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The spatial topological relations of the floor is one of the key inputs to our algorithm, but it is hard to generate or extract. In many cases, we could only get a bitmap image of the floorplan. There are sophisticated tools such as Microsoft Visio or Inkscape which can load the image file and make a diagram manually according to the image file. But the main disadvantage is that the output of these tools is too complicated to fit in our algorithm: it is hard to parse and manipulate in our code, and it lacks the abilities of attaching semantic information to shapes. Our algorithm prefers a simple and clean data format so it can focus on processing positioning data and aggregating semantic trajectories.

The editor could help us build up the topological relations from a image file. The editor can load the image file and display it, then we can draw polygons/polylines imitating the spatial structures on the image. After completing the geometric information, we can use the editor to attach specific semantic information to shapes. For example, we can designate several rectangles as rooms or specify a polyline as a wall. When all is done, the editor can export both geometric and semantic information to a single json file, which can be parsed by our algorithm easily.

While the editor is created originally for our algorithm, the editor itself is just a good SVG editor which focuses on editing polygons/polylines and attaching semantic data to them. The editor should be easy to be reused in other situations.


User Interface

As the above figure shows, the editor consists of several UI components.

  • The menu bar at the top contains several categories of buttons;
  • The board is where shapes display and user interactions happens. You can drag and zoom the board, or drag and resize the shapes on the board;
  • The status bar displays some useful information including current mode, current selection mode, current view box and current zoom percentage;
  • The inspector shows properties about the current selected shapes. The inspector has three tabs: geometric tab lists the geometric and style properties; semantic tab displays the semantic label and tags; history tab shows the action history and offers undo/redo functionality.

Concept Introduction

In order to make better use of the editor, you need to learn some basic concepts.

  • Concept Mode : The mode is displayed in the left of the status bar. It tells the users What you are doing. The mode is default to idle; The mode is when drawing a rect; The mode is when drawing a line and so on. Some functionality may behave differently in different modes. For example, undo/redo can only be triggered in idle mode.

  • Concept Selection Mode : The selection mode is displayed near the mode. It indicates the current mode for selection. Currently, it should be either 'bbox' or 'vertices'. In bbox selection mode, you can resize the selected shapes; In vertices selection mode, you can add/move/delete vertices of the shapes. You can press shortcut E to toggle selection mode.

Drawing & Editing

  • Polygons: In idle mode, press P to enter polygon mode, and an empty drawing-polygon is set up; In polygon mode, every mouse click will add a vertex to the drawing-polygon; If the user closes the drawing-polygon by clicks near the first vertex, a new polygon will be added and mode changes back to idle. The user can always press ESC to return idle mode.

  • Lines / Rectangles: Press the shortcut and enter the corresponding mode, drag the mouse and a new shape will be added;

  • Point editing: In vertices selection mode, a small circle will appear at every vertex of the selected polygon/polyline, the user could drag the circle to change the vertex position, or press D to delete the hovered vertex, or drag from near an edge and add a new vertex. With various shortcuts and intuitive auto-adjust, you can draw complex shapes quickly.

  • Geometric/Semantic data editing: After select some shapes, you can edit these properties in the inspector.

  • Load and Save Files:

    • Data File: The editor use JSON with a flexible structure as the data format which is easy to parse and manipulate. You can save the current state to a JSON file or load state from a JSON file;
    • Image file: Drag the image file from file explorer and drop it onto the editor board.

Interaction Refinement

We have make efforts to improve the interactions experience.


We attach shortcuts to almost every action in the editor, including deleting a shape, start adding a rectangle, toggle between two selection mode and so on. We also display the shortcuts alongside the entries of the actions in menu bar, so the users can quickly remember the shortcuts.

The ESC shortcut has a consistent meaning in different modes: abort the current interaction and return back to the idle mode. And we have familiar Ctrl + Z (undo), Ctrl + Y / Ctrl + Shift + Z (redo), Ctrl + C (copy) and Ctrl + V (redo).

Action History

The editor records all the executed actions and displays them in the history tab. It tells you what happened recently with a proper granularity which makes undo/redo more usable and predictable.


When drawing shapes or moving vertices, auto-adjust helps the users find the correct positions without trivial minor adjustments. Auto-adjust is useful in the following situations:

  • Start drawing a line from an existed polygon vertex.
  • Move a rectangle to a position where it tangents exactly to another rectangle. (TODO not implemented)
  • Move a polygon vertex to a position that has the same x or y coordinate of another vertex.

Auto-adjust is default to be enabled, but it be can be disabled when the shortcuts is pressed. Since the state of editor is changing, the behavior the adjuster should also be changing. We create an adjuster stream which abstracts the changing behaviors. The adjuster reads the adjust-configs (returned from the interaction functions), current drawing mode, existed vertices of all shapes, and the current mouse position and then determine the adjusted position.

In practice, auto-adjust makes the interactions fluent and enjoyable, and it speeds up the generation of the output.

Implementation Overview

Note: The code in this section is out of date, but the main idea remains the same.

This editor is built upon the web platform. We use Cycle.js front-end framework to build this application and we use SVG to render shapes.

We adopt reactive programming to implement this editor. Anything changing when the editor is running, including variables, user inputs and data structures, are abstracted as asynchronous data stream in the editor. For example, click events on the board are encapsulated into a point stream, denoted by click$ in code. Every time the user clicks, the stream emits an object that contains x and y coordinates of the click position. The state of drawn shapes is just another stream of list of polygon/polyline objects, and every time we peek the stream we can get the current state at that time. In such a framework, our editor application can be simplified as a pure function (the main function) which accepts a collection of streams (one stream for one kind of input) and returns a view stream (for rendering) plus a file stream (for exporting files). States that should be preserved when the application is running are kept as local variables of the main function. Note that we use $ as the postfix to indicate that the name references to a stream.

Some important streams

These four streams are the most important streams in the editor:

  • mode$ records the current mode;
  • state$ records the drawn shapes;
  • selection$ records the current selected shapes;
  • transform$ records the current transform (dx, dy, scale) of the board.

Each of above streams reacts to a corresponding update-stream: when the update-stream emits a new value, the above stream will emit a new value reflecting the update. For example, when action$ emits a "Add a new polygon", state$ emits a new state object that contains the new polygon. The update-streams are from sub-components and this is the only way that sub-components mutates the state in the main function.

Many other streams can be calculated by above streams. For example, the stream of the inspector content can be calculated by combining state$ and selection$ and extracting selected-part state. The view of the shapes can be obtained by applying a pure map function to state$. Once we define how to calculate these streams, or in other words, once we define the dependencies of these streams, a mechanism of change propagation will be established. Under this mechanism, whenever one of the dependency streams emits a new value, the calculation will be automatically re-executed, and the calculated stream could emit a new value. Further streams that depends on the calculated streams will be awaken as well. The view of this editor is a calculated stream from above important streams, so our editor can focus on the state rather than the view.

Mouse and Keyboard

The editor is a highly interactive web application with a multitude of UI events. Using streams, we set up a concise and powerful interface for mouse and keyboard. ( Note that our mouse and keyboard objects are passed to the main function and sub-components as parameters and can be referenced by name mouse and keyboard. )

Shortcuts as lazy and queryable streams

keyboard.shortcut('xxx') will give us a stream which emits a KeyboardEvent every time the user press the specified shortcut. The shortcut can be a simple key like D or can be a complex combination like ctrl + shift + T. The streams are lazy that none of the streams existed before calling shortcuts('xxx'); The streams are queryable that all the potential shortcut streams can be get from a single method.

The keyboard also provides a isPressing method. For example, when implementing "Press Z to disable auto-adjust", keyboard.isPressing('z') returns a stream indicating whether a key is pressing, which is then map to the stream of whether the auto-adjust feature is disabled.

Pre-calculated mouse positions

There are three different types of mouse positions: Raw positions are from mouse event listener directly and records the coordinates relative to the web page. Board positions records the coordinates relative to the board, which are calculating by combining the transform stream and raw position stream and inverting the position by the transform. Adjusted positions are board positions calculated by auto-adjust.

We pre-calculate all types of mouse positions and pack them into the mouse object. For example, mouse.rawDown$ is the stream that records the raw position of the mouse down event, and mouse.down$ records the board position, and mouse.adown$ records the adjusted board position.

In different situations, we use different types of mouse positions. We use adjusted board positions when drawing a new shape. When the auto-adjust is disabled, we switch to board positions. And raw positions are useful when dragging the board. As a result of pre-calculating mouse positions, the logic of interaction is separated from transformations among different types of mouse positions, which makes the interaction implementation clean and expressive.

Interaction Implementation

Every interaction is implemented by an interaction function. Interaction functions have a common interface that each function takes a collection of streams as input and returns a collection of output streams. Input streams tell the interaction functions what's the current state and what does the user do. For example, keyboard are a typical input stream container that records the keyboard usages, and mode$ tells the interaction functions what is the current mode. Output streams returned from interaction functions in turn tells the main function what should be updated and how to update them. For example, nextMode$ is a typical output stream that decides the next mode.

The mode$ is the most important state in interaction implementation. The same mouse or keyboard events will be translated into different actions in different mode. And during different stages of an drawing operation, the mode is always reflecting the current drawing state. Here we pick the drawRect interaction function as the example to illustrate the common pattern of the interaction implementation.

The below is a slim version of drawRect:

function drawRect({ mouse, keyboard, mode: mode$ }) {
  /* 1 */
  const toRectReadyMode$ = keyboard.shortcut('r').mapTo('rect.ready')

  /* 2 */
  const startPos$ = mouse.down$.when(mode$, identical('rect.ready'))
  const toRectDrawingMode$ = startPos$.mapTo('rect.drawing')

  /* 3 */
  const drawingRect$ = startPos$
    .map(startPos =>
        .when(mode$, identical('rect.drawing'))
        .map(movingPos => PolygonItem.rectFromPoints(startPos, movingPos)),

  /* 4 */
  const addItem$ = mouse.up$
    .when(mode$, identical('rect.drawing'))
  const toIdleMode$ = addItem$.mapTo('idle')

  return {
    drawingItem: drawingRect$,
    action: addItem$,
    nextMode: xs.merge(toRectReadyMode$, toIdleMode$, toRectDrawingMode$),

Code blocks 1-4 are logics at different stages.

  • Block 1: Press shortcut R in idle mode to enter into rect.ready mode.
  • Block 2: In rect.ready mode, the position of the mouse press will be the start point of the drawing rectangle. And the mode will change to rect.drawing.
  • Block 3: In rect.drawing mode, the mouse moving position will be the end point of the drawing rectangle. The segment from start point to end point is a diagonal of the drawing rectangle. We call PolygonItem.rectFromPoints to create a new polygon from the two points as the drawing preview.
  • Block 4: In rect.drawing mode, when mouse is released we peek drawingRect$ to get the drawing rectangle and transform it into an action which will add an polygon to state.

The above code maintains the mode at different stages, reacts to mouse events correctly according to the current mode, handles the drawing preview, and adds a new polygon when the drawing operation is completed. It is expressive thanks to mouse/keyboard abstraction and various operators of streams. Moreover, the above interaction function, in essence, is just a pure function that maps from input streams to output streams, which makes this code easy to understand and easy to test.


šŸŽØ A simple SVG editor which focuses on editing polygons/polylines and attaching semantic data to them.




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