Author Topic: Black screens and application slow down  (Read 118 times)

Corey Cooper

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Black screens and application slow down
« on: November 06, 2017, 05:25:45 PM »
There are some topics and replies posted, and some of you have reported directly to me, about the application showing "black screens".  I've also been receiving error reports where the main issue is "out of memory".  I believe these are the same issue and that the application can behave unexpectedly when it no longer has the memory it needs to continue operating normally.  This doesn't mean your PC doesn't have enough memory.  It's how much memory IE allocates for the TD, and how IE allocates and uses that memory.

I now believe this is happening almost exclusively with Internet Explorer 11 and Windows 10.  Previously I was unable to reproduce this issue because I had forced my development PCs to stop updating Internet Explorer at version 10, and I wasn't developing on Windows 10 yet.  After performing testing on Windows 10 and IE 11, I can reproduce this issue quite easily.  Simply opening the Buy-in Players dialog or Bust-out Players dialog 50 to 100 times will cause the memory footprint of the application to increase to a size that will slow the application's responsiveness down noticeably, and eventually will lead to black screens and unexpected (and seemingly unrelated) errors, and ultimately crash the application.

As an example, and for some hard numbers, with IE 10 installed version 3.4.1 will start with a memory size of around 100 to 110 MB (megabytes) of memory.  After busting out 100 players, the memory size will increase to about 160 MB.  While it would be awesome if it didn't increase at all, this is actually fine.  If the memory consumption is consistent, 1000 players could be busted out without an issue.

With IE 11 installed, the same actions increase the memory size to over 700 MB.  The application noticeably slows, and ultimately it will freeze for 5 to 30 seconds, and then will continue working.  At this point, IE has done some memory "garbage collection" and the memory size has dropped to around 250 to 300 MB.  While that's good, the application still responds "sluggishly" and it is only a matter of time before it increases back to an unsustainable level and the black screens and ultimate crashing occurs.

Interestingly, the behavior is the same for version 3.3 and version 3.2, so I'm not sure why this wasn't a bigger issue before now, but it might just be that more and more people are moving to Windows 10.  Earlier versions didn't seem to exhibit this problem to the same extreme, but I've been unsuccessful in pinpointing any particular change from 3.11 to 3.2 that could have caused an issue.

So what can be done?

Well, for the long term I'm moving the applicaton to a modern framework.  I'm currently investigating Electron.  The model is very different, so it's going to be a lot of work, but I see this as really the only viable way forward for the TD application.

In the short term, here are some suggestions for working around this very annoying issue.  These are mostly good ideas to follow anyway to save you from losing information and/or time during a tournament should something go wrong.

1) Always use "Auto-save".  Always.  This should make it easy to get started right back where you left off if this should something happen.  That can be enabled on the Game tab.

2) Enable "Make backups when saving tournaments".  This is on the Preferences tab in the "Loading / Saving" section.  When this is enabled, every time auto-save kicks in and saves your tournament, instead of simply writing over the tournament file with the new version, it renames the tournament file first with a time stamp.  That would allow you to even go back to an earlier copy of the tournament if necessary.  In the extremely rare case that the TD application crashed while it was saving the tournament (rendering the saved tournament useless), you could go back to a previously saved version.  You might have to bust a player out again or move the clock forward a bit, but at least you wouldn't be starting from scratch.

3) On this same Preferences page, select "Automatically enable Auto-save".  This is really just an extra precaution.  This will help in case you forget to enable Auto-save.

4) On this same Preferences page, check the box next to "Upon application start, continue where I left off".  With this enabled, when you start the TD application the same tournament file you had loaded when you last exited the TD application will automatically be loaded again.  This makes continuing quick and easy.

5) Don't be afraid to exit the Tournament Director and restart it if you think there's an issue.  By using the previous settings, you can exit the TD at ANY time, restart it, and simply continue right where you left off.  This can be done in a matter of seconds.  Restarting the application will free all memory it is using and start it over "fresh".

6) Internet Explorer 11 is a problem with the TD.  For most people it is fine, but it uses a LOT more memory than Internet Explorer 10.  If you have the chance to move BACK to Internet Explorer 10, I would recommend it, especially if you're having an issue like this.  If you're using Windows 10, this is not an option, as you cannot use any version of IE except 11.  If you're using Windows 7 or 8, you can move back to IE 10.  I would do this.  You won't lose any functionality and you'll make it less likely you'll run into issues like this.  Here are steps for doing that if you want to try it:
  • Click on the "Start" button and type "Programs and Features" in the search box (or type "Programs and Features" in the search charm if you're running Windows 8 )
  • Click on the "View installed updates" in the left pane of the menu
  • Go over to the "Uninstall an update" screen and scroll down to the "Microsoft Windows" section
  • Select Internet Explorer 11 and click "Uninstall"
  • Restart your PC

tl;dr: This is a memory issue that is, I believe, exclusing to IE 11 (and possible Windows 10).  I'm trying to get away from IE entirely, but it will be a long time until that happens.  Roll back to IE 10 if you can (you can't if you're using Windows 10).  Use the above steps to help alleviate the pain of this problem if you must use IE 11.  I don't think going back to version 3.3 will help, but you're welcome to.  It's not advertised on the Downloads page, but you can still download version 3.3.  In fact, you can download version 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, etc:

http://www.thetournamentdirector.net/TournamentDirector33.exe
http://www.thetournamentdirector.net/TournamentDirector32.exe
http://www.thetournamentdirector.net/TournamentDirector31.exe
http://www.thetournamentdirector.net/TournamentDirector30.exe

Silver Owl

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #1 on: November 07, 2017, 08:11:04 AM »
Corey, It seems that the tournament size affects this ... is that correct? I run small tournaments with 14-15 players max. and cannot use version 3.4 without getting the black screens but do not have any problems with 3.3.

This is on windows 10 and IE 11.

RichieD

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #2 on: November 07, 2017, 11:51:00 AM »
I regularly run tournaments with 30 to 50 people... on a Windows 7 virtual machine, so far v3.4 has been well behaved and hasn't locked-up or given a black screen [Kiss of death!!]
Earlier versions had issues with memory exhaustion which Corey seems to have nailed down to the way screen transitions were being performed.

I'd be inclined to go with Corey on this one and "blame" IE11 and Windows 10 !

Corey Cooper

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #3 on: November 07, 2017, 12:24:13 PM »
Corey, It seems that the tournament size affects this ... is that correct? I run small tournaments with 14-15 players max. and cannot use version 3.4 without getting the black screens but do not have any problems with 3.3.

This is on windows 10 and IE 11.

It's certainly possible.  Different actions can cause memory problems.  If I buy-in 100 players all at once (just opening the Add Players dialog once), start the tournament and just let it run (not busting players out), it would run for hours and hours with no appreciable memory increase.  Because most actions tend to involve opening dialog windows, I focused on that.  Once you start opening dialogs (even opening and closing the Settings window), memory tends to increase.

Of course, your mileage may vary.  I do not know what is causing the memory increase, other than to say it happens with IE11 and doesn't seem to happen with IE10.  And people tend to operate the application differently.  The way you operate it could be using code paths that tend to cause IE 11 to accumulate memory.

thlayli

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #4 on: November 07, 2017, 03:05:02 PM »
I started looking at ways to force mshta.exe to emulate IE 10, rather than IE 11. And came across these: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee330730(VS.85).aspx
https://deploywindows.info/2010/08/20/force-ie8-mode-in-hta/

I have set my registry for both 32bit and 64bit IE versions, and will be testing later to see if I still have the memory leaks.


officeghana

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2017, 12:39:11 PM »
Corey,

So I've gone ahead and change the settings as per your "short term" solution.  I've simulated tournaments for the last 2 days with a pool of 30 players (each time for 4 to 6 hours).  I've only gotten the black screen once.

I'll be hosting a tournament this Sunday.  I'll give you feedback once that is done.

officeghana

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2017, 08:20:53 AM »
Apologies for the delay in replying. Black screen popped up the moment we had to bust out a player.  This was about 50 mins into the tournament. My solution was to just wait til the next break, then I restarted the PC and resumed from where it left off.  Tournament ran for 5 hours and black screen didnt pop up again.

I know this isnt the best solution but as Corey mentioned, it is only a short term solution.

mm48

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2017, 10:43:20 AM »
What do you mean by "short term" solution ?
Thank's

Corey Cooper

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Re: Black screens and application slow down
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2017, 04:20:18 PM »
I think officeghana is referring to the steps you can take that I outlined in the main topic, as opposed to the long term solution that I'm working on:

Quote
Well, for the long term I'm moving the applicaton to a modern framework.  I'm currently investigating Electron.  The model is very different, so it's going to be a lot of work, but I see this as really the only viable way forward for the TD application.