Software

NextSurface is a software for creating interactive surfaces. NextSurface transforms any screen into a surface that people can simultaneously interact with, using hand gestures or pens, like on a physical whiteboard. NextSurface supports input devices such as Apple Trackpad or similar HID device, however, for a better user experience, we recommend a multi-touch device, such as frame overlays produced by PQLabs or ZaagTech, or our remote controller NextGesture on iPad.

NextSurface includes two applications for presentation and collaboration. The applications are based on NextSurface's proprietary toolkit for creating multi-touch and multi-user interfaces. The toolkit supports a natural interaction with visual elements and it supports gestures performed with multiple fingers. Common use cases of the applications are interactive meeting rooms, information kiosks for hotels or estate agencies, and digital whiteboards.

NextSurface provides a JavaScript API for creating custom applications on top of the proprietary toolkit. NextSurface's toolkit provides an abstraction layer which makes easy creating user interfaces and handling touch events and gestures. NextSurface is not a general purpose UI toolkit, but a programmable environment for building multi-user and multi-touch applications.

NextFractal is an application for creating amazing fractal images and other algorithmically generated images. Images are generated processing a script and some user provided parameters, depending on the selected grammar. NextFractal is currently able to interpret two grammars:

  • M which is a domain specific language for creating Fractals such as Mandelbrot Set or Julia and Fatou Sets.
  • CFDG which is a context-free grammar for creating geometric shapes using an iterative process.

NextFractal provides tools for exploring Fractals, browsing images, creating time-based and event-based animations, and exporting images and animations.

You don't need to learn the M language or the CFDG language to enjoy the examples provided with NextFractal. However we recommend to study those languages in order to create new images or modify the examples.

We have created a tutorial to help you learning the M language. The tutorial shows how to implement various techniques for generating orbits and computing colors.

Do you know you can control NextSurface from iPad?

NextGesture is a controller app which enables multiple people to interact simultaneously with the same instance of NextSurface from any iOS device.

Are you passionate about drawing or painting portraits?

NextPortrait helps artists to create portraits from their images in photos library.

Articles

Run MySQL in Docker Container

Docker changed how I approach software development for many aspects. One of them is how I maintain software dependencies on my developer's machine. I use Docker for installing and configuring my dependencies, usually required for testing my applications.

Docker provides a tool for defining a repeatable process for creating an environment with the expected configuration. Very common use cases are installing a database such as MySQL or PostgresSQL, creating schemas and users, and populating tables.

Docker helps in automating such processes and it can be combined easily with many CI/CD tools. We can run Docker as part of a Jenkins pipeline or we can run Docker when testing a Java application with Apache Maven.

Compile code with Docker

Every time I need to compile some library or application downloaded from the Internet, I have to spend a lot of time installing tools and libraries. Every time I need to cross-compile some code or patch a library, I have to configure a build environment which occupies space on my disk. Sometimes I need to install a specific version of a compiler, which might conflict with other tools.

What if I could easily and reliably re-create the environment when I need?

Docker represents a versatile tool which can help to simplify and eliminate tedious operations such as preparing a build environment. Some companies, such as CircleCI, have already adopted Docker for their CI/CD solution. Jenkins can use Docker for executing isolated pipelines and for running integration tests in parallel without worrying about ports clash.

Create standalone Kubernetes cluster with Vagrant

I have the impression that Kubernetes is growing in popularity. I base my impression on the trend I noticed in London in 2018, in terms of talks about Kubernetes and companies moving to Kubernetes. This impression seems to be confirmed by what people report on the Internet.

My first contact with Kubernetes was in early 2017, when I attempted to deploy Kubernetes on AWS. Honestly, I got discouraged at that time. That was before discovering Kops, and moving to GCP was not an option.

Since I found Docker Swarm easier to install on AWS, I gave up on Kubernetes for a while. But things have changed since then, and all major cloud providers, including AWS, offer a managed Kubernetes service nowadays.

Eventually, I decided to recycle my previous experience and automate the process of provisioning a standalone Kubernetes cluster for development using Vagrant and Ansible.

But we already have Minikube, why would you do that?

My opinion is that Minikube is good, but it doesn't support some interesting configurations. I want to use a Kubernetes environment which is like a production cluster, but still runs on my laptop.