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September Status

The TerreSculptor code changes to refactor the more than 500,000 lines of code is mostly complete, as is the change to an entirely floating point pipeline, and the application project file open and save functions.  There has been a number of minor changes along with bug fixes as well.
The target date for the next alpha release is still hopefully around the end of this month.
The beta version is still targeted before the end of this year.
And the first release version is still targeted at year end or the beginning of next year.



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It has been a few months since the last blog post.
Development of TerreSculptor is still continuing.
The next alpha build release is still a few months away.

The main area of development for the past months is in refactoring the current code.
During the alpha phase of development the majority of classes were created in the application root namespace.
The refactoring process is to reorganize the classes into sub-namespaces, to reduce hard dependencies, to provide more generic code designs that will ease the addition of future features, and to facilitate the eventual multi-lingual retail versions.

The following major changes are coming to the next alpha build release of TerreSculptor:
- From VS2008 to VS2013.
- From .NET 3.5 to .NET 4.5.
- A number of changes to the user interface.
- Designed and themed to look best on Windows 8 and 10.

The change to WPF and the dark theme interface in on hold.
After spending a number of months developing in WPF it is not difficult to see why there are so few large graphics applications that are using it.
While WPF has some advantages over WinForms, mainly in control design and color theming, it is otherwise a mess.
The performance loss is also significant.
I have a few large retail applications that recently moved to WPF, and their user interface performance is substantially slower than their previous WinForms versions even on my i7 with Radeon R9 video.
Since there are a good number of TerreSculptor users who are using older computers and small notebooks to run the software, which typically only use the Intel HD graphics, the performance penalty from WPF is simply too great.

The upcoming alpha and beta versions will introduce the following features:
1. The main application project file loading and saving.
2. Changes to the dialogs to support the smaller screen resolution of notebooks and laptops.
3. The final Extractor dialogs.
The current Extractor dialog is simply a basic incomplete alpha test dialog, and does not include the complete set of weightmap extractors.
4. The Multi-Noise Generator.
This is not to be confused with the future Node-Generator feature.
5. The Mask Generator.
Note that this is different from the weightmap/layer Extractors.  See the Stack below.
6. The Stack.
For those who are familiar with Autodesk Max, the Stacks provide a similar interface into the heirarchical layout of the objects in the world.
One of the features of the TerreSculptor Stack is to allow for creating more complex terrain systems, such as blending multiple heightmaps using a mask.
However, the main purpose for the TerreSculptor Stack is for the future 3D tools which will include 3D Spline-based Rivers and Roads etc.

The following features are coming soon but may not make it into the beta and first retail version.  If they do not make the first retail version, they will be available soon thereafter:
1. Floating-point pipeline workflow.
2. User-defined heightmap colorsets.
3. Heightmap and weightmap split export.
4. Heightmap and weightmap stitch import.

The development roadmap is to be in beta by late this year, and to have the retail version available by the end of the year.
Income from the first retail version will be used to hire an additional software programmer in order to accelerate development of the software.

The release versions will include both a free Standard Edition and a retail Professional Edition.
The free Standard Edition will have limited features but still have full functionality.


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It’s a New Year

It seems that when software exceeds half-a-million lines of code, just as much time is spent on maintaining the code, as the time spent on completing or adding features.

During the past six months I have been reworking a large amount of the code for a few reasons.

1. One main goal is to fork the application into two builds with minimal difference.
One build supporting vanilla dotNET so that it will function well cross-platform, and the other build tied to Windows supporting a dark WPF user interface.

2. As the additional planned features are being developed, often they can make use of some of the existing code-base.
That is assuming that the portions of reusable code (methods or classes) were originally designed with sufficient abstraction that they can be easily or instantly reused.
This has required a complete reworking of a good number of namespaces within the application.
A good portion of the reworking of the code has been completed.

3. During the development of the application, the platform operating system, dotNET, and system hardware have iterated.
In order to keep up with this to some degree, the application must evolve even during development.
TerreSculptor has been upgraded from Microsoft dotNET 3.5 to dotNET 4.5, and the core OpenGL support has been upgraded from 1.5 to 2.1.

A new build release is still a few months away.
Some of the features that will hopefully make it into the next build include:
- Full support for Windows Display Size changes (smaller to larger percent).
- Portions of the main user-interface are being moved around or changed to simplify application use.
- Support for smaller dialog preview window so that the application can be ran on laptops with 1366x768 resolution.
- Open and Save TerreSculptor files.
- The initial Terrain Stack.


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Dark UI Controls Part 4

The standard set of Microsoft WPF controls do not function entirely the same as the standard Windows Forms controls.
I have had to make a number of code changes and visual adjustments in order to have the controls function similarly.

The ComboBox Control


The StatusBar Control


The ToolTip Control




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Dark UI Controls Part 3

The dark user interface color theme is using a single unified set of color properties.
This will allow for a future option of specifying the degree of darkness to the interface.

For the entire application, all graphics and icon resources have to be recreated to properly support the dark color theme.
This typically entails creating a light colored icon image with a dark border, so that it can be easily viewed against the dark background color or the selection highlight color.
The screenshots of the menu dropdowns depict the new icon look.

The Menu control



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