View Basics
User Interface
Object Types
Objects Tree
Changing Settings

User Interface
Pointools Graphical User Interface (gui) has been designed to be as simple to use as possible and offer a some ability to customise the layout to suit your requirements. Whilst the UI is not a standard Windows interface you should find most of the interface components appear and work in a familiar manner.

Most of the commands available in the application can be accessed via the Menubar

The toolbars give quick access to commonly used commands. You can collapse and expand toolbars to arrange your workspace as it suits you. To do this click on the toolbar label.

The Viewport
This is where objects are displayed graphically in 3D. As well as the OpenGL viewing area the viewport has an option bar that contains (from left to right):
* The View menu containing viewing direction, projection type options as well as access to camera manipulation tools
* The Mode menu containing navigation mode options
* A short toolbar with access to target setting, up-vector constraint, reset position and full screen commands.
In full-screen mode the viewport options bar remains visible giving access to viewport commands

Objects Browser
The objects browser displays imported objects in a tree format with additional information and a toolbar that has object related commands. You can use the vertical and horizontal scrollbars to scroll the view or the middle mouse button to pan by clicking and dragging. For more help on this see the Objects Browser section later in this chapter.

Object Properties
Displays the currently selected object's (in the Objects Browser) properties. Some of these properties are read-only information whilst others can be edited.

Animation Bar
The Animation bar consists of:
* The Animation Toolbar containing shortcuts to animation tools and options.
* The Timeline for placing and editing keys
* The Graph Editor containing shortcuts to animation tools and options.

Status Bar
The status bar displays the current command status, displays a progress bar for some operations and displays help prompts for most commands. The disk icon on the far right of the bar indicates when the data is being accessed from disk. A tooltip is also displayed here when the mouse pointer hovers over an icon in any of the toolbars.

Object Types
Pointools View can import the following types of objects:

Point Clouds
A point cloud is a large number of points in space (hence cloud) that describe an object. Typically point clouds are captured with laser scanning technology where the scanner observes and records a large number of points on the surface of an object. Point clouds can provide an accurate and often relatively efficient representation of complex forms. Point clouds can also be generated by computational methods from solid or surface geometry or extracted from photography using photogrammetry methods.

In addition to a local in space coordinate, each point may have additional properties such as reflective intensity, colour or surface normal.

Pointools is highly optimised for the display of point clouds and can handle 100's of millions of points.

Point cloud data can be imported from various files types (See Chapter 4) and exported as Pointools .pod files. Pod files are compact and enable rapid background loading of point cloud data.
Point cloud data can be exported in a number of ascii export formats, please see Chapter 4 for more details.

An example of a point cloud. Data courtesy of APR services, UK.

3D Models
The import and display of fully textured 3D Models complete with material properties and transparency is supported from a number of model common formats. Models are correctly displayed and depth clipped with cloud data or any supported other objects types.
Currently there are a number of import and display limitations:
* NURB or Sub-patch/division surfaces are not supported.
* Only UV, Planar and Box texture mapping modes are supported.
Pointools View does not support model export.

Example of a textured model

View supports the import and display of layered CAD drawing files from a DXF, DWG and SHP file formats. Most drawing primitives are supported, inlcuding lines, arcs, circles, text and dimensions. 3D solids in drawing files are not fully supported and are represented by their outlines when displayed.
Drawing export is not supported

Notes can be attached to objects within the workspace providing a convenient way to annotate a scene. Currently there are no import format for notes.
Notes can be exported as a text (csv) or HTML file.

Objects Tree
Objects in the workspace are managed via the objects browser. The interface is shown below. The entire panel can be collapsed and expanded using the vertical bar to the right of the panel. This can be useful to give a larger viewport area.

To select an object click on the object in the tree. To select multiple objects hold down Shift whilst clicking. The icons along the top perform actions on the currently selected objects. Not all the commands work on all object types. For example 3D models can not be exported. The diamond in the left column controls visibility of the object and all objects in its branch. The tree view can be scrolled by using the vertical and horizontal scrollbars or by panning with the middle mouse button held down, or by using the mouse wheel.

Import Objects
See Chapter 4 Importing Objects
Export Selected
Export the selected objects to a file. This command will only work on objects types that can be exported.
Remove Selected
Removes the selected intems from the project. This can also be also be achieved by selecting the objects you want to remove and pressing the delete key.
Zoom to Selected
Zooms the view to the selected object/s. This can be useful for locating objects.
Zoom to Origin
Zooms the view from the origin of the selected object's coordinate system. This can be useful to view a scan cloud from its origin if this information is available.

The navigation controls are accessed through the View toolbar shown below: The default navigation mode in Pointools is the combined navigation mode. Whist using some tools the navigation of the viewport is locked. This is to prevent unintended movement of the view and in most cases can be overridden by use of the Alt key. Note that selecting a navigation mode does not drop the current tool.
The zoom mode moves the viewer towards or away from the view target. This is a hybrid zoom that uses the field-of-view to zoom in closer when you become close to the target. Whilst in this mode hold the Left Mouse Button down and drag down to zoom in and up to zoom out.
Hold the Left Button down and drag in the direction you want to pan the viewer. In perspective projection, panning occurs at the target distance, so a target further away will cause a larger pan.
The mode menu of the viewport controls the what is rotated. In Explore mode the camera is rotated instead of the scene around the target. The gives the feeling of 'walking' or exploring the scene as a viewer in the scene.

In Light Direction mode the light source is rotated around the centre. Note this is a parallel beam light source conceptually at infinity so that only the direction is rotated. The light source direction is shown by an arrow in the viewport.

In Examine mode (default) the viewer is rotated around the target. The effect of this is as if you are rotating the scene in your hand to look at it from different angles. This is constrained to rotation around the current up axis. The current up axis is indicated by the high-lighted pole of the axes icon in the viewport. For example the axes below show the z axis as the up axis.

You can release this constraint by un-selecting the constrain to axis icon on the top right of the viewport shown below.

Releasing the up-axis constraint gives an arcball rotation mode. This mode may be more suitable for viewing complex unoriented models. Clicking the icon again sets the up-axis to the currently most upright axis.

To rotate hold down the Left Mouse Button and drag.
The combined mode gives full navigation via a 3 button mouse:
View Target
The target of the view can be set by clicking the target icon on the top right of the viewport shown below. The mouse cursor changes to a crosshair. Left click on any point of any object in the viewport to centre the view on that point. Alternatively you can use the X key whilst the cursor is hovering over the point you want to set as the target. This affects the target of Rotation and Panning.

Changing Settings
You can open the Settings box by:

* Selecting the Tools | Settings menu item
* Using the S keyboard shortcut or
* Clicking on the Settings icon in the Settings toolbar shown below

This opens the settings dialog (shown below). If you have installed additional plugins you may have extra options available than those shown.

The top row gives access to options for the various object types. The second row of tabs give access to the various option groups for that object type.

Note that navigation in the viewport is not available whilst the settings window is open.

Click Cancel to return all settings to their previous state and close the dialogue, or OK to accept changes. Some changes are previewed dynamically as you change values but will still return to their previous state if you select Cancel

General Settings
These settings take effect globally and are independent of object type.
Display Tab
Frame Rate
Sets the frame rate that Pointools should try to achieve when navigating around objects. This is the frames displayed by second of movement. Pointools achieves higher frame rates by intelligent reduction of the data being displayed.
Overall Bounding Box
If checked Pointools draws an axis-aligned bounding box of all the visible data currently in the project.
Object Bounding Box
If checked Pointools draws an axis-aligned bounding box around each object in the project.
If checked Pointools draws the axis icon in the bottom left of the viewport.
If checked Pointools draws a 2D grid in the z-plane the size of the bounding box at z=0.
Viewport Background
Sets the primary background colour of the viewport.
Viewport Background 2
Sets the secondary background colour of the viewport. This is the colour at the bottom of the viewport used with the gradient viewport option.
Grid Colour
Sets the colour of the grid.
Gradient Backdrop
Renders the backdrop as a gradient from the background colour at the top to background colour 2 at the bottom of the viewport.
Walk Speed
Controls the speed of walking with the arrow keys.
Refresh Using
Sets the method that is used to refresh the viewport when a window is moved over the viewport area. The following options are available:
Block Transfer / Copy Swap
This uses the contents of the backbuffer which are intact after drawing the view. This is the prefered option. To use this option you must enable 'Block Transfer' buffer flipping mode in your graphics card driver settings. This is also called 'Copy Swap' by some vendors.
Copy Pixels
This method imitates the Block Transfer method by taking a copy of the buffer. This method should work on all systems and does not require any options to be set in your graphics driver.
Don't Use
This option forces a full redraw if the view is damaged by a window on top of the viewport. This method is works on all systems but will result in a slow refresh.
Stereo Tab
Please see Chapter 13 on Stereoscopic Viewing for details on these settings