Plus SciTech SNAP
Plus Michal Necasek's Museum
June 15, 2002 SCOUG Meeting Packs The Auditorium
Display Doctor Upgrade To SNAP Graphics Is $19.95
by Webfoot, The Duck and his pal Pete
We were short a dozen chairs for the overflow crowd at the June 15 SCOUG meeting and Internet SIG Leader Dave Watson made several trips down the hall to the next meeting room to grab some more seats for the attendees. Even so, it was standing room only.
SCOUG was packed.
Michal Necasek, the OS/2 lead programmer for Open Watcom and the programmer who writes the OS/2 code on the SciTech Display Doctor programming team began with "The OS/2 Years," his vast private collection of OS/2 machines running OS/2 versions from 1.0 up to the present. Michal actually uses these machines; he knows each version and what each can accomplish. On OS/2 1.0, for example, he does his text editing with the only available editor: EDLIN.
Randell Flint from Sundial Systems brought a still-shrinkwrapped copy of NOW, the very first release of Relish. "Try it," he said to Michal mid-presentation. Michal opened the box, slipped the floppy into his OS/2 1.0 machine, and typed NOW. Up came the early Relish.
Michal covered all of the OS/2 versions, including Extended Edition which came with the original DB/2 database plus Communications Manager. He showed us Borland Sidekick for OS/2. He demonstrated Microsoft Excel 2.2 for OS/2, dated 1989. The good old days -- it was certainly good to see them again.
Mr. Necasek patches the old OS/2 drivers when he wants to run new hardware on old OS/2. "On old hardware it runs fine," he said, "but on newer hardware there are timing problems so I always make some patches." Michal works from the trap screens and uses Hacker's View, a disassembler.
Michal has an excellent series of six articles at OS/2 VOICE for those who would like to expand their knowledge of the development of OS/2. See the August 2001 through January 2002 issues.
SciTech Display Doctor Is Now SNAP Graphics
The big SciTech announcement is SNAP Graphics. That's the new name for Display Doctor, the video card driver for almost every platform. SNAP stands for System Neutral Access Protocol and Michal is one of the two current developers.
SNAP will have a lot more in it than Display Doctor, most notably a dual-monitor feature and a wonderful Zoom feature; see the SNAP Overview.
Steve Wendt from SciTech spoke to the large crowd about upgrades, and SciTech's Marketing Director Andrew Bloo confirmed the upgrade policy after the meeting. "Existing users of SciTech Display Doctor 7.0 for OS/2 can upgrade to SciTech's latest SNAP Graphics for OS/2 for $19.95," said Andrew. "We'll have SNAP out soon, we just want to make sure it's been fully tested and everyone is happy with the betas."
In other words, you can continue to buy SciTech Display Doctor For OS/2 (here's the Features List) and get the upgrade price to SNAP Graphics For OS/2 as soon as it's released. Keep an eye on the SciTech web site (http://www.scitechsoft.com/) for new announcements concerning all platforms.
From the audience, Mark Abramowitz asked about the success of the OS/2 version of Display Doctor. "We just started actively marketing the OS/2 version," said Steve, "which we weren't doing before. We're now going after the large users of OS/2 -- the Fortune 500 and other IBM customers -- to guarantee that our OS/2 product is widely used."
"And for dual monitors on OS/2, well, we're currently giving it a try," Steve added. "But please give us the needed development time to give you the product you want."
"Incidentally, SNAP has a Zoom feature so you can use your mouse to move around your screen and enlarge the portion you want to see," he noted. A demonstration of this feature was the Grand Finale at the very end of the SCOUG meeting.
Steve made sure that the audience felt appreciated. "We need OS/2 end users like yourselves," said Steve. "They tell us the bugs, the necessary new features, and we get a lot of good information from you guys that we don't get from IBM's testing people."
SCOUG member Jerry Rash wanted to know about on-the-fly resolution changes. "You can't do that," said Michal, "Presentation Manager doesn't have a way to reset its bootup resolution settings."
At this point, Michal and Steve handed out a hundred free CDs containing SciTech Display Doctor, the Watcom 11.0c patch for Watcom owners, Open Watcom, MGL code, the entire Open Watcom source code library and lots more.
While the CDs were distributed several attendees spoke on how to choose a video card. Several developers intimately knowledgeable with video hardware noted that ATI, Matrox and Nvidia had the most optimized video chips, but remember that Display Doctor supports 180 different video chipsets -- see their Supported OS/2 Chip List and remember that these are the names of the chips rather than the names of the video board manufacturers who buy these chips and then put them on their own boards using a "brand name".
Open Watcom Means More OS/2 Software
For the afternoon session, Michal and Steve returned to the stage to discuss Open Watcom, the open source compiler which generates great OS/2 code and whose continued development SciTech is now funding. Michal is the OS/2 lead programmer on the project and has been spending a lot of time recently "building" the Open Watcom compiler. In this usage, "building" means "compiling" and he's been fixing the code when things don't work. "The old Watcom compiler was built with a different tool, so the structures don't always line up properly" he said.
Open Watcom contains an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). It also contains a debugger which "needed some work -- the original 32 bit code would break on some newer OS/2 versions but it's fixed now" and can also do debugging remotely from another machine. "It's great," said Michal, "because now you can debug screen painting and mouse clicks and things like that."
Steven Levine, the SCOUG Programming SIG Leader, brought up make files. The Watcom make program, WMAKE, has a lot of nice features according to Michal and he highly recommends it. Levine agrees; for more on this, post your questions and comments to the SCOUG-Programming mail list.
Michal had some wonderful news for OS/2 developers. "Look at this!" he said, displaying the Toolkit Licensing Information on the screen. The license, in sentence four, said the toolkit may in some cases be distributed. Read this section carefully. It's in usetlkt.inf.
"For system level development, GCC isn't all that useful," commented Michal. "Open Watcom is the proper choice. OS/2 device drivers, for example, are best written today using Open Watcom."
For Michal Necasek, Open Watcom is the beginning of a new era of development for OS/2. "I know what needs to be done," concluded Michal, "I just want to take my time and make sure my fixes don't break something else."
A Zooming SciTech Grand Finale
Steve Wendt asked Michal to demonstrate the new Zoom capability which is included in the upcoming SNAP Graphics package. Michal dutifully first opened the Zoom setup window to show us all the options (there are lots), then Zoomed the screen.
The audience, well, they went nuts. The crt screen filled with an enlarged section of the full-screen image, and as Michal moved the mouse the enlargement window moved around the screen so you could see an enlargement of any section of the original screen. High screen resolutions like 1600x1200 and beyond (both Display Doctor and SNAP Graphics support resolutions up to 2048 by 1536) no longer mean you may not be able to read what's on the display.
"The OS/2 Years", Display Doctor with SNAP Graphics, and Open Watcom. We're glad so many OS/2 users came to meet and see SciTech's Michal Necasek and Steve Wendt -- at SCOUG!
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