The Fitful Flog

December 16, 2007

The Dodecahedral Bowl and Xara LX

Dodecahedral Bowl

Dodecahedral Bowl

Dodecahedral Bowl

This is one of those folds I did on the bus one morning and thought was very interesting, but then never looked at it again. It’s been kicking around the office and when I recycle the overflow, this one never quite gets into the bin, probably because it still looks vaguely interesting.

Tried to make one the other day and had to go get the original, to see what it was that I had done. Hmm — clever. Wish I had thought of that, or at least remembered having thought of it. It’s not that hard — you make a pentagon in a circle and then make some other pentagons inside it. Here’s a directional crease pattern for your folding pleasure and a postscript file, if the PDF doesn’t work for you.

And it’s the crease pattern that this blog entry is really about. If you’re a Windows or Mac user, there’s lots of choices for drawing diagrams and crease patterns, Adobe Illustrator or CorelDraw, for instance. But under linux, your choices of vector drawing programs are rather more circumscribed. It’s not that they don’t exist or aren’t any good, it’s just that they’re not easily adapted to origami purposes. I’m thinking of sodipodi and Inkscape — excellent for what they are, but they do not fold the mustard, so to speak. (“Cut the mustard,” being an English idiom that means to succeed or to meet expectations.)

I finally tried out Xara LX this week and I must say, it’s pretty darn good. This is an older Windows app that somehow got religion a while back and went open source. The porting promptly began and it’s not a finished item, certainly, but it’s got some good usability going on. Plus, it doesn’t have fifty gazillion requirements. You ever download an application and then spend the rest of the day tracking down all the weird libraries, obscure toolkits and esoteric image collections needed to make it run? Hate that. Xara LX, you make sure you have libstdc++ version 5 — and you probably already do — and untar it. Doubleclick the executable and away you go. Nice.

Can’t say I’ve got it all down yet, but the more I use it, the more I like it. All lot of learning the program is finding where the functions are hidden. Yesterday, I found I could use my mouse wheel to zoom if I held down the control key. That made life a lot easier. And you can straighten polygons by grabbing the handles on the corners and tugging. Very cool, indeed. And I can draw in inches and points (my accustomed idiom) and still print to A4 without having to jump through metric hoops.

Ah, I should speak of printing. Xara LX does not save a file to PDF. Under linux, this is very odd — linux apps speak postscript like natives and all of them seem to save to PDF. But not this one, not yet. So, you print to file, like drawing.ps, and then open a terminal and type ps2pdf drawing.ps. Works fine. Or if you haven’t had the foresight to install ps2pdf on your box, try this neat site.

Xara LX is free like free speech and free like free beer. We like both those things.

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One Response to “The Dodecahedral Bowl and Xara LX”

  1. 1
    Mélisande* Says:

    Now dates are displayed in an unambiguous format, thanks !

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