About

Michael Zucchi

 B.E. (Comp. Sys. Eng.)

  also known as zed
  & handle of notzed

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Monday, 30 December 2013, 05:04

multi-stage

Cause I was stuck a bit with the OpenCL conversion I tried manually creating a multi-stage classifier to verify it would work.

Given a set of training data I trained a classifier, and then used that to partition the training data - very good true positives or negatives were removed. I then repeated this 3 more times. The final negative data set consists of just 52 images that are very eye-like in the LBP domain: bits of mouth and under the nose. I started with about 4000 negative images and 1000 positive images.

For a fitness score I was maximising the number of false positives with a score better than the worst true positive. This created an ROC curve that rises relatively slowly to start with but keeps rising to a full-pass rate at a fairly low FPR (false positive rate). This isn't normally the ROC curve one seeks because it tends to include plenty of false positives but since i'm seeking to partition the data for a separate stage i'm after the lowest threshold that achieves a TPR of 1 and rejects as much as possible, not the highest TPR vs FPR.

Anyway - it was quite successful, and by 4 stages it had essentially created a perfect classifier to partition that data-set. Each stage tests 4 groups of 4x4 pixels so it only requires a fairly modest amount of work and a very small amount of memory to describe the entire classifier (9*4*4*4 = 576 bytes total). Being a cascade it only processes all stages a small fraction of the time as well.

Of course this is a little too specific to be useful and the training data-sets also need some tweaking - pose and minor scale variation for the positive set and more problematic images for the negative set. So more setup work and experimentation is still required but i'm fairly sure it'll still work on a more general problem.

I got a bit messy with the code and added some big bugs which caused no end of frustration. One I think had been there from the start in certain code-paths - I was showing the LBP image in a window and as part of that it was converting the code to 8 bits not only for display but also for the stored codes. Lets just say this breaks the algorithm although not nearly as much as I would have expected. As part of the OpenCL version I was ordering the scores differently - based on integers and using bitfields to keep track of other info, and I inadvertently added back the bug which interferes with the sort order. Both of these combined to causing the reported success rate to keep climing even though the classifier was just getting worse - what was more confusing is that over time it tended to increase in quality and then start to decline - but only after about 1/2 an hour of processing.

Tagged ml.
Friday, 27 December 2013, 03:41

not extending bitonic sort to non-powers of 2

Update: Turns out I was a bit over-optimistic here - this stuff below doesn't work, it just happened to work for a couple of cases with the data I had. Bummer. Maybe it can be made to work but maybe not, but I didn't have much luck so I gave up for now.

Original post ...

This morning I started having a look at combining the OpenCL code I have into a GA solver. Which mostly involved lots of bug fixing in the classifier code and extending it to process all classifiers and images in a single run.

All went fine till I hit the sort routine for the population fitness when I found out that the bitonic sort I wrote doesn't handle totals which are non-powers of two.

e.g. with 11 elements:

input : b a 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
output: 1 2 3 7 8 9 a b 4 5 6 
        --------------- +++++

Each sub-list is sorted, there is just a problem with the largest-stride merge. I noticed that this merge processes indices:

  0 -> 8
  1 -> 9
  2 -> 10

data  : 1 2 3 7 8 9 a b 4 5 6 
        a a a           b b b

Which misses out on comparing 3-7, which are already going to be greater than 0-2.

So a simple solution is just to offset the first comparison index so that it compares indices 5-7 to indices 8-10 instead. The calculation is simply:

  off = max(0, (1 << (b + 1)) - N); // (here, b=3, N=11, poff = 5)

Which results in the correct merge indices for the largest offset:

data  : 1 2 3 7 8 9 a b 4 5 6 
                  a a a b b b

So an updated version of the sort becomes:

  lid = local work item id;
  array = base address of array;
  for (bit=0; (1<<bit) < N; bit++) {
    for (b=bit; b >= 0; b--) {
      // insertion masks for bits
      int upper = ~0 << (b+1);
      int lower = (1 << b)-1;
      // extract 'flip' indicator - 1 means use opposite sense
      int flip = (lid >> bit) & 1;
      // insert a 0 bit at bit position 'b' into the index
      int p0 = ((lid << 1) & upper) | (lid & lower);
      // insert a 1 bit at the same place
      int p1 = p0 | (1 << b);

      p0 += max(0, (1 << (b+1)) - N);

      swap_if(array, p0, p1, compare(p0, p1) ^ flip);
    }
  }

I haven't extensively tested it but I think it should work. It doesn't!

I'm probably not going to investigate it but I also realised that a serial-cpu version of a bitonic sort wouldn't need to frob around with bit insertions in the inner loop; it could just nest a couple of loops instead. Actually I may well end up investigating it because a similar approach would work on epiphany.

Tagged code, hacking, ml, opencl.
Thursday, 26 December 2013, 12:22

parallel prefix sum 2

This morning I had a quick look at the next stage of the OpenCLification of the GA code. This requires trying to create a fitness measure from the raw score values.

I'm using a sort of approximation of a sum of the area under the ROC curve:

  for each sorted result
    sum += true positive rate so far - false positive rate so far
  sum /= result.length

This gives a value between -0.5 and +0.5, equating to perfectly incorrect ROC and perfectly correct ROC curve respectively. Like the ROC curve itself this calculation is independent of the actual score values and only their order and class is important.

At first I didn't think I would be able to parallise it but on further inspection I realised I could implement it using a parallel prefix sum followed by a parallel sum reduction. The first prefix sum calculates the running totals of the occurance of each class (positive training examples, negative training examples). These values are then used to calculate the two rates above and from those partial summands which are then parallel summed. Because I don't need to keep the intermediate results I process this in batches of work-group sized blocks sequentially across each result array and it is a simple matter to accumulate results across blocks internally.

Then I realised I'd forgotten how to implement a parallel prefix sum properly ... it's been nearly 2 years ... as I found out when using a search engine and finding my own rather useless post on the matter comes up on the first page of results. I had a look at the code generator in socles and distilled it's essence out.

Mostly for my own future reference, the simplest version boils down to this:

  lx = get_local_id(0);
  buffer[lx] = sum;
  barrier(local);
  for (int i=1; i < N; i <&kt; 1) {
     if (lx - i >= 0)
       sum += buffer[lx - i];
     barrier(local);
     buffer[lx] = sum;
     barrier(local);
  }

This of course assumes that the problem is only as wide as the work-group or can be processed in work-group sized chunks; which happens often enough to be useful. There is a very simple trick to remove the internal branch but it's probably not very important on current GPU designs. There are also some fairly simple modifications to widen this to some integer multiple of the work-group size and reduce the processing by the same factor but I don't think I need that optimisation here.

I can also use basic parallel reduction techniques to calculate the lowest-positive-rank and highest-positive-rank values, should I want to experiment with them as fitness values.

This is now most of the work required in evaluating each individual in the population which is the main processor intensitve part of the problem. If I had an APU i'd just drop back to the CPU to do the breeding but since I don't i'll look at doing the breeding on the GPU too, so long as it doesn't get too involved.

Tagged hacking, ml, opencl.
Wednesday, 25 December 2013, 03:14

parallel batch sorting

Had what was supposed to be a 'quick look' at converting the GA code to OpenCL from the last post. Got stuck at the first hurdle - sorting the classifier scores.

I wasn't going to be suckered into working on a 'good' solution, just one that worked. But the code I had just didn't seem fast enough compared to single-threaded Java Arrays.sort() (only 16x) so I ended up digging deeper.

For starters I was using Batcher's sort, which although it is parallel it turns out it doesn't utilise the stream units very well in all passes and particuarly badly in the naive way I had extended it to sorting larger numbers of items than the number of work items in the work-group. I think I just used Batchers because I got it to work at some point, and IIRC took it from Knuth.

So I looked into bitonic sort - unfortunately the "pseudocode" on the wikipedia page is pretty much useless because it has some recursive python - which is about as useful for demonstrating massive concurrency as a used bit of toilet paper. The pictures helped though.

So I started from first principles and wrote down the comparison pairs as binary and worked out how to reasonably cheaply create compare-and-swap index pairs from sequential work item id's.

For an 8-element sort, the compare-and-swap pairs are:

 pass,step 0,1
  pair  binary   flip comparison
   0-1  000 001  0
   2-3  010 011  1
   4-5  100 101  0
   6-7  110 111  1

 pass 1,2
  pair  binary   flip comparison
   0-2  000 010  0
   1-3  001 011  0
   4-6  100 110  1
   5-7  101 111  1
 (pass 1,1 is same as pass 0,1)

 pass 2,4
  pair  binary   flip comparison
   0-4  000 100  0
   1-5  001 101  0
   2-6  010 110  0
   3-7  011 111  0
 (pass 2,2 is same as pass 1,2)
 (pass 1,1 is same as pass 0,1)

One notices that bit 'pass' is all 0 for one element of comparison, and all 1 for the other one. The other bits simply increment naturally and are just the work item index with a bit inserted. The flip rule is always the first bit after the inserted bit.

In short:

  lid = local work item id;
  array = base address of array;
  for (bit=0; (1<<bit) < N; bit++) {
    for (b=bit; b >= 0; b--) {
      // insertion masks for bits
      int upper = ~0 << (b+1);
      int lower = (1 << b)-1;
      // extract 'flip' indicator - 1 means use opposite sense
      int flip = (lid >> bit) & 1;
      // insert a 0 bit at bit position 'b' into the index
      int p0 = ((lid << 1) & upper) | (lid & lower);
      // insert a 1 bit at the same place
      int p1 = p0 | (1 << b);

      swap_if(array, p0, p1, compare(p0, p1) ^ flip);
    }
  }

The nice thing about this is that all accesses are sequential within the given block, and the sort sizes decrement within each sub-group. Which leads to the next little optimisation ...

Basically once the block size (1<<b) is the same size as the local work group instead of going wide the work topology changes to running in blocks of work-size across. This allows one to finish all the lower stages entirerly via LDS memory. Although this approach is also much more 'cache friendly' than full passes at each offset, LDS just has a much higher bandwidth than cache. Each block is acessed through the LDS via a workgroup-wide coalesced read/write and an added bonus is that for the larger sized blocks all memory accesses are fully sequential across the whole work-group - i.e. are also fully coalesced. It might even be a reasonable merge sort algorithm for a serial processor: although I think the address arithmetic will be too expensive in that case unless the given cpu has an insert-bit instruction that makes room at the same time.

On closer inspection there may be another minor optimisation for the first LDS based stage - it could perform the previous stage in two parts whilst still retaining full-width reads using a register.

I'm testing by sorting 200 arrays, each with 8192 integers (which is what i need for the task at hand). I'm using a single workgroup per array. Radeon HD 7970 original version.

  algorithm         time

  batchers          8.1ms
  bitonic           7.6ms
  bitonic + lds     2.7ms

  java sort        80.0ms  (1 thread, initialised with random values)

Nice!

I think? Sorting isn't something i've looked into very deeply on a GPU so the numbers might be completely mediocre. In any event it's interesting that the bitonic sort didn't really make much difference until I utilised the LDS because although it requires fewer comparisions it still needs the same number of passes over the data. Apart from that I couldn't see a way to utilise LDS effectively with the Batchers' sort algorithm I was using whereas with bitonic it just falls out automagically.

Got a roast lamb in the oven and cracked a bottle of red, so i'm off outside to enjoy the perfect xmas weather - it's sunny, 30-something, with a very light breeze. I had enough of family this year so i'm going it alone - i'll catch up with friends another day and family in a couple of weeks.

Merry X-mas!

Update: See also a follow-up where I explore extension to non-powers of two elements.

Tagged hacking, ml, opencl.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013, 03:57

genetic algorithm experiments

Last couple of days I was playing with some genetic algorithm code to implement an object detector. This is the first time i've ever played with genetic algorithms so is simply exploration to become aquainted with the technique.

First I started with a local binary pattern histogram feature test based on the paper Genetic Based LBP Feature Extraction and Selection for Facial Recognition, but these were just too slow to evaluate to work out whether I was making any progress or not. It wasn't quite the problem I wanted to solve but I did have the paper and am familiar with the algorithm itself.

So I changed to using a variation of my own 'single-bit-histogram' algorithm which is much faster to evaluate both because the mechanics of it's implementation and the mathematics of the fitness determination. Because it generates a classifier and not a distance measure evaluation of fitness is O(N) rather than O(N^2). Initially my results seemed too good - and they were, a simple sort-order problem meant that a completely zero detector came out as perfect. After fixing that I did still have some promising results but my feature tests were just too small so the discriminative ability wasn't very high.

When I left that for the day I didn't think it was really working that well because the feature tests weren't descriptive enough on their own - only a few single probes. But I was looking at the output a bit wrong - it doesn't need to be 'good', it just needs to have a low false-negative rate. The next morning I tried creating a more complex descriptor based on a 4x4 feature test - and this worked much better.

The GA

After reading a few light tutorials on the subject I basically came up with my own sexual and asexual (i.e. copy with mutate) breeding rules and mucked about with the heurstics a bit. Throwing out years of research no doubt but without some understanding of how it works I wont understand it properly. So they are probably not ideal but they seem to work here.

The basic asexual breeding rule is:

  1. Randomly grow or shrink the number of genes by 1 (within a specific range);
  2. Copy genes, potentially mutating each bit separately;
  3. If the chromosome grew, add a new random gene.

And sexual breeding:

  1. Concatenate all genes of both parents;
  2. Randomly permute the whole set;
  3. Choose a new size which is half the combined gene length +/- 1 (within a specific range);
  4. Truncate to the new size;
  5. Randomly mutate every bit.

Genes are treated 'whole', and it obviously supports different numbers of genes for each individual chromsome. I found that a small number of tests seems to work better than a larger number; at least for the single-pixel classifier. As such i'm focusing at present on fixing the gene count in advance and running multiple tests to see what difference the gene count makes.

I tried a few different fitness tests:

These all result in slightly different classifiers - although the first tends to be the best. Combining a couple by simple concatenation also appears to create a better classifier.

Each generation i discard the worst-N results, and then randomly sexually or asexually reproduce random pairs or individuals to replace them. For simplicity i'm just using uniform randomness rather than basing reproduction rates on fitness. I presume at worst this just reduces the rate of advancement.

I need to read up a bit more on the nomclature and jargon used to describe the behaviour properly but with very small number of genes I tend to end up with poor genetic diversity at least in the top few results (I'm dumping the top 5 every 100 generations). I think my random mutation isn't random enough during breeding - it should always mutate at least some bits rather than applying a low randomisation rate across all of them.

Still, even with these shortcomings and the fact that after a rapid improvement progress slows - it doesn't stall completely. I ran some very long experiments and even after 10 hours I was still getting an occasional improvement.

The Classifier

I need to write up the classifier a bit better than a blog post so I wont go into the detail here. I think it's a novel use of local binary patterns.

But the current 4x4 'gene' consists of:

struct gene4x4 {
  unsigned int x:5;
  unsigned int y:5;
  unsigned int pad:22;
  unsigned int tests[8];
};

(x,y) is the location of the test, and the 16x16-bit integers stored in the tests array are the parameters. For the descriptive power it seems to have, this quite a compact descriptor. With a chromosome of as little as 2 of these genes i'm starting to get some interesting results, and at 4 genes I think i'm starting to get usable results. That's only 1024 bits; this is something that can easily fit on an epiphany core even with a good few stages.

Data

As with any machine learning algorithm dataset size and quality is another issue, but for now i'm just using what I have which is stuff i've extracted from Color FERET. The training set is the left (from front, i.e. right) eye at 32x16, and the negative training set is random samples from the same faces excluding those very close to the eye. I'm just using the same set to test against at the moment.

I think though that because of the similarity of the eyes and the fact that you can easily tell them apart using simple geometry I will look at combining left and right eye detectors into a simple 'eye detector'. This saves the learning algorithm the hassles of trying to distinguish between left and right eyes as well as non-eye data. If I really needed to distinguish between the two I could train another detector for sub-classification - to be honest, I can't really see why you would need to.

Next

One thing I want to do is translate the algorithm to OpenCL so I can accelerate the generation rate. I already have the classifier written and that can score images insanely fast - so fast that I think I need to write the whole algorithm in OpenCL now, which wasn't my original intention. Being able to run a few hours worth of testing in minutes really accelerates experimentation with the heurstics and other gene variations so it's worth the day or so of effort it needs to get working.

Then I want to investigate whether I can turn these classifiers into a reliable cascade of classifiers - which is a critical step for both runtime and quality performance. My first thoughts are to use the ROC curve to choose a threshold such that some of the false positives are culled (but no false negatives), remove those from the data-set and then train a new classifier; and repeat until one reaches a satisfactory result. A variation may be to also cull at the true-positive end of the classifier if there is a particularly high first-false-positive rank. My gut feeling so far is that because each classifier is not too weak it shouldn't need too many stages to be very strong; but whether this pans out in practice or not is another matter.

Then there are many things to try, from data improvements / different objects, to adding extra dimensions to the input data (e.g. multiple planes different lbp codes which test for different characterestics; somewhat analogous to multiple gabor wavelets). It should also be possible to directly create a multi-stage algorithm soley using GA - which may be worth investigating.

The ultimate aim is a strong classifier which is also computationally efficient (ahem, yeah, kinda holy grail territory here, i'm not ambitious at all). I know already that it can be implemented in ARM NEON assembly language very efficiently - under 1 clock cycle per pixel tested(!). It's also simple enough to put in hardware. I'm just not sure yet whether I can make it strong enough to compare to other algorithms, which is of course the big question.

On a side note it's kind of cool having the computer just work away by itself coming up with a solution given very simple goals. For once. It normally feels like it's the one driving me.

Of course, being xmas, and being on leave, ... I may just drink wine instead! And it's about time i put down another homebrew. And cleaned the house a bit. Time for another #3 all over too.

Tagged hacking, ml, opencl.
Saturday, 21 December 2013, 02:58

e-port revisited

I can't remember if i posted this here or just discussed it on the forums, but here's an update on the 'eport' code. eport is a lightweight 1:1 synchronisation point designed to assign owneship of slots in a cyclic buffer with minimum overhead. This directly allows the utilisation of some of the specific features in the epiphany architecture.

Since I can't find the post (probably just a bad subject) here's an overview of the api:

int eport_reserve(eport *)
Reserves a single slot in the port for the writer. The returned index is the slot number. Once this returns the writer has exclusive access to the given slot.
void eport_post(eport *)
Indicates that a slot previously reserved is now owned by the receiver with the implication that it contains valid data. Slots are automatically cycled in the same order they are reserved.
int eport_wait(eport *)
Waits for data to be ready at the receiving end. The return value indicates the slot number.
void eport_done(eport *)
Marks the next slot free to be re-used by the caller.

Ok so my initial implementation used power of two sizes for the indices for efficiency reasons of the cyclic buffer index calculation (modulo) and it only required 2 'pointer' values. However, because of repeating of the cycles one of the slots always sits unused, and furthermore the forcing of a power-of-two size can easily lead to needing to allocate more space than is necessary to implement an algorithm. There just isn't enough space to waste like this. An additional problem I hit when working on a real application was that the implementation required that every reserve be paired directly with a post, and every wait be paired directly with a done - which precluded the ability to use multiple slots in the buffer at once - which was kind of the whole point of it!

So I had a fiddle and came up with a new implementation which manages to allow all slots to be in use and also allows for arbitrary sizes without an expensive modulo operation. It only needs two extra local 'pointers' which are used to track multiple outstanding reserves/waits properly. If memory is tight the receiver can limit the working-set to exactly the amount it requires, or allow one extra free slot to allow for interleaving of work.

I've only just banged it up so it might not be correct or handle all the edge cases, but here it is anyway.

data structure

// Code Copyright (C) 2013 Michael Zucchi
// Licensed via GNU GPL version 3 or later.
struct eport {
        volatile unsigned int head;
        volatile unsigned int tail;
        unsigned int index;
        unsigned int next;
        unsigned int size;
        struct eport *other;
};

Each of these is allocated in pairs - one local to the sender and one local to the receiver. other pointers to the other one of the pair and everything else apart from size is initialised to 0. The only cross-communication is that the sender updates head in the receiver, and the receiver updates tail in the sender - obviously an atomic operation with no round-trip required.

index is local to each end and tracks the next slot, modulo the size of the cyclic buffer. Likewise next indicates the next 'actual' slot being requested at each end.

reserve

unsigned int eport_reserve(struct eport *port) {
        unsigned int next = port->next;

        // Check for a free slot
        while (next >= port->tail + port->size) {
                EPORT_SLEEP();
        }

        port->next = next + 1;

        // Increment index modulo size
        unsigned int r = port->index;
        port->index = (r+1) == port->size ? 0 : r+1;
        
        return r;
}

Because the "pointers" run without modulo I can simplify the capacity test. I then manually keep track of the index modulo the size for use by the caller. By using next to track the allocation it detaches the allocation from the publishing so it properly handles multiple outstanding reserves.

EPORT_SLEEP() does nothing on epiphany but might call usleep(x) on GNU/Linux.

post

void eport_post(struct eport *port) {
        unsigned int h = (port->head + 1);

        port->other->head = h;
        port->head = h;
}

Post is basically the same as it was before, except now it doesn't need to modulo the pointer. Since the slot is known to be owned by the sender all it has to do is update the pointers at both ends. The sender is the only thread that can write to head so it needs no arbitration.

reserve

unsigned int eport_wait(struct eport *port) {
        unsigned int next = port->next;

        while (port->head == next)
                EPORT_SLEEP();

        port->next = next + 1;

        // Track tail % size
        unsigned int r = port->index;
        port->index = (r+1) == port->size ? 0 : (r+1);

        return r;
}

There is some obvious (and nice) symmetry with the reserve function here in the receiver. Again next is used to detatch acceptance from recycling.

done

void eport_done(struct eport *port) {
        unsigned int t = (port->tail + 1);

        port->other->tail = t;
        port->tail = t;
}

Done is similarly symmetric to the post function. And here the receiver is the only one who can ever write to tail, so it needs to also needs no arbitration.

summary

So in short ... eport

When coupled with epiphany's blocking-free writes and limited memory it allows one to write streaming processors which write directly to the target core without needing any additional synchronisation and potentially asynchronously.

One drawback of the implementation above is that a given port is limited to 2^32-1 operations at a time before the maths breaks down, although that could be addressed by using 64-bit integers or some more complex pointer arithmetic.

I'm pretty much done for today but this is just another small step toward getting the 1-pass image scaler going. I think it should also end up a reasonable basis for writing a 1-pass 2-d separable convolution, wavelets, and so on. For some reason although i'm just a little bit of work away from finishing it I keep putting it off - today it's that the wind kept me awake all night and i'm too knackered to think straight. e.g. althogh i haven't compiled or debugged it I have the whole 2-d bicubic scaler written, I just need to slot in this updated eport code. Another day.

On another note i'm finally on xmas leave - hopefully for a few months like last year but I have a feeling i'm going to get roped in to doing a bit of other work which might cut it short. At this point i have a head full of ideas to code on but i think for sanity's sake I will need to take a break at some point too.

Tagged code, hacking, parallella.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013, 20:04

Wondered why the cartoons were on telly so late ...

Oops, it's early not late. Somehow it got to 5am, and now it's nearly 6.

I was looking up Welsh accent videos after watching 'Utopia' on SBS along with a bottle of red and a couple of rum on ices and somehow 6 hours vanished before I had realised. Probably didn't help that I only had cheese, olives, and other pickled condiments for dinner. It all seemed like a good idea at the time.

The last few weeks i've been working extra hours to try to burn out my contract before the xmas break so I was already a bit wiped out and I think I got a bit over-eager from wanting it to be over. Insomnia, poor sleep in general and even some annoying 'dreams' about bit reversal permute and vertical fft algorithms just compounded this. Got a meeting in a few hours - but it's only really a hand-off of pre-prepared work and i'm sure I can burn an iso or two.

I guess i'm just really looking forward to a couple months off and started a bit early. Just 16 hours left and all my main tasks are done for the contract and i'm pretty much over it at this point. But a big component is a few of those 'never ending' research-oriented tasks that have no defined completion milestones so I still have plenty to poke at.

Hmm, forcecast is 43 today - garden will be incinerated. It was forecast 41 yesterday and from the look of the plants I can't tell if i'm waterlogging them or letting them dry out too much - I dumped a few hours worth of rainwater tank on the garden trying to help it survive. Need some spot shades to stop the exteremeties burning off since it's a lot hotter than that in the full sun on the bare earth or on the black polyethelyne picking buckets I'm using as pots for the herbs. Last year I measured over 70 on a wheelie bin and that wasn't even in full sun all day. Even the birds are barely singing well after sun-up - must know what's coming in a few hours.

Better try to get a couple of zed's - can always sleep the arvo off. Damn eyes are killing me too as they have been for few weeks; bloody hayfever and i can't be far away from needing glasses.

Tagged biographical, rants.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013, 01:14

Android icon lists

I was hitting some performance / usability issues with a list of icons (sigh, again) ... and looking at the code I came up last time I just don't know what I was thinking. In part it stemmed from initially using an adapter without customising the view; so i was forced to use a standard ImageView.

Anyway, I think ... i finally worked out a relatively clean solution to a listview which contains images which are loaded asynchronously.

In short:

Without the last item you can end up loading the the image into the wrong imageview so end up with a missing icon - I recall having a lot of problems trying to workaround this last time, but this is a much more reliable and simple solution.

Previously I was trying to use notifyDataSetChanged() each time an image loaded as well as other nasty redirections to try and update properly whilst still coping with android (ab)using item 0 for it's own nefarious purposes (i presume it's for layout).

Originally i needed to load remote url's so I couldn't just use setBitmapURI() (otherwise i probably would've just used that at the time - it was a very short-on-time prototype), and although i currently don't need that functionality this manual code is smoother for the user and I can do other stuff like animations. The android code will delay drawing the screen until the image is actually loaded which adds a lot of judder particulalry if you're images might be large sizes.

Still not as nice as the JavaFX stuff I did, but it'll suffice. I will have to do something similar in the internode radio app - the solution there is different again but not very good either.

Tagged android, hacking.
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