Long Term Evolution
Last time, I revealed that an effort is underway to modernize the UI of World Machine. That effort is code named World Machine LTE, or Long Term Evolution. We also talked about why that change is necessary. If you haven’t yet, read Part One. The main theme is that UI improvements are prohibitively difficult in the current framework.
What we haven’t covered yet is where we’re going. What new framework is World Machine moving to? What changes can everyone look forward to? Near term, and then further in the future?
And the framework is…
When World Machine began, the world was a very different place from today. We should expect the same thing going forward; our new framework needs to be adaptable and able to work in new ways and on new platforms.
So let’s cut to the essentials: After looking at a lot of options, I decided to base the new GUI on the QT platform. QT is a standard in our industry for good reason: It’s a platform that is feature filled, well designed, and especially with C++17 I’ve found it a complete delight to code in.
QT is also cross-platform: Although we are only targeting Windows at present, this will reduce the barrier for eventual mac/linux support. This has been requested almost from the beginning. Although there are currently a lot of windows-specific APIs being used, they are being reduced by the day as the standard library matures. There’s also this intriguing ability to cross-compile to WebAssembly and actually run in your browser.. but that’s for some future time perhaps.
The focus for this first LTE release is very deliberately to keep the look and feel of World Machine the same. When you start using the first LTE builds, you should feel right at home… except for some remarkable new features unleashed by both the new framework and some intelligent redesign of the core of WM. Internally, World Machine is the same native C++ code, with all of the features and speed of the previous builds.
Work has been underway for a while, and enough has been converted to the LTE framework that I can share some pictures of it in action.
So… Are you ready for the first public screenshot of the LTE branch?
I’m sure the astute will notice a whole lot of intriguing changes visible here… and we’ll cover all of them in future blog posts 😉 But seriously, there was sure a lot of low-lying fruit to pick! Some of the changes are enabled by the GUI framework migration, others from modernizing the core of World Machine. Either way, LTE will be a pretty dramatic release. When will it be complete? It’s far too early to give an exact date, but somewhere in the first half of next year is a good guess.
Over the course of LTE development, I’ll be writing short snippets about the new features, as well as other development topics. For now, I’ll just list some of the changes that are already live and working in the current LTE builds:
- Optional full-skin “Dark Mode”
- Progressive, high res background previews
- Drastically improved device parameter presentation: Groups, Toggle “advanced” settings, and much more
- Full edit history retained: jump to any point as desired, compare full-res results to the past
- Save bookmarks/snapshots of past edits or exports
- Responsive/resizable dialogs, panels, and windows
- Consistency of font, design, etc through the app
- Tooltips for every control and parameter
- Multiple viewports of the same type
- Customizable workspace
- Full Unicode support
- Support for Internationalization
Some of the above are absolutely game-changers for how you work in World Machine! Others fix longstanding problems that had no easy solution previously.
And you know what? That’s just what’s already implemented. Once the transition to the new platform is complete, World Machine will be finally unshackled and things can mutate even more dramatically. I have a lot of further ideas of where I want things to go. But most importantly, I want to hear what YOU would really love to see!
What would you change?
If you could change anything about WM’s UI, what would you change?
Having a major barrier to UI innovation removed is really liberating. Even some pretty big dreams are now possible if there’s enough interest in them, so chime in with your thoughts.
Comment on this post in the forum, or send me your ideas directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.