Thursday, February 21, 2008

Generating syntax highlighting colors based on system colors

For quite some time it came to my mind that the colors used for syntax highlighting should be automatically generated by the application, removing the need of forcing the user to manually edit each and every color everytime a new color scheme is chosen for the whole system. In the SpeedCrunch case, there's at least the need of choosing 3 colors for the expression editor syntax highlighting: variables, functions and numerals.

The problem is when the text box background or the text color is not the expected (generally white and black, respectively). So I started playing with some code in order to try to reach an easy and acceptable enough algorithm that could make SpeedCrunch adapt to any text and background color combinations (or at least the most common and wise ones). Certainly, predefined color sets (that also include and overwrite the system background and text colors) shall always be provided, in order to ensure that nobody needs to switch off syntax highlighting.

Let's look at the examples. The surrounding color represents the system base color, used for text input boxes, for instance. The first colored square represents the system text color. The remaining squares are the generated colors for highlighting. If you see no surrounding color, that's because it's white.

KDE / Windows * / MacOs X / BeOS



Digital CDE

Black on light grey

Blue on almost black

Blue on black

Blue on dark blue

Green on black

White on black

White on dark blue

White on light grey

Yellow on blue

All the three squares to the right of each image where generated from the first one from the left and the background color. It seems to me that even in "dummy" color sets like in the last example, the algorithm performs really well. I guess I'll introduce this in SpeedCrunch for 0.10.

Edit: this feature is now in SpeedCrunch's trunk. 0.10 will come with it.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

0.10 Preview

Next release won't take long to hit the streets and is reaching a stable point. Here's a preview screenshot tour:

Radio groups for angle unit and number base selection are gone now, in order to release some screen space. The very same options are available in a quickly reachable menu inside Settings and are also available through even faster keyboard shortcuts. Note that the previously available Clear and Evaluate buttons are also gone. Their actions are now available in the optional virtual keypad and through faster keyboard shortcuts as well.

For those who really like to preserve space, it's even possible to hide the menu bar. To show it again, a keyboard shortcut is available to perform the action (a tool tip is shown to warn the user about this).
Let's now look at a full demonstration of all the optionally available visual elements.

You can see all the dock windows that were already available (nested and tabbed on the left and right side), a reworked virtual keypad and a new toy to play with: a mathematics book (floating on the right). One can browse it like a website and insert the formulas directly into the expression editor. If the required variables are already defined, the result will be calculated and presented.

And of course you can hide the virtual keypad again in order to get more space available for the docks. In the example, we can see a page for the quadratic equation. Currently there are additional pages for various 2D and 3D objects. If you want to contribute with more pages to enrich our book, just contact us. Physics and other areas are also welcome, not only plain mathematics. The pages are trivial to design (you can easily do it with the lamest text editor). We'll help you out with your first one. I must say they are also translatable (I always try to make sure everything is translatable :) So the book will be available in other languages, just like the rest of the application.

In 0.10 it will also be possible to run SpeedCrunch in full screen mode (additionally to the stay-always-on-top mode). The mathematical core was also very much reworked and is better than ever. There are plans to introduce rational and complex numbers to the application. Not sure if for 0.11 or later, since 0.11's main focus will be a complete port for KDE4. Also still possible to be ready for 0.10 is the "portable" (as in take it with you) build. So then you just need to copy a directory to your flash drive and run your favorite calculator anywhere :)