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FIRECalc Development
Old 11-30-2011, 10:22 PM   #1
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FIRECalc Development

I wanted to let you all know we are working on FIRECalc. There have been various feature requests and questions about how certain cash flow streams are handled. We plan to address those ASAP.

It's been a while since we adopted the site from Dory36. In that time I have hired various programmers to help address issues but they have all failed. I know have a new programmer helping and we are taking baby steps towards our end goal. The first step was to clean up all the files on the site to make sure we had only the core code needed for the current production site (v3).

The way these programs work is one file can call another file and these can be nested pretty deep. That being said, it can be difficult to figure out what files are needed and which are old and just left their from a previous version. Rhett, the new programmer, built a script to follow the code and identify all the needed files and thus has deleted about 110 files and 4 directories.

What we need now is for you all to help us test our development environment. Normally this type of testing would be done in private but being a community, getting everyone to help is what we are all about. If you have a few moments, please run your scenarios through the dev link below and compare your results to make sure they are exactly the same as the home page:

Development Link: Development FIRECalc
Home Page: Live FIRECalc

If you get any errors or see any discrepancies we would greatly appreciate your posting the details here.

If it works perfectly for you, please post that as it's also valuable feedback confirming that our cleanup efforts did not cause any issues.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:27 PM   #2
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Andy, both links are to the current FIRECalc page...

Never mind, I see they are different...
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:32 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy R
I wanted to let you all know we are working on FIRECalc. There have been various feature requests and questions about how certain cash flow streams are handled. We plan to address those ASAP.
Cool, Im excited! Thanks!
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Old 11-30-2011, 10:57 PM   #4
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Great (and brave!) idea to open the testing up to the group.

I ran a few quick things, and the dev version seems to work fine. Will try to test it out more later.

I assume this is just the 'cleaned up' version w/o any (intentional) functional changes yet? Do you have a list of the changes you are thinking of working on first?

-ERD50
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Old 11-30-2011, 11:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post
I assume this is just the 'cleaned up' version w/o any (intentional) functional changes yet?
That is correct.
Quote:
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Do you have a list of the changes you are thinking of working on first?
We will publish more information on what we are working on in the near future.
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Old 12-01-2011, 06:42 AM   #6
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I ran my favorite scenarios and received identical results.
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Old 12-01-2011, 09:54 AM   #7
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Thanks for helping us test. The more feedback the better.
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Old 12-01-2011, 10:02 AM   #8
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Old 12-02-2011, 01:16 PM   #9
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Ran on both, and the lower, "home page" link wouldn't give any result at all--just sat there. And now, going back to the top link, same inactivity. Used Firefox--but then, I often do; and on a Mac.
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:31 AM   #10
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Seems to work OK in development version. A few comments:

1) Your "Next Step" button, one of them should be titled "Previous Step". The action appears to work correctly though.
2) One has to use the back button in the brower to go back to inputs from the final output, i.e. the output is not on a separate window. Having a separate tab come up for the output is nice since one can compare outputs more easily.
3) Would prefer tabs like in the old version for going between input screens.
4) The spreadsheet output does not seem to work. Does not seem to work on Firecalc 3.0 either. Bummer.

Thanks for your efforts!!!!
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Old 01-28-2012, 10:58 AM   #11
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I ran my favorite current data set in the development version, and the results were exactly the same as the results in the current version of Firecalc.

Agree with Lsbcal about preferring tabs to toggle between the various input screens. I much prefer the tabs and while I understand what was most likely the rationale for doing it the new way, which I assume was to avoid a situation in which new and less experienced users miss the plethora of input options, I'd rather have the tabs. My reason is that once I've set the different input options, it's easier in the current version to quickly check the effect that different amounts of annual spending have on the success rate.

FWIW, I'm using the current version of Firefox - 9.0.1
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Old 01-28-2012, 11:15 AM   #12
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An idea for combining development input with tabs:
Each time you proceed to a new screen from the input, you generate a tab with the previous input screen. Maybe you do away with the "previous" button? Don't know if this is easy or hard to implement.
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Old 01-28-2012, 03:54 PM   #13
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I just ran my info through both on an iPad and got the same result. I also noticed the previous step button says next step, but it works right, so I am sure it's a simple fix. Thanks for doing this, though I really like FIRECALC regardless!

Edit: Whoops, just noticed this thread is months old.
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Old 01-28-2012, 04:20 PM   #14
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Thread is a 2 months old but judging from the development version, they are still working on this. I hope.
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:00 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lsbcal View Post
Thread is a 2 months old but judging from the development version, they are still working on this. I hope.

Yes, the last time I checked it was just a port of the old, with no (intended) changes. I wasn't aware any new work had been done.

A few things I noticed:

1) I would prefer that you use this opportunity to change the default portfolio and spending to $1,000,000 and $40,000. This way, the spend # is always just a decimal shift away from straight 'SWR' percentages ($40,000 relates to 4% WR).


2) IMO, too much scrolling required as you go from page to page. On one page, the 'next' will be right in the middle of the page, and then on the next, it has dropped down and I need to scroll to find it. I don't like it when a repeated task has you 'hunting' for it each time. I'd prefer to see the next/back/submit buttons in the same place each page.

Related to that - the links to each page:

» Other Income/Spending
» Not yet Retired?
» Spending Models
» Portfolio
» Portfolio Changes
» Investigate


are fairly small text, yet take up lots of vertical space, leaving lots of empty white-space. If that was used more efficiently, less scrolling would be needed, and the links could probably be made easier to see/hit.


3) I preferred the old method of popping a new window or tab for results (it should be noted that results will open in a new window/tab), since I probably want to go back and change something. But now that entry window is gone and I need to use the browser 'back arrow' to get back to it (I didn't see a button on the results page to take you back). And 'Back' takes me back to the beginning, not the page I left.


4) There is no 'submit' button - I guess all you do is tab to the last page and then hit 'next' - that's a little odd if you are making a change on one of the other pages - I would want to submit right from that page.

Overall, I like the new brighter/cleaner look.

-ERD50
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Old 01-28-2012, 05:50 PM   #16
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2) IMO, too much scrolling required as you go from page to page. On one page, the 'next' will be right in the middle of the page, and then on the next, it has dropped down and I need to scroll to find it. I don't like it when a repeated task has you 'hunting' for it each time. I'd prefer to see the next/back/submit buttons in the same place each page.


3) I preferred the old method of popping a new window or tab for results (it should be noted that results will open in a new window/tab), since I probably want to go back and change something. But now that entry window is gone and I need to use the browser 'back arrow' to get back to it (I didn't see a button on the results page to take you back). And 'Back' takes me back to the beginning, not the page I left.


Overall, I like the new brighter/cleaner look.

-ERD50
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:20 PM   #17
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That is correct.We will publish more information on what we are working on in the near future.
I vote for "my spouse is still working and will continue to earn $X/year until YYYY". Currently, I get round this by reducing the income which the portfolio has to generate, and then adding on my spouse's pre-retirement salary as off-balance-sheet spending, starting in her retirement year.

The new version looks good visually, but I like being able to move from tab to tab in the present version.

I also noticed that some of the "Inflation adjusted?" checkboxes are not checked by default, as they are in the "live" version. Given that "almost everything in FIRECalc is inflation adjusted", maybe these should continue to be checked by default.
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Old 01-28-2012, 06:33 PM   #18
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I liked the old tabs also. The previous/next buttons should be good especially for beginners to step through all the data entry forms. As ERD said, maybe you could rearange the links that used to be tabs across the top, and also put the previous/next buttons near the top so they will be in the same relative position on each screen.
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Old 01-29-2012, 04:33 AM   #19
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First off, great feedback, thanks you! We will incorporate your feedback into the next version.

This new look & feel was just an exercise to better understand how we can simplify the walk through the input fields for a newbie. One thing it does not have is all the great supporting text that explains each field. We look at adding that text in what are called Bubble Tips but the amount of text doesn't fit well in those. Instead the next idea we want to explore is to have the inputs slightly shifted to the left and then a large space on the right where the explanation of the field is provided when you click on a field. This will keep the form simple but allow for long descriptive supporting text.

Our other plan was to have a single page form where you can click a button and every field is on one page. The intent of this was to provide one long page where our advanced users could see all the fields on a single page.

We will add the tabs back to the next iteration and move the Next & Previous buttons (or add small arrow icons) to the top so they will be in the same spot so flipping through the pages will be easier.

Thanks again for all the great feedback, we will go through it and incorporate that into the next test and then solicit more feedback.
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Old 01-29-2012, 10:35 AM   #20
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Hi Andy, I'm so glad you are doing this work. The tool deserves to be continually evolving as it is a wonderful resource.

One point I think is crucial in viewing that summary page:
The current graph with all the squiggly lines is great but it could be made much better and more readable. This would be by normalizing the Y-axis to be the inflation adjusted percentage of the starting total. So the graph would start at 100% and some lines would go down to minimums as before while some lines would head up to maybe 200% and beyond.

If you do not want to do this normalization and still want to keep this in $'s, I'd suggest a semi-log graph so that the down lines are more readable. I really do want to know how bad it could have gotten in history before it got better (those lines that go down and then back up). There would have to be a finer set of grid lines going horizontally so that values could be read off the Y-axis.
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