New Features in Mira Pro UE 8

Many new features in this beta release are described here. Also see the on-line User's Guide for version 8. In particular, see the new Tutorials chapter.

Toolbars and Menus

Toolbars now offer the following features:

Toolbars can be oriented vertically as well as horizontally. To move a toolbar to a different window border, grab the toolbar's "grip" and drag it to the new border.  The picture at right identifies the toolbars and their features. The toolbars are shown docked vertically along the left main window border.

To configure or reset toolbar buttons, click the small down-arrow at the right or bottom end of the toolbar.

Several toolbar buttons now have down-arrows to open a menu of additional functions.

Fine positioning of a toolbar among other toolbars along a border is most easily done using two steps:

  1. Move the toolbar to the new border and dock it there. Release the mouse button.
  2. Re-grip the toolbar and then finely position the toolbar relative to other toolbars.

The toolbar layout is remembered between Mira sessions.

Docking Panes

Image window with docking panesDocking panes are now used for several Image window commands. Panes are provided for the Transfer Function, Palette Adjustment, FITS Header, and Pixel Table. In the picture at right, all but the FITS Header pane are shown docked on their Image Window border. Each pane is described below.

Docking Panes are opened and closed by toggling their button on a toolbar. Pane buttons are indicated by a rectangular outline on the icon. Buttons on the docking panes allow them to be closed, aligned to a different window border, or shrunk to a tab. You also can drag them away from the window to float on the desktop.

Docking Pane ButtonThe Docking Pane layout for a given window type can be saved or modified using the Docking Pane toolbar button or commands in the View > Docking Panes menu. The toolbar button and its drop menu are shown at right. The button saves the layout. The drop button offers additional commands.

Pixel Table PanePixel Table Pane: This pane shows pixel values near the location of the image cursor. With the Pixel Table open, the pixel values track the image cursor as it moves using the mouse or the arrow keys. Note that the window must have the keyboard focus to move the cursor using the arrow keys. To see a menu of Pixel Table commands, right click on the table.

Palette Adjustment PanePalette Adjustment Pane: This pane provides palette adjustments using the mouse and shows the pixel values assigned to the palette entries. It is available in both horizontal and vertical orientations. The vertical version adds a button for resetting the palette and another button for opening the Palette Manager dialog.

  • To modify the palette, mouse-down on the color ramp and move the mouse while keeping the left button pressed. Sideways and back-forth movements change brightness and contrast simultaneously.
  • To view the pixel values assigned to the grayscale/color palette entry, right mouse-down on the palette and move the mouse along the palette while keeping the right button pressed.

Transfer Function PaneTransfer Function Pane: This pane provides adjustments to the image transfer function. This pane can be opened in horizontal and vertical orientations.

Fits Header PaneFITS Header Pane: This pane shows the FITS format image header. The pane updates when an operation modifies the image header.

To save the pane layout for future Image windows, use commands from the GUI button on the main toolbar or the View | GUI menu command.

Tear-off Submenus

Tear-off menus can be dragged away from their parent menu to provide a Toolbar-like method for accessing commonly used menu commands. Menus with this feature have a narrow  [.......] grip along their top border. After the tear-away menu separates from its parent, you can dock it as a toolbar along one  of the main window borders.

To delete a docked tear-off menu, mouse-down on its grip and undock (float) it, then click its [x] button to close the floating menu.


Command Dialogs

More than 45 commands use new dialogs that provide enhanced capability. These commands are located in the first 5 submenus under the Process menu of the top menu bar. The Gaussian Filter dialog shown at right identifies the new dialog and command features.


Source images used by the dialog now can be opened from files as well as displayed images.

Dialogs are now "modeless", meaning that they can remain open while you have access to other aspects of the GUI. They do not lock-out other functionality until you close them.

All dialogs can be resized to allow some of the controls to display more information.

These dialogs are standardized in operation and appearance, and offer new functionality in terms of a Profile Control for parameter selection, a Source Selection Control Group for selecting images, and a Region Control Group for selecting the part of the image to be processed.

Profile Control

Profile ControlIn Mira 8, some 77 command dialogs use a Profile Control to load and save named sets of parameters used by the dialog. The profile command is always the top-most item on the dialog. The current profile name is shown in the list box. The arrow button to the right of the list box has menu commands to save the parameter set, save it as a new name, delete it, or lock it to prevent accidental changes. To load one of the saved parameter sets, select its name from the list box. By default, the initial parameter set has the profile name "new".

Source images processed by the dialog command are selected using the new Source Images Control Group, as described below.

Source Images Control Group

Dialog selecting source imagesThis group of controls is used to select the source images that will be processed by the dialog. The group appears immediately below the Profile group and is outlined with a group box. A few dialogs add a secondary Source Image group when a second image is required (i.e., the Image Arithmetic, Imbed Image, and Normalize Image commands). This tool provides a batch mode alternative to opening images to the display and is available in 41 different command dialogs. The Select button opens a selection dialog which offers 5 options for selecting source images. These range from selecting an open Image Window to selecting files meeting criteria based on FITS header keyword values.

Select Source Image dialogsThe [Select] button opens the Select Source Images dialog which offers 5 methods for selecting target images to be processed. Click the thumbnail image at right to see all 5 selection dialogs.

  1. Image Window: Source files are taken from the currently selected Image Window. If the window contains an Image Set, then you can elect to process the entire image set or just the top-most image visible in the window. To process the image set, keep the Process Image Set button on the Image Window toolbar set at [P]. To process only the top-most image, toggle the [P] button to its [P1] form. To create an Undo backup copy of displayed images, check the Save Undo Copy box in the Source Images Control Group.
  2. Folder: Source files are taken from a folder. You can set criteria for file selection based on specific keywords in the FITS image header or using a wildcard file template. If no criteria are selected, then all files in the folder are selected.
  3. Drag from Explorer: Source files are selected from those dragged from Windows Explorer (the "file manager") and dropped onto the Files field in the selection dialog.
  4. Mira File List: Source files are opened from files contained in a Mira File List. Simply select the file list and the files will be determined when the command is processed. 
  5. Browse Files: Source files are selected manually using the Windows File Open dialog.

Source Region Control Group

The bottom region of several dialogs includes a Source Region Control Group for selecting a processing rectangle on the source images. This is shown in the diagram of the new Command Dialogs described above.

Image Windows

One of the major new user interface changes in version 8 is docking panes which contain specific types of data related to the host image window. The Image Window at right shows several docking panes open at once. You can shrink each of the panes to tabs, close them, or change their anchor. Their layout can also be saved for future Image Windows.


Mira version 8 uses a new palette format which stores palettes in the Windows Registry. As a consequence, the software comes with a relatively small set of palettes in the new native format.  However, a large collection of palettes from previous version is included and these can be converted and saved using the View | Palette | Import Palettes command. This command can also be used to import palettes you created in Mira 7. Palettes can be saved to an "old format" file outside the Windows Registry using the View | Palette | Export Palettes command. The new Palette Manager dialog is resizeable

Image window Toolbar

Image ToolbarImage Toolbar: The Image Toolbar layout has been changed. Command buttons previously located along the horizontal image toolbar border have been moved onto main toolbars to make room for an image information readout. Also, 4 buttons were added beside the information readouts for configuring the information display.:

Image Properties DisplayImage Information Readout: This field was added to the toolbar to show basic information about the currently displayed image. The information shown in the readout field can be changed using the button beside the display field. The display is automatically updated when a new image member is becomes the current image. This dialog is shown at right. Not all items can be displayed in the width of the toolbar field at one time.

X-Axis PropertiesChanging the Linear World Coordinate ("X" and "Y") Format: The world coordinate fields have been a Mira feature for 2 decades. A new capability was added for changing the number format shown in the X- and Y-axis world coordinate readouts when a linear coordinate calibration is used. A linear calibration might be units of arc seconds or microns per pixel. As shown in the diagram at right, to change the X-axis format, double-click on the X-Axis world coordinate readout. To change the Y-axis format, click the button to the right of the X- or Y-axis readout field. Since the readout is particular to the image toolbar and the image window, changes are not saved to the image. However, the dialog gives you several options for saving the format changes for coordinates displayed in this window or future image windows. Also see the new Set Coordinate Units command.

Z-Axis PropertiesChanging the Pixel Value ("Z") Coordinate Format: The pixel value format can be changed using the button to the right of the pixel value readout field. Since the pixel value readout is particular to the image toolbar and the image window, changes are not saved to the image. However, the dialog gives you several options for saving the format changes for coordinates displayed in this window or future image windows.

Image Set Button State: These 3 buttons on the left end of the Image Toolbar indicate whether the image set or current image will be processed (P), measured (M), or graphed (G). In previous versions, the status for processing 1 image of the image set was not clearly indicated. In version 8, single image mode is indicated with a "1" next to the P, M, or G.

New commands

Commands on the main toolbar

The following 3 commands are described in the on-line User's Guide:

Kwee-van Worden Solver: Computes the time of minimum and uncertainly for the bottom of a light curve using the Kwee-van Worden algorithm. Paste time/magnitude data into the dialog.

Synthetic Image: Creates a synthetic image using all noise components and has an option for adding artificial stars.

File Event Scripting: Executes a Mira script when triggered by a file event in a matched folder. See the extensive description and tutorial in the on-line documentation.

Commands on the Cursor Tools toolbar

This is one of the toolbars that dock with the Mira main frame.

XY button: This button opens the "Go To Cursor Coordinates" command (also available in the "View | Coordinates" menu or using Ctrl+G on the Image Window). Use this dialog to save the image cursor coordinates, to transfer the cursor position between images, send the cursor to manually entered coordinates, or save a coordinate and then later recall it and send the cursor there.

Menu Commands

Set linear world coordinate unitsSet Linear World Coordinate Units: This dialog is used to define coordinate units for a linear world coordinate calibration. This command is located in the Process | Coordinates menu. The units will be displayed in the Image Toolbar coordinate readouts whenever a linear coordinate calibration exists for that image. The Source Images Control Group defines which images are updated with the specific units. If a window is selected and the window contains an image set, then the choice for updating either the entire image set or just the 1 image currently displayed is handled by the state of the Image Set Processing button (P) on the Image Toolbar.

FITS RGB Image Support

Mira can open an RGB image stored in a FITS file. FITS format does not natively support data having a multi-channel pixel type such as the RGB color images. , Despite that limitation, RGB images are sometimes stored in FITS files using the 3rd axis to store 1 plane each for the R, G, and B channels. There is no standard FITS identifier for such images so Mira implements support through its File Opening Plug-in Interface. To open a FITS RGB file, use the File | Open method but select  FITS RGB Image from the list of file filters, as shown in the picture at right. Be careful not to confuse this filter with the standard FITS file filter, named FITS Images.


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