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Successful branching strategies and commit policies for SVN/GIT

I remember reading a CVS book back in 2002 or so. It had a quote saying “coding without a versioning system is like parachuting without a parachute”. I always liked this quote as it captured what an essential role version control plays in programming. The world has changed a lot since then. Now almost everyone uses a GIT or SVN as the integration into IDEs has gotten standard and sites like GitHub make it easier than ever. The problem with it is the fact that simply having a version control system (VCS) is only part of the solution: one also has to have the right mindset and policies in place to use it effectively because otherwise, one may very well have a parachute but keep fighting with it as one gets tangled in the ropes.

This is a short guide that presents best practices on working with a version control system. It is primarily motivated by all the companies I have visited or worked at where the VCS had gone awry at some point and of course those where it worked like a charm. I assume that the reader is familiar with the basic concepts of a commit or branch and has actively worked with a VCS such as SVN or GIT.

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Panorama

Creating 360 panoramas using PtGui and Affinity Photo

Well, here is something I wanted to do for a long time: create my own surroundings. And the first step for this is of course to create a 360/180 panorama image to use as an env-map. After some unsuccessful first attempts, I finally managed to get a decent result. So here are a couple of tips for anyone else trying to do this.

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Switzerland reconstruction of postal code regions using Openstreetmap

Reconstruction of postal code areas using Openstreetmap

As a quick side project, I’ve started working on the problem that postal code area information in Openstreetmap is often insufficient. Why? Because it’s a nice show case of how flexible the Core SDK is, allows me to stress test the 2D / orthogonal handling code paths and it is a good opportunity to potentially contribute to this great, crowd sourced project.

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Metashape Architecture Renderlayout

Explaining the Render Layout Sub-System in Core SDK

The render layout sub-system in Core SDK is one of its central features. It helps compose multiple views or multiple output displays to a single consistent layout and is one of the reason why the SDK is so versatile. But it also helps managing input mapping and other aspects such as stereoscopic VR/AR rendering. Here is how:

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Shield model with diffuse, normal and specular map

Normal and Specular Map Support

After adding FBX support the other week, there was yet another reason to finally add support for normal and specular maps. While it’s still not physically-based-rendering but a simple Phong lighting model, it’s still a nice improvement to the overall image quality and helped developing some further multipurpose code.

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FBX Import Test

Adding FBX Support

FBX has gotten quite a high adaption rate over the years. I had shied away from adding support for it because there is no official spec, only unofficial bits and pieces like the document the Blender foundation published a while ago. There is the official FBX SDK but it is in binary form only. However, it seemed to be the most viable option to be able to handle all the different versions the format had over the years.

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Trac Logo

Setting up TRAC on macOS

For those who haven’t heard of it yet, TRAC is an open source combination of a ticket and a wiki system mixed with version control integration written in Python. It’s great for organising work especially in small to mid-size development teams but due to the large number of plug-ins and its incredible plug-in API, one can even customise it to cover other aspects of a business. I had meant to write a blog post about it for a while, mostly as a cheat sheet for myself or as a reference to point others to. Since I had to move my personal TRAC to a new machine it is the perfect occasion to write it down for once. So here goes …

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Second update video on tessellation posted

The second instalment in the dev update videos has just been published. In the last couple of weeks, work has mostly been focused around improving the tessellation quality and algorithm robust with some nice results. ISO-lines are now weighted higher than trim curve tessellation which results in a much nicer topological flow.

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Monthly Status Update Video

There hasn’t been much news lately as we have spent the time on improving tessellation quality and optimizing low-level NURBS functionality. So instead, here is the first in a monthly series of videos that will keep you in touch with what is going on inside our operation. Enjoy!

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Sunglassed with and without ground shadow

Simple Ground Shadow Baking

Shadows add a lot of realism to renderings. After having done a lot of internal refactoring and ground work for future features, I wanted to add something that improves the image quality but doesn’t delay too much from the actual topics I have to work on. Hence the idea of adding a simple, pre-baked ground shadow.

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