Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Inkscape at LugRadio Live USA 2008

Hi, Just spreading the word that Inkscape will be exhibiting at LugRadio Live USA 2008. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * LugRadio Live USA 2008 - Apri 12-13
LugRadio Live USA 2008 brings San Francisco the unique atmosphere of LugRadio Live UK, an event that has developed a strong reputation for providing a range of topics about free software, Open Source, digital rights, technology and more, a compelling list of speakers, exhibitors and birds of a feather sessions, and wrapping it all in a unique, fun, loose, social and inclusive event, which is often described as combining the atmosphere of a rock concert and a computer conference. LugRadio Live USA 2008 brings this unique atmosphere to the USA, with around 30 speakers, over 20 exhibitors, an eclectic range of BOF sessions, and plenty of additional sessions such as our debate discussion panel, a showcase of five minute talks, tech demos, and of course a live recording of LugRadio in front of an audience.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Any and all are welcome to come by and visit, hang out, talk about whatever. It's also a very user-centric conference with registration only running $10. We also need any volunteers to come by and help man the booth. Even being able to commit a few hours would be a great help to the Inkscape project. Additionally we have a minor need for equipment for the booth... it's a small, informal show but we can still do with a few things like monitors or projectors (if anyone lives in the area that would be handy). If anyone can volunteer, please let me know so that I can get them a list of all our people to get signed up. Thanks, and hope to see people there!

Read more!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Summer of Code 2008

The time has come again for another Google Summer of Code. Inkscape is participating again. However OpenICC is also returning. The more people applying, the more slots will show up. If anyone is interested they can see a bit more on Kai-Uwe's blog

Read more!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tablet Test Area

I've gotten a bit more committed to SVN for the new input devices dialog. It does tracking of buttons and axes now, with different graphics to show ones that have been seen, ones that have not, and ones that are currently active. There are two main benefits right off the bat (aside from the gratuitous "oooh, pretty lights" factor). First is that it allows a simple way to determine what inputs any given device really has, as opposed to what is reported to GTK+. For example, my tablet's pen says it can handle 7 macros, but it only has 3 buttons. And I've seen that although the driver reports six axes, I only get data on five (aka there is one 'dead' input axis). The second main functionality is to allow a user to see which physical parts of his devices are hooked up to what. For example, an Intuos3 tablet has buttons and touch strips on the tablet itself, but it may not be immediately obvious how those are configured. Under Linux, I see those strips as the x-tilt and y-tilt axes. Also using the visual feedback it is easy to see which buttons have which numbers. Then below I'm using progress bars to show the current values of the axes, so it's easy to get an idea of how those values range on different physical changes. I still need to add some visual feedback for those that have no bounds, but those are usually the ones mapped to x and y, so are already being used for positioning. Now the next thing is to get some feedback on how this works for other people. That will also help for the "Configuration" tab which will allow setting of things such as screen versus window mode, button actions, etc. Those may change with the user's current task, but the hardware usually will stay in one (or a very few) combination.

Read more!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

New Tablet Config

I've got the initial cut of the new replacement for GTK+'s extended devices input config done.
The old dialog has been around for quite some time, and is really good for a low-level view of things. However, the needs of users have moved more and more into the high-level artist-centric viewpoint. This is a bit nice for me as a software engineer, but definitely is not as nice for my artist side. X? 1? 6? Which do I need? What do they mean? Also "pad"? Why is part of my tablet showing up just like my tip of my pen does? And for that matter, why does my eraser show up as something separate from the front of the same pen?
The work on a replacement has progressed to a point where something is visible and initially functional. One minor point is that the dialog is now dockable... but that's a minor item. The first functional point of note is a separation of hardware from configuration. The more common case will be that a user has a single tablet, but a few different ways of working with it. The next point is the Test Area. I've found that it is a bit hard to tell what's going on with tablet config. Currently the area should switch to indicate the device currently active on the tablet. Additionally it will dump events to stdout. This will allow for checking things like button numbers, axis values, etc.
This is in the current sources now, but needs USE_NEW_INPUT_DEVICES defined in verbs.cpp to turn it on (hint: this is for those of you able to build). So the next thing is to get some user feedback to see if it reports events correctly, detects actual devices, etc. So have at it and have fun. :-)

Read more!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What is a 'Swatch'?

What exactly is a swatch? That is a very simple question, but ask many different people and you'll get many different answers. When it it comes to computer graphics and programs, that ambiguity introduces many problems. What is worse is that most people are unaware of it. For most people familiar with graphics apps, this one is easy. Are these swatches? "Yes. Swatches are colors in my program." Sometimes they have a name. Sometimes they have RGB values. Sometimes they have CMYK values. But just simple colors. OK.
So for the next question... are these swatches? Interesting. Gradients... yes those could be swatches also. Hmmm... that starts to cause a problem, since many programs like to keep those separated.
Now here comes the fun... the common dictionary definition says that a swatch is sample strip cut from cloth. So we get more than a simple 'color'. And we've definitely left the land of simple 'color' and moved on well into materials.
Here is another set of cloth swatches. A set of simple pieces of cloth, but showing a fair bit of patterning.
And another set. More and more fun.
Often other materials can get collected up into swatch books. At least in the real world.


So... what does this all mean for us now? Basically that I am very unhappy with the artificial isolation and concepts being driven from the implementation side. Instead we need to start looking at things from the end-user side. Artists, cartoonists, graphic designers, etc. all have certain needs, and our software should learn their neeeds, instead of forcing the artists to learn the software's needs. I'm now adding a more artist-centric view into Inkscape's implementation of things. Hopefully we'll be able to get a common OpenSwatchbook format to allow these sets to be shared between applications, just as they can share .gpl color palette files now. As a first step I'm trying to collect up information on the use cases, shared needs, user interface ideas and such at the Swatch Book page on the Inkscape Wiki. If you happen to be an artist of any type, a doodler, a programmer, or even just someone with a few opinions we would like to hear from you. The more different types of users and others that we hear from, the better we can make things.

Read more!