Multi Page Template and Customizer

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Erwin Denissen
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Multi Page Template and Customizer

Post by Erwin Denissen » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:07 am

I don't think this will make it into the first release of Scanahand, but I still think this idea is worth sharing right now.

Add support for (customizable) multi page templates. That way you can fully customize the number of columns, rows, and what character goes into each cell. The template definition should be stored as an xml file, so you can also share them with other customers.

This also solves the problem of the missing accented characters in the current template.

The only thing that I haven't worked out yet, is how to load and process all pages into Scanahand.
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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Jan 27, 2008 1:26 pm

I think the next version should escape from the prison cell of grid based templates altogether, and let users write freestyle on plain paper with just a ruled sheet underneath for guidance.

After tracing the contours, Scanahand would ask the user to type each letter and assign each glyph accordingly.

Want to add more glyphs to a font or replace defective glyphs? Scan another sheet of paper, and pick the new letters again. Press the escape key to skip any glyphs, or ink blobs that are not supposed to be glyphs.

There need be no limit to a glyph's width, just the height between the horizontal WinAscent/WinDescent rules.
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Re: Multi Page Template and Customizer

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 6:52 pm

Erwin Denissen wrote:The template definition should be stored as an xml file, so you can also share them with other customers.
If the tests indicate that at the top of the template page printed Data Matrix Barcode is reliable, then separate xml files aren't needed. I believe they are reliable because they are used in e.g. aeroplane parts logistics and post traffic tracking. The Barcode can store the same page related information than xml files.
Erwin Denissen wrote: The only thing that I haven't worked out yet, is how to load and process all pages into Scanahand.
If xml-files aren't needed, the process could be very staightforward. User can scan and load as many pages as he/she will and when all pages are scanned and loaded, pressing Generate-button can process pages regardless of the amount of pages.

In Photoshop and Word there can be opened multiple files at once by selecting the names of files in Open dialog window. The same matches to Scanahand. Or if it's an internet service, then there should be possibility to upload template pages as one zip file. Too complex? Hardly. If the user can print template and scan it, he/she can surely do the same for multiple pages and zip these files for faster uploads.

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Re: Multi Page Template and Customizer

Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:19 pm

Timo Kähkönen wrote:If the tests indicate that at the top of the template page printed Data Matrix Barcode is reliable, then separate xml files aren't needed. I believe they are reliable because they are used in e.g. aeroplane parts logistics and post traffic tracking. The Barcode can store the same page related information than xml files.
I like the idea of adding a bar code, and I will certainly look into Data Matrix.

I've received scans made by a fax, and templates that were printed while the printer was almost out of ink. Some of these hard to read templates are now successfully processed by Scanahand, but these exceptions will most likely also fail when it comes to reading a Data Matrix code.

The xml files are useful as those can be used to share templates. You can modify them or just use them in Scanahand.
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Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:27 pm

What I would like to store in the xml files:

Name (name as shown in Scanahand, e.g. Dutch, English, or Basic and Extended Characters)
Columns (number of columns per page)
Rows (number of rows per page)
Characters (range of characters, e.g. 65-90,63,33,37,38,97-122,58,59,46,44,48-57,43,45,126,61,177,etc.)
Signature (Contains signature field, yes/no)
SignatureCodepoint (Codepoint used for the signature)
SignatureColSpan (the number of columns used for the signature)
SignatureOnFirstPage (is it shown on the first or last page, yes/no)
[maybe] UnicodeRange (might be better to auto calculate it)
[maybe] Guide line positions/ratios (distance between the guide lines)
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Re: Multi Page Template and Customizer

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 7:39 pm

Erwin Denissen wrote:I've received scans made by a fax, and templates that were printed while the printer was almost out of ink. Some of these hard to read templates are now successfully processed by Scanahand, but these exceptions will most likely also fail when it comes to reading a Data Matrix code.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_Matrix says:
ECC200 is the newest version of Data Matrix and supports advanced encoding error checking and correction algorithms (such as Reed-Solomon). This algorithm allows the recognition of barcodes that are up to 60% damaged.

And the same page says that "the code can be read with only a 20% contrast ratio".

If these are facts, it should be reliable enough. Fax has the problem that the thresholding level cannot be changed afterwards. If barcode is black, it remains black. With color/grayscale images there is always hope.
Erwin Denissen wrote: The xml files are useful as those can be used to share templates. You can modify them or just use them in Scanahand.
Okay. One xml file per template is not bad data amount for sharing.

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Post by Timo Kähkönen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:13 pm

Erwin Denissen wrote:What I would like to store in the xml files:
Characters (range of characters, e.g. 65-90,63,33,37,38,97-122,58,59,46,44,48-57,43,45,126,61,177,etc.)
[maybe] UnicodeRange (might be better to auto calculate it)
Is it enough to store only UnicodeRange in which I mean the unicode code points that are included in the font? Or is UnicodeRange standard tag for fonts?
Erwin Denissen wrote:[maybe] Guide line positions/ratios (distance between the guide lines)
What about sample character height percent of character slot (BackgroundCharacterHeightRatio)? If there are dim sample characters printed on the slots and if we assume that guidelines match sample font's vertical metrics, with that percent could be possible to set the free space between glyph area and slot borders.

It can well be fixed percent of slot height but if it is included in the template data, then it can be adjusted later.

Other template related data could be CharacterSlotTitleCellHeight which could be also 0, so there is no glyph title cell and anything inside it. This could be good feature for those who want use 16x16 table to draw the whole font in one page. If there are sample characters in slots, the title cell has not so significant role.

What people think about e.g. light red sample characters in slots to help vertical placing of drawing?

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Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:23 pm

Coloured sample characters don't well on B&W laser printers. Optional coloured guidelines seem to affect the quality of the auto-trace. I think a clear cell is best — the captions are sufficient.
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Post by Timo Kähkönen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:34 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Coloured sample characters don't well on B&W laser printers. Optional coloured guidelines seem to affect the quality of the auto-trace. I think a clear cell is best — the captions are sufficient.
That's true. So the user should have option to select what he wants to print. The printing parameters and template parameters could be separate.

There could be two printing defaults:
- for inkjet
- for laser

Both can have individual properties: How to print quidelines and sample glyphs? For inkjet there is no restrictions. But for laser the the sample glyphs need some caretaking: print only outlines, print outlines at grey, print dotted outlines.

Or should these be in normal Options? The programmer only knows...

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Post by Erwin Denissen » Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:39 pm

Timo Kähkönen wrote:What people think about e.g. light red sample characters in slots to help vertical placing of drawing?
The idea was introduced in January this year during the beta period of version 1 by an old friend. And is still in use AFAIK...

This was my response:
Your alternative template has several benefits (it shows proportions and position of the characters), but the main disadvantage is, it invites you to imitate the sample characters.
Also Bhikkhu Pesala is right, any additional colored pixel even the light ones, do affect neighbor pixels. So there is a chance sample pixels that connect to a drawn character do get included in the glyph outline.

Nevertheless there still seems to be interest in such feature, so I'll reconsider it.
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Post by Erwin Denissen » Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:37 am

Timo Kähkönen wrote:
Erwin Denissen wrote:What I would like to store in the xml files:
Characters (range of characters, e.g. 65-90,63,33,37,38,97-122,58,59,46,44,48-57,43,45,126,61,177,etc.)
[maybe] UnicodeRange (might be better to auto calculate it)
Is it enough to store only UnicodeRange in which I mean the unicode code points that are included in the font? Or is UnicodeRange standard tag for fonts?
Characters are all Unicode code points, UnicodeRange is meant to specify the Unicode blocks available in the generated font. See:
http://www.high-logic.com/fontcreator/m ... range.html

Since the user is free to decide what characters to draw, thus which character actually are included in the font, it is best to auto calculate UnicodeRange.
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Post by Erwin Denissen » Wed Aug 20, 2008 2:50 pm

Here is how the two page template with Basic and Extended Characters will look like:

Code: Select all

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="ISO-8859-1"?>
<DATA>
  <Template>
      <Name>Basic and Extended Characters</Name>
      <Columns>10</Columns>
      <Rows>11</Rows>
      <Characters>$41-$5A,$3F,$21,$25-$26,$61-$7A,$3A-$3B,$2E,$2C,$30-$39,$2B,$2D,$7E,$3D,
$B1,$23-$24,$20AC,$A3,$A2,$5B,$5D,$28-$29,$7B,$7D,$3C,$3E,$5C,$2F,$27,$22,$2A,$2122,
$40,$A9,$AE,$5F,$7C,$2022,$A4,$A7,$B0,$B6,$2020-$2021,$C0-$C5,$0104,$C7,$0106,$0108,
$C8-$CB,$0114,$011C,$0124,$CC-$CF,$0134,$0141,$0143,$D1-$D6,$0150,$D8,$015A,$015C,
$0160,$D9-$DC,$016C,$0170,$DD,$0178-$0179,$017B,$017D,$E0-$E5,$0105,$E7,$0107,$0109,
$E8-$EB,$0119,$0192,$011D,$0125,$0131,$EC-$EF,$0135,$0142,$0144,$F1-$F6,$0151,$F8,
$015B,$015D,$0161,$F9-$FC,$016D,$0171,$FD,$FF,$017A,$017C,$017E,$C6,$0152,$D0,$DE-$DF,
$E6,$0153,$F0,$FE,$B5,$BF,$A1,$AB,$BB,$AC,$B2</Characters>
      <SignatureCodepoint>$5E</SignatureCodepoint>
      <SignatureOnFirstPage>TRUE</SignatureOnFirstPage>
      <SignatureColSpan>4</SignatureColSpan>
      <UnicodeRange1>$80000007</UnicodeRange1>
      <UnicodeRange2>$0000000A</UnicodeRange2>
      <UnicodeRange3>$00000000</UnicodeRange3>
      <UnicodeRange4>$00000000</UnicodeRange4>
  </Template>
</DATA>
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Post by Timo Kähkönen » Wed Aug 20, 2008 10:50 pm

Erwin Denissen wrote:Here is how the two page template with Basic and Extended Characters will look like:
Good! What do you think about adding this information to xml:
- metrics as percent of slot height (winascent, ascender, capheight, x-height, baseline, descender, windescent... is there any other?)
- glyph_title_cell_height (this could be variable, if people want print bigger sample glyphs or want to print character postscript names, so there is need for extra room)
- page_title_cell_height (this maybe fixed, because there maybe barcode or logo that must always have necessary room)

In template editor it could be easy to adjust visually these parameters (input fields or sliders with preview image).

Is there really need for unicoderange if there are characters?

Bytheway, I find tool that gets unicoderanges from utf-8-encoded xml-file. It is meant for Flash, but why not for getting ranges for font creation template.
http://www.epic.dk/flash-unicodetable/f ... erator.php

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Post by Erwin Denissen » Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:32 am

Timo Kähkönen wrote:Good! What do you think about adding this information to xml:
- metrics as percent of slot height (winascent, ascender, capheight, x-height, baseline, descender, windescent... is there any other?)
- glyph_title_cell_height (this could be variable, if people want print bigger sample glyphs or want to print character postscript names, so there is need for extra room)
- page_title_cell_height (this maybe fixed, because there maybe barcode or logo that must always have necessary room)

In template editor it could be easy to adjust visually these parameters (input fields or sliders with preview image).
I could add these (default):
RatioTopAscender (0.3)
RatioAscenderxHeight (0.15)
RatioxHeightBaseline (0.25)
RatioBaselineDescender (0.175)
RatioDescenderBottom (0.125)
CellHeader (0.2)
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Scanahand 2

Post by Timo Kähkönen » Sun Nov 02, 2008 3:43 am

The Scanahand 2.0 is out!

I installed the program and made a few testing.

It seems very good and the template editor is wonderful! You really can add custom characters and ranges and alter the existing ones. And you can share templates with your friends via xml files.

Some issues came to my mind:

In the Template Editor the fields are grey and not editable. It took me few seconds to find that you must click Add or Clone to edit template. The user's first think is that there are some functionality disabled in this edition. The simple solution to this is to add a tooltip to greyed fields that says something "This builtin template is not editable. Press Add or Clone to make your own editable template."

In the Template Editor's Positioning there could be a sample character to help seeing the meaning of the font jargon (ascender etc.). If not an interactive one, then a static sample in the side of the dialog box. Or perhaps separately in the help window.

I have not yet tested generating font, but is there a preview where user can see how different conversion settings affect to the result?

Could there be a selection whether to print sample glyphs to slots to help to draw glyphs in the right vertical position?

Could there be a selection from which font to get the metrics (ascender etc.)? The same font could then be used for sample glyphs that could be printed in the slots. IF the sample glyphs affect negatively to the outline quality, the user can well use
- a very light color or
- adjust scanned file to dim samples
- to use light box (maybe like this: lighttracer). The template with samples below the without samples one, so the light shows where to draw.

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