Re: Visad basics

Hi Greg,

> I need to provide some visual feedback when a user clicks on a data
> point.  My thought is to overlay a cross shape on the point, ie create a
> new reference and add it to the display.  Reading the archives keeps
> pointing me to example.  Unfortunately, I just can't follow
> it very well.  I'm apparently missing some fundamental VisAD
> understanding.

Another approach to highlighting would be to include
RealTypes ScalarMap'ed to color in your Data, and changing
the values of those RealTypes when you want to highlight.

> I am able to run the example in Jbuilder and I see 6 shapes, at the same
> elevation from left to right:
> 1) a tiny purple dot,
> 2) a small purple cube,
> 3) a pink "x",
> 4) a medium sized white cube,
> 5) text characters "1.2",
> 6) a large purple cube.
> In setupServerData method I see:
>     values = new float[][] {{0.0f, 1.0f, 2.0f, 3.0f, 0.0f, 1.0f}};
> Presumably, these are the X coordinates of the 6 objects since they are
> all at the same height. Why it doesn't continue with 4.0f and 5.0f after
> 3.0f, I haven't a clue.  Text is apparently mapped differently for some
> reason.

As you note, the VisAD library is complex so its better
to analyze examples than to presume, especially when the
presumption is not consistent with the observed behavior.
In this case, the 'values' array is passed to the setSamples()
method of the histograms1 FlatField, which has MathType
(ir_radiance -> count). Hence, the numbers in the 'values'
array have RealType 'count'. 'count' is mapped to Display.Shape
rather than Display.XAxis, so they are not X coordinates.
They are indices into the 'shapes' array passed to
shape_control.setShapes() (treated as ordinary integer indices
since count_set, passed to shape_control.setShapeSet(), is
just a sequence of integers 0, 1, 2, 3). Hence the sequence
in 'values', (i.e., 0, 1, 2, 3, 0, 1) iterates through the 4
shapes in the 'shapes' array, then iterates through the first
two again.

In shapes, text is converted by the PlotText.render_label()
method into a geometrical shape and handled like any other
shape geometry. When text is used in a shape, the Display
logic doesn't know the shape came from text. If text is
displayed using a ScalarMap to Text then the Display logic
knows it is text.

> Anyway, I really have a hard time following this VisAD code.  So many
> internal details of the VisAD data structures seem to be hidden or deeply
> layered that it makes it extremely difficult to follow.   I have looked
> through the tutorials and understand the simpler ones for the most part
> but this shape mapping I just don't get.  How does each of the 6 items
> get mapped to a new shape?  Does anybody have any examples with comments
> that document each step along the way?  Preferably one that shows how to
> provide highlighting or some other type of visual feedback when data
> points in the display are clicked.

Unfortunately, the Tutorial does not cover Shapes, so
you'll need to consult the VisAD Developer's Guide at:
See sections 4.3.12 and 4.7.

You are correct that VisAD is complex, which is a
consequence of its generality. In order to work with
something as complex as shapes, you'll either need to
first really experiment with the simpler topics in the
tutorial, or carefully analyze (as I have above) the
examples and Developers Guide sections about shape (few
as they are).  If you do that and get stuck on some
point, we'll be happy to answer questions sent to the

Good luck,

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