QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

A place where updates of QLC+ activities and technical articles are posted as if it was a blog
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mcallegari
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QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by mcallegari » Mon Aug 03, 2015 9:08 pm

And to inaugurate this brand new area of the QLC+ forum, what else is better than a fresh update of the QLC+ 5 developments ?

So, here's the video, right away

It's clearly a preview and there are indeed unfinished features and a few glitches that I will correct in time.
The meaning of the video, for now, is mostly "this is what I have in mind and where I got so far, do you like it ?" :)

There are two things that I like to point out about this video:
- Do not ask for a release date !
- It has been recorded in 1280x720 for YouTube, so everything seems to be too crowdy. On resolutions like 1280x1024 up to 1920x1080, things look much better ! As for tablets, I'd say this UI is suitable for 1024x768 and above.

Since when I record videos I don't have a list of things to show (and my memory apparently is getting faulty...) I always forget some bits.
One is a thing that has been requested by users a few times: percentage values everywhere.
I listened, and I did it.
intensity_tool_dmx.png
intensity_tool_dmx.png (9.57 KiB) Viewed 5036 times
intensity_tool_perc.png
intensity_tool_perc.png (8.55 KiB) Viewed 5036 times
fixture_dmx.png
fixture_perc.png
Basically whenever there are DMX values, there will be percentage values as well.

Another thing I forgot is that when you start setting DMX values in a view, either DMX or 2D (for now ;) ), you can dump them into a new Scene, but at some point you will need to reset the current values and start fresh. Well, that's the CTRL+R key combination and it's already implemented.
I will add a couple of buttons at the bottom of the left panel, so touchscreen users will be able to select/deselect all the fixtures (CTRL+A) or reset DMX values (CTRL+R)

I did the mistake of clicking on the "Grid View" button, but that's indeed an unfinished business ! The performances to render 512 squares are terrible, especially on Android, so I will probably start fresh and write it again.
The grid area will be multi-purpose. It will show the Universe DMX map, but also fixture groups displacements (those used by RGB matrices) or the complete fixture information.

At this stage of the developments, I am still learning a lot of this "new" technology that I am using, called QML, so I write code, continue to write, and then rewrite some parts cause I discovered great optimizations meanwhile.

To give you the idea, the QLC+ 4 UI is written 95% in C++ and 5% in XML.
The QLC+ 5 UI will be written 50% in C++, 45% in QML (which is JSON-like code) and 5% in JavaScript. This all because QML and JavaScript can run small pieces of code in a declarative language, instead of a tough language like C++.
However, the UI logic heavy lifting will be performed in C++...I do not trust QML that much for now...

The whole "new UI" process is very slow though...slower than I expected, but...the QLC+ 4 UI took more than 10 years to become what it is now, so I guess patience is a virtue at this stage.

I'll probably use this blog area to share a few updates more frequently, and produce a video when I have a consistent number of things to show.

Next in my list are (hear hear): the Chaser Editor and the Virtual Console :)

OddSocks
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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by OddSocks » Tue Aug 04, 2015 12:08 am

I think that this new direction looks very exciting.

Keep up all the good work and forgive us if we are impatient with waiting to play with the new "BEAST" ;-)

jacobuserasmus
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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by jacobuserasmus » Thu Aug 13, 2015 10:07 am

I just want to say whoa great work. I check in on qlcplus every now and then to see what is happening and what the advances are.

gmint
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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by gmint » Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:06 pm

Massimo,

As always, the work looks great. Just one comment that I would have based on what you've indicated thusfar. I find it very useful to be able to use QLC+ on a touchscreen and while it seems very antiquated, a good number of touchscreens (especially ELOs which are suitable for more rugged environments i.e. wet fingers) are still at 1024*768. I assume that it wouldn't be a problem to design a VC layout for this screen size, but would you anticipate being able to actually do some programing on a monitor of this size?

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by mcallegari » Fri Aug 14, 2015 8:06 pm

gmint wrote:I assume that it wouldn't be a problem to design a VC layout for this screen size, but would you anticipate being able to actually do some programing on a monitor of this size?
Well, that's the idea. When I started the analysis of the new UI I considered the current situation of touchscreens and I'm trying to design the layouts to be always usable on smaller screens. Obviously everything has a limit.

There are 2 considerations here:
1) the biggest constrain of touchscreens is the size of a finger (which apparently is around 40 pixels) so everything must be sized around that value, even if it looks too big on a desktop PC. I will probably end up having some global properties where one can set the UI scaling
2) the situation on Android is quite fragmented, while on iOS we know exactly what there's around. Apple is still strong on tablets, so I believe the reference device is the iPad. The first generation had a 9.7" / 1024x768 screen.
I would say tablets below those inches/pixels are in a "use at your own risk" zone. I don't see how a 7" tablet can help other than for a pure Virtual Console usage.

There's also a footnote that I need to point out:
1) I don't have an iPad
2) While on Android it is possible to create an app (signed or unsigned APK) and load it manually, on iOS it is not possible.
Everything must enter a iOS device through the Apple Store. This little trick costs to developers $99 per year. So basically if I've got my Mac ($1000) and my iPad ($500) sitting next to it on my desk, I still have to pay $99 to transfer my application into it, even if I'm the sole user of that app.
To publish an app on Android, Google requests something like €35 one shot.
Now this makes me sick and I'm still thinking if I really want to board myself into this crap.
Unfortunately the iPad is so damn popular, especially in the US, but to pay off those stupid $99 I would have to give a price to QLC+ on iOS...and consequently on Android too, to make no difference between users.
That is not how I would like to do things.

Thanks Apple...again.

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by gmint » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:53 am

Massimo,

First, one think I wanted to mention about the video: I love the ability to drag and drop to a collection. I use collections a ton and this will be a huge timesaver for me. I can't wait for that.

On the touchscreen front, as long as it's usable on a 1024x768 display, I think you're pretty much set. That said, I have a couple of thoughts (which are really nothing more than that, so don't take this as me trying to influence your vision in any way). What's your thought with how a DMX interface would work on a tablet? Are we talking something like plugging a USB to DMX adaptor in to the device, or are you thinking something more along the lines of Art-Net or E.131 only?

It certainly won't stop people from using an iPad, but when you consider all of the dongles and such that you need to get something workable for a serious show, it seems to make more sense just to go with a computer. First, there's the cost. Something like the Enttec ODE is like $200 more than the OpenDMX. Second, there's the complexity of making a device that was never designed for this purpose work in a fairly complex environment. If you go wireless from the iPad to some sort of a wired bridge, then at least you eliminate the physical connection to the iPad but let me tell you, I have some wireless DMX hardware and while it works fairly well, it's certainly not perfect. As far as Wi-Fi goes, I'd be really, really hesitant to trust that in a live situation (case in point: I recently acquired a couple of very, very cool Behringer X-Air mixers which are controlled by a computer or iPad but one of the first things I've done is to make sure that I have a hardwired connection to the mixer for shows because the wireless tech just isn't to the point where it can be trusted in critical environments).

That's just my two cents, of course but I thought this through for quite some time and I just can't see any way that an iPad or a tablet would be a real advantage over an actual computer in most cases.

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by mcallegari » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:53 am

gmint wrote:What's your thought with how a DMX interface would work on a tablet? Are we talking something like plugging a USB to DMX adaptor in to the device, or are you thinking something more along the lines of Art-Net or E.131 only?
George, thanks for raising this important topic.

I have already investigated the possibility to have the USB DMX plugin (so libFTDI) to work on Android. In theory it is possible, but as you said, tablets are not made for that and I wouldn't use them for a show either. Unless it's a very small show.
On the iPad, I don't even know if it is possible to connect USB devices to it ?

The QLC+ truly "native" plugins are ArtNet, E1.31, loopback and OSC. I have rewritten the OSC plugin from scratch for this reason: running everywhere.

This leads to wider considerations then.

The UI I am writing has several purposes:
- look the same on every platform
- can be used with fingers instead of a mouse (this consider also PCs with touchscreen, Raspberry Pi + TS, Windows tablet PCs, etc...)
- cover mobile platforms like Android and iOS. This is purely thanks to Qt.
- keep up-to-date with the latest Qt technology. They are now focused on QML, and several parts of the code take advantage of OpenGL rendering accelerations (if available), resulting in more fluid UIs. Qt is a constantly evolving world and if you don't keep the pace, you risk to end up as a corner case, and no one will give you support anymore. For example, with Qt 5.6 they will deprecate the QtScript module, which QLC+ uses for RGB scripts. So I already know that I will have to rewrite the RGB Script engine using another Qt module.

So, to get back to your point. What's the purpose of QLC+ on "mobile" tablets ?
I think the answer at the moment is: we'll find out in time.

An example scenario that come up in my mind is a guy designing his next show on a tablet...on a plane.

Another case I can imagine is (which would require a bit of work though...):
- a PC with QLC+ with all the DMX adapters, running a big show
- 4 tablets with 4 technicians, controlling different parts of the show simultaneously
This would mean QLC+ on mobile could have a "remote" mode to control another QLC+ running on a different machine.
Quite different from the web interface in the sense that each tablet would have the whole project loaded, so every tablet can do real VC operations like re-assign a function to a button or a slider, live edit a function, etc..
This would require a dedicated channel (or a plugin) to synchronize each QLC+ instance to the others.
Wouldn't it be cool though ? :)

I think we can discuss here what users foresee (or wish) for QLC+ on mobile platforms. So, ideas season is open ! :)

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by mumbles » Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:53 am

mcallegari wrote:
gmint wrote:What's your thought with how a DMX interface would work on a tablet? Are we talking something like plugging a USB to DMX adaptor in to the device, or are you thinking something more along the lines of Art-Net or E.131 only?
George, thanks for raising this important topic.

I have already investigated the possibility to have the USB DMX plugin (so libFTDI) to work on Android. In theory it is possible, but as you said, tablets are not made for that and I wouldn't use them for a show either. Unless it's a very small show.
On the iPad, I don't even know if it is possible to connect USB devices to it ?

An example scenario that come up in my mind is a guy designing his next show on a tablet...on a plane.

Another case I can imagine is (which would require a bit of work though...):
- a PC with QLC+ with all the DMX adapters, running a big show
- 4 tablets with 4 technicians, controlling different parts of the show simultaneously
This would mean QLC+ on mobile could have a "remote" mode to control another QLC+ running on a different machine.
Quite different from the web interface in the sense that each tablet would have the whole project loaded, so every tablet can do real VC operations like re-assign a function to a button or a slider, live edit a function, etc..
This would require a dedicated channel (or a plugin) to synchronize each QLC+ instance to the others.
Wouldn't it be cool though ? :)

I think we can discuss here what users foresee (or wish) for QLC+ on mobile platforms. So, ideas season is open ! :)

I like the Idea of multiple tablets. and the possibility to design while traveling. Id be nice to have something like Midi DJ remote for tractor. (https://youtu.be/ZfV3kv906lE) except for QLC+. So basically you have 3 tablets with all 3 panels and by selecting 1 of 3 panels ( a different panel on each tablet) you end up with a full size (or close to it) controller. but not running the full software on tables.

side note: It is posable to use Korg nano series with IOS devices. with the use of camera adapter (USB to lighting). Im not sure about using adapter with FTDI though.

I had a vision of 3 iPads propped up with a nanoKontrol2 or nanoPad2 connected/ setting in front of each one. with iPads communicating with Mac Mini or Raspberry Pi running QLC+ as coordinator sending Artnet out to lights (Raspberry Pi running QLC+ (Artnet in /USB DMX out). :D

As a systems integrator I understand theres a lot of cost involved in R & D and Id consider purchasing and donating an iPad air2 and camera kit for mcallegari if this would help push the development of the demanding growth of iOS development. I know this wouldn't cover the Apple developer yearly fees. But hardware was one of the things mentioned earlier that seamed to be one of the development limitations. I know submitting apps to the App store is one option but at least through the development process you may consider using apples TestFlight .
Last edited by mumbles on Mon Aug 17, 2015 4:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
OSX 10.10.5 QLC+ 4.9.1
Surface Pro4 Windows 10
Raspberry Pi B OLA 0.95
Raspberry Pi 2B QLC+

Swisson XMt-350
Chauvet RDM2Go
Enttec Pro Mk2
ultraDMX Micro
FTDI USB-RS485-WE-1800-BT XLR

Korg nanoKONTROL2
Korg nanoPAD2

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by mcallegari » Mon Aug 17, 2015 5:27 pm

Hey George, out of curiosity I wanted to see how an up-to-date version of QLC+ 5 looked on Android.
So I captured a screen similar to what I've shown in the video on an Android 10" tablet with resolution 1024x600 (don't ask me why...)

Here's the result
Screenshot_2015-08-17-18-26-12.png
The fact I've been able to capture that shot is already a good sign I am going in the right direction :)
However I would say 600 vertical pixels are not enough. I'd be curious to see a 1024x768 one...

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Re: QLC+ 5 Preview - Update #1

Post by gmint » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:38 pm

Massimo,

I was going to mention the possibility of the camera connector. I know it's kind of hack to get USB out of the iPad for a lot of things. While I don't necessarily share your occasional Apple anger :D I can definitely see the possibility of that particular ability going away without a lot of notice which would obviously be a very bad thing.

I definitely share your vision for using the iPad as a remote for QLC+. I can see that as definitely be something useful. It would be especially useful if the iPad could function as a supplemental (say second or third console). Even if I didn't *need* it, I'd have a hard time not adding an iPad or two and pretending that I have a Whole Hog :)

Very interesting on the Android version!

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