the Passing DataBase

Warning: This application is under constant devellopement and is likely to have evolved

    Many people have noticed the high correlation between juggling enthusiasm and computer literacy. Whatever the deep (or shallow) psychological reasoning behind this phenomenon, it resulted in the wonderful virtual world of juggling simulators.

    Simulators are wonderful for many reasons, but their most useful quality is that they enable you to render patterns you are trying to learn or to create. This rendering may be done at any speed to facilitate learning, from any viewing angle, and completely drop free (actually, this gets kind of annoying after a while. I believe a "Drop & Curse" option might make the current simulators more user friendly). To this usefuleness one should add that almost all simulators are also fun to play with and are available online free of charge, so it's would certainly be a hard job saying something bad about them!

    An excellent simulator leading this new forefront is Wolfgang Westerboer's JoePass!. JoePass! has several unique features that complement the standard features available in most other simulators, turning this software into a powerful learning, creating and playing agent for jugglers of all levels (even the armchair juggler).

    JoePass! can simulate asynchronous juggling (standard) as well as synchronous juggling (both hands throwing at the same time) and multiplexes (throwing more than one object from the same hand simultaneously). The program can render solo patterns as well as complex passing patterns, and supports such advanced features as juggler movement, camera movement and various juggling objects and styles (such as bouncing, for example). There is also full control over viewing angle, scene zooming, playing speed and all other parameters essential for deconstructing and deciphering complicated juggling moves.

    As mentioned before this simulator is not only an invaluable tool for learning and creating patterns but is also terrific fun to play with. How can a computer program be fun? Well, don't think of it as a piece of software but rather as a dream team of perfect juggler/s at your disposal, ready to perform for your entertainment every possible (or impossible) solo or passing pattern, regardless of difficulty or ridiculousness. Do you wish to behold the complex passing pattern "Bruno's Nightmare" done on unicycles? How about Mills Mess with 29 rings all thrown using pancake throws and caught as reverse backcrosses? Not the slightest problem, and of course (how annoying!) without a single drop or vacillation.

    The downloaded package includes a large library of prepared patterns. The library even includes such gems as Gandini shared patterns, hurries and multiplexes in passing patterns, to name but a few. This database, coupled with the simple and exceptionally friendly interface, provides even the occasional user with endless playing options. JoePass! includes numerous juggling styles (backcrosses, Mills Mess, etc.) all switchable on the fly using a single command.

    Even more fun can be had by those who speak at least the basic dialect of the mathematical language of juggling: Siteswap notation. A special editor window allows such users to modify the patterns, adding or subtracting objects or people, changing throw heights, etc.

    If you wish to exploit the simulator's full potential for developing and creating patterns, however, you are well advised to make the small effort of learning its internal notation. Some of this notation draws on widely accepted siteswap extensions, such as the representation of passing patterns. Other parameters enable the erudite user to change such pattern attributes as juggler every possible aspect of a solo or passing juggling pattern: passing positions, movements in relation to objects (e.g., pirouettes) and to other jugglers (e.g., runarounds), arm separation, throw delay, hurries, styles, unicycles, you name it. One may even define a pre-programmed camera movement path to add some dramatic cinematic flair to the scene. The lay user, however, should not be taken aback by such possibilities as due to the large inventory of pre-coded patterns such mastery of the internal workings is definitely not a prerequisite for using and enjoying JoePass!.

    The latest addition to the Joe package is a helper application for charting Causal Diagrams, a concept invaluable in designing, modifying and understanding passing patterns. This applet enables the user to simulate causal diagrams using JoePass!.

    To sum it up, the combination of these advanced tools with the fast and friendly user interface and the large library of available patterns results in a highly flexible and powerful tool. Perhaps you are a budding juggler who just want to see something amusing on the computer screen; or maybe you are a professional juggler wanting to simulate his or her routine in entirety; alternatively you may be a passing or solo juggling enthusiast who is out to design, learn or simulate tough patterns; or possibly you just want to learn the three balls mills mess? I believe JoePass! is relevant to users of all levels and interests.

The best part of using JoePass! are the distractions: often I've found that the road to where I intended to go was so much fun and play that I ended up forgetting what I was after in the first place...

 

Technical summary:
JoePass! Web Site:
http://www.koelnvention.de/software/
Latest Version: Ver. 2.19 - Freeware, available For Windows 95/98/NT and MacOS.
Developed by: Wolfgang Westerboer <westwolf@gmx.de>
Interface Language: English (with slight accent at times)
Download Size: ~550 KB

About the Author:
Isaac Orr lives in Israel. Juggling and computer programming are two of the many things he is (almost) good at, thus he is (almost) qualified to write this review. Isaac can be found online if you browse the links.

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