Tracks allow Foldit players to try multiple approaches to puzzle solving. Tracks make it easier to explore different strategies, eliminating the need for manual saves.
Each track has a name. A puzzle starts in the track called "default".
To create a new track, open the Undo menu and click on the Tracks button. The Tracks window opens. Enter a new track name in the box near the bottom of the window and click "Create". This creates the new track and switches to it.
Each track is independent of the others. A track has its own current, recent best, credit best, and absolute best poses. A track also has its own set of quicksave slots. Any recipe output for a track goes to scriptlog.*trackname*.xml, where *trackname* is the name of the track.
In the Tracks window, you can switch to a different track by clicking on the track name.
When you switch to an existing track, the protein returns to the same position as when you last played in the track. All the quicksave slots, and the credit best, recent best, and a absolute best poses are restored as well.
Credit Best score
Using multiple tracks can make it more difficult to keep track of your best score. In some cases, tracks can make it seem like the best score has disappeared, when it's just in another track.
It's important to keep in mind that the credit best pose is specific to a track. When you use Restore Credit Best from the Undo menu, the best score for the track is what gets restored. The credit best for a track is not necessarily your best score for the puzzle.
The Tracks window lets you delete tracks as well as creating them. Do a manual save of your best score before deleting a track.
Each time you restart Foldit, the puzzle starts in the "default" track. You must switch to the correct track to pick up where you left off. This is a frequent source of confusion.
Tracks are also specific to a given Foldit client. If you have multiple copies of Foldit installed, you must use manual saves and sharing to move solutions between them, just as when playing in the "default" track. There's no way to share an entire track between clients, only a single solution.
When playing in a given track, any recipe output in scriptlog.*trackname*.xml is overwritten each time a new recipe is run. Changing to a new track preserves the scriptlog for the previous track. This can be useful when testing or evaluating recipes, since it eliminates the need to manually rename the scriptlog after each recipe. (It does require creating a new track each time you run a new recipe, but this can be done in the Foldit client, without using external tools.)
Multiple Foldit clients
Tracks can also be part of using multiple Foldit clients.
One way of running multiple Foldit clients is simply to start Foldit multiple times from the same installation folder on the same computer. With this approach, it's important to switch to a new track with a unique name as soon as starting a new puzzle. This avoids problems with having multiple different puzzles being played in the "default" track at the same time.
Using multiple clients with a single install means that all tracks are available when you start a new client. There's no need to make manual saves to pick up work on a given track. (It's still a good idea to make periodic manual saves as a backup.)
Foldit can also be installed multiple times on the same computer. In this scenario, only one Foldit client is running from a given install folder. This approach eliminates any concerns about using the "default" track, since the scriptlog, best positions, and quicksaves are all separate.
Even with multiple installs, tracks can be helpful in keeping track of what each client is doing. Picking a good track name can help reduce the confusion.
As discussed above in Tracks and Credit Best score, running clients with multiple installs is like running clients on different computers. Tracks won't be available across different clients, and you must manually save and share a solution to make it available to a different client.
The scriptlog file is saved in the main Foldit install folder, for example c:\Foldit. When running multiple clients from a single install Folder, any clients using the same trackname will try to write script output to the same file. This is true even if the clients are playing different puzzles. This can be confusing at best.
The various "best" poses and quicksaves are saved as files in a puzzle-specific sub-folder of the "puzzles" folder in each Foldit client. The "best" poses and quicksaves are separate for each puzzle, so two clients running from the same install could still be using the "default" track without affecting each other's credit best positions or quicksaves. The two clients would still be trying to share the scriptlog file, however, so this is not a good idea.
See Foldit file and directory structure for a full explanation.