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Easy Trace Pro 8.5.1468

We have accomplished several really hard projects since the last Easy Trace news publishing. It would have been reasonably perhaps to refuse from processing of ruined materials but we knew we would manage because Easy Trace is the fastest vectorizer for cartographic data.

This time we played on a strange ground - prepared data for the Panorama system. What is more, we had to be as quick as a fire-brigade - there were only three months for elaboration of a new process flowsheet. Certainly, we provided it with new tools. Some of them are Panorama-specific, others will be useful for ALL (I am sure!) our users. When two of the tools were ready we just forgot about previous approaches - these tools seem to replace most Editors in future. You will see the conveniences for yourself.

The project we are finishing now was fulfilled without semi-automatic tracing - only automatic tracing with subsequent editing or manual tracing in the worst sites. All the maps were color ones, in the form of badly compressed JPEG files 440dpi (it means, less than 30 Mb remained from a 150Mb image). Difficulty of isolation of thematic layers from such images is obvious for anybody who ever tried to do it.

Nevertheless, we managed to vectorize automatically

  • swamp outlines - up to 3500 lines per sheet.
  • ponds, rivers, isobathes - up to 5000 objects per sheet see video
  • all relief contours.
All objects drawn in black were also vectorized automatically.

Automatic tracing of black objects is particularly successful. Up to 2500 correctly directed contours of individual buildings out of about 4000 per sheet were vectorized automatically in Italian topographic maps. Automatic vectorizing of roads and other infrastructure lines became possible after the utility for grid line deletion and automatic filtering of vector scraps were elaborated.

A funny story happened with new technology development for dot line tracing (borders of vegetation). We realized that the program already had everything necessary. And this technology helped us a lot as there were up to 2500 polygons with dot boundaries per sheet.

On the whole, we have passed a difficult exam and proved that out package is really good for big and complicated projects. Our apologies to those who got accustomed to new versions every two months. Further still, that's again a beta-version, and a full-value HELP will be ready in a month. So, let me introduce...

  • First of all, a new tool that is (now) extensively used at automatic vectorizing. Our new operators don't understand how we managed to work without it. The tool was developed when we had to correct up to 15 000 (!) thalwegs per map sheet. (SUCH discrepancies of river channels and relief seem to be drawn on purpose!)

    Anyway, the tool was elaborated, tested, improved and included in this release of Easy Trace. We called it Camber Editor. t's too difficult to explain its functioning in words. Just see the movie.

  • Vector Eraser learned to cut lines in the last release. The tool do it much faster now, even in projects with hundreds of thousands of lines. Round shape of the tool marker is improved. The "Fix current mode"option is added. Erase modes may be changed without compulsory pressing of SHIFT or CTRL.

    It remains to provide the tool with the the Polyline Joining option, and together with the Camber Editor it will substitute almost all the tools used at correction of automatic tracing results. See the movie.

News below are grouped in accordance with the flowsheet of color image vectorizing

  • Recently, extraction of thematic (subject) layers began with copying of the initial image with subsequent linking of the copy to the project. Now you may duplicate images in the Manager of Layers. To do it, select the image and open the contextual menu with the right button.
  • Logging of thematic layer separation is improved and debugged. Effectiveness of automatic tracing is directly dependent on quality of thematic layer forming. It is rather difficult to remind all the parameters successfully used in the previous project. But now you may just look through the LOG-files generated separately for every extracted layer.

    The journal of raster operations is accessible during thematic layer separation. You may also look over operation fulfilled in past working sessions.

  • If run on a multi-processor or multi-core computer, most raster utilities provide paralleling of operations to accelerate the work.
  • Values of channel level exceeding in the Subject Layer Extraction dialog box may be negative now. Quality of thematic layer separation increased significantly. That's why we were able to trace color images in the automatic mode completely. Interface of the tool is also alternated, namely:
    • Earlier used sets of parameters for extraction of every color may be saved as strategies and used again;
    • Switches are added for estimation of every parameter's individual effect upon the result;
  • We constantly used deletion of already vectorized data in our last projects. Only swamp contours were an exception as they were traced first. The swamps were then deleted at extraction of the Hydrography layer to enable automatic vectorizing in this way

    Even at extraction of black lines, vector lines of rivers and polygons of ponds were "imprinted" into the image. It was done as river and isoline intersections are represented by large black (blue + red) points that will complicate automatic vectorizing of dot lines. So, the following alternations are made in the Rasterize Vector Data utility

    • dialog box design is changed ;
    • option for forming and saving of raster processing strategies is added;
    • width of lines and polygon borders may be specified separately;
    • simultaneous rasterization of lines and polygons is provided;
    • you may rasterize fill polygons or their borders only in every layer.
  • Density of lines in some color images requires scanning at 600 dpi and more, otherwise neighboring lines stick together without any gap. On the other hand, high resolution makes line width equal to 6-9 pixels, too much for easy processing. The Image Thinning utility solves many problems, allows mask filtering use and effective separation of raster lines and points.
  • The following chain of operations gives an image suitable for automatic tracing of dot lines: Mask Filtering (Deletion of small raster scraps) + Image Thinning + Mask Filtering (Hachures of points). The "Hachures of points" filter is very simple but it first allowed automatic tracing of dot lines.
  • The Merge utility for image joining is alternated. It can now both merge images into a united cover and subtract one image from another. For example, you may delete small objects (points) from a thinned image and subtract the new image from the initial one to receive an image of points only.

    Furthermore. Frames of topographical maps are not strict rectangles. One had to use vector borders of such images' visible parts to merge them. Now, the utility provides image merging applying the borders specified by the Crop / Clip Image tool.

  • The Gap Removing utility (after automatic vectorizing) is revised. Significance of the utility increased after elaboration of Line Filtering. Deletion of small gaps increases reliability of filtering a lot, and control on admissible angle between line ends separates "repairing" of straight (smooth) and meandering lines. So, you may first join most reliable line segments, then filter the image (to delete vector scraps) and repeat gap deletion with milder parameters. The following alternations of the utility are made:
    • The "Don't cross barrier layers" option forbids line joining with crossing of objects belonging to the specified layers. For example, relief contours will not be joined through relief elements.
    • The "Treat short lines as points" option allows joining of small segments with neglect of their directions - you may restore a line turned into "beads". This ability is also used at restoration of dot lines.
    • Control on admissible line convergence angle helps to avoid mistaken joining at "repairing" of straight or smooth lines.
  • The Line Filtering utility is completely revised, tested at processing of several hundred images and proved to be highly effective. One example only: the program inevitably vectorizes slope direction markers (berg-strokes) at automatic tracing of relief contours. Lines can not be joined automatically at these sites. Automatic deletion of small branches helps to avoid 1000 and more manual operations per map sheet. Alternations of the utility include:
    • Dialog box design. Parameter input is more obvious now and has corresponding promptings;
    • You may input selection parameters by specifying corresponding artifacts on the screen;
    • Filtering of additional artifact types is provided;
    • Line joining at problem sites may be done in a specified way;
    • Automatic navigation from one detected problem site to another is provided. It helps to estimate correctness of filtering parameters;
    • Once selected filtering parameters may be saved as a strategy and used again
  • The Autodetect Swamps utility is improved. It was rather experimental previously, but at digitizing of Murmansk Region maps we used it to form more than 400 000 polygonal objects. In a turn, it allowed subsequent imprinting of swamp polygons into initial images and automatic vectorizing of other water objects.

    The extracted Hydrography layer should be subjected to Mask Filtering (the Extraction of swamp hachures strategy) and automatically vectorized before applying of the utility.

    Alternations:

    • Deletion of short strokes only if failed to join them with neighboring horizontal lines. It helps to restore a lot of damaged initial data;
    • Forming of smooth curves above upper hachures that neatly close swamp contours;
    • User-specified elongated of hachures is provided to compensate their contraction at detection and automatic tracing;
    • Parameters of hachures may be input by example specifying just on the screen. Groups of hachures may be specified by crossing;
    • Algorithm of resulting contour smoothing is improved;
    • Lurking of vertical distance in the hatching helps to eliminate parasitical hachures.

  • The "Inspection" view mode is alternated. The mode is designed for systematic review of vector data before final joining, line form optimization and control. The following options are added:
    • Arbitrary shape of the zone to be inspected. The options notably decreases the share of "empty screens" at inspection of non-rectangular projects;
    • optional skip of the screens without visible objects.
  • Settings of vectorizing, vector merging and automatic vector data processing are based on the length of vector elements measured in image pixels. The Ruler tool is revised to make the measurements easier. Measured distances will be recalculated at DPI, scale, or units change if they were measured in a unite different from pixels.
  • Editing of the Distance field with DPI recalculation is provided for all units but pixels.
  • Automatic visual attachment of the measuring line to vector objects is provided.
  • A new tool is developed to simplify correction of automatic tracing results - Adhesion/Bridge Correction.
  • The line Form Optimization utility is deeply revised:
    • Strategies of line form optimization may be used now. Parameters specified in the prototype project are accessible in all the projects based on it;
    • Lines of different length may be processed separately. For example, you may mildly (without curve undercutting) process small closed contours and more strictly (with kick removing) - long polylines;
    • Bug correction: smoothing of contour closure segment is improved;
    • Bug correction: processing of fixed line ends at use of the Broken Lines filter;
    • The "Always fix line ends" option is added . At line form optimization in a layer that is already connected with other layers (for example, lines of rivers are connected with contours of other water bodies) this option preserves the connectedness;
    • A cell with promptings is added to the utility dialog box.

  • The Topology Correction utility is updated. We use it now actually at all vectorizing stages. For example, line editing after automatic tracing includes the operation of line end pulling to relief elements. Naturally, we do it with the help of the Topology Correction utility. Alternations:
    • All available tests may be done at one run of the utility;
    • Reference layers don't interact any more.
    • The utility ignores bridges in polygons with holes.
    • If frozen layers are mentioned in strategies, they will be skipped at correction;
    • Frozen layers are visible and accessible in the layer tree at test specifying. It allows test forming without compulsory unfreezing of these vector layers.

Alternations in editing tools and utilities

  • Dynamic scaling is added to the Point tool. There is a temptation at point vectorizing to zoom out and thus accelerate the process, especially as text inscriptions are well visible all the same. As a result, most vector points miss centers of corresponding objects... But it is possible to combine wide field of view and accuracy now:
    • click the mouse left button approximately at the point center and keep it pressed;
    • the point "comes near " and appears in the screen center;
    • position the marker correctly keepeing the button pressed;
    • release the left button.
    See the movie.
  • The "Enclose" tool is developed and placed to the Special Tools bar. It forms a contour around a group of specified objects (for example, houses).
  • The "Shears" ( "Split Line Group") tool is revised. We used it a lot for separation of large vector data massifs (several completely vectorized sheets). The following alternations are made:
    • polygonal objects selected with the Group Editor automatically form a set of cutting borders when you take the Shears. For example, you may vectorize polygonal water bodies and then cut off ends of rivers that cross the contours;
    • the tool cuts polygons correctly (does not tear them in separate unclosed lines);
    • cutting areas may have holes; besides, they may cross each other;
    • processing in individual flow. There is a progress indicator, and you may interrupt the operation. While cutting, you may work with other images or other projects;
    • an option is provided for processing of some layers only, i.e. you may protect other layers from accidental cutting.
  • The Topology Editor is notably revised and became more convenient:
    • the last edited object becomes current and selected, just as in the Individual Editor;
    • some editing operations (close, delete, reverse polyline, change the layer, etc.) are now accessible through hot keys for the current (selected) object.
    • an option is added that switches the snap mode on/off. You see the snap point before the operation and will not be surprised by the results.
  • The Polyline (Individual) Editor is improved:
    • the tool checks Z-coordinates (heights) at polyline joining. If both values are admissible but different, the program asks for confirmation. If one of the values is inadmissible (the special value in Z settings, zero as a rule), the second one will be assigned to the resulting polyline. It is impossible now to join two polylines with different Z values by accident;
    • bug correction: when you wanted to join polylines with a common vertex the program didn't exclude these objects at way selection, and copied a part of one line. Now this way is forbidden and the lines will be connected by a segment - you will see an erroneous joining at once;
    • bug correction: self-copying at joining of adjacent line fragments if you specified the line end remote from the common vertex. The program always joins adjacent fragments correctly now.
    • the program asks for confirmation when you try to delete a polyline consisting of many vertices. The number of vertices can be specified in the "General" page of the "Project Parameters" dialog box. It is impossible now to delete a long line by accident.
  • The Block tool is revised
    • selection of insertion angle with the help of mouse wheel is provided. Use of block objects became a much more common practice. For example, you may create a rectangular house contour block, quickly insert such blocks with insertion angles "as in the image", and then "explode" them, i.e. change into usual polygons.
    • visual support of possible snap points is provided now;
    • insertion angle base depends on block orientation now - the program counts off the angle from the standing axis for vertical blocks and from the horizontal axis for horizontal blocks.
    • the list of used angles is canceled. In the Fix Angle mode, you may select a value from a predetermined set (from -180 to 180 deg. with 45 deg. step) or input the value manually.
    • the "Settings" button is added to the Parameters bar. It opens the "Block Tool Settings " dialog box where you may specify the step of angle change with the mouse wheel and switch block grouping by their layers in the block menu on/off.
  • The Text tool is revised:
    • The Parameters bar of the tool is alternated.
    • Text height may be measured in mm now (including custom tools created on the base of the Text tool).
  • The Band Polygon tool is revised :
    • Optional smoothing of the resulting polygon is added. A button in the Parameters bar opens a dialog box where smoothing parameters (yes\no, filter, approximation accuracy) may be specified.

      Smoothing is particularly important when you form polygons out of vectorized objects - river channels of constant width for example. We usually vectorize one boundary of such objects in the automatic mode and then apply the Band Polygon tool. Smoothing results are most evident at sharp turns of rivers.

  • The Current Layer field and the pulldown layer list are improved:
    • When you try to switch off the visibility of a layer with selected objects the program does not inform you about impossible operation but just makes the objects unselected and reinitialize Editors.
    • You may froze/unfroze layers in the layer list now without opening the Project Layer Settings dialog box.
    • You may unfroze a layer and change its visibility at object selection with the Editor. Previously, it was necessary to open the Project Layer Settings dialog box if you wanted to transfer an object from a frozen layer to another one.
  • The Layer Manager (Project Layer Settings) is alternated:

    Similar to raster layer doubling, the new "Duplicate Vector Layer" function is added. To open it, use the submenu of the list of vector layers. It duplicates the selected layer with all the settings including the attribute table structure and qualifier parameters. Optionally, you may also duplicate all objects of the layer together with assigned attribute values.

  • The Line Direction view mode does not show the direction if the scale is less than 30%.
  • The Delete Error Marks utility is revised: error types are represented as a tree, layer selection is canceled.
  • The Crop / Clip Image tool is improved. The "Delete dark area" command is substituted for the "Show cropping area" (if it was not specified before).
  • Image linking to project with correction applying an arbitrary set of reference points is alternated:
    • Manual editing of coordinates in the table is accessible only if the "Enter manually" option is on, otherwise coordinates may be only selected from a list.
    • Polyline vertices from a specified layer may be used as reference points now.
    • Interface of the dialog box for reference point addition is changed.
    • Algorithm of local affine transformation outside the polygon bounding the reference points is improved.
    • The "Add boundary points" (image angles ) option is provided. It is applicable for local-affine transformation only and helps to decrease image deformation outside the polygon bounding the reference points.

Panorama-specific utilities and improvements

  • The Generate Berg-Strokes utility is added. It is designed for automatic generation of berg-strokes on small closed contours. Orientation of the strokes depends on polyline direction. In a turn, automatic contour orientation is provided in the Z checkup utility.

  • The Contour Laying utility is added. It automatically divides polylines passing along relief elements into correctly placed segments of lines with different Z values. As a result, all such polylines are uninterrupted at these sites and time required for search and correction of topology and Z-value errors decreases significantly.
  • Export into the Panorama format is improved: lines consisting of two vertices may be converted into objects of the "vector" type. It should be done if an attribute table for point objects is created for the layer containing such lines.
  • The "Allow attributes of text objects" option (switched off be default) is added in the "General" page of the "Project Parameters" dialog box. When on, attributes specified for point objects of the corresponding layer may be assigned to text objects.

Relief processing utilities

  • The new "Orient Rivers" option is added. It helps to detect errors of both vectorizing and map compiling. As Relief and Hydrography layers are logically associated, input of Z-values helps to find rivers that flow "uphill", and river direction allows to check correctness of relief contours.

    The utility not only makes river lines directed with stream, but marks errors of course.

  • The "Edit Direction of Contours" option is added to the "Z Checkup " utility. At Z verification it brings line direction to conformity with Panorama standards.
  • The Z-input tool is improved:
    • A hot key and a specific cursor type are added for the mode of automatic Z-value selection - the Magic Mode.
    • Bug correction: Z-value assignment to objects different from polylines. 

Setting of project parameters

  • The "Attribute description" field is added in the "Attribute Domain Setup" dialog box.

  • Direct access to setup of object thematic displaying according to attribute values is provided from the Object Attributes dialog box. If displaying according to the just input attribute value is incorrect, you may change it immediately, without opening of Layer Manager. To do it, just click the Att. button. It helps to polish up your project - prototype very quickly.

  • The panel for linetype selection resembles now one for selection of filling:

    Five standard and seven last used linetypes are represented (12 in all). Other linetypes are accessible with the help of the "other linetype" button. It opens a dialog box for linetype selection.

  • Applying of the Line width parameter is alternated:
    • Line width can not be specified for individual polylines any more but for the layer only.
    • Line width is measured in mm of the map (paper).
    • When the "Custom lines" view mode is on, line width on the screen corresponds to the units ("mm of the map "), specified for the layer; when off, all lines are thin.

Bug correction

  • Optimization with the help of the Broken Lines filter caused a bug - "Attempt to write a confluent line".
  • There were problems in the Icon Manager connected with representation of remote icons (having a net path).
  • The last selected line in the dialog box for linetype setting is now shown (not selected only).
  • Zero Z- value may be assigned to contours now.
  • Corrections of image-to-project linking:
    • the bug that caused a shift at local affne transformation use;
    • the bug that damaged the image if the bounding polygon was not convex;
    • incorrect preview of an image area and therefore relative positions of reference points;
    • the bug that caused a failure of image linking applying correction with a regular grid of reference points.
  • Corrections of custom linetypes forming and representation:
    • one-dimensional lines of any type but Solid were shown as thin (irrespective of line width);
    • sorting is corrected in the Custom Linetype dialog box - standard linetypes are always on top and have a constant order, Russian alphabet may be used, REG is ignored;
    • representation of the current element at closing of the the Custom Linetype dialog box is corrected.
  • Corrected: the bug at interpolation use in the image scaling tool.
  • Corrected: preview - tools show the progress indicator at the start of the process, not only during the operation.
  • Corrected: the bug that caused self-closing in the Autoclose mode.
  • Corrected: a bug of the Image Merging by Two Points operation
  • The "Ignore black" option of the Subject Layer Extraction utility is corrected - the program fulfills it now at replacing of object points. Bug correction: invisible text got in the set of errors all the same and was selected at navigation between them.
  • The bug is corrected that caused incorrect allocation of layers into folders at import.
  • The bug is corrected that caused import of existing raster layers.
  • The bug is corrected that caused damage of image path if the image and the project had no a common root.
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