Hy, I just built the Mac beta DMG and finally got a chance to try it out. It's pretty awesome. My only suggestion for the future is that we should make it work like the HIPS overlay in the Kstars toolbar, so that you can select through different backgrounds. Also we should ship KStars with several preloaded backgrounds. Sorry I guess that was 2 suggestions. . .
A couple comments: Re preloaded backgrounds. We did provide 2 sample backgrounds. You can get them from the "Download Extra Data" portion of the "Startup Wizard". See the two Mars backgrounds (Curiosity & Perseverance panoramas) below. People could contribute more downloadable backgrounds through that same mechanism, though I believe the most valuable backgrounds are the personalized ones--the ones of your own imaging spot.
Re "select through different backgrounds" like HIPs: I agree that the UI could be better, e.g. showing a preview, but you can select different backgrounds by choosing them from the file picker in the terrain settings page. The key is to make sure you store all your backgrounds in the default terrain directory (on Linux: ~/.local/share/kstars/terrain) For instance, in the screenshot below:
Oh nice! I didn't know you put them in the extra data downloads. I downloaded the same ones from this forum.
I'm not sure you understood my other point. For the selection like HIPS, I don't mean just have a combo box in your current preferences location, what I mean is to make it much more accessible like in the toolbar in the Main Window. Rather than having to go into the Menu, then into the Preferences, click on the terrain panel, and find the photo in the file manager, I was thinking it can be just like HIPS, where you just click the icon directly in the toolbar, a list of possible HIPS overlays appears and you just select one from the list. I think this terrain setting is as basic as setting the time, date, location, HIPS overlay, or turning features on or off. It should be selectable from the toolbar like HIPS I think.
I just tried this on my MacBook pro running 11.2.3. Seems generally fine, but I'm especially interested in the terrain feature.I made a terrain.png using the Google StreetView on iPhone, and it imports fine into KStars. I had to fiddle around with the transparency layer because my trees aren't yet leafed out. I will have to redo the image in the summer. But my old "Artificial Horizon" is in there as well, kind of floating behind the photo. Very disconcerting!
The various interface elements for the new Terrain feature and the older Artificial Horizon feature are disjoint in the GUI so it's weirdly difficult to manage them together. I had to click around quite a bit first in KStars and then in Ekos Settings to find all the relevant options. After some fiddling, I was able to deselect Artificial Horizon and get rid of the red-shaded polygon overlay that closely tracks my terrain image.
Once I got rid of the old horizon polygon and turned off the downsampling, the terrain feature is amazing!
Thanks to both of you for getting this done. I am very eager to set up similar terrain images for my dark sites, and especially to have the Scheduler become aware of the horizon (I guess in 3.5.4).
To tell you the truth, I almost never change my terrain background. It's like my telescope's focal length, or which camera I'm using. Set it once and it stays. I guess that's because I view the main benefit of the feature in showing one's own custom background, as opposed to those Mars ones. (Of course, I did change it all the time when I was developing the feature.) However, if I moved my telescope around to the same standard locations, or if I had multiple telescopes, then being able to change that would make a lot of sense--where someone used those spots enough to go through the bother of making custom panoramas for them. Do you think that applies to many folks?
Also, FYI, the ability to turn the feature on/off is in the View menu. There's a "Show Terrain / Stop Showing Terrain" View menu item that I actually bound to a keyboard shortcut (control-shift-T).
Have you made your own custom background? Definitely a game-changer for me.
Oh yes, I understand where you are coming from completely Hy. But we always have to keep in mind that KStars is first and foremost a planetarium program. For educational purposes, for children, for those who are not astrophotographers, changing the terrain is as natural as changing geographic location. It changes the whole look and feel.
That being said, there is one problem with this and that is that KStars can't accurately simulate the stars on Mars right now. . . however, I just checked and Stellarium has this wrong too.