CoAX TIE Visualization: Icon Specifications


This document applies to version 0.56 of Anaconda.

  1. Introduction
  2. Icon anatomy
  3. Built-in icons
  4. Using custom icons


This document represents an addendum to the Anaconda manual and should be used by anyone who wants to extend the capabilities of the Visualizer without writing plug-ins for it.

Anaconda contains an agent desktop that displays a graphical model of a running multi-agent system and its temporal behavior, including message traffic and communications inspection. Part of this model is built dynamically by a number of visualization components. Since we allow developers and users to add their own images to the agent desktop in the form of agent icons, we need to describe the specifications for such icons, in order that the automatic model generation works properly. Every icon incorporated into the system will have to abide by the guidelines described in this document.

Icon Anatomy







Before we describe how to create custom icons for Anaconda, we need to explain how the icons are used within the application. This will give help you gain more control over how your agent is represented in the system, and will eliminate confusion regarding dimensions and icon placement.

Each icon is composed of a face and a label. In smaller icons, the label might not be visible. It is up to the Visualizer to decide how much space is given over to each icon, based on the total space that is taken up by the icons, including their faces and labels, plus any additional padding. By default, padding is set to two pixels, but it can be more for visualizations where proximity is not vital for scalability.

The image displayed above shows the anatomy of an icon as used by the Anaconda agent Visualizer. Even though the icon management system will allow you to assign an icon that has a different height than width, automatic layouts do not take non-cubic shapes into account and the longer of the two dimensions (width or height) will be used to calculate the total space taken up by the face of the icon. Likewise, we strongly recommend that you supply icons with the dimensions described here.

Between the icon face and its label is a two pixel separation. This separation actually exists around the entire icon border, making the total size of the icon ((width+4)*(height*4)).

As can be seen from the diagram above, each icon has a hotspot. This point on the icon face is used for placement purposes and has no direct impact for icon builders. In future versions of the Anaconda application, this point will be used to give visualization designers a point of reference on the agent desktop. Note that the hotspot is the upper left hand corner of the icon face, minus the padding.

Within the Visualizer, 4 icons sizes are possible. These four sizes are: 16x16, 32x32, 48x48 and 64x64. We encourage you to supply the full-range of icons, and not only the 64x64 or 32x32.  Without the smaller icons as options for an agent, the Visualizer will revert back to default icons when the desktop is scaled. Developers are encouraged to provide versions of their icons in all sizes, if possible. Below is a graphical representation of the icon sizes and their properties.





In all versions of the icon except for the 16x16, a label will be placed below the face. However, since the Visualizer applies bounding box constraints on the agent when in automatic layout mode, the label will be truncated if the agent name is more than 12 characters long. For example, the agent name: “interface_agent_12” would appear as: “interface_a…

Built-in icons





Using Custom icons

If you decide to add custom icons to the Visualizer, then follow the icon specifications listed above. The current version of the application only supports the Windows™ bitmap format images (*.bmp). In future versions we intend to support other widely used graphical formats.

Other than dimension restrictions the designer is free to build icons as s/he wishes. Images can be submitted containing, 2, 4, 256,16 bit, 24 bit and more colors. Transparencies are not supported at this time and each icon will be displayed “as is.” The Anaconda application comes with an archive that contains the “built-in” icons (shown above) as Windows bitmap images. You can use these files to create your own.


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