Which version of MATLAB will provide functional (i.e. working) GUI interactions?

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Anatoliy Janda
Anatoliy Janda on 6 Apr 2021
Commented: Jan on 10 Apr 2021
Thsi is a very straightforward question, and hopefully there will not be roundabout / indirect answers. Surely, everyone that has used this software is aware that its GUI is severely broken. That is, completely dysfunctional in some very critical ways. We are coming from an open-source pipeline that is well streamlined but mostly headless. We wanted to use the MATLAB GUI as a testing ground for basic functionality. Unfortunately, it would appear the GUI doesn't work in either Linux or Windows (we have tested multiple computers and architectures), and the issues don't stop at a lack of GUI functionality but, apparently, in engine agility / performance as well.
Case in point -- the toolbox of interest -- Lidar Camera Calibration -- allows the specification of image and point cloud folders, but processing just a single pair takes roughly 5 minutes on a 32-core CPU with 8Gb RTX 2070 GPU. We use this same workstation to run very elaborate machine learning algorithms with big data analysis. All of the GPU intensive workflows that manipulate multi-million point clouds, ICP matching, etc. are able to process hundreds of clouds in minutes --- meanwhile, MATLAB is laboring over single pairs for up to 1 hour (for 50 pairs). Even just 4 pairs will consume over 10 minutes. This kind of performance is absolutely unacceptable.
But that is not what I am opening this query about. Even once the pairs have been analyzed, MATLAB apparently isn't sophisticated enough to automatically identify a checkerboard plane, for example, in the point cloud that corresponds to a 2D image --- something that PCL, for example, can do with absolutely no issue using RANSAC. Moreoever, in the graphical interface, it is not possible to edit the ROI. There is an "Edit ROI" button, but the software is so unconscionably slow that just changing from rotation to panning or zoom will invoke a 30-60 second delay, and there is absolutely no possibility for doing anything whatsoever with the bounding box around the points. Moreover, (and perhaps more surprising than anything else) there is no detailed documentation for this interface.
I understand many of the "veterans" here are using the command-line interface exclusively, but I see no need to take on a new language when the platform itself grossly underperforms literally every other GPU-based open-source project out there. I wanted to give MATLAB a chance to show its capability for computer vision, but this first impression, unfortunately, will be quite difficult to reverse. I originally thought the lack of performance and efficiency in the engine and GUI were Linux based, so we moved off the machine learning laptops and onto the more robust desktops. The same behavior is seen regardless of system or OS -- so it's clearly a design flaw.
We were interested in purcashing 100+ licenses for our research branch, but it's clear, both from reading the complaints here in the forums, and observing the overall benchmarks conveyed in other threads -- that it would have been a costly mistake. I wanted to leave this post here, just on the odd chance that someone -- somewhere -- has run into these issues and is aware of of a workaround.
I doubt many people are using the Computer Vision functionalty of this suite, or else these problems would likely be more visible and addressed in a timely fashion. Perhaps it is a limitation of 2021a. I cannot say, because this is our first (and last) excursion with MATLAB. Hopefully, the developers monitor these threads and will take some honest and well-intentioned criticism for the product, in general.
My suggestion would be to open-source this software, given that it has not yet achieved commercial-level stability. It's very far from being a product worthy of even a meager price-tag, with these obvious and unacceptable flaws, and I can't imagine Mathwork's profit margin can be even remotely robust -- unless there are more people out there than I would care to imagine that are OK waiting hours for their algorithms to run rather than seconds with open-source. That leads to another unrelated question, "why pay for this when you can do better for free", but this is clearly not the right place to post such a question. I am open to the possibility that there may be ways to optimize the engine (but doubtful, since such optimizations would be expected to be automatically engaged as part of the base installation).
Kritika Bansal
Kritika Bansal on 7 Apr 2021
We can help you troubleshoot the issue. Following are a few things that you can do to get better results:
  1. See if the data is collected as per the guidelines mentioned in Calibration Guidelines and Procedure
  2. The issue that you're facing with zoom, pan and rotate is not typical. Consider checking if there are any issues with your graphics driver. You might find this page useful to resolve graphics driver issues.
  3. Once you're able to tune the ROI such that it covers the checkerboard, you can try tuning the 'Feature Detection' parameters according to your dataset.
  4. It'll help us to see where the issue is if you could share some sample data with us.
Hope this helps!
- Kritika

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Answers (1)

Joss Knight
Joss Knight on 10 Apr 2021
Edited: Joss Knight on 10 Apr 2021
You made a pre-emptive request that any response not be evasive and I wanted to make an attempt to answer your original question, which is along the lines of "which version of MATLAB will work?". The problem is that your questions involve some priors that I can't agree with, for instance "everyone that has used this software is aware that its GUI is severely broken...that is, completely dysfunctional in some very critical ways". MATLAB certainly has its critics but the predominant feedback is positive. That's why MATLAB is still going after 37 years.
This sort of question doesn't normally invite answers, but I suppose what you really want to know is that MathWorks is listening to their customers' complaints, and doesn't evade them.
MathWorks is a huge product with a vast suite of inter-operating tools, editors and applications, from control systems to bio-engineering to artificial intelligence to code analysis. MathWorks doesn't pretend it will always be possible to provide a solution to every problem more performant than writing custom code for a specific application. That is why it goes to lengths to provide interoperability with the other tools customers use, from importers and exporters, to Java, Python and C++ interfaces, and gives the user complete flexibility to call MATLAB from other applications via the Engine or Compiler, write custom MATLAB functions in C++ via MEX, or use Coder to generate code to incorporate into external applications.
In those few cases where users have a difficult choice between MATLAB and another product they'll often choose MATLAB because of its quality, reliability, backwards compatibility, documentation, breadth and seamless interoperability of its ecosystem, extremely responsive technical support, and focus on casual rather than advanced programmers as the main user persona. And the apps you dislike - well, it has them, and many alternatives do not.
I also think MathWorks is very good about taking on board user input, despite what you say. They conduct extensive user surveys for new features and have a long-standing worldwide advisory board system to get feedback from key customers on future direction. Also, with their huge effort in customer-facing support and consulting, they can make sure every update is driven by real use cases and prioritized meaningfully.
Still, maybe all you really want is help with your specific problem, in which case either restate your question and provide some more concrete examples, or contact technical support, as recommended above. It's hard to say but certainly seconds versus hours doesn't sound right, and I'm guessing someone from the IPCV team would love to talk to you about your issue.
I hope this might help you feel less marginalized, and go a little easier on MathWorks!
  1 Comment
Jan on 10 Apr 2021
"MATLAB certainly has its critics but the predominant feedback is positive." - I can and do confirm this. MATLA B is a useful tool, which allows to solve many problems efficiently - but of course not all problems.

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