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Installation and User Manual


The sections below describe how to install The Tree Project program and use it.
You first need to install the program before you can use it. Installation requires basic computer skills. Also, you need to have Java installed on your computer. But first follow the instructions below to avoid an unnecessary Java installation.

Installation Manual

Follow these steps to install the program:

  1. Download the executable code, which comes in the form of a zip file called ‘’, and save it to a convenient location on your hard drive. The download should only take a few seconds. Note that the current version of the code is 5.0.
  2. Extract the contents of the zip file by double clicking on it and then choosing ‘Extract’ or ‘Extract all’ or something like that. (For example in Windows Dutch version you would choose ‘Alle bestanden uitpakken’).
  3. Navigate to the folder where the contents were placed: you should see directories called ‘config’, ‘images’ and ‘trees’ and a file called ‘TTP.jar’ (or ‘TTP’ if the extension is hidden).
  4. Double click on the TTP.jar file. If all goes well then you should see a short animation: The Tree Project start screen

Congratulations! You successfully installed and started the program!

Note: Due to a bug in more recent Java implementations, you may have to manually stretch the screen a little bit to see all the buttons.

What if it doesn't work?

There may be several reasons why things didn't work out…

User Manual

Screen control

So you started the program. Now imagine that you view your model through a screen. You move through your 3D model by moving the screen, using the twelve buttons of the ‘Screen control’ panel on the right. There are six buttons to shift the screen, see the left-hand picture below, and six buttons to rotate the screen, see the right-hand picture below.

the 12 directions in which the screen can be moved

For example the ‘UP’ button corresponds with the arrow pointing up in the left-hand picture and will move the screen upwards (so the model looks to be going down), and the ‘PUSH TOP’ button corresponds with the curved arrow at the top of the screen in the right-hand picture and will tilt the screen by pushing at the top.

The properties file

Because The Tree Project in its current form shows wireframe models, we just see a bunch of lines on the screen. If all lines are of equal thickness and color, there is no way of telling which lines are closer and which lines are farther away. Now, for shapes that are well known, such as a cube, the human mind recognizes these shapes and kind of infers which lines are closer and which lines are farther away. However, this does not always work. So what The Tree Project does, is to reduce the width of the lines and fade to the background color as they get farther away.

The width reduction factor and the fade to background factor are some constants >= 0. Value 0 means no width reduction or fade to background effect at all. The larger these values get, the larger the effect. I found that a good value for the width reduction factor is 0.5 and a good value for the fade to background factor is 0.1.

You set these properties in the configuration file called ‘properties.txt’ in the ‘config’ directory.

The configuration file also allows you to set the background color, the pen width (the width of the wireframe lines were there no width reduction) and the pen color (the color of the wireframe lines were there no fade to background).

Creating your own models

By choosing the ‘Open…’ menu item in the ‘File’ menu you can read other tree files. A tree file contains a model.

reading another tree file using the File menu

The first time that you choose ‘Open…’, the ‘trees’ directory is shown, but of course you can put your tree files anywhere you want.

To define a model, you create a set of nodes and a set of branches to connect the nodes.
Each node has an x, y and z coordinate in 3D space.

the coordinate system and the start position of the screen

The picture above also shows the start position of the screen through which you view a model.

Now, a tree file contains all the definitions for the nodes and branches that make up a model. Actually, a tree file is a file that conforms to a set of simple rules:

For example, the file ‘pyramid.ttp’ in the ‘trees’ directory is a valid tree file:

! pyramid: first define the base nodes, second define the apex node

! p = pyramid
! n = node
! b = branch

! nodeName  nodeX  nodeY  nodeZ
  pn1      -250.0    0.0 1000.0
  pn2       250.0    0.0 1000.0
  pn3       250.0    0.0 1500.0
  pn4      -250.0    0.0 1500.0
! branchName  nodeP  nodeQ
  pb1         pn1    pn2
  pb2         pn2    pn3
  pb3         pn3    pn4
  pb4         pn4    pn1
  pn5         0.0  500.0 1250.0
  pb5         pn1    pn5
  pb6         pn2    pn5
  pb7         pn3    pn5
  pb8         pn4    pn5

As you would expect, when you read this tree file using ‘Open…’ you will see a pyramid.

Note that things become complicated very easily. Use ‘Open…’ to read the tree file called ‘city.ttp’. Although more impressive than a simple pyramid, note how cluttered things become when using wireframe lines. Also try to open this file in a normal text editor and see how complex the file is! This calls for new features:

If you think about these features, you will soon realize that these are major tasks. But I will start working on them in the future.