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So, after three months of work, GSoC 2011 has reached the end. It’s been a great and rewarding experience for me. I hope that everybody enjoyed and completed their projects. Special thanks go to my mentors: Akarsh Simha and Victor Carbune, SoK student Samikshan Bairagya, everybody in KStars team and to Lydia Pintscher, who kept all the things running and to Google, for making GSoC 2011 happen πŸ™‚

Now is the right time to make a summary of what I have done during my project.

Added and changed features

  • Multiple changes to sky image export feature: added the option to add legends to exported images (with the option to preview them before the export) and SVG file support.
  • Added multiple types of legends, with scales, magnitudes chart, symbols list.
  • A few changes to flags feature: correct support for locale-characteristic characters, the option to add/edit/delete flags directly from sky map via context menu and the ability to add flags without icon images (text-only). Apart from that, user can now edit flags after they are created.
  • Multiple FOV export support: now it’s possible to export multiple field of view snapshots containing images of sky fragments inside area defined by active FOV symbol.
  • Star hopper-based FOV export: this is experimental feature that needs tuning (mainly to the star hopper tool itself). It allows user to automatically capture field of view snapshots in a way convenient for star hopping.
  • Logging forms containing basis fields embedded in finder charts.
  • Details tables: general, position, rise/set/transit, asteroid/comet details.
  • Finder charts that can contain logging forms, multiple field of view snapshots, details tables and notes.
  • Added Printing Wizard that gathers all the stuff together, and enables user to customize their finder charts.

Despite I’ve managed to complete all features listed in my proposal, I am sure that I’ll continue to work on KStars as I’ve came up with many new ideas during the work on my project.

A few screenshots

Here are a few screenshots from Printing Wizard, which let’s user to configure all the options related to printing finder charts with other goodies.

Object selection step

Common field of view configuration step

Star hopper field of view export configuration

Browsing captured FOV snapshots

Additional chart content selection step

Example finder chart

Example finder chart, showing what can be included in finder charts: PDF / ODT.

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After thoroughly analyzing the goals of my projects during community bonding period, I have came up with a few ideas about implementation of finder charts and logger forms. Here I share them with you, kindly requesting any comments, constructive criticism in particular πŸ™‚

Tighter integration of finder charts with logger forms

When I browsed through different finder charts almost every one of them contained simple logger form, containing at least fields for data such as observer name, date and time, observation site and telescope/eyepiece models. The example of such finder chart can be found here.

To my mind, combining finder charts with logger forms seems to be good choice, and leads to my next idea which is to…

Provide access to printing via convenient wizard

Currently KStars enable users to print rendered sky images by File->Print menu (the printouts are unfortunately broken, at least for me). I intend to leave this menu for printing simple rendered sky images with legends, but full access to added functionality will be by “Finder chart&logger form wizard” action in context menu. There will also be an option to invoke wizard for multiple sky objects, thus enabling print of multiple finder charts and logger forms with same settings but different objects.

Options set in wizard will be quite basic – the position, orientation and color scheme (defined in KStars Options window) for legend, Field-Of-View configuration etc. Less frequently used configuration options will be available by using Options window of KStars.

Should multiple fields-of-view be placed on single image or separately?

I have considered a few options of placing multiple FOVs on finder chart. Two most convenient are:

  • Place each field-of-view representation on separate image – this has the obvious advantage of being really clear and also easier to implement; such option is used in finder charts available here.
  • Begin with “unarmed eye” FOV representation, then paint another FOVs on it, as here. These are harder to implement, a bit less readable, but look way cooler πŸ™‚

I will implement both of them, so everyone will have a chance to pick more convenient option.

Handling large paper sizes

Lastly, for great user experience and functionality, there should be good support of printing on large paper sizes (>A4). Resizing content to fit the page is in this case not the best option. I’ve got a few ideas of how to make a good use of available space, but I need to work on them a little bit more. I’ll keep you informed about progress on this matter. Comments and requests on this feature are highly encouraged πŸ™‚

Besides, I am finishing the first part of work on finder chart legends – expect first screens in a few days.

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So, after almost a month of researching KStars code-base and writing simple mock-ups, it’s time to begin actual coding. The aim of my project is to provide full printing support for KStars, including finder charts and observation logger forms. As logger forms will use some of the code developed for finder charts, it’s an obvious decision to implement finder charts first.

Finder charts, as the name suggest, are helpful for finding sky objects, particularly stars – mainly because they contain images of sky centered at the point of interest with different zoom levels, enabling you to quickly find the object you are looking for and begin the observation. Apart from multiple fields-of-view, finder charts should contain legend with star magnitudes and of course scale of the chart. There will also be an option to add customized annotations to the objects presented on the finder chart.

The first task on my checklist is the implementation of customizable legends for finder charts – I will keep you updated with results, with some working finder chart examples in a few weeks.

Good luck for everybody working on their GSoC and SoK projects!

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Hi everybody!

My project proposal (KStars: Printing support) Β for this year’s edition of Google Summer of Code has been accepted! Many thanks to everybody at KDE, KDE-Edu and KStars for giving me the opportunity to work on it. Special thanks go to my mentor – Victor CΔƒrbune and Akarsh Simha for support and useful advice.

The aim of my project is to extend functionality of KStars in terms of printing. Currently, KStars can print rendered images of the sky, but objects are not well-annotated, there is no possibility to include legend or user-defined comments. I will work to provide KStars project with aesthetically pleasing, fully customizable, yet easy to use finder charts with multiple fields-of-view.

Second feature that will be added to KStars is printing logger forms. Much of the work that needs to be done to implement this functionality if quite similar to that in the first part of the project.

The third part of my project – converting printed forms to OAL-compliant reports using OCR should be treated as optional – I doubt it can be reliably done within the time-frame of GSoC. To be completely fair and to avoid promising things I am not 100% sure I can handle, I haven’t mentioned it in my project proposal. After tinkering with a few Open Source OCR libraries, I am quite optimistic about this feature – even if it is not ready at the end of GSoC, I will finish it later, as I plan to still work for KStars after the summer.

Rough time-line for my project, taken from my application is:

  • April 25 – May 23 – further research of KStars code base, writing mock-up proof-of-concept implementations of multiple FOVs feature;
  • May 23 – May 29 – evaluation of results obtained during Community Bonding Period and implementation of finder charts legends;
  • May 30 – June 5 – implementation of finder chart legends;
  • June 6 – June 12 – implementation of finder chart annotations;
  • June 13 – June 19 – implementation of finder chart annotations;
  • June 20 – June 26 – implementation of finder chart annotations;
  • June 27 – July 3 – implementation of basic FOV functionality – user-defined FOVs;
  • July 4 – July 10 – implementation of basic FOV functionality – user-defined FOVs;
  • July 11 – July 17 – implementation of basic FOV functionality – user-defined FOVs;
  • July 15 – Mid-term evaluations deadline – finder charts with legends, annotations and multiple FOVs will be finished.
  • July 18 – July 24 – implementation of observation logger forms printing (including developed multiple FOVs feature);
  • July 25 – July 31 – implementation of observation logger forms printing;
  • August 1 – August 7 – implementation of star hopper-based FOVs, based on already gained experience;
  • August 8 – August 14 – finishing implementation of star hopper-based FOVs, final corrections and improvements;
  • August 15 – August 21 – final corrections and improvements;
  • August 22 – August 25 – β€œbuffer period” in which I will be able to do some slight changes, if required;
  • August 26 – Final evaluation deadline;
  • August 27 – September 4 – I will be available to answer any questions;
  • September 5 – September 11 – I will be available to answer any questions.

I am really excited about my project and I am sure it’ll be rewarding experience with benefit to the community and users of KStars πŸ™‚

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