Bruno Postle published a first release candidate for hugin-0.7.0 and a recent change in the user interface behavior generated some confusion. Hugin’s workflow was designed when generating a panorama was a simple one-way process: align, warp, blend. But with the advent of exposure blending and HDR an additional dimension was added, which brings about decisions. Is this a single exposure or a stack of multiple exposures? and if it is a stack, should it be fused with enfuse or merged into a fully fledged HDR and tonemapped? Up until recently, these decisions where left to the user. A single exposure process requires different input than the multiple exposures process. And if the input images are fed into the wrong process, inexplicable errors occur and grievances are expressed in our bug tracker.
The developers intimately familiar with the bug tracker, specifically Pablo and Gerry, thought of a simple solution: make only the pertinent processes available and gray out the rest. But how should hugin know?
When the project is ready to stitch, a single exposure panorama will have only partial overlap. A multiple exposure panorama will have 100% overlapping stacks. But what with handheld stacks? and with single exposure panoramas using auto-exposure and relying on hugin’s photometric adjustments? and with the user that simply loads the pictures and heads straight to the stitcher tab? don’t ask me why, ask him. When pictures are freshly loaded their default position on the stitching surface is (0,0), making it look like a big exposures stack – even if it is a single exposure panorama waiting to be distributed on the surface by the control point generator and the optimizer.
Long story short: the subject requires more analysis. And the key learning is not to introduce user-affecting change so late in the release process.
In the heat of the discussion, Guido Kohlmeyer made the most sensible suggestion: leave this change out from the release. The next release cycle should anyway focus on the user interface. The debate is still on, but it is very likely that another release candidate will follow. Dear users, thank you for your patience.