Author Topic: Current and Planned Enhancements  (Read 3089 times)

aholinch

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Current and Planned Enhancements
« on: April 28, 2010, 01:01:08 am »
Earlier today we were able to deploy the latest updates to the Merger Zoo.  These include Polish language support for both the website and the applet.  Thank you again to the great group of volunteers who did the translations.   :)

We've also used our official code-signing certificate.  Now when you download the new applet, your browser and Java plug-in will say that the applet was signed by George Mason University.  If you see that name on the applet, know that it is correct.

In the applet's preferences, we have added a few tabs.  The first one, Settings, contains the previously available options.  The last one, Language,  allows you to manually set the language in the applet.  The middle tab is the Advanced tab.  For now we've put two options there: "Outline Sims" and "Use Two Sliders".

Checking "Outline Sims" will cause the applet to draw a white outline around all sims that were selected from the Explore screen.  That outline will remain until you click the simulation in the list of Selected Sims and choose to Enhance it.  Now, you don't need to Enhance all or even any of the sims you pick on the Explore screen.  Some users have requested the ability to distinguish which ones have been Enhanced from those who haven't, so that's why this is an available option.

Checking "Use Two Sliders" will give you two separate sliders on the Enhance tab instead of the cross-hair cursor.  This will allow you to adjust each of the two current parameters independently.  I think using the Enhance screen in this mode can be very enlightening.  It reveals the interdependent nature of all the parameters.  With two individual sliders, say for the masses, you can be certain that you are only changing the value for the mass of the secondary.  However, you may see significant changes to the final shapes of both galaxies.

Below is a list of some of additional enhancements and fixes we're working on.  I don't know for sure when any of these will be ready, but I wanted to let you know what items we're trying to address.  Feel free to reply to this post to suggest additional items you'd like to see.  If you've suggested similar changes before and don't see them listed here, my apologies.  This list is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • An undo option on the Enhance tab.  If after adjusting the slider you want to go back to the previous value, even if you pick the exact same pixel, the value is not exactly the same.  The undo button would fix this.
  • A zoom feature on the Enhance sliders.  Some parameters are very sensitive where small changes lead to big differences in the output.  This is where interesting points in the phase space occur, so it would be nice to be able to make changes in the region that behave in a more stable manner.
  • Improved reliability on the Favourites applet.  Sometimes when you load the My Mergers page, the favourites applet doesn't show any favourites.  Additionally the Merger Count number does not seem to be incremented sometimes.
  • Improved scaling on the Favourites applet.  Some of the saved mergers do not look similar at all to what they were in the Mergers applet.

Thank you for all the great feedback on the interface.  We hope to incorporate as many of your suggestions as we can.  For now these features are only documented here.  If people like them, we'll update the website to describe these features.  If the updates are horrible, then we will remove them from the applet and pretend they never happened.  ;)

Thank you,
Anthony

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2010, 01:53:53 pm »
This is great news!  8)  Thanks for the feedbck. I will try it out.  ;D

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

ElisabethB

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2010, 04:06:44 pm »
Thanks Anthony
I love the sliders !  No more grid for me. !  ;D

graham d

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2010, 04:10:13 pm »
A definate improvement Anthony, much appreciated - with another mouse it would be like driving a tank. :)

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2010, 08:11:28 pm »
Thanks Anthony
I love the sliders !  No more grid for me. !  ;D
Els that's interesting! I liked them but found them quite hard to use. Have you tried swapping back and forth from grid to slider? I tried, is that recommended or not? Any tips..... Apart from more practice  :D

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

ElisabethB

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2010, 08:17:01 pm »
Hey Jo !
With the grid I just moved around a lot and chance played a very big  role. With the sliders I find that I'm much more in control!
But, again, that is just me !  ;D

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2010, 08:34:26 pm »
Thanks Els, I will have another go at "driving the tank" tomorrow.  ;)  :D

P.S. I like this feature  8)
"Checking "Outline Sims" will cause the applet to draw a white outline around all sims that were selected from the Explore screen.  That outline will remain until you click the simulation in the list of Selected Sims and choose to Enhance it.  Now, you don't need to Enhance all or even any of the sims you pick on the Explore screen.  Some users have requested the ability to distinguish which ones have been Enhanced from those who haven't, so that's why this is an available option."

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

Quialiss

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2010, 08:56:31 pm »
Awesome changes!  I'm really enjoying having the added control given by the separate sliders for fine tuning, but please keep the grid in as an option, they both have their uses!  It's good to hear about what future changes you're considering, 'zoom' and 'undo' are definitely on my personal wishlist.  Though some way to -share- favorites with other people goes above fixing them to be more accurate, for me.

I've noticed sometimes my simulations change when switching mass/velocity/depth tabs, I'm not sure if it used to happen, but there's definitely some ambiguity as to where the sliders are positioned and/or what values they correspond to.  Strangely enough, it appears to mostly just affect the depth tab, but that might just be because the simulations I was running were more sensitive to changes there.  Screenshot attached, all I did was click on the sim in my list, and then switch to adjusting depth, and it changed like that.  It happened on a few of my sims today, but that's the most dramatic. 

Not quite a bug, but when you have the outline sims checked, it highlights any new simulation, regardless of the source, so all the 'new' sims that you make from saving enhancements are also highlighted.  From your description that doesn't sound like intended behavior.. but I'm not sure if I'd prefer them to be highlighted or not, it's more information that we had before either way. 

If we're taking wishes, I'd love to be able to 'group' sims, so all the enhancements of one simulation are recognizable as coming from the same sim.  I'm not sure how you'd manage that, there are only so many shades of gray/orange.. or if it's really needed.  It's how I organize them in my head, I don't know if anyone else would find something like that useful.  :D

Thanks for keeping us up to date with what you're working on, it's good to know you're putting our feedback to good use.

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 09:42:29 pm »
Thank you Quialiss I agree with everything you have said! ;) :)

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

aholinch

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2010, 02:42:13 am »
I've noticed sometimes my simulations change when switching mass/velocity/depth tabs, I'm not sure if it used to happen, but there's definitely some ambiguity as to where the sliders are positioned and/or what values they correspond to.  Strangely enough, it appears to mostly just affect the depth tab, but that might just be because the simulations I was running were more sensitive to changes there.  Screenshot attached, all I did was click on the sim in my list, and then switch to adjusting depth, and it changed like that.  It happened on a few of my sims today, but that's the most dramatic. 

Hmmm ....  There is a slight delay from when you click on a simulation to when it appears in the Enhance tab.  Similarly if you drag the sliders around a lot, there will be a number of pending simulations to run.  It's possible for the last simulation to take a few seconds to appear after you've stopped moving the slider, so if you change tabs in that time maybe that explains it.  I'll keep an eye on this behavior to see what might cause it.  Thanks for the screen shots.

I appreciate all the great suggestions related to sharing and grouping.  We've experimented with some forms of each, but we don't have anything that's working well yet.  The grouping was much more important when we were using genetic algorithms.  We can consider resurrecting that.

Thanks,
Anthony

Quialiss

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2010, 05:24:18 am »
Quote
Hmmm ....  There is a slight delay from when you click on a simulation to when it appears in the Enhance tab.  Similarly if you drag the sliders around a lot, there will be a number of pending simulations to run.  It's possible for the last simulation to take a few seconds to appear after you've stopped moving the slider, so if you change tabs in that time maybe that explains it.  I'll keep an eye on this behavior to see what might cause it.  Thanks for the screen shots.

Just want to clarify, at no point between those screenshots did I touch any of the sliders.  Here's a step by step of what I was doing, hopefully it will help to see if it's reproducible by anyone or just a peculiarity of my setup.

Using Mozilla Firefox 3.6.3, Java version is Version 6 Update 18 and Update 20(I updated to see if that would change anything, no dice.)
  • Select a sim to enhance
  • Click on Mass Speed Depth Radius and Angles 1 & 2, not adjusting anything.  The appearance of the sim changes to a varying degree, from what I showed earlier to just having the particles shift around in the structures.  (Mass, Speed and Depth appear to affect things more, but I think that's just because those variables tend to be more sensitive.)
  • Reselect the sim from the list, observe it changes back to the original configuration.

All in all very strange behavior, I don't think it happened before this update but I can't say for sure.   :-\

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2010, 03:34:04 pm »
I really like having the feature settings/advanced/outline sims

However I don’t feel that it is quite working the way it should.........

White box = has not been worked on yet
No box = has been worked on
Orange box = Selected sim

But if you just click on them they immediately lose their box whether you have worked on them or not, this can be confusing.

Is there a way of just marking the ones that are originally chosen from the explore page? Maybe with the box line in bold or something?

Sorry if I haven’t explained this very well..........

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2010, 03:51:10 pm »
Quote
Hmmm ....  There is a slight delay from when you click on a simulation to when it appears in the Enhance tab.  Similarly if you drag the sliders around a lot, there will be a number of pending simulations to run.  It's possible for the last simulation to take a few seconds to appear after you've stopped moving the slider, so if you change tabs in that time maybe that explains it.  I'll keep an eye on this behavior to see what might cause it.  Thanks for the screen shots.

Just want to clarify, at no point between those screenshots did I touch any of the sliders.  Here's a step by step of what I was doing, hopefully it will help to see if it's reproducible by anyone or just a peculiarity of my setup.

Using Mozilla Firefox 3.6.3, Java version is Version 6 Update 18 and Update 20(I updated to see if that would change anything, no dice.)
  • Select a sim to enhance
  • Click on Mass Speed Depth Radius and Angles 1 & 2, not adjusting anything.  The appearance of the sim changes to a varying degree, from what I showed earlier to just having the particles shift around in the structures.  (Mass, Speed and Depth appear to affect things more, but I think that's just because those variables tend to be more sensitive.)
  • Reselect the sim from the list, observe it changes back to the original configuration.

All in all very strange behavior, I don't think it happened before this update but I can't say for sure.   :-\

This just happened to me when i clicked on depth (first time i have noticed this happen) i was not using the sliders.

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee

aholinch

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #13 on: May 07, 2010, 06:21:30 am »
This just happened to me when i clicked on depth (first time i have noticed this happen) i was not using the sliders.

Jo and Quialiss, I'm still working on trying to figure out this behavior. 

Every time you click a different option on the Enhance tab (Mass, Speed, Depth, etc.) the applet runs a new simulation.  This happens even if you don't adjust the slider values at all.  For each new simulation, the "stars" are randomly distributed around the disks of the two galaxies.  For low numbers of particles, like the default of around 500, this random placement can be noticeably different from simulation to simulation.  So when I click on the various options rapidly (Mass, Speed, Depth, Mass, Speed, Depth) I do see some noticeable variation.  Increasing the number of particles used will decrease the appearance of this type of variation.  However simulations will run slower.

But, I don't think this explains the differences in the screenshots Quialiss provided.  Nor does it explain the sense you've both had of things "going back" after re-selecting the simulation.

At your convenience, would either of you mind telling me if you notice any of the following:

  • Does it happen more, less, or equally as often when using the two separate sliders or the single 2D slider?
  • If you click on Mass, notice the slider position, then click on Depth, and then click back on Mass, are the sliders in the same spot as before?

Thank you both for letting me know about this.

Anthony

echo-lily-mai

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Re: Current and Planned Enhancements
« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2010, 06:55:29 pm »
The sim in the enhance screen has not been altered by me at all, only selected from the panel. (Look at the highlighted one bottom right) Its appearance changes as soon as you click from mass to depth.




 
The Mass and depth sliders do not change when switching between the two, I checked to make sure they stayed the same.

The previous sim that I chose from the explore page did not look any different when I clicked on mass or depth.

This was only a very small test, but I will keep a lookout and try some more another time.   :)

Art does not reproduce the visible....  Paul Klee