2.4 Released: More Vector Graphics

Version 2.4 Screenshot

Version 2.4 of the vector graphics system is released. Some notes:

  • Use the new PointText class to create text objects that are positioned relative to a point. Adjust the relative position using the TextAppearance HorizontalAlignment and VerticalAlignment properties.
  • You can now draw all text, including text in Shapes and PointText, with an outline Stroke. We added a Stroke property to the TextAppearance class. Control Stroke visibility using the new StrokeVisible property.
  • Use the new Active Group mode in the designer to work on Elements within a Group. Previously, you had to UnGroup, or select Elements by name, in order to work on child Elements in a Group. Now you can make the Group “active”, which allows you to select and work with the Group children as if they were not Grouped. This mode prevents you from inadvertently selecting Elements outside the Group, so you can focus all work on the Group. New Elements and Elements pasted from the clipboard all go into the Active Group.
  • Derive from the new CustomElement base class to create Elements with custom rendering code.
  • Use the new layout commands in the designer to adjust alignment, spacing, and centering of Elements. You can use all the commands on the Layout toolbar.
  • We added numerous other features and bug fixes. Read the installed Readme document for more information. The Users Guide documents all new designer features, including new keyboard control during selection operations.

In the following sections I discuss two new features, PointText and Active Group mode.

Positioning PointText

When you select a PointText, you will see a small blue diamond with a black edge:

Location Adornment on PointText

This is the Location adornment, marking the point specified by the Location property.

Unlike other Element types, the Location of a PointText does not specify the position of the upper left corner. Instead, Location specifies a point around which the PointText is positioned. Change the TextAppearance HorizontalAlignment and VerticalAlignment properties to adjust the position of a PointText relative to its Location. In this illustration, HorizontalAlignment is set to Near:

Active Group Mode

You may need to select and modify child Elements within a Group using the mouse. The Group will be destroyed if you use UnGroup to access the Elements. Active Group mode allows you to access the child Elements while leaving the Group intact.

When the Picture Designer is in Active Group mode, you can select and manipulate Elements with the mouse the same way you would operate on any Element at the top level of the Picture.

Make a Group active using one of these methods:

  • Click on the Change Active Group combo box in the Drawing Toolbar and select the Name of the Group.

  • Select the Group and invoke the "Make Active Group" command on the right-click context menu<.

The current Active Group is indicated by a dashed red rectangle called the Active Group adornment:

Note If you wish to create a new, empty Group and immediately make it active, select the "New Group..." command from the Change Active Group combo box. You will be prompted for a name for the new Group (which can be left blank), the new Group will be created, and made active:

To Exit Active Group Mode

Use one of these methods to exit Active Group mode:

  • Choose "(none)" from the Change Active Group combo box on the Drawing Toolbar:

  • Choose the Exit Active Group command from the right-click context menu:

Working within an Active Group

By making a Group active, you can focus work on a sub-set of Picture Elements:

  • Only Elements within the Group can be selected with the mouse.
  • You can select Elements by clicking or by using a lasso.
  • If you create new Elements, they will go into the active Group. You can create new Elements created using the Toolbox, using Copy and Paste, or by performing a Control-drag on an Element. You can also Paste copies of Elements external to the Group, by copying them to the clipboard before making the Group active.
  • You can manipulate Elements in any way you would normally manipulate them.

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