15 Sep 2004 kai   » (Journeyer)

Hacking

After starting to port my circular treemaps code to Java and realising that Java2D is just too slow for the task I've put together a snapshot of my Gtk+ version, which uses Freetype 2 for rendering. A few days ago I downloaded the Anti Grain Geometry graphics library and I'm very impressed so far. Used wisely it should be a good basis for an interactive circular treemap file system viewer. All in all the total confusion regarding hacking is gone, or at least i got a plan for my pebbles code...

Every once in a while I have big trouble with time management. In fact, it happens quite regularly. In those moments I'm thinking of better ways to represent calendaring information and to integrate timeline-based information visualization into user interfaces. Most of the time I end up just printing out my old PostScript-based calendar, fill in the dates and put it on the wall.
I like those calendar year views very much where weeks line up neatly and the flow of time is easy to see. Last year I coded a little Java prototype (screenshot). The prototype has no function whatsoever, but I like the visual design. The main idea is to use this layout as a basis for visualizing stuff like mailing list threads, stock prices, server statistics, etc. Another good point is that it could be used for a zoomable user interface since a day view can easily use the long vertical space each day in the year view gets. Teaching myself a little PHP and CSS I made a PHP version of the same layout earlier this year. It's a good example for how different browsers realize CSS-support :-(

There was a lot of talk about file management on the old Linux Interface Project's mailing lists. One of the ideas which I still miss in contemporary packages is the ability to aggregate files of the same type to a single icon. You would select an entry from the context (or main) menu, saying something like "pile up JPG images" or similar and the files of the respective type would then be represented by a single "stack" or "group" icon, instead of beeing scattered around. A special option would be to collapse/expand "hidden files" which would IMHO be much more convenient then various ways to select "show hidden files" today. On the piled-up icons a menu entry would appear which allows to unpile the stack. See the mockup. Under the pile icons a file-type depending summary would be shown, such as "12 PNG images, 6083 KB" or "5 mp3 files, 24 min".

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