Image Tools
Image database browsing + manipulation.

Because so much of our work is visual Design MatriX has a large library of images. In order to help us find and manipulate these images we have developed an application, written in the Interactive Data Language (IDL) from Exelis (formerly Research Systems Inc.), which incorporates many of the image processing and user interface features we developed in the ISOON project for the US Air Force. Essentially it combines the functionality of a browser and a photo/paint program like PhotoShop, PaintShop Pro or GIMP. But whereas a web browser's forward and back buttons navigate pages in the browser's history file, Image Tool's browser buttons navigate images in directories (or "folders") which serve as "image databases" on the computer's file system.

These links will display some major interface features and example photo manipulations created with Image Tools.

Image Tools Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Image Tools widgets || Image Tools filter panel

Example Image Processing

Original satellite shot || Embossed features || Color table highlighting trees || 16-color vegetation map
Image Tools widgets

In addition to the features shown the Menu Bar includes:
File: New Window, Duplicate Window, Open Image, Open Log, Save, Save As, Print, Printer Setup, Close Window, Exit
Edit: Annotate, Undo, Redo, Cut, Copy, Paste.
View: All of the settings in the Filter Panel plus Refresh, Zoom In, Zoom Out, Zoom To, Flip, Mirror, Rotate, Flicker.
Options: Tool Bar, Image Window, Status Bar, Coordinates, Filter Panel Histogram, Header, Preferences, Color Table, Color Settings, (intensity, contrast, saturation), Sharpen Settings.
Go: First, Back, Forward, Last, Last Viewed.

Image Tools filter panel

The Filter Panel check boxes toggle filters with their current settings (if any). Checked filters are applied to each image loaded with the File → Open Image menu item, the Go menu items, or the browser buttons in the tool bar until they are turned off.

All of these can also be toggled in the View menu hierarchy, but the Filter Panel provides a much more convenient interactive way to turn them on and off. The Filter Panel and View menu items communicate so that turning a filter on or off in one turns it on or off in the other.

The Internal Colors filter toggles between the image's own color table and the one in effect selected by the Options → Color Table widget.

Original satellite shot

This is the original "True Color" (24-bit) satellite photo of an area in Missouri.

Embossed features

By applying the Emboss Edges tool, the man-made structures pop out. This tool is implemented in Image Tools as a convolution filter.

Color table highlighting trees

This is the result of what might be thought of as a "tree finder" tool. A special 8-bit color table is applied to replace the shades of grey. Darker shades go from black to dark green to light green, then lighter shades go from dark orange to lighter orange to white. Since the darkest features happen to be trees and bushes, they are green and the rest are shades of orange. The gravel is the lightest so it falls in the white range. Notice that even the individual trees and bushes along the driveway and in the yard are green.

16-color vegetation map

This replaces the shades of grey with a table of 16 different colors. This way the hundreds of different grey level pixels get "clipped" into 16 levels, each replaced by a color. Then the result is overplotted by a thin black line between the colors (by the Outline Edges tool). In effect this automatically turns the photo into a map where the different colors correspond to different types of vegetation. Theoretically one could roughly calculate areas of land use by summing the pixels of different colors, e.g., the greens and blues to measure the amount of woods.

image tools widgets
image tools filter panel

Many of these image processing tools are implemented as convolution filters and alpha blending routines written by Design MatriX

aerial photograph
embossed features
color table highlighting trees
16-color map

Future Enhancements

Image Tools is perfectly suited for organizations that have large libraries or databases of images such as:
Design MatriX is continuing to develop new features for Image Tools, such as drawing and rendering functions typically found in photo/paint programs. While this may sound like "reinventing the wheel" it's not! Here's why:
  1. IDL is a cross-platform language so (except for rarely having to interact directly with the OS and its file system) essentially it's a "write once run everywhere" language like Java.
  2. IDL can do things - such as complex image and data analysis - that the typical photo/paint program cannnot.
  3. By carefully writing modular code we are able to plug in and plug out features and functions specifically targeted to different needs.


Contact us for your other IDL software design needs too!
Image Tools was developed for our own internal use and is not yet a commercially available product. However, our experience with IDL and the code used in Image Tools could easily be utilized in your IDL applications.

To get help designing and implementing your IDL applications call Design Matrix at (310) 455 3107 or Joint projects with other IDL consultants and developers are welcome.