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Sunday, January 23rd, 2011, 3:02 pm

Making My Latest Program (Cardiomat) MD-Ready

By sacrificing the comfort of the command-line interface (CLI)

Over the past few days I’ve been repackaging one of my programs such that it becomes easier to install and more user-friendly once installed. The program works in both MATLAB (proprietary software) and Octave (Free/libre software) and it now has a GUI and a name, which I arbitrarily and hastily named “Cardiomat”. Directory selection dialogues and some other user interface features are missing from Octave, so the code has become filled with some conditional statements so that it serves each user, no matter the choice of interpreters (proprietary or Free).

There are mixed feelings whenever time is dedicated to making a GUI. When a program is scriptable in the command-line sense, then it is a lot more flexible to the user and piping I/O is a lot simpler. To a new user, however, this can prove baffling. The GUI and splash screen may be necessary for medical doctors (and radiologists) to use, but it removes a lot of the power of the program, which can really end up incorporating both. When I created a 3-D othello game I made a command-line option available too as this enabled me to run simulations (e.g. game engines playing against one another) overnight, saving the results to files. With a GUI-only approach this is not possible. All my other scientific programs also had CLI interfaces which overrode or replaced the GUI. The conclusion of this whole matter is that no matter how much people like to vilify CLI ‘hackers’, those who embrace the CLI are usually in a position of advantage, especially where research is concerned. The Windows mindset requires people to repeatedly run tasks from GUIs, whereas the use of the CLI can automate all of this and provide more flexibility (I use vi as the editor for programming, still). The GUI is an area where MATLAB and Octave diverge somewhat, so here too there is a problem of universaility breaking. When one strictly sticks to the command line, there are universal interfaces and more a unified language, which tend to break if abstraction is taken that involves graphical interfaces (may also be platform dependent).

Anyway, the program can now handle anything including .bmp files and DICOM, with ginput handling image coordinate extraction (albeit bugs in Octave prevent it from working properly) and with a CLI option/fallback the program still performs the tasks it needs to. I will upload all the final source code shortly (I am the only developer, so there has been no repository yet). In future posts I am going to write about my next project and my next program, which will deal with 3-D face recognition (a departure from my current work on medical, intra-body imaging).

I’ve not been writing about my programming work for quite a few years (my detractors love to dig and smear me for my coding or my job), but I may try to carry on blogging about it. Here are some new screenshots:

Cardiomat directory selection

Cardiomat directory menus

2 Responses to “Making My Latest Program (Cardiomat) MD-Ready”

  1. Scott Tobkes Says:

    very interesting and btw…Twitter is great but I’m glad to see your blog is alive and well.

  2. Roy Schestowitz Says:

    It has become harder to find reasons to use it.

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