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Article from Issue 262/2022
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There's a collective groan in Graham's household whenever he gets a new device and finds a terminal prompt. The latest victim to his nmap skills is an LG OLED television!

Virtual whiteboard

Lorien

There are reasons why whiteboards are synonymous with places of learning: They're brilliant for education and brainstorming, they're dynamic and adaptable, and they're collaborative. It's no surprise then that whiteboard functionality has been digitized, not just in schools with touchscreens, but also online where complex information can be presented on a virtual canvas that scrolls left and right and zooms out. A similar idea has been used with note-taking applications on the desktop. These usually mimic a notepad interface for drawing sketches and adding mental doodles rather than finding a way to map more complex ideas across a larger canvas. Even Apple's own note-taking application works in the same way with the next version promising to unshackle the fixed canvas into an infinitely scrollable canvas. Which is something this wonderful application, Lorien, can already do.

Lorien is a whiteboard with an infinite canvas. What this means is that you can start doodling anywhere on the background and then scroll up, down, left, or right to add further annotations or notes, just as you might on an infinitely large university whiteboard. This approach extends to zooming in and out of the canvas so that you could, in theory, fill a virtual microdot full of information behind a single pixel on your screen. This is possible because Lorien isn't storing bitmaps of your doodles and texts, but instead an algorithmic representation of everything you add along with their relative relationships to one another. This is how Inkscape works, how SVG files represent vectors, and how Minecraft rebuilds your house somewhere within a never-ending landscape. It allows huge bitmap images on your screen to be saved as tiny files and redrawn perfectly at any scale. It also means you get infinite undo and redo, as well as SVG export of your doodling. Unlike Inkscape, however, Lorien is only intended for your own notes and brainstorming and not for artwork. To best accomplish this, Lorien has a tabbed interface to work with multiple files at once and will accept files dragged onto the canvas view.

That doesn't mean the drawing tools are simplistic, though. There are brush, eraser, line, and rectangle tools, along with different brush strokes and palettes, but you can't fine tune your drawing in the way you can with something like Krita. Lorien is instead intended to be used to make quick notes and sketches without too much thought or artistic finesse. Your work can still look beautiful, thanks to the anti-aliasing and the vectorized drawing, but only in the way great ideas might when they're written down on the back of an envelope. Lorien is also intended to be used with a stylus, perhaps even with Gnome's new RDP and touchscreen support, where you can use pressure to dynamically change the brush size. But you can also use your boring old mouse, where the middle button is used to drag the canvas, and zooming in and out is mapped to the wheel. Files can then be saved natively or exported as an SVG for importing into another application. Everything is rendered perfectly without taxing your CPU. This is likely because Lorien is built with Godot rather than Qt or GTK, which allows Lorien to take advantage of the same performance acceleration used by games. Even more excitingly, it might mean we see other similarly excellent applications coming from what was once predominately a games engine in the future.

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