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GUI Programming

Best Language For Experimental GUI Demo Projects? 278

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the through-the-looking-glass-again dept.
New submitter GrantRobertson writes with a question about quickly developing prototypes for new interface design concepts "My research/tinkering will be along two main lines: (1) Devising entirely new graphical user interface elements, mostly in 2D, though often in a true or simulated 3-D space. I am working on ways to visualize, navigate, and manipulate very, VERY large data-sets of academic research information. (2) Computer based education software, though of a type never seen before. This will combine some of the GUI elements invented in (1) as well as displaying standard HTML or HTML5 content via a browser engine My requirements are: (A) A decent IDE ecosystem; (B) A decent set of libraries, but ones that don't lock me in to a particular mind-set like Swing does in Java. (Boxes in boxes in boxes, Oh My!); (C) An ability to easily draw what I want, where I want and make any surface of that 3D object become a source for capturing events; (D) Ease of cross-platform use. (So others can easily look at my examples and run with them.); (E) No impediments to open-source licensing my code or for others to go commercial with it either (as I have seen when I looked into Qt). So, should I just stick with Java and start looking outside the box for GUI toolkits? Or is there something else out there I should be looking at?" I'm not sure what impediments Qt has to proprietization of software since it's LGPL nowadays; in any case, Qt Quick and GNOME's Clutter seem like they could be a useful. Read on for more context.
"I am not a professional software developer and never have any aspirations to become one. I've been through a generic university computer science degree-program and I can tolerate C++ begrudgingly. I do OK with Java and prefer it, though I still have to look up every API before I use it. Most of the code I want to write will be not much more than prototypes or proof of concept stuff for the research I will be doing, rather than full-on applications ready for distribution and use. I can learn any language out there, if need be, but these days it is more about the ecosystem than the core language. IDEs, libraries, cross-platform compatibility, user support, open source licensing."
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Best Language For Experimental GUI Demo Projects?

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  • by owenferguson (521762) <{owenferguson} {at} {hotmail.com}> on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:09PM (#39106429)
    I'd be tempted to do it in English, but, given current demographic patterns, Chinese may be better in the long run...
  • Processing (Score:5, Informative)

    by Deathnerd (1734374) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:14PM (#39106449)
    Im sort of in the same boat (Graphic Designer with aspirations to be a UI/UX designer) and am learning to code of my own accord. I've had much success with Processing [processing.org]. It's really easy to get started and get functional code running. Also, you can run your processing files on a webpage with Java or Processing.js. I don't know about the large data sets you're dealing with, but since Processing is java based, I assume there won't be much difficulty
    • by Dr Herbert West (1357769) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:41AM (#39106923)
      Don't assume too much in terms of playing nice with straight-up JAVA. I've been building a lot of interactive video projects (kinect interface with JSON queries to databases holding IP addresses, for mapping animations on spheres) and I've been using the Eclipse rather than the Proceesing IDE. There's a lot of weird shortcuts that the Processing IDE does to make it easy for n00bs (that's why I got into it ;) but once you start doing stuff with openGL, threading, or (most importantly for the OP) using fonts and UI elements, things get really convoluted. And the debugger blows.

      Not to say you shouldn't do it-- but while the Processing learning curve is pretty easy, it gets quite steep when you want to incorporate more high-level functionality.

      That said, there's a lot of libraries that will address most stuff you'll need in terms of UI elements-- controlP5 is one that deals with text fields, text boxes, etc, for instance.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Try Piccolo, also known as Piccolo2D.

      It's a ZUI (zoomable user interface) framework in Java. Essentially a 2D scene graph model, with event handlers for zooming, panning, tapping/clicking, etc. Nodes can be 2D vector graphics, or can contain bitmapped images, and standard Java UI controls.

      http://www.piccolo2d.org/

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:14PM (#39106457)

    ...I would recommend a careful combination of watercolor and origami.

  • OpenGL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Spykk (823586) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:15PM (#39106459)
    If you need 3d and you are building your interface from scratch then you are probably going to want to use OpenGL in whatever language you are most comfortable with. Trying to bend an existing GUI toolkit into something it isn't designed to be will probably be more trouble than it is worth.
    • Re:OpenGL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:18AM (#39106821)
      OK... but this will be a task of the same magnitude of, say, writing GTK+. OpenGL by itself takes pages of code to open a graphics context or put a string of text on the screen. GLUI/GLUT is a weak joke. If he manages to write this over OpenGL, and it's any good, it will be the first time anybody has written a decent GUI library over OpenGL.
      • Re:OpenGL (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ZackSchil (560462) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:24AM (#39106851)

        This isn't true at all! It doesn't take "pages" of code to open a context and draw something, not even close. It is a poor choice though, since you're starting from absolutely nothing. You don't have a single resizable button control or any way to kern/reflow text for labels.

        • Re:OpenGL (Score:5, Interesting)

          by timeOday (582209) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @01:07AM (#39107053)
          Here [codeproject.com] is the code to draw 3 triangles in OpenGL without an abstraction library such as GLUT (which is very limiting). Have fun with that!

          For that matter, I had to look down to about the 8th page of google hits for "opengl hello world" to find one that did NOT use an abstraction library. Which tells you how many people actually do that. So, "use openGL" isn't much help. How about, "try using openGL throgh wxWidgets" or somesuch. Nobody uses straight openGL.

          • Re:OpenGL (Score:4, Informative)

            by PaladinAlpha (645879) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @01:17AM (#39107109)

            The code you linked is written against the Windows API and most of the code on display is conforming to that. The OpenGL code takes up less than a screen.

            GLUT is limiting because it's cross-platform; the limitation isn't in the abstraction but in the union of deployable platform features.

            • by timeOday (582209)
              That's right, without an abstraction layer, the initialization code for openGL isn't even cross-platform compatible. That is wgl code (for windows). The glx equivalent code (for X11) is at least as bad. So, double the above, smoosh it all together with some #ifdef's for something resembling platform independence, and you're good to go!
      • by Spykk (823586)
        Correct. You aren't going to find a language with a create_innovative_new_3d_interface() function. What the submitter is trying to accomplish is non-trivial and will require a great deal of work.
    • by tibit (1762298)

      OpenGL? The heck? You need some sort of a scenegraph on top of that. In OpenGL if you want to draw a fine circle, you have to tesselate it yourself. I presume that has been done enough times by now and you'd be insane to suggest that the OP goes to do it yet once again.

  • XUL (Score:5, Informative)

    by La Gris (531858) <lea DOT gris AT noiraude DOT net> on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:15PM (#39106463) Homepage

    https://developer.mozilla.org/En/XUL [mozilla.org]

    Multi-platform with Xulrunner, integration with HTML5 engine if needed.

  • Flash (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is probably going to draw some heat, but frankly, it sounds like using Flash and ActionScript 3 may be a good fit for the prototyping work. You probably wouldn't want your final deliverables that way, but as a prototyping framework, you could get pretty far with it.

    I'm not sure what the state of Flash's 3D support is these days, but I know that back in the day when I used to work with it more heavily (about 8 years ago) there were things like Swift3D that you could export 3D models from applications li

    • Re:Flash (Score:4, Informative)

      by epyT-R (613989) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:13AM (#39106783)

      flash is a bloated mess. might as well use java/.net at that point, but even guis built on these lag noticably more than native. how about using existing toolkits that target your platforms? if you want a wrapper, use something like wxwidgets. if your goal is something that wxwidgets won't handle well, then maybe your application's needs are specific enough to warrant explicit targeting of platforms (ie a windows target, a *nix target, etc).

    • ull disclosure: I haven't bothered with Flash in at least 3 or 4 years now,

      If you had, then you would have known that there has been loads of progress on 3D in the last year or so. Used in combination with Flex UI framework (which is the only reasonably mature UI frame work I have seen that allow 3D transformations to it's UI components). And the hardware accelerated Stage3D with AGAL can give you lots of power to push polygons if that is what gets your juices flowing.
      After hating on flash for a long time, they are slowly reeling me in and I am starting to realize that the mai

  • Some ideas (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikera (98932) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:16PM (#39106473) Homepage Journal

    1. Processing (http://http://processing.org/) is great for visualizations, worth a look. It's used a lot for interactive visualisation tools

    2. Clojure is a great option for general purpose prototyping. It has the advantage of being able to use all the Java libraries and tools, but on top of that is an excellent modern dynamic programming language with great code-generation capabilities. It's great for creating DSLs, for example there is a Clojure GUI library called seesaw that defines UIs like this:

    (frame :title "Hello", :content "Hello, Seesaw", :on-close :exit)

  • by ikedasquid (1177957) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:16PM (#39106475)
    I don't always write GUIs, but when I do, I prefer wx. But in all seriousness - I hate writing GUIs. I write embedded C for a living and am lost when it comes to the differences between window manager(s) on Linux or Windows or whatever. When I need to whip something up quick (and it's not embedded, and we're not going to sell it) sometimes I switch over to Python, and if that quick thing needs a GUI, wxPython (the port of wxWidgets from C to python) is something you can tack on there with minimum hassle. If you need a portion to be fast for your math calcs or whatever you can write that part in C. There's a boatload of tutorials via google (and youTube).
    • by Hooya (518216)

      > I don't always write GUIs, but when I do, I prefer wx.

      After that line, I swear I heard "stay thirsty my friends".

  • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:16PM (#39106477) Homepage

    Use the language your developers know. If they say the problem is too hard in the language they have been using, maybe you need new developers?

    Seriously, C++ is pretty awesome, for me, I use it for lots of rapid gui design - mostly with Qt, but it sounds like you'll be crunching some of your own 3D...

  • Qt and open source (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:22PM (#39106519)

    Well, Nokia open sourced Qt under the LGPL 2-3 years ago. I am a Nokia systems engineer. We are still the primary maintainers, but we are committed to keeping it that way (open source), and with the current moves of the company toward Windows Mobile on our high-end phones, we may well be considering pushing it out to the community entirely, but with some resources still assigned to it. I don't know for sure, but I'll try to find out what the plans are for it. Qt is an important part of our Meego and Symbian phones, which are still popular and getting a few new models. My own company phone is an N8 Symbian device.

    • by Simon80 (874052) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:29PM (#39106551)

      For clarity regarding the original post, this means that Qt has been freely available for commercial use for the last few years.The LGPL is the same license that is used by glibc on Linux, so if you release commercial software for Linux, you will be using LGPL code anyway unless you deliberately avoid it. Unless you statically link an LGPL-licensed library, the licensing requirements are pretty easy to fulfill.

  • Just create (Score:5, Funny)

    by PenquinCoder (1431871) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:23PM (#39106523) Homepage
    A GUI in Visual Basic. I hear its good for this internetz stuff.
  • by drfreak (303147)

    Isn't that vector-drawing in a nutshell?

  • by Ronin Developer (67677) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:28PM (#39106547)

    Yes...I know...Pascal..Ugh (it's a shame so many people under rate Delphi's Object Pascal). But, Embarcadero Delphi will enable you to build FireMonkey based apps that can run on Mac, Windows and iOS. FireMonkey still has a ways to go. However, if you look at the whitepapers posted on the Embarcadero.com website, you will see some interesting stuff. FireMonkey is evolving. Once of the nice things is that it can use the GPU vs the CPU for rendering. This makes 2D and 3D rendering a piece of cake. Additionally, FireMonkey controls can (and should be) stylized. The number of effects one can achieve for a simple button is amazing. Imagine what one can do in terms of designing new UI paradigms.

    Are are some blog on using FireMonkey to render functions and demonstrate wave interference (in 3D).
    http://blogs.embarcadero.com/ao/2012/02/02/39215/
    http://blogs.embarcadero.com/ao/2012/01/30/39208/
    http://blogs.embarcadero.com/ao/2012/01/27/39206/

    and, for a commercial product by TMS Software http://blogs.embarcadero.com/davidi/2012/02/07/41510/

    FreePascal w/ Lazarus is another way to experiment (and, get Linux and ARM as target environments as well). FireMonkey for iOS depends on the ARM compiler to bring the apps to iOS (at least until Embarcadero writes their own ARM compiler).

    Granted, the tool isn't cheap. But, if you have the budget, it's worth adding to your tool bag.

    Another alternative is getting intimately family with JQuery and the DOM. There is a lot you can do to experiment with new UIs.

    • by codepunk (167897)

      Yes lazarus would be a good choice given his requirements.

  • For those who love how Groovy/Grails makes Java less verbose and its convention over configuration approach, I highly recommend Griffon. It can work with Swing, AWT, QT or whatever you want to use and is very clean, simple and easy to understand and is based on tried and true technologies and libraries.
  • Processing ftw (Score:5, Informative)

    by foniksonik (573572) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:38PM (#39106583) Homepage Journal

    http://processing.org/ [processing.org]

    It's been ported to nearly every language, does 2d and 3d, has a straightforward syntax and lots of math libraries, physics engines, etc etc.

  • Javascript (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:39PM (#39106591)

    As someone with experience with just about every major programming language. I'd seriously consider Javascript. Rather than "Embedding" something to render HTML, embed your special sauce in an HTML5 Canvas. Specifically consider writing it as a Chrome App. Not only will it be fast you'll automatically have a standard platform to release your work onto, no installer, no pain in pushing out updates as your work evolves.

    See some examples here: http://net.tutsplus.com/articles/web-roundups/21-ridiculously-impressive-html5-canvas-experiments/

    JSON is becoming the defacto data interchange format used by just about all web services and Javascript can also be used on the backend via node.js. You or anyone you're working with can easily learn javascript from places like http://www.codecademy.com/. Plenty of IDE support, but Chrome itself provides excellent debugging tools via "Inspection" and a javascript console which can be used as a rapid prototyping shell.

    As an added bonus, javascript provides the best of both functional and object oriented programming, and just about every decent programmer knows javascript or can learn it easily.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Outtascope (972222)

      I'd seriously consider Javascript.

      As an added bonus, javascript provides the best of both functional and object oriented programming, and just about every decent programmer knows javascript or can learn it easily.

      For varying definitions of the term "best". Shoot me in the head before I take on the nightmare of debugging a project like this written in Javascript. The thought of it truly makes me *cidal. (where * is sui and/or homa)

    • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@anasazi[ ]tems.com ['sys' in gap]> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @04:43AM (#39107845)

      I agree. There are several very good WebGL-abstracting graphics libraries for Javascript, such as three.js (and some others). You can use Javascript and CSS to place (and style) all of your buttons and widgets, as well. For data visualization, you might consider d3.js. I'm currently working on integrating both three.js rendering and d3 visualization in a GWT app, and it's mindblowing how slick some of the Javascript libraries are. I deeply regret having avoided Javascript for so long, because ... I'm really starting to like it.

      three.js: http://mrdoob.github.com/three.js/ [github.com]
      d3: http://mbostock.github.com/d3/ [github.com]

      d3 examples: http://mbostock.github.com/d3/ex/ [github.com] (nearly all are amazing.)

      • Mod parent up. d3.js is becoming one of the slickest libraries around.
        Add jquery.mobile.js in the mix for CSS optimized page transitions and single-page web designs.
        And maybe a dash of webgl.js [queness.com].


        I second the notion that I'm *really* starting to like Javascript. At this point, I'm consider 100% javascript applications; since things like node.js and mongodb are now available.
  • WXlua lua fltk, wxpython, processing (java)

  • by c0lo (1497653) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:46PM (#39106631)
    That explains:

    Swing does in Java. (Boxes in boxes in boxes, Oh My!)

    Oh my, is that what it troubles you? Let's see...

    draw what I want, where I want and make any surface of that 3D object become a source for capturing events;

    And you want to do this without imposing any hierarchy (of the type "boxes withing boxes") on the 3D object's surface, yes? Assuming that it is possible, once the event is generated, how would you implement the event processing if you can't discriminate on the type of your "event source"?

    I do OK with Java and prefer it, though I still have to look up every API before I use it

    Looking into every API, you say. And you say you'd like to finish looking in this life, so that you could do something?

    My advice for this case: the shortest path to destination is the one you already know. Otherwise, if you don't plan to become a professional software developer, hire one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      You wrote a much nicer version of what I was going to say. This guy doesn't know what in hell he's talking about, and suggesting a language or API to him is like suggesting which particular brand of rifle someone should use when you know they're just going to accidentally fire it when they decide to see if the barrel is clean.

  • by glwtta (532858) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:47PM (#39106649) Homepage
    Are you really going to have time to learn something new with all that groundbreaking paradigm shifting you'll be doing?

    Leverage your core competencies to push the envelope on impactful best practices, and hit the ground running - it's a win-win!

    Synergy.
  • by Panaflex (13191) <convivialdingo&yahoo,com> on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:49PM (#39106659)

    You might look at some game engines, they have decent GUI's these days and are designed to handle large data sets. They usually have multi-lingual support also so you can work in a few languages.

    I did a few projects in Irrlicht and ogre3d and was really impressed - I was able to work in Java, C# and C++ in the same project with some work and message passing.

    Good luck

  • by CyDharttha (939997) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:52PM (#39106681) Homepage
    GWT [google.com]
  • "Devising entirely new graphical user interface elements, mostly in 2D, though often in a true or simulated 3-D space"

    "This will combine some of the GUI elements invented in (1) as well as displaying standard HTML or HTML5 content via a browser engine"

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      VRML

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Devising entirely new graphical user interface elements, mostly in 2D, though often in a true or simulated 3-D space"

      "This will combine some of the GUI elements invented in (1) as well as displaying standard HTML or HTML5 content via a browser engine"

      What is he talking about? The same sort of bullshit every toolbag who's never studied the history of UI design think of - imagine every craptacular "3D" interface that you've ever seen in a movie. The key tipoff: bragging about "very, very LARGE" data while insisting that they don't want to be a programmer. Utter horseshit.

  • QT (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BravoZuluM (232200) on Monday February 20, 2012 @11:58PM (#39106719)

    You dismissed the one framework that would do what you want. LGPL and if really necessary, Digia does not charge that much for a commercial license. I've been doing cross platform work for 20 years. Java was my first foray. Star Framework (Star Office was written with this) was a pretty good framework. But QT beats them all hands down.

  • by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:01AM (#39106737) Homepage Journal

    If you want demonstrations and "proof of concept" stuff, you want a language which is expressive, not a language which is easy to learn or which generates heavily optimized code.

    In the demo phase, you're not really worried about performance. The goal is to have something showing as quickly as possible, and not worry too much about how fast it runs, or how much memory it takes. Overspec your demo system for the time being (ie - make it really fast and install lots of memory), and once you have a reasonable interface go back and recode it in a simpler language which can be more easily optimized.

    Languages which are simple to learn (c++, for example) are generally not very expressive. You end up wasting tons of time debugging issues of memory allocation, library interface details, and datatype conversion.

    Languages which are expressive are a little harder to learn, but any individual line in the expressive language does a lot more. Since you are writing fewer lines, and since the fewer lines do more, you end up making programs more easily and in less time.

    Yes, the programs will execute a little slower, but as mentioned, this is not important in the demo stage. Your productivity will be much higher.

    Perl was written by a linguist, not an engineer. As such, it's harder to learn (it's got tons more keywords and context), but once you get the hang of it it's much more expressive. The following single line:

    @Lines = sort { $a->{Name} cmp $b->{Name} } @Lines;

    unfolds into several lines of C++, plus a subroutine definition with datatype definitions. The following line:

    @Files = <c:/Windows/*.exe>;

    can be implemented using one of over a dozen possible library calls in C++, but is builtin in perl. You don't have to look up the library call interface specific to your system.

    I hear that Python is also expressive, although I don't use it.

    • by icebraining (1313345) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:46AM (#39106941) Homepage

      An equivalent in Python would be:

      lines = sorted(lines, cmp = lambda a, b: cmp(a.name, b.name))

      Alternatively (faster, but less similar):

      lines = sorted(lines, key = lambda line: line.name)

      Of course, if the class implements the __cmp__() method, you can just do lines.sort().

    • by martin-boundary (547041) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:52AM (#39107693)
        @Lines = sort { $a->{Name} cmp $b->{Name} } @Lines;

      In C++, this would be something like

      sort(lines.begin(), lines.end(), [](line_t *a, line_t *b) { return strcmp(a->name, b->name) < 0; });

        @Files = <c:/Windows/*.exe>;

      In C++, this is impossible as the concept of a filesystem with a directory structure isn't portable. But using Boost, you could do

      for_each(directory_iterator("c:/Windows"), directory_iterator(), [&v](directory_entry e) { string s= e.path().native(); if( ends_with(s, ".exe") ) v.push_back(s); });

      although maybe there's a simpler way.
  • either that or (god help me) Silverlight + C#/VB. Both do a really good job of separating GUI & program logic, and both have easy access to high performance display libraries (opengl for Droid, directx for Silverlight). I'm working on a combination Droid/Sliverlight app where the front end user data stuff runs off Android and the backend creations tools are in Silverlight. Oh, both have the added value of being free to develop on.
  • I've been following the protyping languages closely, looking for a better and more open option than Matlab. I haven't found it, but in the process of writing a book on scientific prototype-to-product development, I'm getting a better idea of what this language/environment should do.

  • Matplotlib (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mchnz (457843) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:29AM (#39106881)

    Python Matplotlib covers some of what you might be interested in and it can be used with other GUI toolkits see http://www.scipy.org/Cookbook/Matplotlib and http://matplotlib.sourceforge.net/ - at the very minimum it might provide some food for thought about the feature-set you're seeking.

  • I know you said cross platform but...

    iOS offers you touch sensitive pane of any size (UIView), onto which you can put any controls you want - then you can apply a 3D transform.

    You can group the views (place one view inside another and move the whole unit). You can apply alpha to any view, arbitrarily block or accept input on any surface. Any of the views can be an OpenGL surface itself for more advanced rendering.

    You can draw bitmaps into views, or also use a vector based system to place shapes in views w

  • Isn't this what Croquet [wikipedia.org] was designed for? Does anyone have experience with it?
    • by tobiah (308208)

      The wikipedia page makes some big claims with some nice pictures, but there is little evidence of use and their website consists of single link to download a zip file.

  • Lazarus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DMFNR (1986182) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @12:57AM (#39107013)
    My suggestion for you would be to check out Lazarus and Free Pascal. Lazarus is a cross platform and open source clone of Borland's (or whoever the hell own the company now) Delphi. Free Pascal is the compiler it uses, and it is pretty damn close to source compatible with Delphi, and also provides compatibility modes for other Pascal dialects as well, including it's own Object Pascal mode which fixes some of the stupid design decisions in the Delphi version of Object Pascal. The compiler itself has very speedy compilation times compared to C++ compilers, and generates decently quick code as well. The compiler itself is very mature and well maintained, and it gaining new features all the time. Lazarus is the IDE, which provides you with a RAD environment to quickly piece together the UI, and it is packed with all kinds of awesome features. The LCL, it's supporting library, wraps all of these functions up in a way that makes it very easy to deploy cross platform applications. It covers OSX, Linux (GTK+ and Qt), and Windows. The Free Pascal compiler can compile code for many more platforms, and has in fact supported some even before GCC. If you stick with the LCL, just about everything is covered between platforms and it uses the native components of the platform it is compiled for. It has a very healthy community, with plenty of bindings for all different kinds of libraries. It also provides a good method for creating custom components and reusing them, allowing you to install them in to the IDE and drag and drop them in the form designer just like you would with a standard button or text box. I've never done any stuff with 3-d graphics, but there's all kinds of OpenGL stuff available, and anything you can do in the native widgetsets you can do with Lazarus. The issue with Lazarus is that the IDE is still beta, and there still are a few bugs here and there, but they are fixed pretty quick, and there aren't any major show stoppers. The big issue is that it uses GDB for debugging (there is a native Object Pascal debugger in the works, but it won't be finished anytime soon), which is really aimed towards C based languages, so debugging isn't always smooth. Most of the basic tasks, like setting breakpoints and stepping through a program/function work fine, but there are a few issues with the differences between Pascal datatypes and C datatypes that can make things confusing.

    The reason I recommend this tool is because even though it doesn't have a massive ecosystem like C++, it is coherent and works very well between platforms. The Object Pascal language is very easy to learn, it's powerful, and well designed. While not as fast as C or C++, is you look at the alioth debian language shootout page, it is pretty quick compared to other languages. It provides access to all of the familiar C library functions, and includes all kinds of stuff in the language for compatibility with the C language. It's not the old Pascal from the Turbo Pascal days that people like to bash, almost all of the complaints I hear about the language itself were taken care of a decade ago. The only issue I can really think of is that the language can be a bit verbose compared to C, but compared to Java it's pretty succinct.
  • Why not just use Flash & ActionScript, along with Unreal. Specifically, Scaleform. [youtube.com] Since it already does the "never before seen" 3D GUIs you want, and game engines are particularly good at visualising extremely large data sets (we call them game worlds).

    Any amount of searching "HTML 3D" would have turned up WebGL [google.com], which uses OpenGL in existing browsers... That would be a good prototype platform for me.

    I take particular issue with the childish statements against using Java (and Swing), considering they already support 3D Swing components (see XTrans demo). [jogamp.org] Swing displays HTML components, even in tool tips. In fact, there is already an entire 3D collaboration framework in Java [openwonderland.org] ready for any "Never Seen Before" GUIs you wish to dream up... It displays HTML, images, & PDFs etc.

    Furthermore, their indignant remarks smack of ignorance, considering Java 2D & Java 3D exist, and both have rich non standard box shape intersection libraries, which can be used to create custom components of any shape or position, hierarchical or not restricted only in that they should be used in a Canvas, to save yourself some time.

    They want someone to hand them a magic library that has all the bells and whistles already to go, but heaven forbid any of them have an API that requires using... Have fun inventing that shiny new wheel.

  • Seriously consider hiring a professionnal and experienced coder. Several of your requirements are very hard to combine : large data sets, cross-platform, HTML rendering and 3D rendering. You won't find an off-the-shelf library that does all of that directly. You will find pieces of what you need, but making them work coherently together is a hard work.

    Know your limits as a coder. You need someone with several years of experience to help you identify the technical limits and guide your design. Someone who
  • Example of OpenATC (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mattr (78516) <.mattr. .at. .telebody.com.> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @09:44AM (#39109761) Homepage Journal

    I thought I would share some info with you about how one team did this, what was cutting edge work at the time.
    Not that I am saying you should use these tools although it seems they are one possibility.

    Here are links related to a quite interesting software project developed by Christophe Mertz and others at CENA.

    The Digistrips system was a user interface prototype demonstration system written in Perl for the design of new touch screen based air traffic controller systems that mimic the traditional system in which paper strips are used to represent aircraft in flight. The demonstration is said to have been successful, and there are a number of papers written about user interaction in the system.

    It used Ivy (a cross platform message bus in Perl) and TkZinc (an OpenGL and 2d capable canvas).

    Below are numerous links to papers and software sites although the openatc.org website is no longer in service itself. It is possible to download Ivy and TkZinc it seems.

    keywords: cena france french aircraft controller prototype perl perl-anim gui prototyping tk-zinc opengl perl strips

    Ivy Software Bus
    http://www2.tls.cena.fr/products/ivy/ [tls.cena.fr]
    http://freecode.com/projects/ivy [freecode.com]
    http://www2.tls.cena.fr/products/ivy/download/desc/ivy-perl-deb.html [tls.cena.fr]
    Ivy is a simple protocol and a set of open-source (LGPL) libraries and programs that allows applications to broadcast information through text messages, with a subscription mechanism based on regular expressions. Ivy libraries are available in C, C++, Java, Python and Perl, on Windows and Unix boxes and on Macs. Several Ivy utilities and hardware drivers are available too.
    Ivy is currently used in research projects in the air traffic control and human-computer interaction research communities as well as in commercial products. It is also taught to CS students.

    http://wiki.tcl.tk/9246 [wiki.tcl.tk]
    Christophe Mertz

    Zinc.pm
    http://search.cpan.org/~zincdev/tk-zinc-3.303/Zinc.pm [cpan.org]
    Patrick Lecoanet

    http://search.cpan.org/~cmertz/svg-svg2zinc-0.05/svg2zinc.pl [cpan.org]
    though openatc.org is down.

    TkZinc
    http://www.tkzinc.org/tkzinc/index.php [tkzinc.org]
    http://freecode.com/projects/zincisnotcanvas [freecode.com]
    http://wiki.tcl.tk/2798 [wiki.tcl.tk]
    TkZinc is a Tk widget developed with Perl/Tk, Tcl/Tk and Python/Tk bindings. TkZinc widgets are very similar to Tk canvases in that they support structured graphics. Graphical items can be manipulated, and bindings can be associated with them to implement interaction behaviors. But unlike the canvas, TkZinc can structure the items in a hierarchy, and has support for affine 2D transforms. Clipping can be set for sub-trees of the item hierarchy and the item set is quite more powerful, including field-specific items for Air Traffic systems. TkZinc is fast enough to allow the implementation of 2k2k radar displays with smooth animations. It is structured enough to allow the implementation of direct manipulation desktop GUIs.

    Since the 3.2.2 version, TkZinc also offers as a runtime option, support for openGL rendering, giving access to features such as antialiasing, transparency, color gradients and even a new, openGL oriented, item type : triangles. In order to use the openGL features, you need the support of the GLX extension on your X11 server.

    Zinc Is Not Canvas!
    Tkzinc has been developped at CENA to help building experimental user interfaces for Air Traffic Control. Tkzinc is a Tk widget, with Tcl, Perl/Tk, and Python/Tkinter bindings. Tkzinc is available as open source under the GNU Les

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