a relational database in contrast to the plain text files used earlier. Due to differences in implementation and warranted objectives behind the change, this lead to the need of saving a chart before it could be used. This is no longer necessary. We call this an undefined chart rather than an unsaved because it can be reused over and over again with new input and as such it can also be many charts simply replacing each other.

An undefined chart is technically similar to a Now or Clock chart, except it cannot be moved back and forth in time on the wheel screen. It can be used in most operations like Transits, Progressions etc. and also in Multi-Wheels. However, it can currently not be used in Synastry or with the Clock function, which requires it to be saved first. Also, it needs to be calculated before it can be used and some options may be unavailable until that has been done. The obvious way to calculate is to click the Wheel button to display it. There is a short cut though, if you press and hold down the Ctrl key and click the said button, it will calculate it without displaying the wheel and you can use it in other routines. It will also update the Natal Quick View described above.

You start an undefined chart by clicking the New button (which then gets disabled until you load a saved chart) and the program will also start in this mode the very first time. Undefined charts are not saved between sessions, so if you close the program with an undefined chart in focus, next time it will start with blank and clean input fields as if you had clicked the New button. If you close with a saved chart in focus it will as before load automatically on next start.

The Data Entry got a visual as well as functional improvement.

This change was originally planned for next version but as I felt it’s too good to hold back any longer and too small to warrant a new version release on its own, I decided to take the most visual part of it and apply it on the current version. The rest will come in the next version to replace 6.2.

Visual improvements
On the Data Entry form all details was previously displayed inside the Chart Details frame, whether it was Natal data or not. This has now been split so Natal Chart Details always are visible in its own frame, together with functions related to the natal chart. Other routines like Transits, Progressions etc. now have their own input area which will become visible when needed. However in some cases, as for example when you would like to relocate a Solar Return chart, you still use the Country and Place field from Natal details. These changes will be temporary as long as you don’t save the natal chart.

Furthermore there has been a slight rearrangement of some labels in the Natal Chart Details frame, so the ones for Calendar and House system has moved towards the lower end, while the one for Zodiac has moved up. Also the checkbox to activate Huber Mode has been relocated to just above the Wheel, which highlights another small change. This button had previously a “Go!” caption, it will now show “Wheel” when a click will produce one, otherwise it will say “Display”, depending on which routine with sub routine is active.

Functional improvements
However, the major part of this change is that the “Search & Select” function in the centre part of the data entry screen (introduced in Astrocalc 6.0) has moved to and now integrates with the Name input field. This change was originally done in 6.2.0.52 but has been slightly revised and improved in 6.2.0.53 together with the implementation of undefined charts. This document has also been updated to reflect that.

This field now has a multi-purpose function, it displays the Name of the currently loaded chart, offer a drop down list of selectable charts from the currently active group and at the same time it's used for data input, either to name a new chart or to search for already saved charts. The search function is defined by options available in the Chart Control Panel (centre of data entry screen and here after called CCP). Central to this functionality is also the 3 buttons immediately above the Name field ([Delete] [Save] [New]).

How to start a New chart
To start a new chart simply click the [New] button. It will become disabled until you load a saved one or save it by clicking [Save]. It will also reset/clear all input fields and disable the Name fields search functionality, but more on that later. Next, enter a name for the chart and fill in all other details. For date and time values that have a fixed length the program will automatically move to the next field. With other values you may end the input by pressing the Enter key. Pay attention for the help given as you move from field to field, especially for Country and Place. Select the country from the drop list and if you type in the place name always end it by pressing Enter. This will search for it and if found also load values for latitude, longitude and zone time (including possible DST/Summer time correction). Finally, click the Wheel button to calculate and display it.

 A new chart is Undefined until it's saved (by clicking [Save]) but there is no obligation to do so - unless you really want to come back to it and it's also needed for some features like Synastry. Once you save it or load an already saved chart the New button will be enabled again and if you click it, it will once again reset the input fields for a fresh undefined chart. It won't affect an already saved chart currently being loaded as it can be loaded once again. You can also “reuse” the undefined chart by simply changing the input data to produce a chart for another person.

If you click [New] when a saved chart is loaded, it will also change [Delete] to [Abort] and a click on it will simply bring back and reload the saved chart, replacing the undefined one.

If you click [Save] it will permanently store the chart in your database and it’s no longer undefined, thus [New] will become enabled again.

There is also a hidden feature that may come useful. Normally, when you type into the Name field for an undefined chart and press Enter it simply move the insertion point to the next field. No search is done as described further down in this document. However, if you hold down the Ctrl key while also pressing Enter the program will make the same search and if found load the chart and the undefined one goes out of scope.

How to load a saved Chart
A saved chart can be loaded in 3 different ways. The most common way is to click the arrow at the end if the Name field to drop the list and then select the chart you want to load. This can always be done and the content of the list is defined by the currently active group. If you change to another group it will also change which charts, if any, you can access in the list.

Whenever a saved chart is loaded it's appended to a FiFo (First in First Out) list that can contain maximum 12 charts. You access this list by a click with the Right mouse button on a free surface anywhere inside of the Natal Chart Details frame. It opens a so called context menu with the recently used charts listed. These are also the charts available in Synastry and Multi-wheels etc. Simply make a selection from the menu.

 The 3rd and very convenient but a bit trickier way is to search for a chart, and you do this directly from the Name field. We will cover this separately as it has variety of options.

If you for any reason need to change any of the input data in a saved chart, just make the change and click [Save] and that’s it. This is also how you move a chart from one group to another, with the chart loaded, change active group (or create a new group) and then click [Save].

How to search for a saved chart
Whenever a Saved (but NOT for an Undefined) chart is loaded, if you type into the Name field and press the Enter key a search is conducted. How that search is carried out depends on Options set in the CCP. If needed, you have to study its specific help for a greater understanding but we will take you true the essentials here. First of all you need to be aware of that the Autocomplete option works quite differently to the more complex search function explained below. As you type into the field it make a lookup in the active group list of charts and preload a header of the first match so far. By pressing Enter it will fully load the preloaded chart. It’s something of a keyboard short cut to drop and select from the list with your mouse – which still is possible.

For a standard search, type in to the field as much as you think is relevant, and then press the Enter key. As mentioned above, this wouldn’t normally work with an undefined chart in focus, unless you hold down the Ctrl key at the same time as pressing Enter. You can limit the search in various ways.

If you tick the “Search All Groups” option in the CCP the search will be done across all chart groups, otherwise it will be limited to the currently Active Group, which are the same charts available in the Name drop list.  If only one chart is found it will be loaded directly as if you had selected it from the list. However, if more than one chart is found the list will drop automatically and display all charts found together with some basic data. This will also temporary replace the Active Group list, until you click the [Reset Search] that becomes visible. Select from the list the chart you want to load.

A further limitation of the scope for how many charts will be found is also set by the options [Match Exact], [Match Start] and [Match Any] which are rather self explanatory but we still recommend you to read their help text. The program comes with Match Start as the default selection, which means that if you type john and press Enter, it will return any chart whose name start with these 4 letters. So it will match “John Lennon” and “Johnston Davies” but not “Jonny B Good”. A search is not case sensitive and just as described above, if more than 1 chart is found they will all be presented in the list which will drop automatically.

The search function doesn't stop there though. As long as you don't take any of the following actions: Click the 'Reset Search' button, deliberately change the group, load a chart from the 'Recently used charts' list or start a New Undefined Chart. In such case, the charts from the search result will stay in the list and you can load and work with them one after the other in a convenient way, e.g. if you did a search on a family name.

 If no chart is found when searching you are given the option to start a new undefined chart based on the search phrase you typed or to make a new search. You can always just select a saved chart from the drop list though.

Instant Now and Clock Charts

The behaviour of the Now and Clock buttons in the “Moving Wheels” frame has changed. When you click any of these buttons the wheel is now displayed instantly, using the Display and Calculation intervals set in the frame.  The intervals can be controlled and changed as usual from the wheel, moving the calculations forward and backward (use a negative interval value).  To save the chart on return you first click Edit, which will restore the chart name for Clock and force you to enter a new one for Now, then click Save.

While you are in Now or Clock Mode the function to search for charts are disabled and Name works as a normal input field where you can edit the chart name. You can though start a new chart or change and select one from a group which will automatically reset Now or Clock and get you in to normal operation.

There is now also a button to reset Now or Clock mode explicitly, which will bring back the chart that previously was loaded.

New improved Atlas and Time Zone Module

All Editions of Astrocalc now comes with a vastly improved World Atlas and Time Zone module, without the need to purchase it separately. In older versions, custom added places were stored in the Autogaz being a standard part of the program that was separate from the Atlas and Time Zones module, which had to be purchased separately. Hence, even after purchase of the atlas, own added places couldn't take advantage of its time zone functionality.

Autogaz is now history and the new Atlas is editable so that you can add your own places with geographic coordinates, as well as adjust these values for originally included places too - if you find it necessary. Your custom places can also be assigned a time zone and will like the original ones use the time zone functionality automatically. Any change you do will be persistent and survive an update/upgrade of as well program as atlas.

Another improvement that comes with the new atlas is the ability to optionally search for places across the whole world and not only individual countries. When your search results in more than one hit all found places are presented to you with full details in a drop down list to choose from.  The data of the selected place will load in to the chart details fields.

With this much improved search function you seldom want to click the Atlas button ('View' in older versions) when looking for a place, unless you are very unsure about the spelling (but you can now do other things there). Instead you are encouraged to learn how to effectively search by making use the criteria’s that can be set.  To search you simply type in to the Place field and execute by pressing the Enter key.  If you don't finish by pressing Enter but move forward by pressing Tab, an Arrow key or click with the mouse, it signals to the program you want to do a manual input of data and no calculation of zone time is carried out.

There are two parameters you can work with to limit the range of the search, the 'Search World' and the 'Exact Match’ option in the Atlas Control Panel. The old way was to blank the Country field if you wanted to search across the whole world, and select a country to limit the geographic range. The blank trick still works but you can now simply check the 'Search World' option instead.  Uncheck 'Exact Match' to do a partial search, from the beginning of the Place name. The less you type the more hits will be returned.  It’s pretty simple and strait forward.

Fast accessible places
You can now keep up to 10 places in memory to quickly load in to the chart details, either by selecting from a list with the mouse or by pressing a key combination on the keyboard. One of these places are defined as your 'Default Place', which the program may use automatically when needed, as when you make a Now chart or start a New one. This broadly equals to and replaces the ‘Current Location’ function available in older versions.

United Kingdom is not a country but a sovereign state
In the new Atlas data for all UK locations have been split up to sort under respective country rather than the sovereign state at whole.  In the original atlas that was based on a batch of text files, the data had a flat structure with no ability to index the data or use it relationally in an effective way.  While this format was limited in many ways it didn’t have a problem with associating a place with both the country and the UK sovereign state, but under the hood a place was linked not to one but to all the UK countries. This was normally not a problem as you had to select the country first before you could get to the place.

 When we created the 1st version of the new atlas all data moved in to a database file allowing for indexing and relational linking of the data.  The said change created however a problem with UK places as in the original atlas they were all kept in the same file, without a clear affiliation to their real country. While other countries had one label pointing to a unique identifier, UK had several, one for each country, all pointing to the same identifier so as an example Glasgow could be paired up with England rather than Scotland, simply because E comes before S in the alphabet . This problem no longer exists as the new atlas has evolved to its second version.

New Text Editor and Interpretation text structure
The text editor and the whole way interpretation text is used in the program have changed dramatically in the new version of Astrocalc.  The editor in older versions was rather complicated, hence quite difficult to understand and use. This should no longer be the case. As a part of the editor redesign we also took a look at the logic behind usage and implementation of the text and found that simplicity also made it possible to remove some limitation and leave that open to the mindset of the text creator.

As a result, Interpretation text is no longer tied to a specific Routine or Routine's Subroutine as it was before, except for text to be used in some structurally specific routines like Transits, Midpoints and Synastry Direct Comparison. All other text sets are simply deemed as Wheel Text and can be used in any type of wheel, as from a technical point of view they are all the same.  In other words, a chart wheel is always a chart wheel no matter if it contains a Natal Chart or a Lunar Return.

This probably upsets one or another Saturnian mind as it breaks with the tradition. The magic key to get it all sorted and organized though is called ‘Named Configurations’  and this name will show up in menus where you select the text to use for an interpretation. It means the borders are a bit more fluid and you can deliberately write text that apply to more than one type of wheel, or you can stick to your old regime and name files accordingly and stay prudent with selecting them only when proper or it makes sense to you.

OTHER CHANGES

Many other small changes have been done and the most important will be presented below.

 The program executables as well as Setup packages are now signed with a digital certificate to ensure you that files haven’t been tampered with by any Dart Wader wannabe from the Evil Empire since they left our development computer. Furthermore, it makes later versions of Windows to run happier as well ;-)

The program now has support for Unicode and Windows Styles, it means you can basically use any language specific characters for input and they will store as well as display correctly.  This is also to open the path of translation in other than Germanic languages.  The Windows styles make the program adjust in colours and fit in with the desktop theme used on modern computers.

On most forms you can now show help by simply hovering with the mouse over an area or control, without the need to actually select it. This feature should be very useful to new users who quickly can get up to speed with what various things do, without initiate any real action. As time goes you may find it annoying that the help box is flickering as you move around the mouse, for that reason it can be switched On/Off from the Help menu.

By popular request, the button to restore the natal charts from none natal subroutines have been reintroduced. It now has a caption ‘Back to Natal’ and will show up at the top left inside the Chart Details frame.

What was previously called “East Point” has correctly been renamed to “Equatorial Ascendant” in version 6.2.0.44

Support for many more and bigger screen resolutions have been added, as well as improvements for the older ones.

A huge amount of internal changes to code have been done to improve stability and resource usage on later versions of Windows, together with many improvements to the Graphic User Interface (GUI) makes the program run not only with increased stability but also faster and it’s easier to use.

Finally, and although it changed already in 6.0 and improved in 6.2, it’s worth mention here (for those cheating in reading the other documentation)  that the license system has changed so no need any longer to obtain a new code each time you need to reinstall the program. Likewise, when using the program to do other things than Natal chart, no need any longer to first calculate and display the Natal before moving on with other things like Progressions, Returns etc. Just jump right on it, Astrocalc takes care of the basics in the background, instead of telling you need to do it - as long as it has the natal input for the chart.

For a more detailed listing of all the changes in 6.2 please see the changelog