Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Tool Time Part II:
Magnifying Your Problems,
And Panning for Gold
Does anyone actually use the Magnifying Glass tool? You know, the one that lets you hover a magnified window over your image? Some of these are pretty complex, as seen with Centricity and Impax, giving the user the ability to adjust the size of the "glass" and the degree of magnification. Those controls would be pretty cool on a physical magnifying glass. However, I usually just use the zoom and pan functions.
You wouldn't think there is much new with zooming and panning; you just, well, zoom and pan, right? Well, that's about all Centricity and Picom let you do with these functions. Agfa and Amicas have a little different take on this classic. Instead of just zooming from the center of the image, both zoom from the location of the cursor. This takes some getting used to, but it sure makes more sense than zooming, selecting another tool, and then panning. Agfa takes this one step further in Impax 4.5: The zoom/pan tool is effectively combined. You pan with the left mouse button, and zoom with the mouse wheel. This actually works very well. The Amicas tool simply zooms. You can pan with this tool in a round-about way by zooming out, selecting another point on the image, and zooming in again. There is an alternative pan-only tool available.
I would give Agfa the win on this tool as it stands. I do have a major disagreement, however, with the way Impax deploys many of its controls. You have to select the tool either from the top tool bar or the right click menu by left-clicking it. It then stays on until you right-click, which "drops" it. As noted, the wheel does the zooming. So far, so good. Sadly, this approach is not consistent throughout their entire tool pallette, and that drives me insane (well, more insane). With the window/level tool, you left-click, and then you must left-click again to toggle the tool into active mode, then left-click yet again to toggle it off. But you don't have to do so with every tool. This toggle-on/toggle-off stuff gets old. Therefore, the ideal zoom/pan tool in my book combines the best of Amicas and Agfa: Select the tool from the toolbar, left-click and drag pans, mouse-wheel zooms with the cursor as the origin. Easy. I would like to have this tool replace the pan-only and zoom-only tools Amicas now uses, and it should of course go on the "short-right-click" rotation that brings up the most commonly used tools without a trip to the toolbar.
Tune in next time when we shred rulers and other measurement devices on "This Old PACS", I mean Tool-Time!