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How can I use ginput in app designer?

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Jaime Serrano
Jaime Serrano on 4 Apr 2018
Moved: Adam Danz on 5 Jun 2024 at 13:25
I would like to select a range of points from one particular UIAxes in my app.
I have tried to use ginput ([x,y=ginput]), but the applications prompts an additional empty plot to select the range of points. How can I point an specific UIAxes?
Kind Regards
Wonsup Lee
Wonsup Lee on 17 Jul 2020
Just use drawpoint function instead of drawrectangle.
One line in callback function or a main code.
[x, y] = selectDataPoints(app, app.figArea);
And, create a function.
function [x, y] = selectDataPoints(~, ax)
roi = drawpoint(ax);
x = roi.Position(1);
y = roi.Position(2);
Kristoffer Walker
Kristoffer Walker on 5 Jun 2024 at 2:42
Moved: Adam Danz on 5 Jun 2024 at 13:25
The workaround for lack of ginput support for UIAxes is alarming. I've been constantly frustrated by this lack of attention, and by my lack of an ability to get on the same wavelength as the AppDesigner developers such that I can use the workarounds efficiently. I love AppDesigner in general, but the lack of basic interactivity with UIAxes is very frustrating. I want mouse clicks, key presses, and more. And I am expecting them to show up in AppDesigner's UI interface as options.

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Accepted Answer

Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 4 Oct 2020
Edited: Adam Danz on 4 Oct 2020
ginput is now supported in AppDesigner starting in r2020b
We still don't have an option to specify the target figure handle in ginput so you have to make the App's figure handle visible so ginput doesn't land on the wrong figure or create a new figure.
The example below is a callback function that responds to a button press and does the following:
  1. Test that user is using r2020b or later; if not, throw error.
  2. Save current state of the app figure handle visibility.
  3. Change the app figure handle visibility so that it's accessible to the callback function.
  4. Make app figure current
  5. Call ginput
  6. Return the original figure handle visibility state.
% Button pushed function: Button
function ButtonPushed(app, event)
% Check Matlab version, throw error if prior to r2020b
assert(~verLessThan('Matlab', '9.9'), 'ginput not supported prior to Matlab r2020b.')
% Set up figure handle visibility, run ginput, and return state
fhv = app.UIFigure.HandleVisibility; % Current status
app.UIFigure.HandleVisibility = 'callback'; % Temp change (or, 'on')
set(0, 'CurrentFigure', app.UIFigure) % Make fig current
[x,y,b] = ginput(1); % run ginput
app.UIFigure.HandleVisibility = fhv; % return original state
See also
Jon Lagonigro
Jon Lagonigro on 16 Dec 2020
You're right, I needed to set up my own crosshairs to avoid confusion between multiple axes. An option to keep the crosshairs over just the current axes would be a nice option in the future. Thanks!
Adam Danz
Adam Danz on 16 Dec 2020
I agree. You can create a service request > technical support, to make this suggestion.

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More Answers (6)

Jon Nykiel
Jon Nykiel on 18 Jun 2019
Unfortunately, ginput is not supported within appdesigner. However, as of R2019A, the CurrentPoint property can be used within a WindowButtonDown function to get the coordinates of a button click within UIAxes.
Simple example:
function UIFigureWindowButtonDown(app, event)
temp = app.UIAxes.CurrentPoint; % Returns 2x3 array of points
loc = [temp(1,1) temp(1,2)]; % Gets the (x,y) coordinates

Richard Saumarez
Richard Saumarez on 18 Jun 2019
I agree about the comments on appDesigner
After a lot of work, and bending one's foot round one's ear, one can write a GUI that has most of the functionality written in Visual stdio or Fortran. But it seems counterintuitive and everything that one would like to do, and would think is being easy, is "not supported".
There is no doubt in my mind that appDesigner needs more functionality if one is going to write an artistic, commercially useful, GUI that is not simply knobs and sliders. Apart from the difficulty in getting the mouse position, one desperately needs to be able to draw on the uppermost layer of the GUI, not in a plot, but in the container itself.
I may be being unfair, and this may be possible, but finding one's way around Matlab documentation, apart from the most basic aspects, is really difficult.

HM on 31 Aug 2018
I found this thread because I was looking for the same thing. We definitely need a 'ginput' function that works within a UIFigure.
However, I did find a workaround: invoke a new 'normal' matlab figure with 'figure' (e.g. MyFigure = figure;) plot on that figure any plots/graphics that you have plotted on your UIFigure (any relevant graphics that you need on there to be able to click relative to). Note, use the traditional plot() command, rather than the plot(app.UIFigure, ) command. Then use the ginput function with that figure. (e.g. MyPoints = ginput;) then delete the figure, and use the recorded values as desired. (e.g. delete(MyFigure); )
This actually worked well for me, as the 'pop-up' figure is larger than my UIFigure, allowing for more accurate mouse clicking.
Hope that helps. Cheers, Hugh.

chrisw23 on 18 Jan 2019
Edited: chrisw23 on 18 Jan 2019
You can define a ButtonDownFcn callback that delivers 'Hit' event data for axes, which has an IntersectionPoint property. This is also valid for lines, but not for ie. the MainFigure (MouseData event only).
This works fine although the AppDesigner doesn't support callback properties for Axes ( tested with SubPlot with Panel Parent in R2018b ).
app.myAx = subplot(2,1,1,'Parent',app.Panel); % create plot
app.myAx.ButtonDownFcn = createCallbackFcn(app, @app.getMousePosition, true);
function getMousePosition(app,source,event)
switch event.EventName
case 'Hit'
% Properties: Btn/IntersectionPoint/Src/Evnt
posData = event.IntersectionPoint; % to be used for calc
case 'MouseData'
% Properties: Src/EvntName
Hope it helps
Rajpal Singh
Rajpal Singh on 18 May 2019
Is there any solution for app designer also to get points from multiple line plot.
I want draw a staright child line on parent line by clicking on it.
Richard Saumarez
Richard Saumarez on 17 Jun 2019
I've been tearing my hair out trying to solve this.
App designer really need a simple to use mouse position function that isn't as tortuous as this.

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Birdman on 4 Apr 2018
You can't. If you check the documentation of ginput, you will see it can not take a predefined axes as an input argument:
There might be custom written functions for that though, you just have to google it.
Mathias Hell
Mathias Hell on 12 Oct 2019
That is not true. I was working on a Matlab GUI with GUIDE and used the ginput function to select several points on the predefined axes and it worked perfectly. However, when I use the function in the same way in the Maltab App Designer I encounter the described problem.
function setapointbutton_Callback(hObject, eventdata, handles)
handles = guidata(hObject);
handles.length = length(handles.point_x);
[handles.point_x(handles.length+1,1) ,handles.point_y(handles.length+1,1)] = ginput(1);
key = get(gcf,'selectiontype');
if strcmp(key,'alt')
handles.point_x(handles.length+1,:) = [];
handles.point_y(handles.length+1,:) = [];
handles.grafikhandle_points(1, handles.length+1) = plot(handles.point_x(handles.length+1,1),handles.point_y(handles.length+1,1),'bo');
handles.grafikhandle_points(1, handles.length+1).UIContextMenu = handles.c1;
Walter Roberson
Walter Roberson on 18 Jul 2020
I just looked at the source code. There is no way to pass a figure or an axes to ginput(). Birdman was correct that there is no way to select which figure or axes that ginput() operates on.
ginput() uses gcf(), which will only find traditional figures. If you have no traditional figure that is active then ginput() will open a new figure. So ginput() can work in GUIDE, but it cannot work on uifigures.

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Vlad Atanasiu
Vlad Atanasiu on 2 Oct 2020
Here is an illustration of how to simulate ginput with uifigures (App Designer, R2020b).
function uiginput
% Get coordinates of clicked point on image in uifigure and uiaxes.
% Remove datatips by pressing "Escape".
% Create uifigure
fig = uifigure;
fig.WindowKeyPressFcn = @onKeyPress;
% Create uiaxes
ax = uiaxes(fig);
ax.PickableParts = 'visible';
ax.HitTest = 'on';
% Display classic image in uiaxes
I = imread('membrane.png'); % 100 x 86 px
im = imshow(I,'Parent',ax);
im.ButtonDownFcn = @onClickImage;
% Capture clicks on uiaxes
function [x, y] = onClickImage(~,~)
% Set the image to allow clicks to pass through it
im.PickableParts = 'none';
im.HitTest = 'off';
% Get coordinates of clicked point from uiaxes
x = ax.CurrentPoint(1);
y = ax.CurrentPoint(3);
% Revert above changes to image properties
im.PickableParts = 'visible';
im.HitTest = 'on';
% Compute integer pixel coordinates
if x < 1
% Correct a location error of one pixel
% between axes and image coordinates
x = 1;
x = floor(x);
if y < 1
y = 1;
y = ceil(y);
% Delete previous datatips, if any
dt = findall(fig,'Type','datatip');
if ~isempty(dt)
% Display pixel coordinates on datatip
% (The origin is at the top left of the image)
message = ['x ',num2str(x),', y ',num2str(y)];
im.DataTipTemplate.DataTipRows(1).Label = message;
im.DataTipTemplate.DataTipRows(1).Value = [x,y];
im.DataTipTemplate.DataTipRows(2).Label = '';
im.DataTipTemplate.DataTipRows(2).Value = '';
% Capture key presses
function onKeyPress(~, event)
% Which kwy was pressed?
clickType = event.Key;
% remove datatip
if strcmp(clickType,'escape')
dt = findall(fig,'Type','datatip');
if ~isempty(dt)
Vlad Atanasiu
Vlad Atanasiu on 4 Oct 2020
Edited: Vlad Atanasiu on 4 Oct 2020
> you can use datacursormode starting in r2020a
Yes, I was there too, using datatips, but datatips are not substitutes for contextmenu. In particular the content is editable, which might not be desirable; once you edited it other datatips copy the said content. Implementing clickable links via datatips is also difficult, since when you click the datatip it opens for editing. Moreover, datatip have predefined content which becomes visible when the datatips are activated and there is a visible latency between the display of the initial content and the dynamical content that replaces it.
> That's not quite correct. ginput returns coordinates in axis units (see documentation).
Yes, but what if need to get image coordinates without ginput (= two clicks)? [Which is a topic diverging from the initial question in this thread, so we might want to move the discussion to a new thread.]
A fundamental problem is that of Matlab transitioning from Java to JavaScript-based interfaces and a doubling of functions with partially overlapping capabilities and incompatibilies.
Vlad Atanasiu
Vlad Atanasiu on 4 Oct 2020
Edited: Vlad Atanasiu on 4 Oct 2020
Here is another use case involving getting image coordinates. You display a set of images as imtile, then click on one of them to popup a tooltip with metadata, such as label, then click on the tooltip to display the single image.
I didn't find any satisfactory solution, so I abandoned imtile. Instead I displayed uiimages in uigridlayout, with the metadata in the Tooltip property and the hyperlinks in the ImageClickedFcn callback. I still have the minor visual issue that gaps appear between rows or columns because the gridlayout manager adapts to the aspect ratio of its parent container.
[This comment is also veering towards off-topic, but it explains the wider context of different solutions.]

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