GeoKone.NET Interactive Geometry Projection Installation @ Kosmos Festival 2015

For the last three weeks, I had been working on creating an interactive GeoKone.NET powered geometry installation for Kosmos 2015 Festival. The idea was to create an interactive installation that people could control themselves and synchronize the visuals to the music playing on the Spacetime Stage at the festival.

Designign the controller interface

Designing the controller interface

Google Chrome browser has webmidi -support builtin, so connecting a Korg Kaosspad R3 controller to my laptop and reading midi -signals was pretty easy. Just had to figure out how to have some kind of intelligent and intuitive controls.

The idea was also not to break the geometry or the visuals, because with GeoKone you can pretty easily crash the browser, because exponential growth in processing and memory when increasing the recursion depth or number of points in the scene.

So I had to design some kind of limitations too, so that people could not mess up the beautiful scenes. And really to create new scenes with the controller was too difficult, so I created a bunch of nice scenes people could browse and select one to modify and work from there.

I’m pretty happy how the installation turned out! Here are a couple of videos from the event (Thanks to Suvi Suvereeni for filming and sharing):

 

People really seemed to enjoy this, as I observed people staying on the controller for long periods of time, some even as long as 30 minutes. Visitors also got the hang of synchronizing the visuals to the music, which was nice to see! :) Here is a quote from a user:

That was awesome! I hope I will get to try that again some time, one of the best moments of this summer for sure!

So! This means that in the future, GeoKone will have MIDI -support! You can plugin any controller and control the scenes with your favorite hardware .. how about that :) Can’t wait to implement this properly.

Also, big thanks to Miika Kuisma and Samuel Aarnio for helping me on site, and for everybody who collaborated on the stage and made this possible.

Until then, now work continues again on Geometrify, which about I will update more info later.

GeoKone.NET Gets Animation Support :: 0.93.30 Released

New version of http://GeoKone.NET is online! Now comes with Animation! ^_^
If you want to see straight away some examples live in GeoKone, load these files into GeoKone via “Scene/Load Local File”:

Hit the Animate button with these and they will start to animate, and you can modify the contents realtime of course.

Animation & Tracing!

Animation & Tracing!

Release Notes

  • Animation support! Support for rotating and scaling the formations based on adjustable parameters. Very cool :) Supports tracing also. No support for exporting animated scenes as images yet, though.
  • Use keyboard commands ‘0’ (Zero) to toggle animation, ‘9’ to toggle rotation, ‘8’ to toggle scaling.
  • Changed checkbox appearance to switches
  • Keyboard command ‘Del/Backspace’ now used to delete formations
  • Page Up/Page Down now select active formation also
  • Print Screen shows Export Image dialog
  • Tighten the UI layout a bit
  • Fixed the Randomizer and added better color presets

Realtime Animation

Animation support! Glad to announce that GeoKone.NET now supports animating the formations in real time. Each formation can be Rotated & Scaled in real time, with parameters for controlling the scaling and rotation. You can use keyboard command ‘0’ to toggle the animation, and commands ‘8’ for toggling Scaling and ‘9’ for Rotation.

Using the Tracing Feature

Using the Tracing Feature

With animation you can also trace the movement, leave trails of the moving formations, while animating, which can lead you to some very pretty images! No support for saving these traced images yet (except of course taking a screen shot).

Creating Vortexes

Creating Vortexes. Change the Line Color while Tracing :)

Also due to couple of users telling me about this, the keyboard command for Delete has been moved to ‘Backspace/Del’. Thanks for the feedback! Hopefully having Undo some day too :D

Very Interesting Shapes can now be found!

Very Interesting Shapes can now be found!

Got my Oculus Rift DevKit last week .. let’s see where this goes with GeoKone in the future ;)

Start Creating Geometry!

Now go to http://www.GeoKone.NET and starting playing around with the Animation! Try out different scale frequencies, rotation speeds (also negative!) and see what kind of worlds you can find!

GeoKone.NET Updated :: Much Faster, More Responsive, New Features

New version of http://GeoKone.NET is online! This version is a big one, completely rewritten, not anymore using the Processing.JS library, but instead only Javascript/Canvas techniques, which means it’s much faster and more responsive overall. Took a while to convert the existing Processing.js java -like parsed code to pure Javascript, but definitely worth it. Procesing.js is good for simple visualizations and prototyping stuff, but for production and achieving better performance it’s a no go.

GeoKone.NET 0.99 In Action

GeoKone.NET 0.99 In Action

Release Notes

  • Completely rewritten everything using only javascript+canvas drawing operations. Much faster, lighter and loads faster!
  • Update Dojo (used for the HTML UI) from 1.6 to 1.9.
  • Only active formations are re-drawn when modifying formations. This is a big drawing optimization and allows you to create much more complex scenes without having to re-draw all the formations all the time. Achieved with using multiple canvas elements on the page, and sorting formations based on their z-index, so that the active formations are always in the middle canvas, while the background and foreground stay unmodified. This means huge improvements in usage and drawing speeds, especially with more complex scenes :)
  • Now uses HTML5 Blob for saving images in browsers that support this. Much faster and better method for exporting PNG images, doesn’t seem to crash the browser anymore. The browsers that do not support this (Safari 5 notably) will fall back to base64 URI encoded saving.
  • Read and Save local files. You can now drag and drop local scene files to GeoKone and they will load using the HTML5 FileReader interface. Fallback for importing JSON still exist for browsers that do not support FileReader (Safari 5 again)
  • Better formation container, shows transition effects when you add formations or remove them, and feedback for when joggling polyforms with j/k.
  • Compressed all the javascript source files into one file, optimizing the loading time
  • Small tweaks and bug fixes all around. So much changes and refactoring the code.

As always, for full details, see the ChangeLog.

Approaching The Vision

This is a big release, as it the .NET version is getting so much closer to actually reaching the 1.0 version that I have in my plans and visions. My plan is to complete the .NET version and then leverage the drawing engine/loading engine of the .NET version for other Web -related sites / visualizations also, and this is why I have chosen to continue on developing the HTML5 -version instead of moving to native code.

I am pretty confident that I will be able to get the performance and features out of Javascript/Canvas/HTML5 that is required to complete this task. I would also like to see people sharing their creations with others and remixing content.

One big thing I want to add is also more features, like Spiral -formations based on the e^ or log/lin functions, hopefully adding more variability in the formations you can make.

Figuring out a way to continue working on GeoKone.NET

I also have plans for GeoKone Pro, like exporting Vector Images or other features targeted at artists and those who want to use their work in other media, like printing or image manipulation. This will mean some kind of subscription service, but I assure the standard version of GeoKone.NET will be always free, only the Pro features will have the subscription fee.

I am a lone developer, working alone on GeoKone.NET. Luckily though I have support on the marketing and idea side from Jennifer @ Stralim Technologies (check her site out if you are in Colorado and looking for a great web designer!), but mostly I am figuring this thing out by myself and trying to see what I am actually creating and how I could continue on working this without having to sacrifice too much of my own work and also getting energy back in exchange to continue developing this forwards.

I am setting up a donation feature also for the upcoming releases, so this will also hopefully generate some funds to run the servers and enable people continue enjoying GeoKone.NET :) I am really paying currently for the servers myself also, and even though I would like to make this thing completely free, I have to figure out a way to fully continue developing GeoKone without having to work too much on other projects.

Try it out! In Your Browser!

Now go to http://GeoKone.NET and start Expressing Geometry!

GeoKone.NET 0.98.03 Released

New Version 0.98.03 Beta is Online

GeoKone.NET 0.98.03 Beta has Been Released today.

This is a maintenance release, containing couple of bug fixes and new larger default scene size if the browser window is big enough. Also, the Scene Dimensions now has pre-sets for 4:3, 16:9 and 16:10 sets. Enjoy :) For more details, see ChangeLog.

Circuitry Of Gods :: Created with GeoKone.NET

Circuitry Of Gods :: Created with GeoKone.NET

 

Development Issues & Early Design Drafts with GeoKone.NET

I felt like writing about the design process and some implementation details that I have been going through since I started working on GeoKone.NET. I will talk about performance issues, early designs that I worked for GeoKone, show some screenshots of different versions along the development process and finally look at what is up and coming with the next version of GeoKone.NET.

I was originally thinking about waiting for 1.0 version until to write about some of this stuff, but I feel it’s maybe better to split it into couple of parts and just to show you what kind of things I am facing when developing GeoKone.NET

Performance & Design Issues

One of the issues that I have been struggling constantly with GeoKone  is performance.

Processing.js + Javascript + HTML5 techniques have not been developing at the pace I would have wished for. When I started implementing GeoKone about 1.5 years ago, I thought that WebGL would already be widely supported or that browsers would have found an unifying way of handling canvas element + input + large amounts of classes, but I guess I was overly optimistic on this.

The first version of GeoKone used a simple model: Processing.js running in noLoop() mode and the canvas was only redrawn when user changed the input. This worked pretty well, as GeoKone was still really simple.

Early Beta Version of GeoKone

Early Beta Version of GeoKone

But this noLoop() model was too simple for taking into account ways to present visual feedback for the user when interacting with the PolyForms (the formations on the screen, based on number of points around a circle). I needed a way to run logic & drawing even when the user was not doing anything, so I could present cool animations and transition effects in the program that would run for a while after the user stopped doing anything, or before stuff happened on the screen.

So I designed to take the game engine approach, where a collection of state machines are running at 30 FPS, rendering all polyforms on each frame. This model was used before versions 0.96, and it proved to be too slow to be really used without hardware acceleration.

This design was very responsive and allowed to make some nice transition effects and other realtime animations when joggling polyforms for example, but would almost immediately raise the CPU usage to 100% or even over on multiple cores, depending on the browser.

I also designed and implemented this cool Hyper Chakana Controller for modifying and interacting with objects on the screen. Here you can see a early design image that I had in mind for GeoKone running in fullscreen:

Early Design Of Fullscreen GeoKone, with the 12 -operation Hyper Chakana Controller

Early Design Of Fullscreen GeoKone, with the 12 -operation Hyper Chakana Controller

The Hyper Chakana Controller is the Compass Looking controller, with 4 actions in each direction, allowing Context Specific Actions to be mapped to each one of these directions, so that if you select a PolyForm, the Chakana would be able to Rotate, Scale, Move etc the polyform based on the Natural Directions the user is touching.

Developing The Chakana Controller, Running at 30 FPS

Developing The Chakana Controller, Running at 30 FPS

The name and design for this was based on the South American Sacred Geometry Cube, The Chakana, which you can see a 2D -version here:

Chakana - It Is Said that all South American Culture, Art, Design is based on the ratios of this design

Chakana – It Is Said that all South American Culture, Art & Design is based on the ratios of this image

I even went so far as to implement this HyperChakana controller, as you can see in this early preview video I made:

But after testing this model for a while, I realized that I cannot run this 30 FPS all the time, as making the CPU fan scream was not an option, so I had to figure out something else.

I looked into WebGL, but since back then it was still experimental (and still is, Safari does not officialy even support it yet, you have to toggle it via the developer options) I decided to stick with Processing.js + basic 2D canvas.

GeoKone eating 98% of CPU

GeoKone eating 98% of CPU

I also decided get rid of the Chakana Controller for now, although I put a lot of work into designing and implementing it. Hopefully I will be able to use this design in upcoming, native versions of GeoKone.NET, as I believe this could be a very natural way to interact with objects on the screen, especially with touch screens.

So I had to find a middle road, not running the logic & drawing at 30 FPS, but still having to be able to animate transitions between polyforms. So I decided to run logic for 50 milliseconds after the user has stopped interacting, and after this call noLoop() to stop Processing.js from calling the main draw() method. This way I could still animate stuff and run logic, and the it wouldn’t take as much CPU as before.

This model worked pretty well, and is the one that is still in use with the current live version (0.97). But it proved to create unnecessary logic for handling the stopping and starting of the loop() and noLoop() methods, creating some pretty ugly state handling code that is just unnecessary.

For the next version of GeoKone.NET 0.98, I have cleaned up the code and got rid of this difficult method of determining when to run the loop and when no to, and just tell Processing.JS not to run the loop at all in the beginning, and to call redraw() manually whenever the user interacts with the polyforms. This seems to be the only acceptable model in which GeoKone is responsive, and does not hog the CPU.

Premature Optimization

Also I had foolishly pre-optimized the code, using precalculated sine and cosine tables for the polyforms, inside the PolyForm class. These were not really even used as any time any parameter of the polyform was changed, the class was re-created completely. So even when the user moved the polyform around, it was re-created, thus re-creating the sine and cosine tables also, and preventing from re-using them. Doh. For the next version I have removed all this kind of “optimizations” and just draw and calculate everything on the fly.

Premature optimization truly creates a lot of problems, as the logic of the program changes during development process so much that the optimizations are not even affecting the program in anyway, but they are making it more difficult to adapt to changes in the architecture.

I actually profiled my code and found out that this creating of these sin/cos tables was causing major slowdown, as I used the new keyword everytime the PolyForm was re-created to create the tables. For debugging I use Firefox and the excellent Firebug extension, and I could see the more I removed any use of new in loops, the more faster the initialization & drawing got. This is kind of obvious, as creating classes in performance critical loops of course takes time to allocate new objects, instead of just changing parameters of existing objects on the fly.

It’s really easy to start optimizing early, and run into problems afterwards. This also bit me in the ass when trying to optimize the drawing so that all the in-active polyforms, that is, those polyforms which are not currently being edited, are being drawn into a separate backbuffer and the active polyforms are drawn to a front buffer, and these are then combined to make up what the user sees on the screen.

Debugging Back Buffer Optimization - Backbuffer on left, frontbuffer on right

Debugging Back Buffer Optimization – Backbuffer on left, frontbuffer on right

This enabled me to draw more complex scenes than before, as I could copy very complex formations into the background buffer, and just move the stuff in front buffer around.

But this created problems with the z-ordering of polyforms, as whenever I would choose polyforms to be modified in the front buffer, these would rise on top of the polyforms in the backbuffer, even though logically they were behind the ones in backbuffer.

This was caused because the backbuffer was drawn in the back, and the frontbuffer always on top of the backbuffer, ignoring completely the z-ordering of the polyforms and changing the way the scene looked when editing and when you disabling Mod All.

I have enabled this Back Buffer/Front Buffer optimization for now at least three times, and yet again I have to disable it as it causes problem with the drawing logic. Better just to stick with implementing the functionality first, and then worry about optimization :) It’s kinda difficult also to let go of these optimizations, as I know that I could be drawing much more faster scenes even with current versions, but there would be some minor drawing bugs which I find unacceptable. Maybe I will find a good way to do it after the program logic is finished.

Next Version

Here are a couple screenshots of the next version in action, I’m not going to write anything more now as I’m really close to releasing this and I have to write those in the release notes anyway :) Major new improvement is the Layer Style Polyform Selector, which you can see on the left side of the screenshots. Also, you can now move the PolyForms up and down in their z-ordering, which makes it more easier to edit your scenes.

Testing the PolyForm Selector

Testing the PolyForm Selector

Testing Irregular sized Scenes with the Selector

Testing Irregular sized Scenes with the Selector

It is easy now to move polyforms higher and lower in the order which they are drawn

It is easy now to move polyforms higher and lower in the order which they are drawn

That’s it for now! Continuing finishing the last tweaks on the next version, and if you want to try it out yourself early, you can check it out at the master-optimization branch from GitHub: https://github.com/inDigiNeous/GeoKone/tree/master-optimization.

GeoKone 0.97.02 Released – New Effects with Transparency

New version of GeoKone.NET is now Live! Read more for Release Notes.

GeoKone Can Now Create Transparent Formations

GeoKone Can Now Create Transparent Formations

Release Notes

Opacity Parameter

I don’t normally announce .0x versions, but this release deserves one, as it brings a new polyform parameter that allows completely new visions to be created: Opacity. It is now possible to set the opacity for all the polyforms, allowing see-through formations.  This is exciting, as GeoKone now can create even gradient forms and much more smoother and interesting colors from interaction of different colors on top of each other.

Radiating See Through Formations

Radiating See Through Formations

Opacity can be set for each individual Polyform, 0 is totally clear and 255 fully opaque. All previous scenes will have their opacities set to 255. Unfortunately transparent drawing is slower than opaque forms, so with complex scenes it can get pretty slow if there is high amount of transparency. More motivation to start working on that native version :)

The keyboard shortcuts ‘f’ and ‘v’ can be used to increase/decrease opacity!

Opacity Setting Brings Totally New Looks

Opacity Setting Brings Totally New Looks

High Resolution Images Exported as 2x

In order to hopefully prevent crashing with Safari and Chrome, High Resolution images are now only exported as 2x the scene size. I hope this is enough for most people, maybe I will bring back arbitary high resolution image exporting in upcoming versions, but for now browsers can’t just handle so much data within a javascript/processing image export context, so this might be something that will only appear in the native version also.

Seems like Safari and Chrome still crash a lot when the scene is complex, this is probably something to do with the URL getting so long that these browsers can’t handle it. Firefox seems to be (at least on Mac Os X) the only browser that can handle large amounts of URL data images without crashing.

Undo Disabled

Undo has also been disabled for now, as it didn’t work reliably enough and only slowed down performance.

Replicating Triangles In Space

Replicating Triangles In Space

See the full ChangeLog and updated TODO for a Roadmap of What’s Coming Up with upcoming versions of GeoKone.

That’s it! Go to http://GeoKone.NET to Create Geometry! Be sure to like GeoKone Facebook Page too if you Like GeoKone :)

GeoKone 0.96.05 Beta Released ! Much Snappier !

New Version of http://GeoKone.NET is Live!

GeoKone is now Much Snappier! Optimized the code so that after idle time the screen is no longer updated constantly, only when the parameters of the polyforms change. This makes the UI much snappier to use and makes GeoKone much more responsive, and uses far less CPU, resulting in the browser not getting all unresponsive during usage.

EDIT: Ok, update.. I tested this on my other machine (Mac Mini 2.0GHz, 2GB RAM) and it ran GeoKone slow like molasses with Chrome. With Safari it was usable, but not nearly as fast as on my main laptop. Oh how fun it is to program the HTML5 canvas! :I Back to the drawing board .. I will anyway have to figure out the core version of what will be GeoKone.NET 1.0, skim down everything else, make these features working and then focus on the desktop C++/OpenGL version, I feel I’ve had it with this web programming and all it’s little gimmicks that it requires to get it working smoothly.

Made With GeoKone

Made With GeoKone

Thumbnail feature was removed for this release, as I’m trying to figure out what are the most essential features for the web version to have, and the thumbnail was eating down performance. Maybe I will enable it back in the WebGL version.

Otherwise, work continues on the OpenGL/C++ version of libgeokone, a library for rendering GeoKone scenes with native performance and OpenGL for smooth animation and display of GeoKone scenes. When the libgeokone part is finished I will integrate the OpenGL drawing code into WebGL version, bringing _much_ faster drawing and hopefully even animation of the GeoKone Scenes.

Also thinking about moving the GeoKone hosted on Amazon so I could finally enable the server functionality again, but that will have to wait until next version.