What are the panorama tools
The Panorama Tools, also known as The PanoTools are a free suite of programs and libraries originally written by the german physics and mathematics professor Helmut Dersch. PanoTools provides a powerful framework for re-projecting and blending multiple source images into immersive panoramics of many types. An updated version of the PanoTools library serves as the underlying core engine for many software front-end panorama programs, including Hugin, PTGUI, PTAssembler, and PTMac.
Helmut started development on PanoTools in 1998, producing some of the most professional and versatile software available for building panoramas and more, but had to stop development in 2001 due to legal harrassment and claims of patent infringement by a company called IPIX. In 2003 he released some modifications to the java-based online panorama view PTViewer. One involved a standalone .exe version and another version could display HDR panoramas. The most recent release from Helmut is PTViewerME, a panorama viewer for PDAs and mobile devices. The homepage of Helmut can be found here. It has no links to his older work on PanoTools, but some list members managed to make a copy of his old homepage before it shut down. For instance this and this site.
After Helmut stopped developing Panorama Tools, the members of his mailing-list took over development, and began enhancing the software suite on their own. They started a sourceforge page and have fixed some bugs and developed additional functionality since.
What software is included in the panorama tools
Quoted from Helmuts original homepage:
PanoTools is a collection of free tools for Panorama and 3D Object creation . It consists of:
|pteditor||Java Interactive Panorama Editor.|
|ptpicker||Java front end to panorama stitcher and other tools. It provides a graphical interface for feature point selection and position optimization.|
|ptcrypt||Java tool for scrambling pictures intended to be viewed online with ptviewer.|
|PTStitcher||Panorama stitching tool which remaps, adjusts and combines arbitrary images to panoramic views.|
|PTOptimizer||Optimizes positions and sizes of images using control-point data.|
|PTStereo||Creates 3-dimensional objects from 2 stereoscopic or more images.|
|PTInterpolate||Physically valid true view interpolator. Given two images of the same scene taken from different positions, this tool creates views from any intermediate position.|
|PTAverage||Averages images to reduce noise and enhance density.|
|PTStripe||Combines images into movie-stripes for viewing in object-viewers.|
|Panorama Tools plugins||Photoshop, GraphicConverter and Gimp plug-ins for image correction and remapping.|
To make working with the panorama tools easier and to add functionality, a lot of excellent software has been written. Some freeware and some commercial. See the software page to learn more.