It doesn’t look like it’s been updated in a long time, but Toasty Tech was one of my favorite sites to get GUI ideas and inspiration from. Toasty Tech
Once you have speed, stability, and objects, you need to do something with them. The text editor and file manager will use them, but most GUIs also include other applications. This is a good place to set your GUI apart from other GUIs of similar technical design. If you have lots of useful applications, weaknesses in other areas can be overlooked.
One example of taking this to the extreme is Blue, it’s packed full of applications and that really sets it apart.
A few weeks ago, I visited Pete’s QB Site and realized that the last post was over 5 years ago. I remember when it was posted, and it doesn’t feel that long ago. The QBASIC community has been pretty inactive for the last five years. Now that I’ve been programming in my college classes it feels more like work than fun and I haven’t worked on a GUI in a number of months. All the GUI programmers I’ve ever known naturally come to this point, and as time goes on they appear less and less in the community. I have been trying to post once a week with something, but in forcing myself to post, I’ve taken the fun out of that, too.
Sadly, I fear the Blog will go the way of Pete’s site, at least as far as my posts are concerned. I don’t see much benefit in forcing myself to write weekly posts, so from now on, I’ll post as things come to me. For the most part, this probably means that posts will be less GUI related as I’m doing less GUI stuff. However, there still are a couple of people crazy enough to be working on GUIs, and I’m very happy to be able to have the GUI Blog as a place to show off their creations.
For a long time, I was a dial-up user. I didn’t run Blue (it’s 8MB) for years, and it took me something like 40 minutes to download. So now when I’m comparing GUIs, I keep an eye on the download size. I generally break things into three general tiers, a couple hundred KB, will just fit on a Floppy Disk, and bigger than a Floppy. More and more it’s easy to ignore this as floppies are rarely used, but in a DOS GUI it’s still an important size metric.
Honestly, this is the part of my ballot that ends up with the lowest scores every time, and has the most potential for a GUI to set itself apart. I give points for even a text viewer, and if there is a file selector dialog that also gives major points because I hate having to memorize a file location just to view it. Ideally, you’d make a text editor more or less like Microsoft notepad. There are a few things that for me at least make this tricky, the text file could be very large, the lines are wrapped a certain way in the original file, how do you change the file, while keeping the formatting?
Honestly speaking, any user that wants to edit text on a DOS machine probably already has a text editor, so a nice text viewer that’s integrated at least allows them to view their files without having to exit.
This is probably the most obvious of the things that I rate on. More, better objects get a bigger score. So things like buttons, text-boxes, check-boxes, and windows all contribute. Now it could be argued that this section should be weighed higher, after all making the GUI elements is the whole point. But I chose to weight my own personal ballot towards fake-OSes. So keep in mind when writing a GUI, that the GUI elements are a key component, and don’t forget to make them work well.
One of the most important and obvious elements of a GUI is stability. For me this includes the standard crashes that direct you to the command prompt as well as the less obvious inconsistencies. For example, screen artifacting or broken UI elements both detract from this section.
I haven’t been able to program the past two weeks. Decided to do a little more today after work and got my Use menu to use multiple windows now (hence why the program counter says 4… the shell is multiple windows). Also, you can see I started creation of a calculator, lol!
As before, you can follow development at: http://dosdoors.net/
Another one of the aspects that I use to rank GUIs for GUI Awards is speed. Every year there are fewer and fewer 386s and 486s and more and more GUIs don’t run well on them. Fast responsive GUIs get points over bloated slow GUIs in this section. Even without real hardware, it’s easy to see how a GUI fairs, if you have to turn up the DOSBox cycles from the default 3000 in order to have an enjoyable experience, you aren’t going to win this section.