New release and a new UI


The newest version of Photosynth is now live. There's nothing earth shattering in it (we're still hard at work on that). I did want to let you all know about some of the more noticeable changes, though.


You'll see that the new, cleaner UI looks like this:


All the controls are still here, starting from the left with the transport controls: Back, Play, Next


In the center is the navigation disk. I think it's easier to use the white quads in the scene to navigate, but a lot of people still like the arrows.


Next to that of course are the zoom buttons, followed by help (more about that later) and then the view control and full screen.


The view control is our biggest change. On hover it looks like this:


It allows quick access to the different ways of viewing a synth: the normal 3D (synth) view, Overhead view, the 2D photo grid and the Point Cloud only view. This is also the first time we've had a UI control to get to the Point Cloud only view!




We've seen firsthand that many people don't know what to do with Photosynth when they encounter it. The help panel is our initial take at addressing the problem. Since Photosynth is still new to many, we thought it would be good to have some of the basic controls explained right away.


Yes, it comes up on load, and I know many of you will hate me for it. Just select 'Don’t Show Again' and you won't be bothered by it again.


Zooming Performance

The last change you might notice is the improved download of imagery when you zoom. We made some changes to our download queues so that images resolve faster when you zoom in to see the details.



Happy Synthing and look for more announcements here soon!



Comments (10)

  1. Jeff Alu says:

    Awesome update.  Love the clean new interface. Great work!

  2. Love the new controls! Gotta show these to my team – maybe we can adopt some of this 🙂

    Cheers, Daniel (Seadragon)

  3. Jacek Odrowaz Lukaszewski says:

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  4. Nate Lawrence says:

    I just noticed that the Geotag icon was updated as well to reflect a more 3D look. Nice work, guys!

    The updated arrow nav reminds me of the Virtual Earth pan control. Have you considered that sort of approach (allowing continuously keeping the mouse button down on top of the compass and sliding in the direction of the nearest quadrant, rather than being confined only to clicking on the arrow icons)?

  5. Nate Lawrence says:

    I also notice that the pointcloud rendering has been changed again since the first version of the Silverlight 3 viewer. This release is a lot smoother in that respect.

    Another little nicety is the left and right arrows for object rotation highlighting independently of each other to aid in helping people understanding what the situation is.

  6. At first, I really liked the new look, but then I discovered that

    there is no longer an up and down function, without dragging

    on the image.  The old forward / back and up/right/down/left

    buttons were just as easy to use and had full functionality.  I hate when upgrades reduce capability.  Otherwise things seem

    pretty good.

  7. Nate Lawrence says:

    Gary W. Sherwin,

    I’ll grant you that the icons are gone, but the functionality remains.

    Use the [I] and [O] keys for moving forward and back (in other words In and Out) and use the arrow cursor keys for [Left], [Right], [Up], and [Down].

    For more shortcut keys download the Photosynth Photography Guide here:

    Actually, there’s also a version of it here on the blog:

  8. Brendon Morgan says:

    I do really like the new viewer don’t get me wrong, but I really hope that the older Direct3D viewer will be updated as there is still a large performance gap between the two viewers.

    This is mainly apparent in the point cloud still, with far less points being loaded and being loaded a lot slower in the Silverlight viewer.

    So I really hope that the new features that you have brought to the Silverlight viewer will soon be appearing in an updated Direct3D viewer!

    It would be sad if the best way to view photosynth was an out of date depreciated viewer. Looking forward to it.

  9. Nate Lawrence says:

    @Brendon Morgan,

    Development of the Direct3D Photosynth viewer was indeed discontinued as far back as the beginning of the year.

    The superior performance that loading calculations onto the GPU provides is the only reason whatsoever that the Direct3D viewer continues to be provided as a fallback option until real hardware acceleration is introduced into Silverlight. (Think Silverlight 4 or Silverlight 5 for that sort of scenario. SL4 should release around 2010 June.) At whatever point Silverlight is allowed access to video cards, you can be very nearly certain that the Direct3D viewer will be history, although you shouldn’t care at that point, since Silverlight will then be just as fast as the Direct3D viewer ever was.

  10. Nate is right about the fact that we are no longer working on the Direct3D viewer.

    We work closely with the Silverlight team, and they are indeed on a path to put a little more 3D acceleration into each successive release of SL. However — Photosynth is one of the very few Web applicaitons that would benefit from hardware accelerated point rendering, and we are not expecting Silverlight to provide that anytime soon. On the other hand, point-rendering in the CPU (which we do on our SL viewer now) is completely parellelizable. We already use two threads for it, and in the future will use as many as there are cores in the machine. Translation: we’re hoping to approach D3D’s point rendering on the fastest machines.

    David Gedye. Photosynth Group Program Manager

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