Wednesday, December 2, 2009

My Unending Search

Before I finally break down and write my own wallpaper rotator, I figure it's best if I search around some more and see if anything's popped up that fills my requirements.

From a random thread on /w/ I found out about WallPapa, so I installed it and set it up with my wallpapers and played around with it for a little while. Its user interface is way better than Winwall's, primarily because it's resizable and not tiny.

The first thing I looked for, it actually had: resampling the wallpaper while preserving its aspect ratio. Set it to "stretch" and it will fill the screen, preserving aspect ratio. It also has a setting for the background color to use when letterboxing/pillarboxing, as would be expected. It defaults to black, which is what I want, so I didn't have to change it.

Importing directories is really easy. You just click the add button and select the directory. It'll ask you if you want to include subfolders, and then it'll go about looking for every image it can find. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a way to import a directory structure and then selectively exclude certain files or folders within it, which is necessary for me since I have two subdirectories containing images that I don't want to be set as my wallpaper.

So I manually imported all the subdirectories of my wallpaper folder. This would have gone faster if it had an option for "always include subdirectories" so I wouldn't have to select the directory and then hit yes once for each directory.

So now I have the wallpaper list populated with everything I've got. Scrolling through I noticed something strange: it groups files together not alphabetically by filename like one would expect, but alphabetically by file extension, then alphabetically by filename. So all the JPEGs are together, then the PNGs. This is likely due to how it's searching for the files, looking for each extension one at a time and neglecting to sort the results together.

All set, right? I hit Change Wallpaper. It only does things sequentially in the order that they're in the list, but it has a button to randomize the order of the list, so whatever. Then I actually look at the wallpaper. Its resampling is horrible. All the lines are jagged everywhere. It's like it's passing it to Windows' resampler instead of using GD or anything else that's better. I'd actually like to be able to look at my wallpaper without saying to myself "shit that's ugly".

I haven't yet contacted the developer with my concerns, so if I do that maybe there's hope.

Since I like the program overall, I'll do as I did for Polynomial and list some constructive criticisms:
  • Rather than the "shuffle" button reordering the list, it should make the program randomly choose a wallpaper from the list. This way the list can stay sorted.
  • Speaking of sorting, fix it so it's not sorted by file extension.
  • An "exclude file/subdirectory" option is a must for recursive imports.
  • Rather than prompting every time to ask if the directory import should be recursive, have an option for it.
  • Automatically scanning imported directories for new images would be great. I'm not sure if it does this or not because I didn't specifically test it, but it does have an option for manually rescanning the directories.
  • Do resampling with the GD library so it's actually pleasing to the eye.
The verdict: It looks like it'll be an excellent wallpaper rotator in the future.

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