File Exchange Pick of the Week

Our best user submissions

Blinking text in MATLAB (Experimental Feature!)

I'm excited to be back for a special guest visit to the Pick of the Week blog, more than eleven years after I founded it with Doug. I'm extra excited because I have the opportunity to introduce to you a feature I've been playing with that we are hoping to get into MATLAB really soon.

We hear requests for adding features to MATLAB graphics all of the time. Readers of this blog are hopefully well aware now that we released a massive update to MATLAB graphics last year in R2014b. This offered a lot of the enhancements you've been asking for, but missed the one that I hear about the most.

MATLAB has unfortunately lagged a bit behind HTML in providing the ability to build gorgeous grabbing user interfaces (like this one). HTML has long offered the ability make webpages really come to life, with embedded music, animated GIFs, dynamic backgrounds, and best of all - blinking text. I'm slowly chipping away at these, trying to make the case to the MATLAB developers that we need to bring all of these features into MATLAB.

As part of this effort, I've put a prototype of a function on the File Exchange that makes it easy to make any text on a UI blink:

BLINK Make a graphics component blink


blink has everything you need:
  • Start blinking
  • Stop blinking
  • Blink at any speed
  • Blink multiple elements on one figure at the same time, all at different speeds
Despite the complete obviousness (to me) that this is the next great graphics feature for MATLAB, I haven't been able to convince too many developers that I am right. Here's where I need your help. If you agree, please post a comment below explaining how important blinking text is to your use of MATLAB. Or, download blink. Lots of times. Every day. When I show that we've got 1,000 downloads a month, I'm sure people will start to listen.

If for some unfathomable reason you think I've got it wrong and that we should be working on something else for graphics and apps, I guess you could say what you think in a comment instead. Just be sure to check out the beautiful App Designer tech preview first to get a sense of what we are already working on. (Note: The App Designer preview only works in MATLAB R2014b.) Here's to your good health this April, and to many more years of beautiful MATLAB Apps!

One more thing - I would be remiss if I were to forget to wish you a very happy April Fool's Day!

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