Saturday 14 December 2013

Navigating The Graphical Display

Ranges9 will host a much improved graphical display for visualising data and results. In previous Ranges versions, this display was square; on the now ubiquitous wide screens this means that, with Ranges maximised to fill the screen, there is empty space to the right of the display. In the new Ranges, the graphics will fill all the available space

Related to this, there will be times when the user is more interested in the numeric data in the grids to the left of the display than in the display itself. If a grid has many columns, it may be too constricted by the default window to be properly readable. For this reason, users will now be able to move the dividing line between the display and the grids, to the right to show more grid, back to the left to increase the graphical display.

The grid panel has been expanded to see more details (at the expense of the graphical output)

On opening a file or on viewing an edge after an analysis, the display area will contain the entire data, it is "zoomed to fit" as other document viewing software would have it. The "zoom to area" feature of old Ranges is also retained by right clicking and dragging the mouse over the area to be zoomed to but there are new zoom in and out buttons and the scroll wheel (or equivalent gesture on laptop mouse pads) can be used to zoom in and out of the current mouse position. Navigating to a detail in the graphical display is also much easier with left/right/up/down buttons and, notably, with click-mouse-and-drag functionality for precision positioning.

But perhaps most crucially, the graphical display has now been optimised to cope with enormous files. Running on a reasonably specced computer Ranges now happily renders vector files containing over a million points and loc files with as many locations; scrolling and zooming into these files is fast and satisfactory. It can also now handle large images as background but there are other improvements as far as images are concerned and a description of these should wait until another post.

One of our users sent a huge shapefile of the Amazon basin in great detail. Here it has been imported as a Ranges vector file and we have zoomed in.

The biggest raster I have to test with is only 1 MB - this loads quickly and is handled with ease by Ranges9. Does anyone have a bigger raster (in Grid Ascii format) that I can try?

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Input & Graphics

Where better place to start this blog than with a discussion of the Input & Graphics tab, the traditional heart of Ranges8. Here users set up their location data and raster or vector backgrounds, importing from another source or copying from a spread sheet and pasting in. Here also the results of analyses can be viewed; edge files marking the boundaries of calculated home ranges are displayed over the location data or on the background raster, vector or image. While the user may visit other tabs, to set up and run analyses, to view tabulated results (stats) or the analysis logs, he will nearly always return to the Input & Graphics tab to view the goodies, to see results visualised and to create beautiful images for reports and papers.

With this in mind, in Ranges9, we are considering making the Input & Graphics the basis window from which all other features of Ranges expand. The tabs for the analyses, stats and log, clicking on which hides the Input & Graphics, will be replaced with buttons opening new windows. This will allow the user to view previous graphical results, stats and the analysis log at the same time. He opens another window to run an analysis, tweaking the parameters with regard to results he can see in the "always open" input & graphics.

But this is all very much a work in progress. If you have any comments or suggestions, please do not hesitate to add them to the space below.

The Input & Graphics screen will be the foundation of Ranges9