CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

Description: Tips for creating and manipulating planet textures for Celestia.

t00fri
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#1by t00fri » 06.05.2009, 18:20

Hi all,

I know that many of you would love to just click and download 64k "monster" VT tile sets of the exquisite quality, as resulting from my F-TexTools / Nmtools. As a main reason for peoples' reluctance of just using these tools themselves, I often read the lack of familiarity with commandline programs.

Well, in-between coding some Qt GUI stuff for Celestia.Sci, I took a break and started designing and coding a Qt GUI for my tools. ;-)

The great advantage of the Qt graphical toolkit is its cross-platform feature (Windows, Mac OS, Linux) and excellent documentation! For these reasons, after version 1.6.x, Celestia will also enjoy a Qt GUI interface! In SVN we already have a nicely working Qt version that cleanly compiles in all supported operating systems.

Celestia.Sci will include a number of tool applications, like a catalog & texture loader/unloader (while Celestia is running!), dedicated plotting tools...and this GUI toolbox for producing "monster" VTs directly from the scientific archives as well as many other tasks... That is another reason for coding my F-TexTool GUI as a Qt application ...

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Before going on with more GUI coding for my tools, I would like to ask for some more feedback about whether people find such a cross-platform GUI enhancement useful!?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The GUI for my tools is essentially a dockable 2-page toolbox widget structure, the first one for the base and spec texture tasks, the 2nd page being devoted to the normalmap generation (nmtools). This will be attached below the standard menue bar with Help etc.

Have a look below, how the GUI for the base & spec texture tasks look in Linux (Qt Plastic style). In Windows XP it's essentially the same apart from style aspects.

Please, just have a look whether you can roughly understand the options ... I'd be grateful of course for any suggestions that could further simplify the use of my tools...

The present default entries will be just sufficient to generate in the directory ./BaseTex_VTs_DXT a complete 64k VT tileset (level0..level5 ) for the base texture with its corresponding spec texture located in the alpha channel.

The VTs will be in highest quality DXT3 format.

Would this be still too complicated? ;-)

Fridger

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI for my F-TexTools/Nmtools (Qt)

#2by jogad » 06.05.2009, 19:29

Hi,

I already wanted to try your tools for a while.
Although I take drugs against it, I have always been a little afraid of command lines :? .
With such an interface, there is no excuse.
For me, the options seem understandable.
I look forward to with impatience.

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI for my F-TexTools/Nmtools (Qt)

#3by t00fri » 06.05.2009, 19:30

Thanks, sounds motivating ;-)

Just look at praesepe's great results today, for a 64k tileset of the Moon obtained with my (commandline) tools and an elderly computer...

Fridger
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#4by BobHegwood » 06.05.2009, 21:07

t00fri wrote:++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Before going on with more GUI coding for my tools, I would like to ask for some more feedback about whether people find such a cross-platform GUI enhancement useful!?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Is this a trick question? :D
Methinks you might already *know* the answer since you have heard from many here
concerning their interests in such a project. Looking forward to this GUI version
with *much* anticipation, and with many thanks for your never-ending efforts
in Celestia. :wink:

Thanks again, Brain-Dead
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#5by t00fri » 06.05.2009, 21:18

BobHegwood wrote:
t00fri wrote:++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Before going on with more GUI coding for my tools, I would like to ask for some more feedback about whether people find such a cross-platform GUI enhancement useful!?
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Is this a trick question? :D

Bob,

not at all!

What I try to find out is whether people could imagine to do their own "monster" textures this way (straight from the scientific input archives). Otherwise, they might argue that they only care for click-downloading the final product from some server...

Fridger
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#6by John Van Vliet » 06.05.2009, 22:40

--- edit ---
Last edited by John Van Vliet on 21.10.2013, 02:07, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#7by bh » 07.05.2009, 17:27

Fantastic news!
regards...bh.

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#8by fsgregs » 08.05.2009, 00:23

Fridger:

Before going on with more GUI coding for my tools, I would like to ask for some more feedback about whether people find such a cross-platform GUI enhancement useful!?

The problem people have had with the FX tools and command lines is our simple lack of knowledge of many of the components needed to make a complex texture. It is not that they/we are too lazy to create a big texture set .... it is that many Celestia forum members simply don't have the basic knowledge of many of the terms that experienced modelers and coders like yourself have. For example, God knows, I have spent thousands of hours working on Celestia add-ons, but my personal knowledge of such topics as Normal maps, what goes into them, alpha channels, specular channels, bin files, VT tiles, tile sizes, tile parameters, etc ... are all topics I know virtually nothing about. That is why your FX tools have been scary for many people to tackle. Even Bob's tutorial on it was still ... too confusing for some of us :(

I hate to admit it, but I did not even know that the initials "GUI" meant "Graphical User Interface", until I looked them up on the internet just now. I know it may be hard for you to understand, given your high level of computer knowledge and your assumption that most Celestia forum members must have some reasonable level of computer modeling knowledge, but many Celestia users are simply unprepared to create textures, design models, or write LUA code. Without taking a poll, I would guess that no more than 10% of the folks that follow Celestia know what an ssc file is, and have no idea how to edit one. That is why so many of us wish we could simply download a big texture set and place it in our extras folder. That ... most of us can do! :?

That said, I would be very grateful for your GUI interface for Windows. Hopefully, it could be provided with some simple to understand manual that tells us what each component should be. For example, I would have no idea whether I should check the "Add specular graymap into alpha channel" box on the GUI. I am not even sure what any of that means, let alone know if I should select it.

Will your GUI interfaces also generate main VT textures for Earth and moon, or is it confined to just normal and spec maps?

Frank

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#9by BobHegwood » 08.05.2009, 00:31

fsgregs wrote:I hate to admit it, but I did not even know that the initials "GUI" meant "Graphical User Interface", until I looked them up on the internet just now.

Thanks *very* much for pointing out that I ain't the *only* Brain-Dead
user on this forum. :D

I did know what GUI meant, but there are many instances (especially when talking about textures)
where I still don't have a clue as to what's going on according to the terminology. :wink:

That's why I think that Dr. Schrempp's GUI would be of great benefit to others besides myself.

Take care, the Original Brain-Dead user. :wink:
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#10by t00fri » 08.05.2009, 08:25

fsgregs wrote:Fridger:

...but my personal knowledge of such topics as Normal maps, what goes into them, alpha channels, specular channels, bin files, VT tiles, tile sizes, tile parameters, etc ... are all topics I know virtually nothing about.

Frank,

while I can understand that Windows people don't feel at home with commandline programs, I am really surprised about what you wrote here.

Along with the first version of my texture tools, I have spent a large effort writing a detailed step-by-step tutorial about normalmaps in general, their effect, virtual textures, and all that!

http://www.celestialmatters.org/?q=node/10

This Tutorial is available since Oct 3rd 2007!
I conclude that despite my previous pedagogical efforts you didn't read / study it.

You might be surprised if I showed you the long list of people who have successfully reported already completion of their personal VT monster tilesets with my F-TexTools / Nmtools...Many were not more familiar with computer matters or textures than yourself.

Furthermore, Bob had a second go at our Celestial Matters site in his excellent and very elementary thread Fridger?s Texture Tools for the Brain-Dead

http://forum.celestialmatters.org/viewtopic.php?t=217

I think everyone in this community is meanwhile aware about Celestial Matters being our dedicated website and forum, where all of this is VERY easy to find along with the latest updates of the software, models etc.

That is why your FX tools have been scary for many people to tackle. Even Bob's tutorial on it was still ... too confusing for some of us :(

For the general basic background about textures, VTs etc, there is Selden's pedagogical Document since a long time http://www.lns.cornell.edu/~seb/celesti ... s.html#2.5
as well as Bob's various elementary respective docs.

While this level might still be too advanced for some, for reasons of available time for such a project, I am unfortunately forced to assume an "average window of knowledge" about these Celestia related issues.

Now, since for you all these efforts apparently passed by unnoticed or at least with little learning effect, I am afraid that my GUI efforts will make little change for you in this respect.

So unfortunately, I will have to book your mail as a demotivating one concerning this (ongoing) GUI project...

++++++++++++++++++++++
While others might well have a dedication to start at the most elementary levels of knowledge about computers or textures, I have not, since there are plenty of other tasks of higher priority for me than writing additional super-elementary tutorials (that barely anyone reads...).
++++++++++++++++++++++

Will your GUI interfaces also generate main VT textures for Earth and moon, or is it confined to just normal and spec maps?

A few minutes inspection of the GUI display above might have answered your question.

As you may clearly read in that display, there are two main "toolbox compartments":

  • The first one is called Base + Spec Texture,
  • the second one is called Normalmap.

The header of the active compartment of my GUI "toolbox" is printed in bold face. Its purpose includes making VT's of any size from a quite general input (base) texture. Hence given the required input imaging data, my tools handle of course ANY celestial body.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++
Didn't you note the great 64k Moon VT images by praesepe a couple of days ago that were done with the commandline version of my F-TexTools??

viewtopic.php?f=5&t=13775
+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Beyond making VTs, there are many other options as you again may infer from the GUI display. The format of the input texture can be in binary = raw format (Usually being the format of scientific textures) or in PNG.

Since its early days, Celestia supported an integration of the specular texture into the (RGB) base texture in its so-called Alpha channel. The default earth.png texture in any previous Celestia distribution had always included the specular texture in integrated form, for example!

The Alpha channel is administrated in the texture like a 4th color, but usually it is responsible for opacity or specularity properties of a texture. While the specular texture can also be entered as a separate file in solarsys.scc, its integration as a 4th color is advantagous for GPU storage reasons, speed etc. In the course of time, there were numerous discussions about this convenient option in this forum. My tools and hence also their GUI version can do this integration with a click (see GUI display). Then automatically, the resulting VTs also have the specularity integrated.

The second page of my GUI toolbox looks quite similar to the first one, but is devoted to making the corresponding Normalmaps as it's header says..

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#11by cartrite » 08.05.2009, 11:02

Hi Fridger,
Looks good. I like it. I think this will help a lot of people with basic graphics and computer knowledge. But I remember that script I wrote that did BMNG textures. All one had to do was install the necessary software and click on a file. That was even too much/complicated for some.

This brings me back a few years when I went back to school after a lay off from a job to get retrained. I graduated with very high grades from a 2 year degree in computer science in 1986. I never found a job in the computer field so I didn't touch a computer again between 1986 and 2000. In 2000 I worked briefly with a Unix operating system. In 2003 I went back to school to get retrained. At that time they made me take a placement test and I didn't even know what a cookie was. They wanted me to start completely over again. I said no way. I''l just review. Anyhow, I can see where most of the users are coming from. Unless a user has some basic understanding of how computers work with graphics, at first, it is hard to understand.

Unfortunately, I'm no teacher. I think it would take a teacher of beginners to come up with a tutorial that new comers would understand. But that also assumes that a potential new user wants to put in the time to learn it. Unfortunately, this seems to be rare. But this GUI may help some to go the extra mile.

A good GUI to make would be one that changes a png/jpg/tif to binary format. png2bin. Or will this GUI do that too? It looks like it might do this already.
cartrite
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#12by BobHegwood » 08.05.2009, 11:46

t00fri wrote:So unfortunately, I will have to book your mail as a demotivating one concerning this (ongoing) GUI project...

Please do not do that Good Doctor. The more ways (and tools) we have to create
the VT's, the more accessible the processes become to your "average" user. This is a good
thing is it not?

You, as the provider of such incredible tools, should be well-motivated in this project
precisely because of Frank's remarks. :wink:

The more we know, the less we have to pester you with foolish questions. Consider
this project as an educational tool if you will. Please? :wink:

Thanks very much for your on-going efforts here, Brain-Dead
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#13by t00fri » 08.05.2009, 11:53

Hey Steve,

thanks for your constructive feedback.

cartrite wrote:Hi Fridger,
Looks good. I like it. I think this will help a lot of people with basic graphics and computer knowledge. But I remember that script I wrote that did BMNG textures. All one had to do was install the necessary software and click on a file. That was even too much/complicated for some.
As I just replied to Frank above, I am not motivated to spending my time with writing additional tutorials for people with close-to-zero knowledge in these matters. Other people can always do so, if they feel motivated. Also Google is everybody's friend...

As to VT making via the above GUI, all that will be required is to select the input imaging file via the standard file browser, select (or enter) the texture width in pixels, dial the color content (RGB, Grayscale, RGB + Alpha) and the input format (Binary, PNG), then click the VT generation option, enter the desired output directory name for the entire VT tile set and whether PNG or highest quality DXT-compressed VT tiles are desired. After hitting OK, the program will start working with progress indicated in the graphical progress bar.

After 20 minutes or so, a complete 64k VT tileset is available in the user's output directory (with standard level0...level5...subdirectories) .

The result just needs to be copied to Celestia's /extras directory along with some simple solarsys.ssc changes, of course. That will be absolutely all there is. Notably, since the GUI is in Qt, it will work exactly the same in Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

But of course YOU know all that ;-)

This brings me back a few years when I went back to school after a lay off from a job to get retrained. I graduated with very high grades...
Knowing you that's what I'd have guessed ;-)
...from a 2 year degree in computer science in 1986. In 2003 I went back to get retrained. At that time they made me take a placement test and I didn't even know what a cookie was. They wanted me to start completely over again. I said no way. I''l just review. Anyhow, I can see where most of the users are coming from. Unless a user has some basic understanding of how computers work with graphics, at first, it is hard to understand.

Unfortunately, I'm no teacher. I think it would take a teacher of beginners to come up with a tutorial that new comers would understand. But that also assumes that a potential new user wants to put in the time to learn it. Unfortunately, this seems to be rare. But this GUI may help some to go the extra mile.

Right, see my reply a few lines higher...
A good GUI to make would be one that changes a png/jpg/tif to binary format. png2bin. Or will this GUI do that too? It looks like it might do this already.
cartrite

I have no ambitions to add a more versatile graphics format converter, since there are so many freely available. The Format comboBox in the first Input groupBox widget admits Binary=Raw and PNG. For the Normalmap, only 16bit Binary format will be allowed for now, since otherwise the resulting quality (smoothness) is too bad for my standards.

Fridger
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#14by t00fri » 08.05.2009, 12:03

Bob,
BobHegwood wrote:
fsgregs wrote:I hate to admit it, but I did not even know that the initials "GUI" meant "Graphical User Interface", until I looked them up on the internet just now.

Thanks *very* much for pointing out that I ain't the *only* Brain-Dead
user on this forum. :D

I thought you Americans are the world champions in (using) acronyms!? ;-)
I only used the GUI acronym for you guys ...

BobHegwood wrote:
t00fri wrote:So unfortunately, I will have to book your mail as a demotivating one concerning this (ongoing) GUI project...

Please do not do that Good Doctor. The more ways (and tools) we have to create
the VT's, the more accessible the processes become to your "average" user. This is a good
thing is it not?

You, as the provider of such incredible tools, should be well-motivated in this project
precisely because of Frank's remarks. :wink:

The more we know, the less we have to pester you with foolish questions. Consider
this project as an educational tool if you will. Please? :wink:

Really, there will be enough people with "average" user knowledge, able to operate the GUI versions of my tools (even under alcohol! ;-), see some more descriptive remarks in my mail to cartrite above this one) . Among these users, there might well be someone being inclined to writing super-basic, super-educational tutorials about all that.

But my time will not be available for this, apart from providing, of course, the complete required help instruction (including "tool tips" and "what is this?" ) for users with "average" knowledge about computers and textures.

Fridger
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#15by bh » 08.05.2009, 15:05

Gargh Fridger! Do I really need to sober up before embarking on using your excellent gui for your ftex tools...? I sincerely hope not!
I have to thank you for this and I'm looking forward to having super hires earth tex views.
regards...bh.

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#16by t00fri » 08.05.2009, 15:16

bh wrote:Gargh Fridger! Do I really need to sober up before embarking on using your excellent gui for your ftex tools...? I sincerely hope not!
I have to thank you for this and I'm looking forward to having super hires earth tex views.

Noooooooooooo. Stay as you are *(my computer at least runs faster in an atmosphere with "spirits")! :lol: You will succeed anyway. That's what I meant to indicate above. Wasn't it correctly written? :roll:

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#17by bh » 08.05.2009, 15:28

Heh... I probably misread your post slightly... I've had a 'beer or two' already!
regards...bh.

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#18by Andy74 » 10.05.2009, 21:48

Fridger,

I am one of the successful users of your commandline tools.

My knowledge about textures was null when I started using Celestia a few years ago.
Although I have always much too less time (for my taste) for Celestia, I was regularly reading the forum and some basic documentation provided by the community. With almost no effort I learnt very much about everything related to Celestia, even if it is not much in comparison with the knowledge of the "senior members" of the community.
When your tools were released, I was excited about the possibility of creating textures on my own. Of course I read all your tutorials very carefully.
For me, all of your work related with the texture tools was great.
The tutorials gave me all the knowledge and understanding I needed to use the tools.
Following the step-by-step instructions you provided, the whole procedure was as simple as it can be.
For me, you did the right thing. The tools are great as they are; the tutorials are most useful, too.
I am absolutely no computer expert but had no problems at all -- even as a Windows user.
Hopefully you won't change the style of your work in the future: good software and good documentation.

Now about the GUI: As I am able to use the commandline tools, I won't need a GUI version.
But apart from that I am sure that there are many users on a similar stage of knowledge as I have, but who have a bit more reluctance against using the comand line. So in my opinion it would be a great extension for the tools with great profit for many users and hence also for the community.

Whatever you do, thank you for all your efforts and your dedication for Celestia and the community!

Bye
Andy

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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#19by t00fri » 10.05.2009, 23:34

Andy74 wrote:Fridger,

I am one of the successful users of your commandline tools.

My knowledge about textures was null when I started using Celestia a few years ago.
Although I have always much too less time (for my taste) for Celestia, I was regularly reading the forum and some basic documentation provided by the community. With almost no effort I learnt very much about everything related to Celestia, even if it is not much in comparison with the knowledge of the "senior members" of the community.
When your tools were released, I was excited about the possibility of creating textures on my own. Of course I read all your tutorials very carefully.
For me, all of your work related with the texture tools was great.
The tutorials gave me all the knowledge and understanding I needed to use the tools.
Following the step-by-step instructions you provided, the whole procedure was as simple as it can be.
For me, you did the right thing. The tools are great as they are; the tutorials are most useful, too.
I am absolutely no computer expert but had no problems at all -- even as a Windows user.
Hopefully you won't change the style of your work in the future: good software and good documentation.

Now about the GUI: As I am able to use the commandline tools, I won't need a GUI version.
But apart from that I am sure that there are many users on a similar stage of knowledge as I have, but who have a bit more reluctance against using the comand line. So in my opinion it would be a great extension for the tools with great profit for many users and hence also for the community.

Whatever you do, thank you for all your efforts and your dedication for Celestia and the community!

Bye
Andy

Hello Andy,

thanks very much for this motivating summary of your experiences with my tools. Of course, I completely share your preferences for the commandline version.

Your statements might hopefully also serve as a motivation for other non-experts to try using the tools themselves, although they might appear unfamiliar initially.

Fridger
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Re: CrossPlatform GUI (Qt) for my F-TexTools/Nmtools

#20by bh » 11.05.2009, 06:40

Andy and Fridger... I have been a 'user' for almost 15 years now and once was one of the early 'pioneers' of the internet. Now.... here's my story.. I cannot get my head around css and, as such. have had to give up most of my web work. For confirmation of this take a lookie at my website... or should that be 'webshite'?

Next... I've never understood the point of command line input, maybe because I'm a gui freak... and since getting the mac, terminal is someplace I don't ever want to go!

I've always considered myself to be an advanced user (computer) however there are places I cannot go. I think this is normal for a lot of 'so-called ' experts... although they will never admit it.

There!

Keep smiling :lol:
regards...bh.


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