Room Planner

By James Taylor

Originally published in EUG #33


If you move into a house or flat at any time in the future, the chances are that you would spend a fair bit of time and effort sliding different items of furniture across the floor while trying to decide where everything is going to eventually live. It doesn't take much imagination to realise that this somewhat laborious pastime is fraught with the sort of disadvantages that could make the most enthusiastic sideboard-shover lose interest pretty quickly! It's only too easy to put everything in a room, then to discover that perhaps it won't all fit in as neatly as you might have once hoped.

It's equally easy to begin feeling work out after you've moved the largest bookcase across the living room for the third time (even when it's empty!). However, this utility should spell the end of your room arranging problems (well, almost). The Room Planner will allow you to make all of your decisions before you've even moved house - at the comfort of your own keyboard.

Making It Easy

The first thing to do before using the program is to venture forth armed with a tape measure to note the dimensions (width and length) of all the articles of furniture which you will be taking when you move. Then obtain the similar dimensions of the actual rooms in your new abode. Having done this, you're now in the position to use the program.

By specifying the above information, you can use the Room Planner to decide upon the best position for each item of furniture, in every room of the house. Rooms may be defined in terms of the area and shape of their floor and so may the actual pieces of furniture themselves. Once this has been done, the room is displayed as a bird's eye view in two dimensions. Items of furniture may then be selected, displayed and moved around the screen, hence allowing them to be placed anywhere IN the room. Additionally, pieces of furniture may be rotated in quarter-turn steps. Rooms arranged, or otherwise, may also be saved as a file on disk (or tape) to be later reloaded for study or alteration. As a result of using the features provided by the Room Planner, deciding upon the suitability, or even the possibility, of a particular room layout is simply a matter of studying a graphical representation shown on the screen.

Operating Instructions

After CHAINing the Room Planner, you will be presented with a title page and asked if you wish to load a previously saved room. Simply reply to this question (and any others requiring a Yes or No response) by pressing Y or N. If you want to end the program at this stage, hold down CTRL and E together.

Assuming that you have opted not to load a previous room, you will now have to enter the maximum floor dimensions in feet. This is a single value. Therefore, if the room in question was (say), 9 by 11 feet, you should enter 12. This would ensure that the room neatly fitted on the screen. A block of equally spaced dots will then be displayed, the distance between adjacent horizontal and vertical dots representing one foot. This display of dots may be used as a scale for visual references.

The next thing to do is define the floor shape and area of the chosen room. This is done by defining the corners of the room in a clockwise direction. Position the cursor provided, using the arrow keys for movement and the scale for reference. (When moving the cursor about, it may be speeded up by additionally pressing a SHIFT key.) To fix the position of each corner, press the SPACE BAR. Up to ten corners may be defined in this way, but you can just press RETURN when enough have been fixed.

Items of furniture are defined next, using the same techniques of positioning the corners. Note however that pieces of furniture may only be defined as squares or rectangles. If, at this stage, you find that some of your tables and chairs are not the perfect rectangles that they should be, don't worry, since the program will square up any such misfits, for reasons of neatness if nothing else. Next, enter the name of the item (keep names different) and press RETURN.

When all the pieces of furniture that you need have been defined, you will enter the 'display' section of the program. Now the fun starts!

Moving Your Bits About

Upon entering the 'display' section of the program, you will be presented with an empty room and a list of furniture items below it. Simply type in the name of the item you want and it will be displayed. You can now move it around the screen to your heart's content in any direction, using the arrow keys (and even SHIFT for the extra speed).

Once an item has been selected in this way you may also rotate it by pressing R (its proportions may seem to change, but not the measurements), delete it from memory with the DELETE key, or fix its position with the SPACE BAR. You can then select another item of furniture again or alternatively (1) define a new item, (2) redefine the floor area, (3) save the room on disk/tape, or even (4) end.

These options are selected by entering DEFINE, FLOOR, SAVE or END respectively.

First published A&B Computing Vol. 2 No. 10 October 1986.