Prabhu Ramachandran, Python and Visualization

About two weeks ago I met with Prabhu Ramachandran at his office in
IIT Bombay. I can safely say now that I have never met a person with
the right mix of technology, enthusiasm, extreme simplicity, humility
and brains that he has.

We spoke for a couple of hours on our passions for Open Source and
our respective Open Source projects. Prabhu is a very animated person.
When he was describing his dreams for MayaVI 2 his face was all lit
up with enthusiasm and purpose. I was fortunate enough to get a demo
of MayaVI 2 from the master and creator himself. It has some kick ass
features.

I was in that same meeting that I got the motivation to take a look
at Python (Prabhu describes it as an ideal programming language). I
must say that Python a fantastic language. I am reading the online
tutorial for a little of two hours now and I am already quite familiar
with the language. It is so simple to understand and use. I had never
imagined that learning a new language would be so easy. Python seems
to have everything that I ever wanted from a language. I hope to learn
more about this language and pour my learnings back into VTK Designer.

Meanwhile, I must say that VTK Designer 2 is going quite good. I dont
have much to tell about it right now because there is a lot of work
going on. More on this in a future blog.

VTK Designer in KDE SVN

After about two years of development (29th October 2004 was when the first version was released),
VTK Designer has managed to get into the KDE SVN. After giving a demo of VTK Designer at FOSS.IN
2006
, Aaron Seigo suggested that I try getting an SVN account and importing VTK Designer into
the SVN. And I applied for a SVN account, got one and yesterday evening I also uploaded VTK Designer
into the SVN
. Aaron also blogged about it here.

From here on, VTK Designer will get fully KDEized and will make complete use of the awesome
power of the KDE framework.

Finally a complete development environment !!!!

After over six months of saving, planning, negotiating and what not; I now have
a complete development system. A 64 bit AMD Athlon PC with 1GB RAM, 512 MB NVIDIA
6800 GS Card with 512 MB Video RAM, 120 GB HDD, 19 inch Monitor with a legal copy
of Windows XP SP2, Microsoft Visual Studio 2005 Standard Edition, Qt Version 4.2.1
and Version 3.3.7 for VS2005. Back in college I had never thought that I would
buy all these things. The hardware and software has cost me a fortune; but it has
all been completely worth it. Well actually all this hardware and software belongs
to my company that I co-founded; but then I get to use it like all the time. So
that personal belongingness is there. 🙂 I thoroughly appreciate and thank my
friend Manish’s help and support during all this time.

Just a bit more of hardware to buy before Manish and I sit down and put our brains
together on a research area we have been eying on for quite some time now. We have
a lot to study and we are absolutely looking forward to get started.

My talk on VTK Designer has been accepted at FOSS.IN 2006. This is my first talk in
a FOSS event; although it would be the 5th time I would be presenting about
VTK Designer. But then FOSS is a different place all together. I applied for a talk
slot very late last year; and was obviously rejected. I waited with excitement and
patience for a year, and I guess I was the first person to apply for a talk slot
this year. And FOSS.IN is giving me an opportunity to present my OSS software and
ideas 🙂 I am preparing to not disappoint the audience, and hope they wont be, with
my talk.

VTK Designer 1.0.5

Five months of development effort and about 70,000 lines of code and over 200 pages of
design and user documentation later; VTK Designer 1.0.5 Beta is finally out today. In-fact
it is getting out as I type this journal.

For about one or two weeks now I have been getting remainder emails from people interested
in getting their hands on the new version. I could have asked for no better appreciation,
than an audience waiting for the next release. Even before the beta was out people have
sent me emails about how they want to support VTK Designer development; what areas they
would like to contribute and so on.

I like user feedback. Infact the 1.0.5 Beta is a testament of that. Most features in this
version are driven by user requests. WCMaker a 10000 LOC + tool is entirely a user driven
request. I think the Beta is quite good. It is not bug-free, and certainly not flawless
in design; but it surely is a giant step ahead of its predecessor. 17% of upload left; and
I am going to be celebrating the release.

It is close to 3 AM in the morning now; and I have to leave my house and go to Mysore
in another three hours. Every bone in my back is giving up in pain; but I have never
been more charged and energetic in my life. Whether 1.0.5 makes it big or not; I am still
satisfied for the effort and ride it has given me.

First Project Delivered

Today our company delivered our first complete project. I am supposed
to not speak much about the project itself for a couple of more months;
but I can share the feeling of having completed the task.

The last few weeks have been extremely heavy with long working hours
and no holiday (not even a Sunday). This is our first product after the
company was incorporated, and my second with the same client. We handled
everything from project prestudy, design, implementation, testing,
documentation, manuals, installation programs, demos everything.

Had a complete blast while doing this project. At the end of all this
tiring work; I feel satisfied that we have come this far. Now it is
time to find out how the work will be perceived by our customers.
Fingers crossed

More VTK Designer Stuff

The feature additions for VTK Designer is now complete. No more new features will
be added. From now on for another 45 days we are going to fix up the remaining bugs,
package it, give it some shape and put it up for distribution by the end of
next month.

The pic below shows VTK Designer showing a DICOM Image rendered after a
simple Contour Filter. Just one of those days when I was fiddling around
with VTK Designer.

Help system has been overhauled. The complete VTK Designer help along with
all of VTK Class Help is now available within the IDE itself in another
tab stacked behind the code browser.

You can now hover the mouse over any property to see help for the property.

All help tips are extracted from the code comments written by VTK
developers.

Help tips in VTK Designer

A survery of 500+ VTK Designer users let us to understand that
most people use VTK Designer to learn / teach VTK. The second
highest usage of VTK Designer is to test/develop VTK components.

VTK Designer 1.0.5 has another tool in its kitty now. The IDE
shows documentation for any class dropped on the canvas.

A tool called UpdateClassDoc is now provided with VTK Designer
1.0.5 that can parse VTK Header files and update the documentation
database used by VTK Designer and WCMaker.

XGL on SuSE 10.1

XGL !!!!!

XGL on Linux is a complete treat to the eyes. What a fantastic piece of work by the Novell developers.
Khudos to them. They are complete pros at making and packaging free software. Just take a look at
a snapshot of my desktop running XGL and also showing a pic of my fav actress.

SuSE Linux 10.1

After years of being a loyal RedHat/Fedora user; I finally shifted to SuSE 10.1. Thanks to LFY
for giving a properly packaged SuSE 10.1 on DVD in their July Edition. SuSE looks refreshingly
new.

As a developer of GUI and 3D Visualization Systems; I think SuSE is a better system for
working on such projects. The neatness with which everything works and appears in SuSE 10.1
keeps me motivated to do better work on my GUIs. Everything from colors, to icons, to themes,
to backgrounds to sounds to even splash screens blend together. It looks packaged; and so
professionally made. I have never used a SuSE system before; but my first time with SuSE
has been really really good so far.

The SuSE experience has been way better than Ubuntu/Kubuntu 6.06. I guess this is because I
look at a GNU/Linux system as more of a developer paradise than a end-user desktop system.
So I simply cannot get myself to accept a GNU/Linux box not having gcc tightly packaged
with it. manish_chaks helped me setup a development environment on Kubuntu
6.06. After 3-4 hours and 250 MB+ of download I still cant to all the stuff I could with
FC3/4. Ubuntu/Kubuntu is great for end-user “humans” as they call them. For “adventerous”
developers and students of Open Source like me, a fuller system like SuSE 10.1/Fedora
is more apt or should I say “yum”my.