Thursday 19 June 2014

Location Analysis

The ability to display results in a fancy way are all fine features of Ranges 9 but it is nothing if it cannot perform analyses to produce these results in the first place. The new version of the software can now run analyses, and there is a new Location Analysis screen to start this off.

The new screen is functionally similar to the one in Ranges 8. You click to choose a particular location analysis from the list then choose the files that are required. Option boxes appear according to the analysis chosen and the user must select those relevant to his investigation. Particular ranges and locations can be selected for analysis (we have already seen the new selection screen) and there are a few options pertinent to output files created. Hints for the user appear at the bottom of the form as they used to and he is unable to run the analysis until all required files and settings are specified.

But the form has had the Ranges 9 make over. All controls have a consistent size and shape. They have relevant labels with the correct capitalisations and, as they appear, the controls are positioned neatly one above the other.

The analysis window is a popup but it is not "modal" i.e. buttons on the main interface still respond when the analysis window is open. This means you can choose a different analysis window or click to view the statistics without closing the current analysis.

The new location analysis dialog

Friday 2 May 2014

Background Images

Often researches have a map or satellite image, a jpeg or bitmap, of the area that the tracked animal has travelled over. In this case, it is extremely useful to be able use this image as background for visual analysis and for figures in reports.

Ranges 8 allows background images but the alignment implementation is very basic. It insists only on two coordinates, the top right and bottom left corners of the image, which is not enough to allow for all the possible distortions:  rotation, shear, scale, and translation. This can be handled by applying an affine transform to the image and for this we need four coordinates.

Ranges 9 gathers these coordinates with a clever new interface. The user loads the image and it is displayed with four markers defining the points on the image. He moves the markers by dragging them into a position on the image that he know the real world coordinate of, then enters these coordinates into the panel against the marker.

The image alignment dialog

Users can drag to scroll and select areas to zoom as well as panning and zooming with the familiar controls, just as they can with the new graphics screen.

Zoomed in to the second alignment marker
Aligned images are saved along with the alignment points in a new file type .ima.These can then be loaded as the background to a location or edge file.

The image as background for an edge file

Thursday 6 March 2014

Location File Subsampling

Knee deep in location sub sampling today. This is where you can save a sample of a location file, functionality accessed through the modify button then clicking OK and Sample (I think this is a little awkward and would love to hear suggestions for a more obvious place).
In order to get this working, I have written a new version of the Selection screen, one with neatly laid out controls and consistent styling. The functionality remains the same but I have found a bug: if more than one LAV selection is specified e.g. both Activ and Day in the blackbird loc file, only the last selection is applied. This is now fixed!

The new selection screen

Friday 21 February 2014

Editing Data

Most data used in Ranges will have been created by another tool, a telemetry recorder for location data, perhaps a GIS for vector or raster backgrounds. But there will be occasions where it is necessary to edit data, maybe even create a simple vector file from scratch and for this reason Ranges comes with simple editing tools.

Ranges8 has always allowed users to add locations and draw shape files by clicking on the display and by adding coordinates to the data grids. Ranges9 will also contain this functionality but due to the improved navigation functionality ("drag to position" in particular, users will now press the CTRL button (in draw mode, the cursor changes to a pen) before clicking on the display to create the coordinates.

I has long been possible to tweak rasters by changing the number representing a category in the grid that represents the raster  "pixels". Ranges9 improves on this by allowing users to select the category in the category list and clicking on the raster pixel to be edited on the graphical display. This makes raster editing much more convenient.

Note that shapes and raster points can also be selected, meaning they are highlighted in the data grids and on the display itself, though this now requires that the user holds down the shift key while he clicks on the display.