Getting Started with PadDraw

Getting Started with PadDraw

Jonathan Meyer, April 1997


PadDraw is a zoomable drawing application written using the Pad++ widget. It shares a lot of features with Adobe Illustrator (and other similar drawing programs), but in addition it supports smooth real-time zooming of graphics, and it has a number of effects and tools that are useful for constructing interesting presentations and multimedia content.

Unfortunately, the documentation on PadDraw is still rather sparse, and there is as yet no user guide. We are working on one of these.

This document gives some brief instructions to help you get started with PadDraw. It is aimed at people who are comfortable with using graphical user interfaces and computer drawing packages.

If you have used other drawing applications, many of the features in PadDraw will be familiar to you. We aim to produce more comprehensive documentation on PadDraw-specific features.

Main Window

You start PadDraw by typing paddraw to the Unix command prompt:

  unix% paddraw
When you start PadDraw, you should see a main Window that looks like:

(Your window is probably larger than this!)

The main window is divided into three areas - the menubar across the top, the work area, and the status line across the bottom.

Menu Bar

Across the top of the main window is a menubar. Below you can see a snapshot of one of the menus (the "Tools" menu) being activated:

We will come back to the menu bar later in this document. First, lets try drawing some shapes.

Drawing Tools

You can draw shapes using tools on the drawing tools palette. Choose "Drawing" from the "Tools" menu to make this palette available. The following diagram shows the tools on the drawing tools palette.

Trying them out

Try drawing a freehand line. Choose "Drawing" from the "Tools" menu, then click on the curvy line (or "Freehand") tool. Now move your mouse pointer into the main work area, press the left mouse button and drag the mouse with the left mouse button held down. A freehand shape should appear. Release the left mouse button to stop drawing.

When you release the left mouse button, PadDraw automatically switches to the Selection tool (the top right icon on the drawing tools palette) and selects the object. You can see when objects are selected because they are shown with small resize handles around the object. You can use these resize handles to adjust the size of the object.

To unselect the object, click on some unused drawing space. Alternatively, switch to the Pan tool (the top left icon on the drawing tools palette), or to another drawing tool.

Try out some of the other shape tools - e.g. the rectangle tool or the oval tool.

Zooming In PadDraw

A significant difference between PadDraw and other drawing applications is that zooming controls are bound to mouse buttons. PadDraw has the following mouse bindings:

Left mouse button
The action performed by this button depends on the tool that is currently active (see "Drawing Tools" above), and on the object that the mouse is over.

Middle mouse button
Zooms in.

Right mouse button
Zooms out.

On a system with a two button mouse, pushing both buttons together at the same time simulates the middle mouse button (i.e. left button is mode dependent, right button zooms out, left+right button together zooms in.

The zoom-in and zoom-out buttons can be used to either zoom a whole view or individual objects.

When nothing is selected, the zoom buttons zoom the whole view.

If you have selected some objects using the selection tool, the zoom buttons zoom just those objects.

Trying it Out

First draw some shapes using the drawing tools.

Then click on the Pan tool in the drawing tools palette (the top left icon). Then move your pointer into the main window.

If you get lost

If you want to return to a known location, choose "Navigation" from the "Tools" menu. Then click on "Go Home". This takes you to PadDraw's initial starting view.

In PadDraw, a particular view of the world is described using three numbers: the x coordinate of the center of the view, the y coordinate of the center of the view, and a zoom factor. For example, the home location in PadDraw is "0 0 1" - i.e the center of the screen is the coordinate 0, 0 and things are shown at magnification factor 1 (i.e. everything is 1:1 - not magnified at all).

If you click on "Get View" in the Navigation Tools window, you can see the coordinates of the current view in the main window. For example, try zooming in a little, then push Get View. You will notice that the third number is larger - indicating that you are magnifying things. Now zoom out and click on Get View. The third number is smaller - you are shrinking things.

You can also type three numbers into the text box beside the "Get View" button. When you type in three numbers and hit return, PadDraw navigates the main window to show the view that you asked for.

Menu Operations

Below you will find some brief notes on each of the menus in PadDraw. We encourage you to experiment - there are many little features in PadDraw that we haven't had time to document.

Options on this menu let you save the current contents of the PadDraw main window to a file, and restore previously saved PadDraw sessions from a file. You also use this menu to import images and HTML documents into PadDraw.

The "Starting view" sub-menu option on the File menu is used to tell PadDraw what view to show users when a file is first opened.

This menu provides the usual Cut/Copy/Paste/Delete operations, and a limited Undo facility.

Each objects in PadDraw has a stacking order - objects can be in front of or behind other objects. The Arrange menu lets you change the stacking order by raising or lowering objects that are currently selected with the Selection tool. The Arrange menu

is also used to group and ungroup objects.

If you select an object and choose "Lock", it will become locked - this means that in future you will not be able to select the object using the Selection tool. You can use "Unlock All" to make all objects selectable again. The "Hide" option allows you to temporarily hide the objects that are selected. Use "Show All" to make all hidden objects visible again.

This menu provides options for modifying properties of drawn shapes in PadDraw. We won't go through each option, but instead list two important submenus:

The "Fade" submenu lets you set fade points on objects. Select a drawn shape, and then choose "Fade" / "When smaller". When you zoom out the object will disappear. Zoom back in again and the object reappears. Now select another shape and choose the "Fade" / "When larger" option. Now when you zoom in the object will fade out, and zooming out again will make the object reappear.

The "Sticky" submenu lets you create sticky objects. Select an object, then choose "Sticky" / "Sticky". Now click on the Pan tool and try panning the view - notice that the sticky object does not pan and zoom with the rest of the objects, but instead remains 'stuck' to the glass. Select the object and choose "Sticky" / "Unsticky" to make the object behave normally again.

The tools menu gives you access to the various tool windows in PadDraw. We leave it to you to experiment with the tool windows. You should look in particular at Drawing tools, Color tools, and Preferences.

This menu contains options used by the development team to debug and test PadDraw.

We've populated this menu with various tests and demos that we use during presentations. You should at least try the Web Pages, the Poetry and the Chart Lens (slide the lenses over the data charts by dragging their title bars). You may have to restart PadDraw after some of these demos.

The starts of a help menu.

More on the Drawing Tools

As well as the fairly standard drawing tools, the drawing tools palette contains several more novel tools which we describe briefly below. We've also included some other notes that we think you will find useful.

Browse/Pan tool
The pan tool (shown with a hand on the tool palette) lets you pan the surface. But note that you also use the pan tool to click on active objects such as hyperlinks and buttons.

Portal tool
The portal tool (the second tool down on the left hand column) lets you draw out portals. Portals act as additional views onto the Pad surface. To create a portal, first click on the portal tool in the tool palette to make it the current tool. Then move the pointer into the main window, press the left mouse button, and drag the mouse with the left button held down. A portal (which looks like a rectangular shape with a 3D border) should appear. Release the left mouse button when the portal is the desired size.

You can pan and zoom inside a portal independently of the main view. Choose the pan tool, move your mouse inside the portal's border, and try panning or zooming. You should find that you can pan or zoom inside the portal without changing the main window's view.

Hyperlink tool
The Hyperlink tool (the second tool down on the right hand column) lets you create a link between a source object and a destination object. First click on the hyperlink tool to make it the current tool. Then click on the source object. Finally click on a destination object. A yellow highlight line should be shown between the two objects.

To try out the hyperlink, switch back to the pan tool. Then move the pointer over the source object and click. The Pad surface should pan and zoom so that the destination object fills the screen.

You can also use the hyperlink tool to link to a source object to a particular view. Click on the hyperlink tool to activate it. Then click on the source object. Navigate to the view you want as the destination view (e.g. by panning or zooming) and hit the space bar. The object is now linked to that view. Return to the pan tool and click on the source object - the view should change to show the destination view.

Text tool
The text tool lets you create new text objects. Simply click on the text tool to make it the current tool, then click on an blank space in the PadDraw main window. A text cursor appears, and you can now type in text. The text editor uses emacs-like keybindings.

To edit text, first click on the text tool to make it the current tool. Then move your mouse pointer over the text object you want to edit and click on the object. A text cursor will appear, and you can insert or delete text characters.

Where to go From Here

If you want to learn about programming Pad++, see and

You can also visit our web page at

Please feel free to experiment, and send any feedback or comments to

April 1997

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