Camera Thumbnails

In the previous version of the administrator tool, we relied heavily on camera thumbnails. In the newest version, we have opted for a more compact tree control. We experimented with thumbnails in the tree, but the UI started to look more like an abstract painting. Sometimes you need a little visual reminder though, so we added a thumbnail panel.

In the lower left corner of any camera picker control, you will see a little triangle. The triangle pops the panel that shows a thumbnail, the camera label, and any comment you may have associated with the camera.

Here’s how it works.

Small Improvements to Ocularis Administrator

You can skip this semi-commercial plug, you have been warned!

In the view designer we added a control that allows you to create on-the-fly search filters. The way it works is that you can enter a wildcard, and then store that wildcard for future use. Sounds lame, but it works pretty good.

Imagine you have a list of cameras named like so :

  • Courtyard South
  • Courtyard North
  • Entrance South
  • Entrance North

As you type – say Courtyard – the list will be filtered to have just cameras that matches that string. Now, you don’t want to enter that string over and over again, so you can click “store”, and you’ve instantly created a filter group. If you then, later, rename or add a camera and the camera contains the word “courtyard”, you will be able to find it in your filter group.

Here’s a little video of the feature in use (in a very small system)


The match is a simple wildcard match. One might think that Regex would be a much better offering. Regex not only offers matching, but also parsing of strings into match groups. We use Regex internally to parse video URI’s etc, because we need the different parts of the string (http://, localhost, 80, /Server1 for example). For most (not all) users regex would simply make the experience quite frustrating and error prone.

As an example of a regular expression, here’s how you match a dotted IP.


Aspect Ratio Test

Bad aspect, clearly not 4:3


Let’s use 4:3

I am naturally exaggerating here. My point is that a categorical statement that 4:3 is better than 16:9 is nonsense. You should not blindly pick 16:9 just because it is there, in many cases the 16:9 format is simply the 4:3 image cropped. Case in point:

This is the exact same image, I just threw away the sky. In many cases, this is what happens when a 4:3 sensor provides a 16:9 frame. ¬†Perhaps you don’t want to save all those pixels of the sky, and you are not going to get a higher horizontal resolution anyway, so why not chose 16:9. I personally think it looks pretty good.