Thursday, November 01, 2007

Inherit everything but the kitchen sink.

Back when I was just a young map maker, I was actually fairly sharp, and had a memory that was quite useful. I worked on a CAD system that until VrOne came along seemed like one of the fastest, most practical, easy to use map collection systems around. It used a numeric command set that allowed you to set any combination of insert parameters to a 3 digit code. Alas you were limited to 120 codes which seemed like plenty and were quickly memorized. Of course now I can't remember what I had for breakfast (I did have breakfast didn't I), but I can remember all 120 of those codes. The flexibility of Vr allowed me to easily make macros that do those 120 tasks, but over the years we continued to add things. Now I know there is a function key that will put in a double yellow road centerline, but what combination of letters did we use for the function key (there are 26 letters and 5 unique words in that description). Sometimes when I'm collecting I think good grief, there is what I want right there, it sure would be nice to just change my current parameters to match that existing entity. Well, back in January I added a quick command that came in handy more often than I thought and has grown up since then. The premise was simple, a command that allowed you to Id a line, then start digitizing using the attributes of that line. Remember it looked something like this

Line = PyVrLine ()
Gui.PushKeyin ('inslin,lay=%d,grp=%d,wid=%d'%(lay,gp,wid))

It was so handy that I made one that did the same thing for fly-lines, and symbols. This way when I'm tying to an edge or come across something I forgot, and can't remember the function key, all I need is the short mnemonics for my inhlin, inhfly, and inhsym commands. Then I got thinking, what if I'm already digitizing a line or symbol and want to match something I happen upon? Well here is my which some folks might find a bit odd but it also gives examples of a couple of useful Vr Objects

print ' Inherit From Entity modified 8:52 AM 10/31/2007'
Copyright 2007 Dennis Shimer, M.A.N. Mapping Services Inc.
Vr Mapping copyright Cardinal Systems, LLC
No warranties as to safety or usability expressed or implied.
Free to use, copy, modify, distribute with author credit.

Asks user to identify an entity, then sets certain
parameters inherited from the identified entity.



# There are a couple of times we'll need to multiply by the scale because ground
# units are returned, and we'll need to set based on map units.

# Man I love IdEnt, it isn't in the documentation yet but by using
# -1 in the SeaEnttype spot, it remembers the last state.
if EntType==1:
# If it's a line grab the appropriate settings
...Line.Load(EntWs, EntNum)
# This line is left over from when I forced the user to hit end after
# identifying the entity, which was useful if you grabbed the wrong one
# but I found I liked it this way better, so the following line doesn't
# really matter because it just does it after you id something.
...Gui.DspMsg0 ('lay=%d, grp=%d, wid=%d'%(Layer,Graphic,Width))
if EntType==3:
# Ditto if it's a symbol.
...Sym.Load(EntWs, EntNum)
...Gui.DspMsg0 ('lay=%d, grp=%d,rad=%.3lf,rot=%.3lf'%(Layer,Graphic,Radius,Rotation))
if EntType==4:
# or even a piece of text.
...Text.Load(EntWs, EntNum)

# Once you grab the settings desired, the only thing left to do is
# push the proper key-ins.
if Type=='Line':
...Gui.PushKeyin ('lay=%d,grp=%d,wid=%d'%(Layer,Graphic,Width))
elif Type=='Symbol':
...Gui.PushKeyin ('lay=%d,grp=%d,rad=%.3lf,rot=%.3lf'%(Layer,Graphic,Radius,Rotation))
elif Type=='Text':
...Gui.PushKeyin ('lay=%d,fnt=%d,hgt=%.3lf,wdt=%.3lf,rot=%.3lf,txt=%s'%(Layer,Font,Height,Width,Rotation,Label))

Given that there probably aren't 3 people in the world that read this on a regular basis, I'll probably hit it about once a month from now on. Don't forget to contribute to the forum.

Happy coding.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Time out

It is that time of year when I begin to pursue my second job as middle school soccer coach, and high school referee (and parent spectator). Because of this, I'm not even going to think about posting until late October.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finally A Vr Command

Well enough playing around with external files. It's about time to head back to what VrPython was intended for and write a new function. This one in particular allows the user to parallel part of an existing line. This is a good example of how a program evolves (to say it was intelligently designed probably infers too much), because as it started off the user had to digitize the offset distance. Then with the advent of VrArgs in 3.3.? it seemed like a good idea to put in the option to enter an offset as a argument after the user typed parpart. Of course with the opportunity to put in a argument as an offset, it seemed silly to not have a dialog somewhere. The problem was that I didn't want dialog every time, and you already had to Id the line, start point, end point, and offset which was approaching the limits of how much I wanted the user to have to do. Hence the decision that if you got all the way to the point of digitizing the offset and hadn't specified one but hit an "end" or "#" without doing so the program would bring up a dialog to allow typing one in. Well let's take a look

#This has become the standard I use to start each program.
print ' ParallelPartial modified 8:23 AM 7/13/2007'


Copyright 2007 Dennis Shimer, M.A.N. Mapping Services Inc.

Vr Mapping copyright Cardinal Systems, LLC

No warranties as to safety or usability expressed or implied.

Free to use, copy, modify, distribute with author credit.

Inserts a line parallel to the identified line.
Allows for picking start and
end points of new line, and offset.
If a number is passed it as the first
it will be used as an offset.
If the <#> End button is pressed during offset
measurement a
dialog will come up prompting for offset.





# Create all the objects we will use.

while Line.Id() != -1:
In theory you could partially parallel many lines
# though in reality it doesn't happen much, but will do so
# until the user doesn't Id a line which returns -1.

# The undo is inside the Id loop so each line paralleled
# could be undone individually.

....Gui.DspMsg0('Dig start of new line')
# Since GetCoord() isn't very customizable as far as buttons
# and messages, we'll display instructions in the message area.

# And get a coordinate for where the newly paralleled line
# Should begin.

....Gui.DspMsg0('Dig end of new line')
# And the same on the other end.

....if VrArgs:

........print VrArgs

# This whole if statement was added later after the introduction
# of VrArgs. If a string (or multiple strings) are placed after
# the script name, they are passed in as a list of strings. So the
# test would fail if VrArgs was empty (nothing passed) and would
# pass to the else statement. If however something was passed,
# convert it to a real number and assign it to the offset. Bonus
# points for anyone who identifies the huge bug I just noticed in
# this 3 line block.

# In other words if VrArgs is not true (is empty).

........Gui.DspMsg0('Dig offset # End for dialog')
# Same as above, display instructions and read a coordinate
# that represents how far the cursor is from the line.

........Offset=-1.0*(Line.SnapPoint (SnapX, SnapY)[3])

# Use the computed offset. The -1 is just to correct for
# how SnapPoint computes the distance.

........if StatS:
# This comes about if the user hits the end button instead
# of a 1 to cancel the digitize offset.

............PromBox=VrPromBox('Prompt title',20,1)
............PromBox.AddDouble('Enter a real number',.5,2)
............if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):

# Just a simple prombox to allow for entering the offset if
# it wasn't passed or computed in any other way.

....Num1=Line.SnapPointAdd (NewX1,NewY1,0.0)
....Num2=Line.SnapPointAdd (NewX2,NewY2,0.0)

# We are adding points to the line object that was identified
# this is ok because later we will Rec() instead of ReRec() which
# will create a new line.

....if Num1>Num2:


# At one point DelPoints didn't work properly if the beginning
# point was higher than the end point (it may not still, but doesn't
# really matter if it is checked and swapped if necessary.

....Line.DelPoints (Num1, Num2, 1)
# Mode 1 in effect deletes points outside begin and end rather
# than between them (which would be mode 0)



# Take that line object, offset it by the distance entered or
# computed, record it as a new entity, plot it and there you go.
# Part of the original line has been stored as a new line parallel
# to it.

Reminder that as with all other scripts, you can either copy and paste what you see here (substituting your prefered indentation for the holding characters "....", or find the original at

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Life Outside Vr Wrap Up (almost)

Before going back to writing functions for Vr let's wrap up a couple of things. First binary files, I have recently begun to like the idea of persistent parameters for several of my programs. I really need to create some basic generic parameter code to paste in. In the end I'll probably settle on ascii files with keywords, or at least comments. But what if you want to use binary, or what if you want to read a binary file that you know (or could guess) the structure of. An example is the old .COO coordinate files used by orientp3 in pre-Vr days. We still use it and often want to work directly with the .COO files for various things. But they are binary, here are some basics working with something similar to the parameter file we used before. This will be plain python, you can copy and paste this, download from my source code website, then either run it from a command line like
or open or paste it into pyedi and run it inside Vr. The only requirement is that you will need to have python installed because it uses two standard modules. By this time I am going to assume some python knowledge and ability to read the code. I am thrilled to answer any questions that come up, but I will post this code in a very plain, line at a time manner rather than using multiple methods on a single line. I'm also going to use my favorite method of accessing binary data since as is common in python there are probably dozens of ways of doing it. You could probably do this in about 8 lines but the point is to explain what is going on. I'll also assume that anyone interested in this would take the time to look up the modules listed to see how many cool things they will do... So here goes

If you were to run this script 3 consecutive times it would give 3 different responses. First that the parameter file was created but without any values read. Second it would read the default values, tell you what the values are and modify them. Third it will read the modified values print them out and tell you that it found modified values and not the defaults.

import os,struct
# We'll use os to test for the existence of the file, an struct to
# interact with the binary data.

The format string tells several parts of the program what we are working
with in regards to binary data. The format string listed above represents
a 10 character string, 2 double precision real numbers, and an integer.
Same as before but I added the int to show by example. Note that it is
just a string with letters representing different kinds of data.

# The file by this name will show up in the directory the script is run in.

print 'Bytes occupied by binary data',struct.calcsize(FormatString),'\n\n'
Sometimes you need to know how many bytes to read from a file in order
to get one set of data when multiple sets exist, a good example goes
back to the coordinate file mentioned earlier. In order to read and process
one point at a time you can only read the necessary bytes. the calcsize
method in struct will read a format string and tell how many bytes are
represented. You can go into a python interpreter, import struct then
evaluate some single item format strings like the following for a
float, a double, an int, and a 1 character string.
>>> struct.calcsize('f')
>>> struct.calcsize('d')
>>> struct.calcsize('i')
>>> struct.calcsize('s')

if not os.path.isfile(ParFileName): # If the file doesn't exist.
...# Then open it in write (create or erase) mode with a binary modifier

...The pack method in the struct module uses the format string to process
...the data that comes next into the bytes which represent them in binary
...form. It is important that the amount and type of data following the
...format string match, notice I am passing in a string (less than 10
...characters allowed, 2 real numbers and an integer.

...# We have a binary file and binary data so just and write and close it.

...print 'Program run with no existing file'
...print 'Data set to defaults.'
...print 'testbinary.par should now exist.'
...# If it does exist open for reading + writing with binary modifier.
...This time since the file exists we are going to get the binary data
...right out of the file with a read. Since we want the whole file there no reason to use calcsize to tell it how many bytes to read.

...# Going the other direction, lets use unpack to use the format string
...# to convert the binary data into a list of values.

...print 'Data from file, note it is a list\n ',DataList
...# and print the list.,0)
...Now assuming that there are new values that need to be used to update
...the parameter file. The first thing we need to do is go back to the
...beginning of the file, read up on seek, but this basically moves you
...0 bytes from the beginning. If in the coordinate file example I had a structure that require 24 bytes and wanted to get the 3rd value
...from the file I could to the 48th byte and read 24. This way you can, write, and overwrite data in place within a file.

...print 'File position after seek ',ParFile.tell()
...# Every open file has a tell method which gives the current position.

...# Same idea as above, just using the changed data (wherever it came from)

...if DataList[0].split('\x00')[0]=='Updated':
......print 'You have seen it all.'
......print 'Remove testbinary.par to start over'
......There may be a better way to convert this 10 character string to
......what you normally think of as a string, but it comes back padded
......with the 0 bytes and this works simply enough. Think of it this
......way 'Updated\x00\x00\x00' has 3 extra bytes, if you split on that
......character you get back ['Updated', '', '', ''] of which 'Updated' the first or [0] element. Ugly but I've never really look into
......a better way.

......print 'Program run with an existing file'
......print 'Data was updated run again to see change'
......# 2nd run string doesn't equal 'Updated' so print appropriate message.

...# Good form to explicitely close files.

I need to wrap it up for now, I'll have to save the parsing command for next time.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Life Outside Vr 4

We've looked at external files with the goal of getting useful information out of them. At the same time how about saving something there. We use a program that takes symbols in a certain layer, compares their elevation to an active dtm, and if they are over a specified distance from the elevation displays the error. It is a very useful program and when it was first written had all the variables hard coded, but stored at the beginning of the file so they could be easily found and changed. With the advent of PromBox it just became too easy to allow the user to confirm and change the variables each time. You could even easily use the old hard coded values as defaults. However it seemed like a certain set of values would be used over and over again based on job specifications. The obvious solution would be to have the last values used stored between runs to be used as the new defaults. Storing values like this is easy enough, but what elements would the most elegant solution contain? I have no idea but I did come up with a couple of features I really wanted.

First lets store them in a logical location like /vr/hostdir where all the other function parameter files are stored. Truthfully it would probably be better to make a user parameter directory, but I'll be lazy for now because the next thing I wanted was a test to see if the parameter file existed already and if not, would create one with the original default values. Yes I could test for a folder and if it wasn't there create it but maybe that will come in the next version but for now I didn't really want to change the directory structure.

import os
# os is necessary to test the existence of the parameter file.

# Call it what you want, this is great code to save for later use in other
# programs that require persistence.

if not os.path.isfile(ParFileName): # Does the file exist.
open(ParFileName,'w').write('%d %.3f %.3f'%(86,.2,0.0))
# If not then create it in write mode and write an integer and 2 floating
# point numbers with 3 decimal places.

# Since it either existed or was created all we need to do now is open, read
# and split the values into a list that would look like ['86','.2','0.0']

PromBox=VrPromBox('Display Sym to Dtm',20,1)
PromBox.AddInt('Layer to Check',int(Params[0]),1,1000)
PromBox.AddDouble('Display delta >',float(Params[1]),2)
PromBox.AddDouble('Text Rotation',float(Params[2]),1)
# Using the values stored in the Params list make a prombox which will allow
# the user to change the values.

if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):
# Grab the new values.

open(ParFileName,'w').write('%d %.3f %.3f'%(LayerToCheck,DisplayDelta,TextRot))
# And write them out to a file.

I won't spend the time on all the uses for keeping persistent variables between sessions, but this is the basics.

This just about wraps it up for reading and writing files, except for maybe writing parameters as a binary file, just for the fun of it and maybe walking through the single line parser I posted on the forum. It isn't very flexible but offers some interesting lessons. Here's a peek.

for line in open('hughes.pxyzopk','r').readlines():Alist.append(line.split())

Friday, June 08, 2007

Life Outside Vr 3 (well not very far outside)

Actually not at all, but the point isn't that we need to work outside Vr, it is that there is a whole world of files available using some straight python functionality. Now that we have a little file opening and reading under our belts, lets come back into Vr and bring a little of that technique with us. Let's also work on tightening up the code a little. If you are fairly new to VrPython, I think you'll really like this one. We are going to let Vr tell us the name of the file to open (in this case the current function key file) then using standard python we'll open, read, and parse the data we want out of the file, then use Vr to build a prompt box. For this example the data we want is all the function key names, and the prompt box will allow us to pick a function key name. Why? Well how about if you were going to write a parallel function using the existing inspar command but wanted to change the PARMOD= to "Function Key" and wanted to select the function key from a list then send it using the FKEY= key-in. If so, here is one way to get the function key name. It is rather long and convoluted but I'll try to make it worth what you are paying for the look.

# We'll need a Vr config object to access the name of the currently
# loaded function key file name.

# Grab the name.
# Open the file
# We're going to read the file twice. This time as a string so we can count the
# instances of the key-word "KeyName" to figure out how many entries our
# prompt box will need.
NumberOfFunctionKeys=FileData.count('Fkey KeyName')
# Use the string method count to do just that.
PromBox = VrPromBox ("Function Keys", 60, 1)
# Create a PromBox object.
PromBox.AddList ("Select a Function Key",NumberOfFunctionKeys , 40, 0)
# I'll skip helpful text and just get right to the listbox of length equal to
# the number of function keys.,0)
# Rewind the file to read it again.
# This time read it as a list, each element of which is a line from the file.
for FileLine in FileData:
# For each line in the data list.
..if FileLine.count('Fkey KeyName') != 0:
# Test to see if it is a line containing the function key name.
# If so split the line data into the three words
# 'Fkey','KeyName','ActualName' which is in itself a list, the third element
# of which ( [2] ) is the actual name of the function key.
# Add that to the list of items to be displayed.
# Could have closed it after the readlines() but just go ahead and do it now.
if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):
..FunctionKey=PromBox.GetList (0)
# Standard prompt box usage to grab a list item
print FunctionKey
# and print it out (or use it in an interesting way)

Now as far as tightening it up. I could have read the file only once and built a for loop to count the instances of the KeyName key-word, but I'm going to go in a totally different direction. I'm still going to read the file twice, as a matter of fact I'm going to open it twice. The goal of this exercise is to get as few lines of code as I can. I'm not going to profess that this is the tightest and most efficient. It just has a lot less lines of code and is intended to make you think. Look at it first, then read the explanation.

PromBox = VrPromBox ("Function Keys", 60, 1)
PromBox.AddList ("Select a Function Key", open(VrCfg().GetFkeyFileName (),'r').read().count('Fkey KeyName'), 40, 0)
for FileLine in open(VrCfg().GetFkeyFileName (),'r').readlines():
..if FileLine.count('Fkey KeyName'):PromBox.AddListItem(FileLine.split()[2])
if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):print PromBox.GetList (0)

Line 1: We have to create a prompt box object because I can't find any way around it and we'll need to use methods of this specific object in the next line.

Line 2: Let's take this a step at a time.
A) Add to the list using the formula AddList (Prompt, NumItems, Height, DefaultItem) Prompt is set to "Select a Function Key", NumItems is the tricky part, Height is 40 and DefaultItem is 0.
B) Look at the NumItems formula and read it as follows
Open a file using the string returned by a VrCfig() object method GetFkeyFileName in read mode ( 'r' ) which open file object you should read() the data, of which data you should count() the number of occurrences of 'Fkey KeyName'. Notice that when all this is said and done it just give a number which represents the number of function key names and therefore the number of function keys

Now that we have a prompt box which contains a list set to the length equal to the number of function key names, let's populate the list with those names.

Line 3: For each element in a list, the list comes from opening the same file again, in read mode again, but this time instead of read() to get one solid string, we use a method that will return a list which is exactly what the for loop is working on. We are looping on a list that was created and populated just for the loop, each element of which is a line from that file.

Line 4: FileLine represents the line of data out of the file which is being examined as we loop over the entire list of lines. count() tells how many occurrences of a work exist in the string 0 means none which in terms of an if means false so any other number that comes back means true (the string exists, therefore it is a function key name). if it is true we want to add the actual name to the list. The actual name as we saw above means splitting the string, which creates a list, from which we want element [2]. So add to the list the third word which is the result of splitting the string because it does (true) contain the phrase 'Fkey KeyName'. I didn't add another line and indent it because there is only one statement to execute if true which allows you to just put it after the colon and be done with it.

Line 5: Same idea, standard prombox syntax, but since there is only one action, just put it on the same line. Ugly code but remember my only goal was to reduce the line count. And why put the string in a variable just to print it on the next line, print it as it returns from GetList()

And I haven't even taken the time to explain the forum post regarding reading and parsing aerosys .pxyzopk files, a great example of the kind of data we mappers work with all the time. Maybe next time.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Life Outside Vr 2

Ok I have a few minutes so let's look at actually reading some data out of an open file. We'll stick with ascii files for now. There are so many fun reasons to work with files outside Vr that it would take too long to enumerate all of them but a few of my favorites include.

  • Reading info out of an ImageUtil project and creating all the Vr2Ori project and all models with 1 click.
  • Converting all Vr2Ori and VrAt files to or from their corresponding equivalents in orientp3 (yes we still use it and get along fine) so a setup in the analytical equals a setup in softcopy or vice versa.
  • Reading a PATB and plotting it graphically in VrOne for visual analysis and blunder checking.
  • Reading and plotting AT results including photos, layout data, computed extents and photo scale based on image centers and control averages.
You get the idea, there are just so many files out there that can be of easy use with a click or two. Sometimes there is already a way to do the same things, but a custom program allows you to set things up exactly the way you want without any further intervention. As in the last post we'll be working with vr.cfg in read only mode because it is a file that exists on everyones system (if you are working in Vr, which I assume) and has the same basic patterns. Again I will suggest you work in some kind of python IDE, I suggest pythonwin but you could even work from the python command interpreter if you want.

Let's start by creating a python file object like we did last time, it will be called f (for file).
f=open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r') # 'r' means read mode.
now if I
print f
there should be some obscure text describing the object. Hopefully there was some time to look over the file object docs to study up on the simple methods, let's look at a few.
Read one line out of the open file
>>> f.readline()
'# VR Configuration File\n'
I should note here that once it reads the line, the address in the file that python is sitting at is the beginning of the next line so if you do it again
>>> f.readline()
'# FileName : c:\\vr\\hostdir\\vr.cfg\n'
if for some reason it is necessary to go back to the beginning of the file we need to "seek" the new position. seek takes two arguments "offset" (how much to jump from the position passed in) and "whence" (where to start the offset). "Whence" defaults to the beginning of the file, so if you want to go the the beginning you can say "see" with an offset of 0 (don't move at all from the position passed in) and a whence of 0 (or if you pass nothing for whence this is the default) so,0) # 0 offset, 0 whence # 0 offset, default whence which is 0
will both take python to the beginning of the file, so do that then readline() again and you should see the first line again. Let's read that first line and store it as a string we'll call "s"
>>> s=f.readline()
>>> print s
# VR Configuration File
It would of course be possible to do this with each line of the file, though there are better methods to be discussed later, but lets look a what we could do with that string now that we have it.
I can split it based on white spaces (the default for split) which returns a list of the words in the string.
>>> s.split()
['#', 'VR', 'Configuration', 'File']
For that matter we could split it based on any character like commas, or in this case the "i"
>>> s.split('i')
['# VR Conf', 'gurat', 'on F', 'le\n']
Note that splitting on white spaces takes off the newline character but splitting on a printable character doesn't. Of course there are plenty of ways to take the newline off, but just take note for now. How about if we needed to test for a sub string inside the string, well let's count occurrences.
>>> s.count('i')
>>> s.count('ig')
>>> s.count('z')
So a test would look something like
>>> if s.count('ig') : print 'yes'
I didn't say if s.count equals something or is greater than something because I just wanted to know if it was non zero and anything non zero is true for the if test.

There is no sense typing out all the things you can do with strings because they are documented in the python docs, it is worth noting that there used to be a string module, but now each of these methods is a built-in which is why there was never an import statement above.

Let's go back to the split step and put the resulting list in a variable called "l", then we can loop over the list and do whatever we want, in this example just print each item.
>>> l=s.split()
>>> l
['#', 'VR', 'Configuration', 'File']
>>> for item in l:
... print item
or grab individual elements of the list.
>>> l[3]
or test to see if the list contains certain values.
>>> l.count('File')
>>> l.count('Nothing')
Like strings I'll leave the explanation of lists and their methods to the professionals, in this case the python tutorials.
But I'll leave with a couple of thoughts:
First, check out readlines() it will come in handy and will probably bear heavily in the next post.
Second, one of the real beauties of python is it's ability to get a lot done with a little code, this can be accomplished by taking whatever data a method returns and acting on it with the appropriate method. Consider the following lines typed into the interpreter.

open() is going to return a file object with all it's accompanying methods.
>>> open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r')
obscure text describing an open file object

let's just tack the readline() onto the end and let it return the first line which is a string.
>>> open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r').readline()
'# VR Configuration File\n'

It it is a string we can split it to get a list of words that were included.
>>> open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r').readline().split()
['#', 'VR', 'Configuration', 'File']

Of course the list is made up of elements that can be addressed lets get the second element whose index is 1.
>>> open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r').readline().split()[1]

Which is a string and can be forced to lower case using the lower() method.
>>> open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r').readline().split()[1].lower()

Is this stuff cool or what.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Life outside Vr

I have had several folks ask about opening reading and parsing external files. There are so many applications that I don't even know where to begin. Whether plain ascii text files, or binary, python is loaded with tools for doing what you want or need. I think I'll just start rambling and see where we head. One thing that you will notice immediately is that there can be literally dozens of ways of accomplishing the same task. I'm not going to pretend that what I am putting forward is the best or most efficient, I'll just mention some tools that come in handy quite often. For today lets just open a file and grab some data from it. Let's pick a file that everyone should have, that being your Vr configuration file \vr\hostdir\vr.cfg. Don't worry, for now we'll just open it in read only mode. In your favorite python editor or pyedi within VrOne type and run the following.


Ok, I'll admit that was a trick, it shouldn't have worked, even though everything about the command is totally correct, except that is for the backslashes "\". But wait you say, we are working in windows, and the backslash is what is always used to specify path hierarchy, and you would be correct. The problem is that the backslash is a special character in python (and several other languages, not to mention unix). Python uses a forward slash to separate path elements, or to use backslashes you have to tell python you are sending it a "raw" string and that it should not treat the backslashes as escape characters. I don't start here to be bothersome, but it is important to understand that python expects certain things and may send back something you aren't expecting if you aren't careful. Note the paste of a session where I open the file using 3 valid commands, look at what comes back, and realize that this is outside VrOne in the PythonWin editor.

First I open it with forward slashes because I grew up on unix, the forward slash is always in the same place no matter what keyboard you have, it is what python prefers, and I just like it better. I'll use "f" as the open file object and will open it, display it, and close it. The 'r' means to open it in read-only mode, we'll talk about modes later but I digress.

>>> f=open('/vr/hostdir/vr.cfg','r')
>>> f
Text describing file object which blogger deletes for some reason.
>>> f.close()

Next we'll use backslashes, but they have to be protected by another character so they aren't evaluated as an escape sequence, by coincidence the character that does this is a backslash so each occurence must be entered as
>>> f=open('\\vr\\hostdir\\vr.cfg','r')
>>> f
Text describing file object which blogger deletes for some reason.
>>> f.close()

Next we'll use the backslashes but we'll tell python that the name string is a raw string and that the backslashes shouldn't be evaluated as anything else. Just put an r in front of it and we're good to go.
>>> f=open(r'\vr\hostdir\vr.cfg','r')
>>> f
Text describing file object which blogger deletes for some reason.
>>> f.close()

It is worth noting that if you grab a filename inside Vr using either of the following, it returns forward slashes.
print PyVrGui().OpenFileNameDialog('title','c:/vr/hostdir','*.cfg')
print PyVrGui().OpenFileNameDialog('title','c:\\vr\\hostdir','*.cfg')

That will do for now. Yeah it's pretty slim, but I need to go and we'll actually read something next time. For now though it wouldn't hurt to get familiar with some of the python file methods, from the python docs. You can also get a little more information on the open function from the built-in functions docs (just scroll down to open()), this will come in handy when we move to appending, writing, and binary files.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Still breathing

Just a quick apology that with one graduating college, one high school, and another 2 with year end activities to take in, I just haven't had time to get into anything. I even know where I would like to head but will have to put it on hold for a few weeks. Check back.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Tag team programming

Not long ago I was corresponding with W. Chesson Godfrey aka Wild_Bill from the forum and he shared a little script with me. As so often happens when two people look at an issue from two different perspectives they will each solve the puzzle as it best suits their office culture. This is a little something I hadn't thought about before, which I changed to use some functions he wasn't using and shazam (is that a word) we have or workspace manager. Another reason why discussion is almost always a good thing. This stuff is just too cool.

PromBox=VrPromBox('Set Active Ws',60,1)
# The whole app revolves around a single convenient Prompt box, so create an object.
PromBox.AddMessage ("Don't change workspaces\n in the middle of a function")
# A little helpful text.
PromBox.AddCombo ('Workspaces',PyVrWs().GetWsCount(),0,0)
We'll use a ComboBox as the user interface, so create it with the
number of items set to the number of workspaces. In this case I'm not
implicitly creating a workspace object. I just use the class to call
a method. Someday I'll test to see if this method of creating a
temporary object causes memory problems in things like large loops,
but for now I'm just illustrating that you don't necessarily need to
do the Ws=PyVrWs() thing.
for WsNum in range(PyVrWs().GetWsCount()):
....PromBox.AddComboItem (PyVrWs().GetFileName (WsNum))
# For every workspace, get it's name and add it to the combo box.
if (PromBox.Display(0) == 0):
# If the user didn't hit cancel, then set the active workspace
# to match the one selected.

Get involved in the forums, there is a wealth of experience to be shared.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Utility programs 3

Ok, time flies and all, but we better get some actual working code in this thing. In post 1 all we did was create a usage string and test argv to see if anything had been passed in (in this case we don't want anything). In the second we used glob to build a list of files matching a certain extension in the directory we're working in. Eventually we could us a windows file select dialog but for now this will be a simple command line utility. Let's get right to the pertinent section then put it all together in the end. Using th same indentation as where we left off, lets replace

........print os.path.splitext(File)

which was just used to show that something was working and to illustrate os.path functions with

# Step through the list of files processing each
....for File in Filelist:
# Each file will need to be opened
# readlines() reads every line in a file, returns a list in which each member
# of the list is a line in the file, including the end of line character.
# Step through the list of lines in the open file
........for Line in FileData:
# This isn't real tricky or elegant, but it turns out that the coordinate
# positions stored in the .opp file are on lines which have an "l" as the
# second character, so let's just determine first of all if the data line
# is a coordinate
............if Line[1]=='l':
# Then if it is, the first character determines which coordinate it is.
# If it's an X, Y, or Z we'll use the split(function) to break the line
# into a list of strings, which contains the number as the second
# element, then use float() to convert it to a real number, and store it
# in the appropriate variable.
................if Line[0]=='X':
................elif Line[0]=='Y':
................elif Line[0]=='Z':
# Once we have parsed each line in the file to pull out the coordinates
# lets use some formatted printing to output the file name and values.
# Remember that "File" contains the name of the file with the extension
# so the split using the dot will give a list ['filename','extension']
# so the base name is element 1 or [0]
# Close the file and your on your way.
........print '%s %.3lf %.3lf %.3lf'%(File.split('.')[0],X,Y,Z)

so in the end after removing the modules that were only temporary, the final program looks like

import sys,glob

def usage():
....Explanation text to print if anything is entered as an argument.
....print '\nUsage: python\nThere are no arguments, it will just look in the current directory\n for files with a .opp extension, strip the coordinates out of them\n and output them to the screen\n\nListings can be redirected into a file.\n eg: python > photos.txt'

if len(sys.argv)==1:
....if Filelist==[]:
........print "There don't appear to be any .opp files in this directory"
....for File in Filelist:
........for Line in FileData:
............if Line[1]=='l':
................if Line[0]=='X':
................elif Line[0]=='Y':
................elif Line[0]=='Z':
........print '%s %.3lf %.3lf %.3lf'%(File.split('.')[0],X,Y,Z)
else: usage()

Now this just prints to the screen and would have to be redirected to a text file. For the fun of it the first modification once we know it is running would be to send it directly to a file. As always, final working code is found on my personal VrPython website.

For anyone interested in trying VrPython for the first time or if you are early in the game, I suggest going to the earliest posts and working forward. I use VrPython every day for many wonderful things, needless to say it will change and could potentially damage a file. Any risk associated with using VrPython or any code or scripts mentioned here lies solely with the end user.

The "Personal VrPython page" in the link section will contain many code examples and an organized table of contents to this blog in a fairly un-attractive (for now) form.