[GRASS-dev] d.m/d.gis mysteries..

Michael Barton michael.barton at asu.edu
Sun Oct 29 13:46:59 EST 2006

Three years ago, I had no idea that TclTk even existed, much less had any
idea of what it did or how to create an interface in the language. Although
computer-saavy and a GIS user, I had virtually no programming experience
beyond database application development in xbase.

I had just started working with GRASS after doing GIS in other platforms for
many years. I wrote Markus Neteler an email saying how impressed I was with
GRASS, but noting that the interface was problematic because many commands
were missing, others were duplicated, and the whole menu system was rather
confusingly arranged.

He wrote me back a brief and polite reply, pointing out that this was an
open source project that depended on volunteers to make it work. He then
suggested that if I thought the GUI should be better, perhaps I should
volunteer to do something about it. I mulled this over for several months,
but eventually tried to follow Markus' advice.

As many have noted, d.zoom has a number of complications because of the way
it changes the computational region. Some like it's mouse interface while
others find it confusing. It's written in C, so I  have no idea how it

There are much more serious issues about continuing to require a xmonitor
interface for further developing a GRASS GUI and porting it to Windows. So I
took up the challenge to rewrite the whole interface so that it no longer
depended on x11. This has come to about 18,000 lines of code. I am aware of
my limitations as a programmer and grateful for the help I've received, but
have pretty much done this on my own though painful hours of trial and

D.m will be preserved in GRASS 6.2, and 6.2 will be available for an unknown
time into the future (GRASS 4.x is still archived and available for
downloads). So you can simply use the old interface if you prefer it.
However, I simply do not have time to actively maintain d.m, gis.m, and
develop wxPython.

I'll reiterate what Markus told me three years ago. I'm doing all that I can
with the skills, resources, and time at my disposal. If this is very
important to you, then the best thing you can do is to learn TclTk
programming and work to improve it.


Michael Barton, Professor of Anthropology
School of Human Evolution & Social Change
Center for Social Dynamics & Complexity
Arizona State University

phone: 480-965-6213
fax: 480-965-7671
www: http://www.public.asu.edu/~cmbarton

> From: Maciej Sieczka <tutey at o2.pl>
> Date: Sun, 29 Oct 2006 19:16:28 +0100
> To: Michael Barton <michael.barton at asu.edu>
> Cc: Moritz Lennert <mlennert at club.worldonline.be>, Hamish
> <hamish_nospam at yahoo.com>, <grass-dev at grass.itc.it>
> Subject: Re: [GRASS-dev] d.m/d.gis mysteries..
> Michael, and All,
> Please don't take it as an offence, but I must not agree. GRASS is not
> "a drawing program". Region settings is one the most crucial things
> about GRASS. Somehow d.zoom is pretty much reliable in regard to what
> you see vs actuall region settings, while gis.m is not. In gis.m I
> never know whether WISIWIG. So either gis.m zoom tools are at least
> that good, or don't call it a stable, reliable replacement for d.zoom
> (which it aspires to be, obvioulsy).

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