Tiling tool

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Revision as of 06:42, 9 April 2012 by Valerievk (talk | contribs) (→‎I. Core features: Clean-up)
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Tiling tool

The current tiling interface is hard to use. The current interface attempts to make the process more user friendly through the use of a tool that creates a "render frame", which consists of two parts:

  • A base tile, where the pattern is supposed to be
  • A more general render frame, showing the location of the output
  • Both can be edited on-canvas

The tiling process is simply:

  1. Create a frame
  2. Select a pattern and a frame
  3. Click "Render" from the tiling tool
  • By default the frame becomes invisible after a render, and becomes "implied" in the generated output (a bit like clipping?).
  • Undoing the render makes the frame appear again.
  • The user can choose to drop a copy of the frame after a render for re-use however, or make a copy before applying.
Type Description
Wallpaper tiling Allows users to use the 17 wallpaper types.
Radial tiling
  • This is for radial designs, and allows both angular clones and radial clones.
  • For angular clones, users can choose between simple rotation or symmetry + rotation. (thus covering the Rosetta patterns as well)
  • For radial clones, users can choose between same direction and alternating directions.
Path tiling
  • Clones are generated along a path. This can be used to create a string of decorations, for repeating frills, for page borders etc.
  • Users can choose from all 7 Frieze groups.

UI Proposal for tiling tool

Transformation images for wallpaper groups

Render modes

There are two modes:

  • Create clones: This is the current rendering mode
  • Fuse: This mode first cuts excess for "inner" sides, then performs a "fuse" operation on the whole output.

Explanation of "Fuse" feature for tiling proposal

More examples of the possible outputs for the “Fuse Cut” mode

Render frame

The render frame is made up of:

  • A central tile, which defines the location of the pattern to copy
  • A more general render grid

UI Proposal for the Render frame of the Tiling tool proposal

On-canvas transformation handles

UI proposal for on-canvas handles for the tiling tool proposal

Guide points

UI proposal for guide points feature for Tiling Tool

Guide points are there to serve as reference point when creating tile designs.

  • When you add a guide point, "counterparts" are generated in all the other tiles
  • Ctrl-drag to drag out a segment.
  • The idea is that users can snap guide points along tile edges, snap a node of the pattern to that guide and snap the node handle to the end of the guide segment, then repeat with the guide point's counterparts. This should help easily create seamless transitions.

Option for dynamics Symmetry around base tile?

Proposal: option for all dynamics to be rendered in a symmetry around the base tile. This proposal is because users may want tiles to fade around a central tile. Rendering the frame in just one direction is easy, but achieving the symmetry otherwise is not.

The main difficulty is that the current dynamics mechanism is linear, so adjustments would be needed.

Proposal for dynamics to occur in a symmetry around the base tile for the tiling tool

On-canvas dynamics editing

Currently the two following approaches to on-canvas dynamics editing have been considered:

  1. Edit a tile of the render frame (rotate and resize for example), all other tiles in the render frame are updated dynamically to give you an idea of the result.
    • Pros: high preview value, as the outline of the tiles by themselves should give an idea as to the output of the whole tiling.
    • Cons: forcing live update of tiles may be slow, and big displacements of tiles are distracting from the editing process. Worse if jitters are also visualized on-canvas.
  2. Edit only one or two "reference" tiles. None of the other tiles change. Inkscape deduces transformation values from there and converts them into values for the existing tiling mechanism.
    • Pros: less taxing on the interface.
    • Cons: Less preview value.

Tom Lechner made a possible mock-up for the second option: Mock-up for on-canvas tile dynamics editing

It could be possible to combine the best of both worlds with a "Dynamics preview" mode (so it's a preview of the dynamics, not of the pattern getting tiled):

  • When preview mode is on, Inkscape generates a preview of the render frame's tiles with dynamics applied, including jitters.
  • Editing is not allowed. You have to exit the preview mode to make other adjustments.
  • The idea is that some complex tilings will probably take a long time to render. This preview mode gives a quick idea about the outcome without having to do a full render, then undo, adjust and re-render again.

Preview mode for dynamics for the Tiling Tool proposal

Radial tiling

In theory, radial tiling could use the same mechanism as rows and columns tiling, by converting all input into X, Y input. Although users can also use rows and columns tiling to achieve radial tiling, doing so would not be very intuitive.

UI proposal for radial tiling in the tiling tool

Line tiling

Implementing line tiling would be more complicated that implementing radial tiling, because it is an extension of the Pattern Along Path function rather than of the existing tiled clones mechanism. So, the programer would have to figure out a way to combine Pattern Along Path and the dynamics for Tiled Clones, all the while implementing the proper render guide. If he achieves it though, it'd be an amazingly powerful and versatile tool for designers of all kinds.

Line tiling actually comes in two sets of guides:

  • A pattern guide.
  • A target guide. This target guide appears over the target path, which has to be copied first to the clipboard.

The pattern guide can actually be edited independently of a target path, but unless a target path is copied to the clipboard, the user cannot render the line tiling. So, the user can first adjust the pattern design and tiling properties, then copy a path, adjust and apply.

UI proposal for line tiling in the tiling tool

Tile stacking

You can stack different tilings!

Explanation of tile stacking feature for my tiling proposal

Inkscape will likely have an Effects stacking mechanism in the future. Whatever it is, tiling would also fit right into it.

Line patterns

And why not "line patterns" while we're at it?

UI proposal for line pattern choosing

UI design status

This section is a summary of how ready the UI proposal for the various features are (as well as comments about coding):

General concept and tiling methods:

Feature Status
General concept Valerie: The current interface is the result of exploring several very different concepts with inputs and criticism by a number of people. The "On-canvas editable central tile + render frame" concept is currently the first of these concepts to have encountered no major objections as to its usability, so it should be safe to consider this an acceptable general direction unless a better proposal comes along.
Wallpaper tiling Valerie: The general proposal (base tile, handles + render frame) doesn't seem to generate many objections. The exact form of the handles and the details about manipulation could still be refined.
Radial tiling Valerie: Not much input yet.
Line tiling Valerie: Not much input yet. There should be, as this is a potentially very powerful feature for designers, though also hard to implement.

Specific features (all tiling methods)

Feature Status
Fuse mode Valerie: General input seems to be that this is a "good idea."
Guide points Valerie: General input seems to be that this is a "good idea."
On-canvas handling of dynamics Valerie: Concensus is that on-canvas manipulation of dynamics is very desirable. However, the exact form is still up to debate. Tom Lechner has a proposal that will allow to visualize most elements, but more work is needed to establish a mechanism for visualizing and controlling jitter as well.
Multi-Stop Interpolation Gradient (multi-stop dynamics) Valerie: Such a mechanism would require reworking the entire tiling mechanism. The only bright side is that Inkscape doesn't store any tiling information, so changing the mechanism won't break backwards compatibility. See Jasper's detailed comment in "Implementation."
Symmetrical dynamics output around base tile Valerie: Looking at Jasper's explanation below, symmetrical dynamics around a central tile basically aren't supported by the current mechanism.
Tile stacking and line pattern management Valerie: At this point both are just suggestions, as Inkscape has neither the mechanisms in place nor an UI.

Implementation comments

Feature Comments
Multi-Stop Interpolation Gradient Jasper (mail from mailing list): All the code is in src/ui/dialog/clonetiler.cpp. The main function is CloneTiler::clonetiler_get_transform. This function essentially gets all info, as well as a row and column index. It then computes all the transforms required for that position and combines them. As far as I can tell it combines them in such a way that first a scaling is applied, then a rotation and finally a translation. If you select a different symmetry group then the translation can become a more complicated transform.

The scheme we talked about earlier that would interpolate transforms is not necessarily compatible. This is because in the latter the case the entire transform would be interpolated, while what Inkscape does is essentially interpolating per kind of transform. That this is not the same can be seen by realizing that rotate(50)translate(1)rotate(50)translate(1) is not the same as rotate(100)translate(2). The former is more or less what we talked about (or at least what I had in mind during that discussion), the latter is what Inkscape does.

However, Inkscape currently seems to store almost nothing about the tiling in the file. So it would be relatively benign to change behaviour. Existing files would not be affected in any way, users would only be affected when trying to change a tiling or create a new one. (This is not to say that it's necessarily a good idea to make it impossible to achieve the current behaviour, just that if we cannot reconcile the two, there is some room for change.)

Note that it would be possible to emulate Inkscape's current behaviour through interpolation of transforms, but only if we would allow "stacking" transforms. I'm not sure how this would have to be supported UI-wise though.


Proposed implementation steps:

0. Very desirable: Guide management

See Existing blueprint. Rather, what is needed here is not a full guide management system, but rather how to "define" a guide, as the guides here have properties very different from "normal" objects.

I. Core features

Jasper explains where the tiling code is located:

"All the code is in src/ui/dialog/clonetiler.cpp. The main function is CloneTiler::clonetiler_get_transform. This function essentially gets all info, as well as a row and column index."

As a first step, the programmer could program a "render base tile" or "render frame" object as a separate file, that can be tested independently from the tiling code. This object:

  • Provides a different base tile shape depending on the chosen transformation type
  • Allows to visualize extra rows and columns on-canvas (not necessary in a first step, but quite desirable). Unless the user wants to tweak the tiling code itself, this step currently does not allow adding or removing individual tiles
  • Creates a set of coordinates to be used by the existing tiling mechanism
  • The tool icon and toolbar can be created from the start for testing or added later

Testing would basically be to ensure that the on-canvas behaviour is consistent with what the user expects, and the output values are correct.

Once this object works as expected, it can then be "connected" to the tiling mechanism by calling it up and sending it the correct values. Basically, the tiling code itself would not need too many adjustments at this phase.

UI Proposal for first step of tiling tool implementation

This is basically the minimum interface that would allow users to make basic tiling without opening the current tiling dialogue. Sequence:

  • Clicking the + button "adds" a render frame or just render tile (if the programmer hasn't programmed the ability to visualize extra rows and columns yet) of the chosen type.
  • Choose the pattern to tile and the guide
  • Click "create"

II. More advanced wallpaper tiling features

These can now be implemented separately.

1. Tiling handles

  1. Handles are added to the base tiles, making it possible to switch from one tiling to another. Implementing this feature also means that the programmer can no longer "cheat" by dropping more or less regular objects, as the guides have properties.
  2. Now that the tiling can be visualized and edited on-canvas, the tiling type should now be linked directly to the guide tile, so the tiling type drop-down can be removed.
  3. Users are now offered to create a "Wallpaper" tile by default. Other transformation types are accessed via a pop-up when choosing "others." All previews are moved to this pop-up.

A few notes:

  • Changing symmetries should be the priority.
  • Eventually controls for angles could be added too, though this is lower priority, as not many users absolutely need to change from one tile shape to another.

2. Fuse mode

As noted, this is a cut + fuse operation. The programmer needs to implement the following features:

  1. Boolean operations (specifically "cut") on groups
  2. This also means fixing the cut operation, which is currently rather buggy...
  3. The guides must be extended, and for each wallpaper group, the ways to "cut" the tiles must be defined
  4. The programmer must then find the way to define the zone to be delete
  5. "Fuse" uses the existing group node join operation however

Alternatively, the programmer can make Inkscape render a shape over the tile and perform a union operation, but one that leaves resulting nodes instead of joining them.

3. Guide points

The programmer must:

  1. Define/create guide points. This object can be snapped to objects and guides.
  2. Program it so that iterations of it appear and are rendered correctly in each tile of the render frame according to the chosen transformation mode. If the transformation type is changed, they must also update automatically.
  3. Additional feature: Ctrl-drag to create a segment from the point: this helps make transformations in each tile more obvious, and helps for handle-snapping.

III. Super fancy wallpaper features

On-canvas dynamics editing

This may use the existing dynamics mechanism, and serve as a front-end for inputing values. Under discussion: Visual representation of the mechanism?

2. Interpolation gradients?

This takes the previous a step further. You can now add multiple stops. The current internal mechanisms may have to be reworked.

IV. Other tiling types

Two other desirable tilings are Radial and Line tiling. Implementation can probably start once the features in I. Core features are implemented.

1. Radial tiling


2. Line tiling