Once you've created your project, you'll be presented with the following screen:
On the left is the items panel. It contains an organized tree of all the items available for editing in the game. Above the items panel is the quick search bar, letting you quickly search for items by name. To the right of the items panel is the editors panel. This is where the editors for the various items will appear when you open them.
While navigating the items panel and filtering by name through quick search is perfectly adequate for browsing, Chokuretsu has a lot of items. To carry out a more advanced search using filters, you can use the Search function (Ctrl/Command-F) to find an item, filtering by type and searching more advanced metadata (albeit more complex queries may take some time to process).
Items in Serial Loops can be renamed, which lets you provide a more sensible name based on the changes you have made to that item. To rename an item, select the item in the item explorer panel on the lefthand side and press F2 (or use the menu bar and choose
Tools → Rename Item). Enter a new name for the item in the dialogue and select "Rename" to apply the new name.
If you want to see where a particular item is used in the game, an easy way to do that is to right-click it and select "Find References." This will show you what other items reference the selected item.
Anytime you edit an item, you can choose to save your changes by clicking File → Save or typing Ctrl-S (or Command-S on macOS). After you've saved your project, you can click Build → Build or the Build button in the toolbar to build the project. You can also click Build → Build and Run or the Run button in the toolbar to build the project and then launch the emulator you specified in preferences with the built ROM.
It is highly recommended that you save frequently as Serial Loops is still in a beta state and may crash!
When you save an item, a file is created on disk that represents that item. However, the item is not actually committed into the archives until you build the project. Because saving is much faster than building, we recommend that you save frequently and build only when you want to test your project. In case you close your project without having built all your files, Serial Loops will auto-detect the existence of saved but uncommitted files and alert you of this on project load, at which point you can build to commit those items into the archives.
In the Build menu, there is also an option to Build from Scratch. This option is not usually needed and can safely be ignored unless instructed to use it by someone attempting to help you troubleshoot. It is primarily used for recovering from corrupt archives or other errors.
Clicking File → Project Settings will open a dialog that allows you to edit the banner image and game title of your patched ROM. This is what will appear in the Nintendo DS menu when loading your patched ROM.
After you've completed work on your project, you'll want to be able to distribute it. The easiest way to do this is by distributing a patch. Serial Loops has built-in functionality for creating xdelta patches for your ROM. Simply navigate to File → Export Patch and pick a base ROM and a place to save your patch. For your base ROM, we highly recommend using the clean, original Japanese ROM, which has the following hashes:
Doing this means that people trying to patch your game will not need anything other than the clean base ROM (i.e., they won't need to first patch it somewhere else before playing).
Sometimes, you may migrate to a new base ROM – for example, if you're using v0.4 of a translation patch and v0.6 is released. Serial Loops is capable of handling such a migration. Simply select File → Migrate to new ROM and select the new ROM you want as the base for your hack. Serial Loops will handle upgrading and building based on this new ROM, bringing all of your changes you've made so far along with you!