Box Designs

Boxes can draw and remove the boxes whose designs are defined in its configuration file. This page is intended to describe the concept of a box design, clarify some terms used to describe a box design, and how to define your own box designs.

General Box Layout

A box design consists of up to 16 so-called shapes which are labeled in a fashion similar to the points of the compass:

+---------+---------+-----------------+---------+---------+
|         |         |                 |         |         |
|   NW    |   NNW   |        N        |   NNE   |   NE    |
|         |         |                 |         |         |
+---------+---------+-----------------+---------+---------+
|         |               padding               |         |
|   WNW   |  +-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - --+  |   ENE   |
|         |  |                               |  |         |
+---------+                                     +---------+
|         |  |                               |  |         |
|         |               original              |         |
|    W    |  |            input              |  |    E    |
|         |               text                  |         |
|         |  |                               |  |         |
+---------+                                     +---------+
|         |  |                               |  |         |
|   WSW   |  +-- - - - - - - - - - - - - - --+  |   ESE   |
|         |               padding               |         |
+---------+---------+-----------------+---------+---------+
|         |         |                 |         |         |
|   SW    |   SSW   |        S        |   SSE   |   SE    |
|         |         |                 |         |         |
+---------+---------+-----------------+---------+---------+

The sides of the box are sometimes referred to as top (instead of north), right (instead of east), bottom (south), and left (west), in order to avoid confusion with shapes of the same name. The group of shapes NW, NE, SE, and SW is referred to as the corner shapes. The groups of shapes between two corner shapes are called the side shapes.

Shape Restrictions

A design definition does not necessarily need to include specifications for all 16 shapes. You only need to specify the shapes that you need. Of course, at least one shape must be specified.

  • All shapes on a vertical side (inluding corners) must be of equal width.
  • All shapes on a horizontal side (including corners) must be of equal height.

In order to let the box have a dynamic size, certain side shapes must be drawn repeatedly. Those shapes are called elastic shapes.

  • At least one shape per side must be elastic.
  • Corners may not be elastic.
  • No two neighboring shapes may be elastic, i.e. there must always be at least one static shape in between two elastic shapes.

You don’t really need to worry about these restrictions. Boxes will tell you if you violate any of them. So if boxes does not complain, your design is (at least syntactically) great.

Open Box Sides

Many box designs require open box sides, for instance most regional comments. In response to that insight, it was decided to make empty box sides into a supported feature. Thus, if you define a box side to consist entirely of spaces, that side will be considered open and it will not appear in the output.

Of course, you don’t need to actually put the empty shapes into the config file, but boxes will automagically generate empty shapes if they are needed. (Internally, boxes always need at least 8 shapes - the corners, and one shape per side.) When the box is generated, those empty sides will be left out. Thus, boxes can be created which are open on any side.

Padding Area

The last thing to mention about a box design is the padding area, which surrounds the original input text as shown in the figure above. The padding area is located inside the actual box and consists only of spaces. It is frequently used to keep the text from coming too close to the box (that might not look so good in some cases) unless absolutely necessary. "Absolutely necessary" usually means that the user has specified a very small box size. It is also possible to control the padding from the command line, which is why the above figure shows the padding area as a dotted box.

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