Wednesday 29 October 2014

Pan, zoom and other functions are now more standard

The pan and zoom functionality in Biodiverse has always been pretty simple.  For the zooming you simply click the button and the display zooms in.  The same applies to zooming out.  The problem here is that it is not consistent with other software.

The other issue was that each panel (the map, tree and matrix) had its own pan and zoom tools, leading to repetition and needless use of screen real estate.  In some cases there was not enough space to render the control widgets so they simply disappeared. 

This is all changed in version 1.  Now all of the pan and zoom functions are at the left of the window, with one set of tools controlling all the panels (much of the display functionality has also moved). This applies to all of the analysis displays, so the View Labels tab and all the Spatial, Cluster, Region Grower and Matrix analyses.

Compare the new version with the older version in the screenshots below.  The interface is now much cleaner and less repetitive.  

The new versions of Biodiverse have the pan and zoom tools are at the left of the display, and one set controls all the panels. 

The old approach had pan and zoom tools for each of the panels, so there were three different sets for the view labels tab. 

The new approach also has keyboard shortcuts to switch from one mode to another: “z” to zoom in; “x” to zoom out; “c” to pan; “v” to zoom to fit and “b” to select.  There are tooltips for each button so you can get a reminder of the key to use by hovering the mouse over a tool. 

The zoom-to-fit and zoom-out options happen immediately the key is pressed to speed up the interaction with the display.  Their keyboard shortcuts also don’t change the current mouse function, so if you are selecting then you can keep doing so. 

The zoom-in option now supports a box zoom approach, where one can select a box and it becomes the focus of the display.  A single click will zoom in by a predefined amount (usually x1.5 or x2).  (The matrix in the View Labels tabs needs some work before version 1 is released [Update 19-Nov-2014 - this has now been fixed]).

To make life easier for the user the mouse also changes its icon depending on which mode it is in, so there is a visual cue for the user.

To be honest, there is nothing particularly novel about this approach.  However, it can only be a good thing that the cognitive load on users is reduced by following a more standard approach for interaction with the plots.

For more details about Biodiverse, see
For the full list of changes in the 0.99 series (leading to version 1) see
To see what else Biodiverse has been used for, see

You can also join the Biodiverse-users mailing list at

Shawn Laffan 

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