Better late than never

I have an embarrassing amount of source code that I haven’t released. Little projects that I started but never finished. Or worse, project that were finished but never tested. I like to pick through my pile of detritus every so often to see if anything is worth bringing back to life. Last month I did so for two projects.

Project 1: Stencil iterators. Way back during my PhD, I wrote a C++ class for storing a binary image stencil with run-length encoding. It performed well but was a big pain to use. I started working on an iterator-style interface for it to address its usability issues but (ah, yes) ran out of time and had to move on to other things. Now, six years later, I finally got back to it, and converted four VTK image processing filters so that they use it. I also took my old python code for generating image stencils from contours, and converted it to C++. And as soon as I had done so, a grad student in Vancouver started using it. Progress!

Project 2: MNI file formats. I use several file formats that were developed by the Brain Imaging Centre at the Montreal Neurological Institute. Some of the software that I've shipped uses these file formats, too. For the past four years, though, the code that I wrote for these formats was sitting around unused. Well, I finally started working that that old data again, so I thought it would be worthwhile to spend a few days cleaning up the code and releasing it. Now VTK has a vtkMNIObjectReader/Writer (for anatomical geometry like brain surfaces), a vtkMNITransformReader/Writer (for image-to-image transformations), and a vtkMNITagPointReader/Writer (for dataset labelling).

All of these have just barely come in under the wire for the upcoming VTK 5.8 release. It's nice to see the kids leave the nest.