Project Status & Timeline

VISTAS User Interface Project

For my project for the Student Originated Software program at The Evergreen State College, I have joined a small development team working on VISTAS, a 3-D scientific data visualization tool.  This project is taking place under the mentorship of Judy Cushing and is funded by the National Science Foundation.

My role in the project is to focus on learning user interface design & programming with the goal of enhancing the usability of the program.  I am also actively learning about modern source control methods as well as obtaining practice at collaborative development.  In addition to feature implementation, I am fulfilling additional developer responsibilities within the VISTAS team, including attending weekly online meetings and contributing to code reviews, bug fixes, and collaborative readings of select research papers.

Timeline of Feature Implementation

Timeline as of 3/12/14

Successfully Implemented Features

  • Ability to zoom in & out using the MouseWheel.
  • Altered camera panning behavior to be more intuitive.
  • Added mouse-hover tooltips to all appropriate static UI elements.
  • Overhauled the icon image resources to be more intuitive and visually appealing.
  • Created a new VISTAS icon.
  • Added icons to the title bars of plugins window, spatial animator, and main program.
  • Wrote methods to load bitmap and icon resources.
  • Fixed a bug related to scene counting.

TO-DO List

Short term:

  • Fix the “Add” buttons on the Data & Visualizations tabs. Right-clicking is not intuitive to a new user. This could be as simple as a small “+” or “Add” button next to Project Visualizations/Project Data.
  • Tooltips/mouse hover context information need to be added to the Data and Visualization panel items.
  • Add camera modes to viewer panels, with mouseover hotkey information.
  • Update wx libraries to 3.0, to allow for toggle buttons.
  • Add default string to scene selection dropdown.

Medium term:

  • Add “Help” section with integrated quick start guide.
  • Revamp the Tool Bar. Re-evaluate overall layout, icon choices and functionalities present.
  • Revamp the Menu Bar. Right now there is a bare minimum of functionality here, and several existing buttons don’t work.
  • “About” as its own item, and not nested under File — to be discussed.

Longer Term:

  • Adding/removing Viewers could perhaps be done in a more intuitive way.
  • Bundle a small sample data set with VISTAS so that a new user can experiment with the program without committing to downloading a large data set & going through all the steps of setting up the visualization. Ideally this would come in the form of a sample project include with VISTAS, so the ability to Save & Open projects needs to be implemented first.
  • Ability to take a screenshot of the viewer window, either via right-click or perhaps a button in the toolbar. Ability to copy screengrabs to clipboard for easy insertion into documents/emails/whatever.
  • Optional camera controls on the viewer window might be nice. At least a zoom control– Shift+mouse zooming is not always intuitive nor precise for fine camera movements.
  • Ability to click on colors in Legend and change them.

Project-Related Links


Previous Posts

About the Author: Justin
A 34 year old Software Engineer in Seattle, WA with a love for coding, music, video games, and the great outdoors.
Author Website:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *