Archive for October, 2009


An Infinite Canvas by Any Other Name

October 28, 2009

Back when Ian created Infinite Canvas, he did so because the technology that he wanted to use simply didn’t exist.  It was a combination of not being able to find the right tool to create an infinite-canvas-style comic and the desire to apply Seadragon’s philosophy to an interesting, albeit niche, space.

Artist Donato Sansone came across the same problem when he tried to create an infinite canvasy, flip-animation… thing.  His response was to create a flip-book of truly epic (or room-sized) proportions and video himself making the magic happen.  I’ve been told that this video contains some disturbing artwork, but the first time I watched it, I hardly noticed over the sound of how awesome it was.


Kevin Hanes


Seadragon Philosophy: The User Never Waits

October 18, 2009

As you are probably aware,  Seadragon’s schtick is zooming technology and user interface experiments.  We have also done some work in creating design patterns to help with best practices and interaction.  Here in the office we also talk a lot about how to apply a third idea to our projects: a Seadragon philosophy.   In fact, our technologies (Silverlight Deep Zoom, Seadragon Mobile, Seadragon Ajax, etc) can all be seen as manifestations of our philosophy; our vision brought to reality through design and technology.   In this vein I thought I’d post about this technological coda, instead of code, in a series of posts from time to time.

One of the core tenets of our philosophy is that the user should never have to wait for the technology.  Though a simple idea, take a moment to think about all of the times you’ve wanted to do something on a computer and been unable until it finished whatever task it was working on.  Moving email, loading a document or image, starting a program, a piece of software locking up; all of these things cause you to wait.  In Seadragon, we try to make every experience wait-free.

One way to think about the user never waiting is that the UI thread is never blocked. Even in the middle of a lengthy process, we’re still accepting and responsive to user input. This is expressed in Seadragon by allowing you to zoom and pan constantly, even when we haven’t loaded all of the imagery for the current view. In addition, we try to give you something to work with as soon as possible, so even while we’re waiting for the high-res data, we load a little low-res data to show in the meantime.  You always have something to look at and you always have control.

Kevin Hanes


Photosynth Next

October 9, 2009

There’s a special place in my heart for Photosynth.  I feel like it’s a sibling that left the house and damnit, is going to live however it wants.  Our teams used to be one, working side by side to deliver glorious experiences, and are now separated by a massive gulf on the org chart.  In any case, I like what they have done, and continue to do.

Speaking of which, they’ve introduced a cool new feature in their latest update, the overhead view.  They turn off images, take you up top and show you the point cloud in all of its glory.  I’d talk more about it, but David Gedye says it much better than I possibly could in the video below.  Listen to what he has to say, and check out their blog post for some additional information and smaller features.

Another exciting development in the Photosynth-o-sphere (yeah, I went there), is cool tech from GRAIL, the University of Washington department that helped with the original Photosynth code.  They’ve tweaked the algorithm used to match photos to make it much faster and able to handle more than a few hundred or thousand images.  The result is simply stunning, synths of entire cities instead of individual scenes or monuments.  Check it out:

Kevin Hanes