Odds and Ends

It’s always amazing to me to realize just how much the 80/20 rule applies to software development. 80% of the code takes 20% of the time; 20% of the code takes 80%. Spent most of this week fiddling with performance issues, bugs and other development gremlins.

The Tiled File Input device now has a basic multi-resolution cache; More work needs to be done to get the performance to where it should be on very large datasets though. Right now, as soon as you actually NEED the cache, the performance will start to degrade somewhat severely.

The Spline Path tool in Layout mode is also giving some issues. It comes down to how in the heck I want to rasterize a spline path with falloff anyways. The current method is quite possibly the slowest I can envision, performing root-finding for every pixel to determine distance to the spline path. Needs to be improved on.
Lots of other tweaks happening too, all aimed at hopefully having the first testing by the alpha team begin prompty.

Inching towards Big Things

The Tiled File Input Device is pretty much done now. All that remains is adding the multiresolution cache, which will be a big help for huge datasets but is not strictly necessary. Speaking of which…
I just got done building a 1.6GB dataset for testing tiled input/output. Clocking in at around 5.5hrs of build time on my Athlon64 3000, it’s a good test for both the tiled output and input systems. Spanning a region from the “Explore 3 – Nice World” tmd file, it consists of a seamless 20×20 tileset of 1024×1024 tiles (that’s 20,480 x 20,480 if you’re counting). Note that to facilitate inter-tile blending the actual temporary dataset on disk sits needed up to 2GB (each tile is built at a higher resolution of 1250×1250 across a larger geometric region and then blended across the shared region).

Getting very close to the first alpha test release. I’m going to backload alot of the remaining work in order to get the first Alpha version out ASAP. Mostly to be able to get feedback about the tiled system / multithreading / layout mode of Pro. Everything besides those is pretty much still in progress, but the feedback and bugs can start on those already. 🙂

Layout mode in particular is going to need a lot of feedback and refinement, as it is an entirely different and extremely powerful direction; but with that potential lies the necessity of alot of streamlining/UI work/thought to make sure that it works as well as it should.

The latest 'Behind the Scenes' news from Stephen, the author of World Machine