[aprssig] Symbol set revisions

James Jefferson Jarvis jj at aprsworld.net
Thu Apr 17 15:53:32 EDT 2008

Long ago in a farway land I wrote some scripts to export Xastir's symbol files 
to PNG files. Here are some links. I think the indentation got a little 
screwed up somewhere along the way:

I chose to use Xastir's symbol set because it is licensed under the GPL (I 
think) and darn easy to deal with. 


On Thursday 17 April 2008, Heikki Hannikainen wrote:
>    Hi Bob,
> On Thu, 17 Apr 2008, Robert Bruninga wrote:
> >> This requires two technical things:
> >> 1) A machine-readable configuration file,
> >
> > Unfortunately, this will be application specific, since all
> > existing applications did it differently.
>    I would still like to argue, that if the published symbol specification
> would be in a machine-readable format instead of a free-form text file, it
> would be possible:
>    1) for people implementing *new* applications to make their new
> applications read this new format, so that the symbols could be easily
> updated in those applications
>    2) for people maintaining current applications to update their
> applications to read this new format
>    3) for other people to write little conversion scripts to convert this
> new format to the formats used by existing, unmaintained applications
>    The reason each application currently has a different symbol
> configuration and image format is that they had no other option but to
> come up with one. It doesn't necessarily have to be like this in the
> future. If there would be a standard format, I'm sure people would be
> happy to use it, and this problem would slowly go away for good.
>    If any significant effort is put into revising the symbol set, it would
> be very useful if the produced new specification would be published in a
> machine-readable format together with the symbol images. If it's easy and
> straightforward to parse, it is more likely to become commonly used in a
> short timeframe.
>    Here's my suggestion how it could look like:
> - A single ZIP file containing both the specification file + the symbol
> images in a directory tree. The specification file has a fixed name, say,
> symbols.cfg (or whatever, as long as it's the same every time).
>    The specification file could be a CSV file, listing the symbol table and
> character, a length-limited short name for the symbol, a longer
> description for those symbols with a non-obvious short name, flags telling
> whether this image is overlayable and rotatable, and the name of the
> symbol image file. Something like this:
> "table","symchar","short_description","long_description","overlayable","rot
>atable","image" "/,"!","Police Stn","Police
> station",0,0,"symbols\pri\033.png"
> "/","""","No Symbol","No Symbol",0,0,"symbols\pri\034.png"
> "/","#","Digi","Digipeater",0,0,"symbols\pri\035.png"
> ... more primary symbols ...
> "\","!",Emergency,A place of emergency,1,0,"symbols\alt\033.png"
> "\","""",No Symbol,No Symbol,1,0,"symbols\alt\034.png"
> "\","#",Digi,Digipeater,1,0,"symbols\alt\035.png"
> Note how a " character is represented as two "'s in a "-delimited string.
> You could edit this in your favourite spreadsheet (excel, openoffice) if
> you like, and it'd be pretty easy to write your application to parse this.
> Then, the files referenced by the .cfg file in the same ZIP file. The file
> paths and names could change from ZIP revision to another, as long as the
> .cfg file points each symbol code to the correct symbol image:
> symbols\pri\033.png
> symbols\pri\034.png
> ...
> symbols\alt\033.png
> symbols\alt\034.png
>    If the new symbol set would be published in this kind of format, it
> would take me just one evening to write code to import the new symbols to
> aprs.fi. The next time the symbol set would be updated, it would take just
> a couple minutes to update. It would also take me just one good evening to
> write code to convert this to ui-view's format, and probably the effort
> for xastir wouldn't be much harder.
>    If the new symbol set is published in the current format, it'll take
> more than one evening to update to it to aprs.fi. It'll take, again, more
> than one evening the next time it is revised. I feel it's time wasted,
> since it *could* be automated with a little coordination, and the time
> could be spent building something new.
>    CSV is very simple to edit by non-technical people (using spreadsheet
> applications), and quite easy to produce by hand. XML would be better,
> more cleanly extendable, and easier to validate, but maybe it'd be too
> advanced to be accepted right now. :)
> > I am so glad to hear that you are considering displaying the
> > ROTATABLE symbols from the original APRS.
>    Actually, I'm not considering it, it's been there since January. 8)
>    - Hessu, OH7LZB
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