* EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

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EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

Subject arising from:
Diagram/Chart Performance (21259)
2021 Converted Icons (19216)
David2416 wrote: 07 Dec 2022 11:43 Hi all,
I recently found my diagrams and charts were taking much longer to load than previously. A little investigation showed the issue was with a couple of Country Flags I had created. I found that their size was over 320,000kb! Other Country Flags are in the range 1kb to 675kb. Regenerating these new flags to more reasonable size of around 250kb vastly improved the performance.
The Country Flags were created using IrfanView version 4.60 and were saved as .emf files.

I hope this tip may be of use to others.
FH supplies "flag icons" for the "UN states" in the emf format preferred by FH.V7. These can be used as icons on diagrams to indicate nationality, residence etc.

In the Knowledge Base there are downloadable icon sets including:
  • Country Flag Census Icons (EMF)
    • Numbered Census Icons in EMF format for England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Isle of Man, USA and Canada ( and a set X for NOT in )
The identified need is for others; specifically Scotland and Wales - but also presumably England and NI (NI, Ulster6 and Ulster9) and potentially other Ulster Provinces and British and Irish county flags.

Non GB&I users may well want flags for US states etc.
ColeValleyGirl wrote: 07 Dec 2022 15:58 David,

Open a topic in Maintaining the KB?

I'd be grateful if somebody other than me would handle most of the work... I certainly am not skilled enough to do the image conversion (especially bearing in mind the issues identified here re transparent backgrounds: 2021 Converted Icons (19216))
Issues:
  1. Where to get them
    • Wikipedia has public domain county flags e.g. England Counties
    • Others may already have suitable sets - if so, please come forward!
  2. Getting them into the preferred format:
    • emf format
    • with transparent backgrounds - although if an image of a rectangular flag is properly clipped there should be no "background" to worry about. "Fluttering flags" are probably inappropriate for images that are only ever going to be icons.
    • and with minimised size.*
  3. Collating them and zipping them up into sensible downloadable "icon sets"
* size. I earlier suggested a 1 kbyte limit. This may be optimistic. Can anyone suggest a sensible size limit for images that are only ever going to be displayed as icons (no more than 64 pixels across - or less?) when converted to emf?

I can do a certain amount of collating - I could take on collating GB&I counties/provinces/countries, but am nervous about the work involved in getting them into emf format (plus at the moment being on V6, bmp files are of more interest to me. In addition getting them into the emf format which is a Microsoft proprietary format may be sub-optimum on my linux machine).

So replies please:
  • If you already have suitable public domain sets of flags beyond the Nation-State flags already available
  • If you can advise about suitable maximum file size for emf icon files
  • a convenient means to convert other formats to emf - preferably in batch. I suspect that GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program - linux developers have warped naming practices!) has add-ins that would do this, but does anyone already know of a suitable program/process?
  • if you need or are willing to collate sets of flags (e.g. US States)
(Aside: would it be convenient if we could for things like icons just link into a wikimedia image on-line? e.g. Shropshire - SVG file, nominally 240 × 144 pixels, file size: 57 KB)
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by Mark1834 »

I’ve not used emf files before, but I’ve done plenty of batch conversions and resizing in Irfan View, and it generally works well. I’m happy to have a go at converting files to the correct size and format.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by Mark1834 »

Should we be asking a more fundamental question?

The largest FH7 flag icon file is the flag of Ecuador, which is 675 kb, and displays in IrfanView as a whopping 18k x 12k image file! If I reduce it to a typical icon size, the file size becomes 9 kb. If you add the large file to a diagram, it is a mess, as it cannot cope with all the fine detail in the centre crest, and the reduced file looks much better (right hand image)
flag.PNG
flag.PNG (16.21 KiB) Viewed 2798 times
Have CP simply copied a library of public domain images without considering their fitness for purpose?
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

I would suggest, based on the sets of icons I have made myself, that 1k - 5k is about normal, but the more complicated flags may take more space.

I don't know how accurate you want to be, but a lot of flags have different aspect ratios to each other and that should probably be respected.

I can help with conversion too. I tend to use Inkscape which is free and designed for vector graphics (https://inkscape.org/) - although as Mark has said, IrfanView can make a tidy effort of it too. I might be happy to help collecting the graphics together, but I'd like to see if there is an actual need for these icons before investing any time, i.e., whether anyone is actually going to use them or whether it's an exercise for the sake of completeness. Perhaps anyone interested in using them can add to this topic.
Last edited by ADC65 on 07 Dec 2022 23:53, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

Mark1834 wrote: 07 Dec 2022 23:47 Have CP simply copied a library of public domain images without considering their fitness for purpose?
I'm going to guess yes :lol:
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

satyricon wrote: 07 Dec 2022 23:51 I'd like to see if there is an actual need for these icons before investing any time, i.e., whether anyone is actually going to use them or whether it's an exercise for the sake of completeness. Perhaps anyone interested in using them can add to this topic.
Well the original need arose from someone wanting Scottish and Welsh flags - which are not in the FH supplied set. I have previously experimented with county flags so that diagrams can give an indication of geographical scatter of families - hence my willingness to collate GB&I county/provincial/national flags. I probably only actually need about half the English Counties, about 6 Scottish ones and 3 Irish ones (and no Welsh ones) but I can see the sense in trying to do them all at once to a common standard.

Whether US States etc, turn out to be a "sake of completeness" exercise or not depends on others, but I wanted to acknowledge that there might be requirements outside GB&I.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by Mark1834 »

Given that it is very easy for users to create suitable emf format icons for themselves with IrfanView with a bit of basic guidance, I think there is a place for a KB primer on icons and graphics files. It would introduce the basic concepts of formats (bit-mapped vs. vector), size, transparency, etc, perhaps with a worked example using IrfanView.

In other words, we give users the ability to help themselves, rather than just more free handouts from the usual suspects. And in response to the obvious next question - I am prepared to draft it, but it won't be until the new year (perhaps while others are concentrating on assembling a basic library).

It feels very odd that CP don't provide an easy way to use custom icons, and force users to write directly to the ProgramData folder. I never use icons, so don't generally take much notice of threads that discuss their use, but has it come up before? It feels like bad programming practice to me.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by tatewise »

Regarding the location of Icon files, prior to FH V7 they could be held anywhere in the PC filing system, rather like Media files.
That caused problems if the Icon files were moved or migrated to a different PC because the Diagram Box Icon links got broken, but unlike Media files, there was no repair broken links option.

So FH V7 demands that Icon files are in the ProgramData Icons folder whose path is the same on every PC so the Diagram Box Icon links should not get broken (unless you change the filename or move the Icon file to a new Icons subfolder).
It means the Icon files are always easily included in the Backup and Restore FH Settings plugins.
See FH Help page Box Features Dialog under Icon which only describes bmp and not emf format files.

I agree that custom Icons should be better supported, perhaps with File > Import/Export or Diagram commands, so the ProgramData folder does not need direct access.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

satyricon wrote: 07 Dec 2022 23:51 I don't know how accurate you want to be, but a lot of flags have different aspect ratios to each other and that should probably be respected.
My feeling is that you respect the aspect ratio and that you try to arrange for all icons to have a consistent height - which looks tidier when arranged along the bottom of a diagram box.

I'm trying to get my mind around how you do this given that when you select an icon you specify dpi (dots per inch?) as the size - so the actual size will be a function of the height of the image, the resolution in which it was saved (the combination of which gives you the "dot height" (?)) and the requested dpi.
Mark1834 wrote: 08 Dec 2022 08:58 Given that it is very easy for users to create suitable emf format icons for themselves with IrfanView with a bit of basic guidance, I think there is a place for a KB primer on icons and graphics files. It would introduce the basic concepts of formats (bit-mapped vs. vector), size, transparency, etc, perhaps with a worked example using IrfanView.

... And in response to the obvious next question - I am prepared to draft it, but it won't be until the new year (perhaps while others are concentrating on assembling a basic library).
Mark, as you can see from the above my foggy brain is beginning to struggle with some of these concepts. Some advice about preparing images for use as pictures in DIagrams and Reports as well as for an "icon set" - e.g. a set that will have sufficient consistency to work beside each other - would be very welcome to me. I notice that the idea of different resolutions for screen vs print seems to have lapsed - which if true must make life easier. I think you need to tread a careful line between the requirements for good images/icons in FH and what that means conceptually and an "all out manual on image management" in a particular program - although I suspect that IrfanView is in many's toolbox of utilities.

(The main article on Icons in the Knowledge Base helps with where to store icons and how to control their usage. It could do with a link from it to any page that you might write.)

Your Ecuador flag is an interesting example - I suspect some of the English County flags are a bit "fussy" and an "editorial decision" needs to be made about what happens when you shrink them to icon size. Certainly IrfanView which you used to shrink the Ecuadorian flag has done a better scaling job than the rendering engine in FH!
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by Mark1834 »

davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 11:17 (The main article on Icons in the Knowledge Base helps with where to store icons and how to control their usage. It could do with a link from it to any page that you might write.)
I'd probably start with that and rewrite it with the emphasis on FH7, which is significantly different to older versions and is probably >90% of the user base now (at least those who are using FH to the depth of needing icons) and >99% of new users.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 11:17 I'm trying to get my mind around how you do this given that when you select an icon you specify dpi (dots per inch?) as the size - so the actual size will be a function of the height of the image, the resolution in which it was saved (the combination of which gives you the "dot height" (?)) and the requested dpi.
I'm open to correction here, but I believe the dpi option does not appear for emf-format files, only for other file types. Using emf files, the size is determined by the Diagram Options > Dimensions > More Dimensions > Icon Size parameters. This is what I use and it gives a regularity in icon sizes. So to follow through on your point, if all the flags were standardized at, say, 100px height, they could have variable widths as defined by their aspect ratio.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

satyricon wrote: 08 Dec 2022 11:58 I'm open to correction here, but I believe the dpi option does not appear for emf-format files, only for other file types. Using emf files, the size is determined by the Diagram Options > Dimensions > More Dimensions > Icon Size parameters. This is what I use and it gives a regularity in icon sizes. So to follow through on your point, if all the flags were standardized at, say, 100px height, they could have variable widths as defined by their aspect ratio.
Thanks, I had not picked that up from perusing the help files. I needed to look on the "More Dimensions" page under "other":
V7 Help wrote:Icon size Use this setting to specify the size (height and width) of the space that you wish to allocate for each icon displayed below each box (if any). The display of icons is controlled on the Boxes tab of Diagram Options.

Note: This setting is used with vector format icons only. Pre-installed icons use a vector format. Custom icons usually are not. Icon Size is ignored when displaying custom or legacy bitmap icons (if any) - that is, icons in bitmap file format.
Gap between icons This setting specifies the horizontal gap between icons, and the vertical gap between rows of icons.
For completeness the help on Box Features says:
When you select a custom icon that is in bitmap format, a field appears, Size, that allows you to specify the dots-per-inch value to use for bitmap images (this is not needed or possible for pre-installed icons). When you increase the number of dots per inch, you effectively make the icon appear smaller when displayed in a diagram. Conversely, if you reduce the dpi the icons will get bigger, The default is 250 dpi. The minimum size value is 50 dpi.
Does that mean they have also addressed the issue (mentioned in the KB article) of icons overlapping any box shadow? Putting extra "transparent background" above each icon in the image files to get round this seemed a kludge to be avoided - particularly if producing new icon sets.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by tatewise »

As I said earlier, the FH Help page Box Features Dialog under Icon only describes bmp and not emf format files. So it has hardly been changed since FH V6 and needs updating for the now standard emf format files.

A quick experiment shows Icons can still overlap box shadows.
However, the Dimensions tab, More Dimensions... button, Gap between icons.... Vert. spacing can fix it, although if you have more than one row of Icons they may be too far apart.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by Mark1834 »

Presumably you have raised a ticket with CP to request that?
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

So rather than doing any real work this afternoon, I have been having a look at creating and converting some flags to see how they look in FH. Unfortunately I found using the supplied flags rather aesthetically unpleasing. Because they are all different sizes and shapes, I had to alter the Icon Size parameter to give a standard height, but this resulted in quite large gaps between my other square icons. If you're using mainly 2:3 ratio icons this might not be a problem for you.

Screenshot 2022-12-08 144730.jpg
Screenshot 2022-12-08 144730.jpg (16.68 KiB) Viewed 2669 times

Note the red square and black circle are my icons for other things.

I had the idea to make the flag icons square. Although this does not respect the actual aspect ratio of the flag, I decided it was better looking on diagrams. I just resized the flag, although a better method for most flags is to crop rather than resize.

Screenshot 2022-12-08 145351.jpg
Screenshot 2022-12-08 145351.jpg (16.65 KiB) Viewed 2669 times

A closer view:

Screenshot 2022-12-08 150402.jpg
Screenshot 2022-12-08 150402.jpg (60.92 KiB) Viewed 2668 times

Any thoughts?



Incidentally, I discovered the Icons folder has a text file which says where the icons came from and what licence they are used under:
Most Flags are from WikiMedia

Public Domain Flags
====================

This repository contains the public domain flags of all the 249 countries that
have been officially assigned a two-letter country code by the
[ISO 3166-1 alpha2][iso3166a2] standard.

The files are in the public domain and were obtained from
[Wikimedia Commons][commons].


A few (ai,bm,bz,fk,gs,im,ky) are from https://github.com/csmoore/country-flag-icons

Provided using the MIT licence
Last edited by ADC65 on 08 Dec 2022 16:37, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by tatewise »

I got better Icon displays if the Dimensions tab, More Dimensions... Icon Size is set to Horiz. 0.4" Vert. 0.2"
i.e. Allow the Icons to be wider than they are high, rather than square with the default setting of 0.25" for both.

However, some Flags have a white border on one or other edges which upsets the layout, e.g. ai.emf for Anguilla has a large white border across the bottom that makes the Icon sit higher than normal.

I don't know if anybody has reported the Icon and Box Shadow overlap problem to CP.
Pretty sure that I haven't but I don't use Icons much.
It is a pity that we can only see our own CP reports and not search all reports.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

satyricon wrote: 08 Dec 2022 15:03 So rather than doing any real work this afternoon, I have been having a look at creating and converting some flags to see how they look in FH. Unfortunately I found using the supplied flags rather aesthetically unpleasing. Because they are all different sizes and shapes, I had to alter the Icon Size parameter to give a standard height, but this resulted in quite large gaps between my other square icons. If you're using mainly 2:3 ratio icons this might not be a problem for you.

Image

Note the red square and black circle are my icons for other things.
Interesting - showing that a bit of planning for this exercise is probably sensible!

Your first screen shot does not look as if you have set all icons to have a consistent height - do some of the image files have blank space around them (particularly above and below)? I rather imagined that with images close cropped to "the flag rectangle" (let's not worry too much at the moment about non-rectangular flags), setting a constant height would mean that variations in aspect ratio would be taken up in the width.

Do you think the icons are rendered with a constant "interval" (x₁=0px, x₂=0px+std space, x₃=0px+2xStd space, etc. irrespective of individual width) rather than with constant space between them?
Last edited by davidf on 08 Dec 2022 16:10, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

tatewise wrote: 08 Dec 2022 15:59 I don't know if anybody has reported the Icon and Box Shadow overlap problem to CP.
I think it ought to be reported - particularly if it is carried through to V7. I can't see any reason for it to be intentional - and the kludge requires different icon sets for different shadow depths!

Either they need to determine the top of the first icon row by reference to the box height and any shadow depth, or they need to allow users to set a vertical space.

If the latter I would find a way of extending diagram boxes with a few blank lines and then putting in negative vertical space for the icons - so that they end up sitting neatly within the box, but below all text! (I've been doing too much CSS positioning!)
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 16:02 Your first screen shot does not look as if you have set all icons to have a consistent height - do some of the image files have blank space around them (particularly above and below)? I rather imagined that with images close cropped to "the flag rectangle" (let's not worry too much at the moment about non-rectangular flags), setting a constant height would mean that variations in aspect ratio would be taken up in the width.
Yes, this is the problem - they are set to a consistent height - in this case 0.6cm x 0.6cm. Setting them to 1.0cm x 1.5cm (see below) gives a slightly better result, as Mike found and describes, but the problem is there is a lot of space around the supplied icons.

Screenshot 2022-12-08 162308.jpg
Screenshot 2022-12-08 162308.jpg (18.05 KiB) Viewed 2639 times
davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 16:02 Do you think the icons are rendered with a constant "interval"
The gap is set in the More Dimension tab

Screenshot 2022-12-08 163205.jpg
Screenshot 2022-12-08 163205.jpg (79.33 KiB) Viewed 2639 times
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

What happens if you set an icon vertical size, but leave the horizontal size blank - will it self-set according to the aspect ratio?
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by tatewise »

davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 16:08 I think it ought to be reported - particularly if it is carried through to V7. I can't see any reason for it to be intentional - and the kludge requires different icon sets for different shadow depths!
You are welcome to report the Icon and Shadow conflict to CP.

The Icon Vert. or Horiz. dimension cannot be left blank. If deleted it defaults to 0" and the Icons are not visible.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

tatewise wrote: 08 Dec 2022 17:04
davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 16:08 I think it ought to be reported - particularly if it is carried through to V7. I can't see any reason for it to be intentional - and the kludge requires different icon sets for different shadow depths!
You are welcome to report the Icon and Shadow conflict to CP.
Ticket #449521
tatewise wrote: 08 Dec 2022 17:04 The Icon Vert. or Horiz. dimension cannot be left blank. If deleted it defaults to 0" and the Icons are not visible.
Rats! So the dimensions set are "maximum dimensions" - specifying a rectangle within which the icon will be centred?
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by ADC65 »

davidf wrote: 08 Dec 2022 17:22 Rats! So the dimensions set are "maximum dimensions" - specifying a rectangle within which the icon will be centred?
Yes, as far as I can tell. They will size to the largest side and then centre to the other dimension. It's hard to tell and I could be wrong. Examples attached. Some (or maybe most) people may not care, based on some of the screenshots I have seen of icons that are all shapes and sizes next to each other. This isn't a criticism. It's just that I work a lot from diagrams and I like to have them tidy/regularly spaced. If someone has all sorts of icons already, they may not care about standardization of extra flags; in fact they may not want it.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by davidf »

Yup, I would want the constant heights, that you happen to have achieved in your second shot (2x1), but with a constant gap, that you happen to have achieved in you first shot (1x1)! It looks as if the icons are positioned in a fixed grid determined by the "icon dimensions" (misnamed!)

I suspect that constant height and constant gap is harder to render - and may be impossible if CP are using a rendering library that they cannot enhance.

I'm guessing that with the exception of flags most/many icons are or could be 1x1, so the "problem" with the current setup is when you mix aspect ratios and get a ragged appearance.
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Re: EMF icons - specifically sub-UN State flags (Munster, Scotland, Flanders etc.)

Post by David2416 »

I resampled/resized my Scotland Flag and the Ecuador Flag using IrfanView to have a height of 60 pixels. They seem to display quite nicely and are now 18 and 17 kb respectively. I have attached the icon files, the extension will need to be changed to .emf from .txt
Screenshot 2022-12-08 140909.jpg
Scotland2 - Copy.txt
EC2 - Copy.txt
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