Monitoring and reviewing your striking
When you are using Abel as a simulator (rather than for silent practice), it can show you how accurately you are striking as you ring. Click on the View menu and then on Striking Display, and Abel will show, below the bell circle, how accurate the striking is for the change that you and Abel are currently ringing. First a line of equally-spaced dashes appears, one for each bell; these show exactly where each bell is meant to ring. When you've clicked Start, as each bell rings Abel puts the number or letter representing that bell above the line of dashes. If the striking is accurate, the number or letter is just above the corresponding dash; if the bell rings too early it appears to the left of the dash, and if it's too late it appears to the right. The position accurately represents how early or late the bell is. The letter H or B at the left of the window shows whether this is a handstroke or a backstroke.
For example, when ringing rounds on 8, after 7 bells have rung the display might look like this:
H 1 2 3 4 6 5 7 _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
On this handstroke, the 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 have rung accurately, the 3 was a bit early, and the 5 was very late (it's actually rung AFTER the six). The tenor has yet to ring.
If you have the Striking Display turned on and ring a bell yourself, Abel can also use the title bar of the bell to indicate the accuracy of your striking at each blow. For accurate striking, the whole bar illuminates in green. For less accurate striking, one half illuminates, indicating whether the blow is early (left hand half) or late (right hand half). The colour shows how big the error is: pale green for fairly small errors, then yellow and orange for increasingly major errors, up to red for clashes with other bells. Note that if you are using Moving Ringers, and have clicked Ringing>UserStartsBellMovement, the striking is shown in the title bar only if you have View>UserBellMovement turned on.
When Abel stops ringing, if you have the Striking Display turned on, a striking score out of 10 appears in the title bar of any bells you've been ringing. It's good to aspire to a score of 9.5 - this is possible when ringing from the keyboard with no method mistakes, but is very difficult if you're ringing with a real tower bell connected to Abel!
The Striking Review
For both the simulator and silent practice, Abel records the striking of the bells. When you have stood the bells, you can click the button on the Tower toolbar, or press S (for Striking), or click the Ringing menu and Review Striking. Abel then shows a review of the striking since you pressed Start or Reset Connections or Reset Striking Records , or changed the number of bells ringing. Abel can record up to 60,000 rows or 350,000 blows. Each row appears as shown above, with the row number at the start. You can scroll through the rows using the scroll bar on the right of the window, or the keys for PgUp/PgDn or cursor up/down or Home/End. If you've been using the simulator (rather than silent practice, Abel show's the blue line(s), consistent with those during the ringing, and also pale grey lines showing the correct line for any bell you've rung.It's worth looking for things you regularly get wrong: for example, are your up dodges always a bit lazy; is your second blow at the back always late; are your handstroke leads too early? To help with this, you can use set filters in the tool bar of the window, so that only selected rows are shown: for example, only backstrokes, or only up-dodges.
If you have been using the simulator (rather than silent practice), and you've been ringing bells yourself, two bar charts appear at the top of the review. They summarise the handstroke and backstroke striking for a bell you've rung; if you've been ringing more than one bell, you can select any one in the header bar. If you've just rung rounds, the charts summarise all the rows; if you've been ringing a method or a call change composition, they summarise the striking since the last time you clicked "Go".
In each bar chart, the central dark green bar shows how many blows were accurate (close to perfect!); to the left, other bars show how many blows were early, and to the right bars show blows that were late. Beneath the bar charts, there is a text summary of the striking for the bell. For example, it might say "Error 23%, 18% Late ". The Error percentage shows the average distance that the bell was from its correct position: if the figure is much larger than the Late/Early figure, it shows that the striking was rather unsteady. The "Late" or "Early" percentage shows if the bell has a general tendency to be early or late (being late at backstroke is very common!). Ideally all the reported figures should be zero - but in practice this is impossible to achieve. A good ringer should be able to achieve around 4% error when ringing from the keyboard, and should aspire to better than 10% error when ringing with external tower bells.
If you have been using the simulator (rather than silent practice), and you've been ringing bells yourself, a coloured chart at the right of the display summarises the striking for each blow, for the same bell that is featured in the bar charts. Rows are colour coded to highlight the accuracy (or otherwise) of the striking: at the top there's a scale showing how the colours are used. You're aiming for the dark green area in the centre! If there are red rows, these are clashes with other bells - serious errors.
At the top of the window, in addition to the filter controls, there are buttons, as follows:
If you save striking files regularly, you will need to remove old ones from time to time to keep your hard disk tidy. You can use Windows Explorer to delete them: they are usually in the AbelSim\Striking folder within My Documents).
A note for the technically minded: errors are measured from the ideal time for the bell to strike, and recorded as a percentage of the inter-bell gap (i.e., the ideal interval between two bells striking), taking late blows as positive percentages and early ones as negative. The "Error" figures reported in the summary are
(sum of ( absolute value (error %))) / (Number of blows)
The Late/Early figures are
(sum of (error %)) / (Number of blows)
Negative results are reported as early and positive ones as late.
Note: during ringing, Abel displays the striking at the bottom of the screen only when it is ringing one or more bells itself: that is, after you have clicked Start. Note also that Abel ignores any external bells that ring while the striking review window is open.