XOj in monochrome

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This idea in this page is presently just a suggestion. It is not, at present, part of OLPC official policy and, indeed, may never be. Please develop and discuss the idea and, if thought worth implementing, please implement it.

Contents

Introduction

On several of the slides in the illustration on the http://www.laptop.org/laptop/interface/demo.shtml page there are a number of XOj shown in various colours.

Some children may find it difficult or impossible to distinguish some of the colours from some others of the colours.

There is a method, dating back to the 1600s, for depicting colours in black and white illustrations. It was originally developed for displaying diagrams of coats of arms in printed books about heraldry. That being in the days before colour printing technology was introduced. It is known as the Petra Sancta method.

http://concise.britannica.com/ebc/art-1862

The present suggestion is that each XO could be, as an option, displayed with an accompanying block of chunky pixels in dark chunks and light chunks in a five chunky pixels wide by five chunky pixels high block. Each chunky pixel could be one, two, three or more pixels wide by one, two, three or more pixels high depending upon the display situation.

The designs of the particular five chunky pixels by five chunky pixels symbol would be based on the line directions used for the Petra Sancta system.

Each of the various five chunky pixels by five chunky pixels symbols could be known as a monochrome colour-indicating symbol.

Designs to indicate various colours of XOj

Each design has a dark pixel in each of the four corners of the symbol.

Red would be represented by three dark vertical lines separated by two light vertical lines. A total of fifteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Blue would be represented by three dark horizontal lines separated by two light horizontal lines. A total of fifteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Yellow would be represented by nine dark chunky pixels, placed non-contiguously at the corners, at half-way along the edges and at the centre of the five by five chunky pixels block. A total of nine dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Green would be represented by a broad top left to bottom right diagonal and one chunk in the bottom left corner and one chunk in the top right corner. A total of fifteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five: in fact, three in each row and three in each column.

Purple would be represented by a broad top right to bottom left diagonal and one chunk in the bottom right corner and one chunk in the top left corner. A total of fifteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five: in fact, three in each row and three in each column.

There is scope for additional colours to be represented by adding new ideas.

Brown could be represented by copying the left two columns of red as the left two columns of brown together with copying the right three columns of green as the right three columns of brown. A total of fourteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Black presents an interesting problem. It could be represented by twenty-five dark chunks; or it could be represented by twenty-one dark chunks with four light chunks neither at the edge nor the centre; or it could be represented by sixteen dark chunks around the edge and nine light chunks in the middle. The design with sixteen dark chunks around the edge and nine light chunks in the middle might be best as it might perhaps be more easily recognized.

Pink could be represented by using a copy of red with the three centre chunks of the middle vertical line deleted. A total of twelve dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Light blue could be represented by using a copy of blue with the three centre chunks of the middle horizontal line deleted. A total of twelve dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Orange could be represented by copying the left two columns of red as the left two columns of orange together with copying the right three columns of yellow as the right three columns of orange. A total of eleven dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

White could be represented by copying the top four rows of yellow as the top four rows of white together with copying the bottom row of blue as the bottom row of white. A total of eleven dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five. The idea for this design came from the idea of snow falling in a landscape. This seems to solve the problem of how to depict white using a dark and light, potentially black and white, symbol.

Light green could be represented by using a copy of green with the dark chunky pixels that are in the centre cloumn of that copy of green replaced by light chunky pixels and the dark chunky pixels that are in the centre row of that copy of green replaced by light chunky pixels. A total of ten dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Light purple could be represented by using a copy of purple with the dark chunky pixels that are in the centre cloumn of that copy of purple replaced by light chunky pixels and the dark chunky pixels that are in the centre row of that copy of purple replaced by light chunky pixels. A total of ten dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Cyan could be represented by copying the top three rows of green as the top three rows of cyan together with copying the bottom two rows of blue as the bottom two rows of cyan. A total of fourteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Light cyan could be represented by using a copy of cyan with the three centre chunks of the bottom horizontal line deleted. A total of eleven dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Various shades of grey

For expressing the colours of XOj in monochrome, the following descriptions of grey, dark grey and light grey may not be needed, as grey is used on-screen in the context of greyed-out, for which there is a special symbol. However, as this technique of using monochrome symbols to express colours in an accessibility context might be used elsewhere, both in the OLPC laptop project and more generally, the descriptions are included here as a convenient place to put them for reference.

Grey could be represented by copying the top two rows of white as the top three rows of grey together with copying the bottom three rows of black as the bottom three rows of grey. A total of twelve dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Dark grey could be represented by copying grey and making the three centre pixels of the centre row to be dark chunky pixels. A total of fifteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Light grey could be represented by copying grey and making the centre pixel of the centre row to be a dark chunky pixel. Although light grey has more dark chunky pixels than grey, the design is intended that the centre pixel of the centre row gives the impression of more white being in light grey than in grey, due to the way that white is represented. A total of sixteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

Special colour symbol

Ultramarine made from lapis lazuli could be represented by using a copy of blue with the second chunky pixel from the left of the second row and the centre chunky pixel of the second row being made to be dark chunky pixels. It is perhaps helpful to think of this design as being constructed from a copy of blue with a two chunky pixel by two chunky pixel square added onto it.

A design for when no colour information is available

If no colour information is available for a particular XO, then a symbol consisting of a filled top row, a filled bottom row and a filled centre column could be displayed. A total of thirteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five. This symbol could be useful to indicate clearly that no colour information is available for the particular XO. This could be useful if the particular XO is being presented alongside XOj where there is colour information available.

It is not known whether such a symbol is needed, yet it is provided in case there is such a need.

A design to indicate a greyed-out XO

A greyed-out XO could be represented by a block which has the left edge column and the right edge column and the bottom edge row all dark. A total of thirteen dark chunky pixels out of twenty-five.

A separator

Slide 6 of the diagram on the page http://www.laptop.org/laptop/interface/demo.shtml shows several horizontal bands upon which two or more XOj could be shown side by side.

There thus arises an issue of how to display this using the monochrome symbols so as not to cause confusion when, say, a red XO is next to a brown XO or a pink XO.

If two monochrome symbols are next to each other, spaced one chunky pixel apart, there is a potential for confusion as to where one symbol ends and the next symbol starts.

A separator symbol which consists of sixteen dark chunky pixels in a block two chunky pixels wide and eight chunky pixels high could solve this problem. The base line would align with the base line of the monochrome colour-indicating symbol.

If there were three XOj on the line then there would be two separators used. There would be one column of light chunky pixels horizontally between each separator and each neighbouring monochrome colour-indicating symbol.

Development font

There is a font specially made to assist in assessing and developing this idea.

It is a TrueType font and is available here.

http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~ngo/MONFCOLS.TTF

It is named as Monochrome for Colours.

The glyphs are encoded using ordinary characters.

a grey

b blue

c cyan

e dark grey

g green

k black

n brown

o orange

p purple

r red

u ultramarine made from lapis lazuli

w white

y yellow

B light blue

C light cyan

E light grey

G light green

P light purple

R pink


I (that is, a capital version of i, not a lowercase version of L) for indicating that no colour information is available


z greyed-out


! separator


An interesting assessment experiment using a PC running Windows is to access the http://www.laptop.org/laptop/interface/demo.shtml page then make a copy of slide 2 of the diagram to the clipboad using the Print Screen facility. Then paste the image into the Paint program. Off the image, use the text inserting tool with the Monochrome for Colours font at 24 point in black keying a letter y to insert an image for a monochrome colour-indicating symbol for yellow. This image is black upon white. Next select that image, choose that the background will be transparent and move it to the right and slightly down of the yellow XO symbol on the image. This is how the display of that XO could appear if this idea is implemented and the option to display the blocks is on. Various other of the monochrome colour-indicating symbols can be tried if so desired. An interesting point is that the XO symbols are two-colour, with a fill colour and a different colour outline. This experiment is using just the fill colour. Do both colours need to be indicated or is the outline colour always just something which contrasts with the fill colour always in the same way?

OLPC_Human_Interface_Guidelines/The_Sugar_Interface/Icons has information about this matter in the Strokes & Fills section.

A PC running Windows was used for the initial test as that is what is available here. Readers who can produce other tests on other platforms are welcome to include them here.

It may be that if the idea is implemented for the laptop system that the font would not be used but that the symbols would be generated directly from bit images stored as constants in the software. The font is just a gadget to help in the development of the idea.

A second assessment experiment uses two of the monochrome colour-indicating symbols for each XO. With a copy of slide 2 of the diagram from the http://www.laptop.org/laptop/interface/demo.shtml page using the Paint program a monochrome colour-indicating symbol for yellow is placed to the right and slightly down of the red-outlined yellow-filled XO symbol on the image and a monochrome colour-indicating symbol for red is placed to the left and slightly up of the red-outlined yellow-filled XO symbol on the image, both of the monochrome colour-indicating symbols being produced in black at 24 point using the font, being produced one at a time on a white background off the edge of the main image and then moved onto the main image using a transparent background. The red-outlined yellow-filled XO symbol still being in the diagram. With a copy of slide 6 of the diagram the XO synbol is replaced by two monochrome colour-indicating symbols both in black at 12 point. They are set out such that the two five chunky pixels by five chunky pixels blocks are within a ten chunky pixel by ten chunky pixel invisible container block, with the monochrome colour-indicating symbol for red in the upper left corner of the invisible container block and the monochrome colour-indicating symbol for yellow in the lower right corner of the invisible container block. The convention used here of upper left for stroke and lower right for fill means that several XOj can be expressed in monochrome side-by-side using monochrome colour-indicating symbols without symbols for the XOj themselves being shown. A little horizontal spacing between each pair of monochrome colour-indicating symbols would be helpful to assist in legibility. This experiment seems to work well, which is particularly good as it has been carried out using reduced size images of the screen. If implemented the monochrome colour-indicating symbols might well be shown larger than they are when carrying out this experiment.

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