The past few days of Open Hack Day 2008 were awesome, one of the most fun developer events I've been to in a long time. In the course of going to Sunnyvale, I was playing with BOSS (Build your Own Search Service) and it tickled me that using BOSS to search for images was actually easier than using the Flickr APIs themselves. Of course, there are more things you can do with Flickr APIs but if you want to just dig out lots of photos, nothing beats BOSS image search. I was mulling on a good hack to write (Yahoos are not eligible to participate in the competition but I was interested in just the hacking) when it occurred to me that photo mosaics require a large number of photos, and this need is perfectly served by the BOSS image search.
Photo mosaics are pretty and fascinating. For the uninitiated, a photo mosaic is a picture montage made with a large number of photos. An original photo is divided into a number of smaller rectangular parts, each of which is replaced by a photo (called a photo tile) that is about the same average color. When viewed from afar, the original photo stands out but when magnified appropriately, each photo tile shows up as individual photos. Photo mosaics have been popular for a while.
In this article I will describe how we can use Ruby to create a simple photo mosaic building program that stitches together a mosaic from any number of photos. While this article is primarily for developers, anyone can just use the program to create fun photo mosaics.
Sau Sheong Chang
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Engineering Director for South-East Asia