Virtual bell ringing is a way to enjoy the practice of ringing with other ringers without needing to leave your home.
The first one to go public was Ringing Room. This is a web-based program that links to a networked server. By logging in you can create virtual towers and invite other ringers to join you. There is a significant difference between using Ringing Room and ringing on real bells - real bells have a built-in delay between pulling on the rope and the bell actually striking. The web-based programs do not have this delay and the sound comes back immediately.
Ringing Room has established a large following and has claimed at least one quarter peal. Because it is networked, it has been used by people in different countries to collaborate, an eight-bell touch has been rung with every participant being in a different country!
A second facility was provided by Ding This is an application program, available for Windows, Macs, Android, Linux. In some way it is similar in that it establishes a network connection to a remote server, you can create your own virtual tower and invite other ringers to join you. You do need to download and install the program to be able to use it, whereas Ringing Room just needs a modern web browser.
One facility provided by Ding, however, is a a virtual ringer call 'Bob'. Bob is a clever guy - he can ring any method on any number of bells up to 12? If you have a small group and want to ring something more ambitious you simply invoke Bob to ring some of the bells. You can even assign Bob to all the bells, sit back and listen to precision ringing! By taking over just one bell, you don't need any real friends, you can ring whatever method you feel like on your own, with assistance from Bob.
As a programmer, retired for many years, I couldn't resist having a go at something along these lines myself. Based on the appearance of Ding, I've written a program which incorporate these ideas. It doesn't currently do any networking, so it's just me and Bob. However it has encouraged me to branch out and try to learn method ringing. I can time during the week practicing on my own, then join a branch meeting on Saturday evenings to try out what I've learned during the week. There is a difference, in that with the branch meetings we sometimes lose track of where we are, and have to start again. When on my own with Bob, he never loses track, so if I get lost he waits, and that reminds me where I am.
I called my program Dong, being a bit of a plagiarist, and have added to it a facility to list the changes rung, and draw 'blue lines' if desired. Here is a video grabbed from my display as I got Bob to ring a plain course of Cloisters Doubles. I left it all to Bob, but I could have selected a bell that I could ring, and cause it to strike by pressing the space bar.
The video recorder program seems to have missed the blue highlight when I clicked on 'Go', the code highlights the button while the button is held down, so a fast click didn't appear.