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Subject: Portable GUI Development Kits FAQ, part 3/4
This article was archived around: 2 Mar 1997 20:59:14 +1100
PLATFORM INDEPENDENT FAQ PART THREE
Copyright 1996 Ross McKay. Last released $Date: 1997/03/02 09:04:40 $
Copyright 1993-1995 Wade Guthrie. Permission is granted to copy and
redistribute this document so long as it is unmodified (including the
part that explains where to get the FAQ free-of-charge) and the
copyright remains in-tact. I'd appreciate it if you told me about any
redistribution, but that's not strictly necessary.
VI. VENDOR REPORTS - cont.
The different PIGUI kits are classified by the language they support.
These are the ones which support C and C++, with names O* to Z*. PIGUI
kits for C and C++ from A* to N* can be found in Part 2 of the FAQ,
and for other languages in Part 4 of the FAQ.
_C/C++ from O to Z_
Open Interface Elements (Neuron Data)
Simple User Interface Toolkit
TWIN / The Willows Toolkit
WM_MOTIF User Interface Library
XVT Portability Toolkit
Yet Another Class Library
Open Interface Elements, Version 3.0
156 University Avenue,
Palo Alto, California 94301
(800) 876-4900 (inquiries)
(415) 321-4488 (voice)
Open Interface is an emulated PIGUI with a C++ API (as of Open
Interface Elements 3.0). The software also comes with a WYSIWYG
GUI builder which includes a script language that can co-exist
with C or C++. Their C++ approach no longer uses a wrappers
They include tons of extra widgets (which they call "Power
Widgets") like business graphics (bar, pie, and line charts),
images (all standard formats), a hypertext widget, and
context-sensitive hypertext help.
Other software in Open Interface includes international
character support, portable drag-and-drop, multi-font support,
full printer support, memory management, file I/O support as
well as MS-Windows DDE support (the latter is, of course,
`Nexpertobject' is an expert systems tool intended for GUI
`C/S Elements' is a client/server for tying UI components to
one of many supported relational databases. This allows the UI
to control the database and changes in the database to be
propagated back into the UI.
`Smart Elements' is for integrating knowledge-based systems
with Neuron's GUI stuff. This allows changes to objects in the
knowledge based system to be propagated to the UI and vice
versa. In addition, these are integrated with a scripting
language which causes changes in both the knowledge base and
Open Interface is an emulated GUI, that attempts to superset
the features from the various GUIs they support.
Particularly if one looks at Neuron Data's optional products,
one can see a leaning toward support of DBMS and expert
These guys claim to have 35% of the market share for PIGUI
tools including some heavyweights like IBM, Microsoft,
Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T).
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
One user says, "[They've] Implemented all kinds of ideas such
as being able to add items to scrolling lists using the +=
operator in C++ etc etc etc. Found some bugs, but support was
brilliant, and new releases were always pushing the frontiers
forward. All bug reports have met with speedy response. It is
expensive, but worth it. Great for object-oriented
Another user agrees, "The only one [PIGUI] I would recommend is
Neuron Data's Open Interface."
However, one user cautions, "I [only] recommend doing
development on a UNIX box or a Mac with this tool. The person
using our [MS] windows copy has had some problems with ND
corrupting its own data files and/or crashing windows."
Another complaint I seem to be seeing concerns slow and poor
Open Software Associates
20 Trafalgar Square, 5th Floor
Nashua, NH 03063
(800) 441-4330 (voice)
(603) 886-4330 (voice)
(603) 598-6877 (fax)
This interface supports C, Pascal, (ish) COBOL, and Ada. Not
only is the C type safe for C++, but they're willing to supply
a native C++ API if there's enough demand. The software comes
with a WYSIWYG GUI builder. They also have a `platform pack', a
less-expensive, de-featured package which allows software
developed with OpenUI to be ported to other platforms.
Their code supports stand-alone as well as client (GUI) /
server Logic) application development. A client/server
application can be developed in stand-alone mode.
When you purchase the product, you receive 90 days of fax and
e-mail support. Purchased support adds-in phone access as well
as product updates.
In addition to GUI portability, OpenUI provides TCP/IP and
Open Software Associates have rewritten their integrated
development environment (IDE), added support for their OpenWeb
product, and improved the cross-platform handling of bitmaps.
There is an online `Knowledge Base' for registered users. I
checked out the KB for their OpenWeb product, and it's pretty
slim (e.g. no entries for Bug!) but the OpenUI KB might be
Open Software Associates has been around since 1990.
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
Says one user, "Support is brilliant, among the best I have
ever seen in the computer industry. Comes with a [GUI] builder,
allows generation of new GUI classes using a concept of
soft-classes (not quite inheritance, but fairly powerful). Good
for when multi- platform support is needed, but not as powerful
as OI for a single GUI application. They will port to other
hardware fairly quickly. We got the SUN port within a month."
Problems include "no file, printing or memory management
support", according to Richard Chimera (email@example.com -- from
a report "Evaluation of Platform Independent Interface
Builders", dated March 1993). [I have heard since that their
printer support has improved - Ross]
Troll Tech AS
Postboks 6133 Etterstad
(+47) 2264 6949
Qt is an object-oriented multi-platform GUI toolkit written in
C++. It enables the developer to quickly create GUI
applications from components, for delivery on Windows 95 and
NT, and most UNIX/X11 systems. OS/2 is apparently in the works
Qt is inherently customisable, and its object-oriented nature
makes this fairly simple by extending existing components.
Components interact using what Troll Tech call `signals/slots',
rather than relying on callbacks, so components are able to
interact on a more generic level.
Good online documentation is available, so the developer does
not have to search for the last place he/she left `that
Both commercial and free software licenses are available.
2180 Sand Hill Road, Suite 320
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(800) 888-8527 (inquiries)
(415) 233-0142 (fax)
_NB: see COMMENTS below!
This is a full C++ class library that comes with their
DesignEditor which creates resource files. Some of the classes
include SplitBar (a splittable scrollbar like a spreadsheet
uses), tool boxes, status bars, file dialogs, and MS-Windows
bitmap support via file stream IO.
Other features/portability capabilities include international
language support (being a German company selling software in
the states, this makes a lot of sense) but not multi-byte
character sets, full printer support (including page preview),
endian-aware classes, platform-independent file specification,
and drag&drop support.
This product also comes with several general-purpose C++
classes including Strings and a very complete complement of
container classes (e.g., Queues, Lists, and Tables). These
classes are included in a Microsoft Windows DLL for reduced
StarDivision seems to be pulling this product from the market,
to be used only for in-house work like their applications for
Linux et al. One paid-up user can't even get email responses
from them regarding this. More information as it comes to hand.
These guys are using their own code (originally written in C++,
I might add) to put together a multi-platform word processor.
Their word processor guys keep their PIGUI guys informed of any
One really neat thing is that they've ported Microsoft's help
to other platforms. They have special (though non-portable)
Microsoft Windows OLE and DDE classes.
OS/2 & NT in beta.
They are working on OLE 2.0 classes as well.
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
Most of the reports that I've seen on StarView have been
extremely favorable with emphasis on their intuitive API. Ian
Upright (Ian_Upright@mindlink.bc.ca), for example, says "If
you're doing [PIGUI] development, I think you'd be insane to
not check out StarView as an option. [...] The entire design of
the library is very intelligent and VERY well thought out.
[...] It also has system dependent hooks available. Such as the
ability to trap [MS] windows messages of a HWND." Other users
second this, "Their features for creating graphics and using
output devices is marvelous." and "The class library is
excellent. It's complete. [...] It's intuitive." "They have
done a good job porting non-native user interface elements to
User support is their biggest problem. Even though they have
two support people and their primary support guy is really
helpful, this is still a major issue. "They've got one good
tech support guy, Andreas [they've added another]. You may not
be able to call and get an immediate answer, as they're not
always in." Says another user, "The real disappointment with
StarView has been their customer support. We've known times
where they didn't return our calls for weeks. They've
consistently been late with releases and shipments, and have
made promises on the phone that were not kept." Another says
that support is "abysmal" in the U.S. but good out of Hamburg
Simple User Interface Toolkit, v2.3
University of Virginia
SUIT is a (free-of-charge with strings attached) C-language
library. It comes with source, a 10 page tutorial, and a 160
page reference manual. SUIT's prime directive is ease of
learning (estimated time to productivity is around 2 hours --
oh, and there is that thing about not interfering with the
natural advancement of an indigenous life form, but we won't
get into that here =^> ). The software has the unusual trait
that its user-interface is editable even while a SUIT
application program is running.
SUIT is available with source for free for Universities and
non-profit organizations (for-profit organizations can license
SUIT for around $25,000). Anyone can download it via anonymous
ftp from uvacs.cs.virginia.edu (220.127.116.11) for evaluation
For more information finger `firstname.lastname@example.org'
TWIN / The Willows Toolkit
12950 Saratoga Avenue, Suite A
Saragoga, CA 95070-4670
+1 415 777 1820 (phone)
+1 415 777 1827 (fax)
TWIN is a cross-platform development kit based on the new APIW
standard for cross-platform development (q.v.). Using TWIN's
XPDK, you can port software written to the Windows API, to
several Unix platforms and the Macintosh.
The kit includes a library, drivers and a binary interface to
allow developers to bring Windows API-based applications and
dynamic link libraries to alternative platforms. The product
includes debug and release versions of the library to support
work in both environments. Also included are shell tools to
port sources, resource compilers to include menus, bitmaps and
icons in an application and a module definition compiler for
building shared libraries.
TWIN is different to most other API emulation toolkits, which
will only enable developers to port software to which they have
source code. Binary emulation enables the use of existing or
third-party DLL's, VBX's and OCX's on the target platform.
Willows offers several levels of support: Basic, Standard and
Premium subscriptions, and `Strategic Consulting'.
Basic, at $250 per annum, covers a CD-ROM subscription and some
(unspecified) support. I will fill in the details on this level
Standard, at $1000 per annum, covers the CD-ROM subscription,
30-day installation support via e-mail and WEB, E-mail and WEB
access for incident reporting and information, and access to
on-line bug and resolution database via WEB for tracking
status, for one developer.
Premium, at $5000 per annum, includes Standard and adds:
unlimited installation support, telephone support for 10
incidents per annum (additional incidents in blocks of 10 p.a.
for $1500), for unlimited number of developers / contacts.
TWIN is based on the new European standard for cross-platform
development, called _Application Programming Interface for
Windows_ (APIW). This standard was adopted by the European
Computer Manufacturers Association (ECMA) on 15 December 1995,
and is currently awaiting approval from the International
Standards Organisation (ISO). APIW is based on the Microsoft
TWIN is available for download, for non-commercial purposes
only, from their Web site. Non-commercial users can also
purchase TWIN (source and binary) on CD-ROM for about $80. For
commercial developers, TWIN is subscription-based software (see
Willows Software is backed by ex-Novell chief, Ray Noorda.
Future plans include support for Windows 95 (including the new
controls), MFC and OWL class libraries and quicktime
multimedia. A future version will feature a dynamic user
interface, allowing users to choose between different user
styles including WIN3.1, WIN95, Motif and MAC/OS. Using shared
libraries, developers will be able to create and dynamically
add additional interface styles.
Dr. Bruce E. Wampler
email@example.com - mailing list, use subject ADD and put
your email address in the body
V is a C++ framework for simplifying the development of GUI
applications. V was developed as a platform independent
framework, and currently supports Microsoft Windows 3.1, Win32,
and X Windows (using Athena widgets).
V encapsulates a fairly complete set of the standard GUI
objects (windows, buttons, lists, fields etc) as well as
V comes complete with source code, and will remain free to the
public under the terms of the GNU Library General Public
License. The distribution package includes source code, a
compiled library for Windows 3.1, a 150 page manual in LaTex
and PostScript, and several example programs.
V was developed as a freeware GUI C++ framework, by Dr. Bruce
Wampler. It is currently being used to teach programming to
students of the University of New Mexico, both at the Junior
level and for large projects at the Senior level.
From looking at the Quick Reference online, it seems to be a
well-constructed example of an Object Oriented framework
(better than some of the commercial packages I've seen). I
guess that's because it has been used as a teaching tool. I
would be interested in hearing from anyone who has used V for a
complex application; I'm sure it would have been successful.
An OS/2 version is being worked on. A Macintosh version is
stated as being a "someday thing".
Some tools are being developed to support V, including a dialog
designer, a HTML-based portable help system, and an icon
editor. Clipboard functionality should be added to V by the
VisualAge is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for
visually developing software using components. Whilst the
purists may argue that it isn't a _true_ visual development
tool, it's certainly more of one than the likes of Visual Basic
VisualAge is available for either C++ or a Smalltalk. Both
versions come with a comprehensive library of components for
developing GUI and client / server applications across
VisualAge for Smalltalk is available on Windows, OS/2 and AIX.
Presumably, so is VisualAge for C++.
I have to admit not knowing much about this product, and would
appreciate hearing from anyone who has used or evaluated it.
Bristol Technology Inc.
241 Ethan Allen Highway Ridgefield, CT 06877
(203) 438-6969 (voice)
(203) 438-5013 (fax)
Wind/U is an implementation of the Microsoft Windows API under
Unix/Motif. Wind/U supports Win16 and Win32 and the Microsoft
Foundation Classes 3.0 and 4.x (MFC, the API under Visual C++).
It contains custom widgets to allow applications to utilize
multiple document interface (MDI), combo boxes, dynamically
linked libraries (DLLs), dynamic data exchange (DDE), WinSock,
and PostScript and PCL4 and PCL5 (Hewlett Packard's Printer
Control Language) printing. You can use your MS Windows Help
file source on Unix with Bristol's HyperHelp.
In addition, they support the Windows GDI graphics drawing
interface, including the coordinate system choices. Finally,
they support Common dialog DLLs as well as DDEML (Dynamic Data
Exchange Management Library) DLLs. OLE was recently added.
Recently, Wind/U added support for ActiveX and multi-threading
Their toolkit includes several programmer tools including
Wind/U Spy (an application that runs under Motif but looks like
the MS-Windows Spy program), online documentation, a makefile
generation program (to help compile your MS-Windows program
under Unix), and other tools to help prepare your PC source for
Bristol has entered into a source code license agreement with
Microsoft. This agreement allows Bristol to incorporate
MS-Windows code into their product.
Bristol was founded in 1990 and has maintained a profit every
quarter since 1992.
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
One user says, "[Wind/U] is a fairly complete implementation of
the Windows API for unix. There are some bugs, and some
unimplemented features, but it seems to be getting better over
time. Bristol's support for their product is truly excellent:
they are very responsive and have been able to provide rapid
turnaround for our problems."
Others say "... remarkably unresponsive, ...their Win32 is
*much* less complete than they [tell you]"
WM_MOTIF User Interface Library, v4.1
Software UNO, Ltd.
15 Bodwell Terrace
1259 Fernandez Juncos Ave.
Millburn, NJ 07041
San Juan, PR 00907
(800) 840-UNIX (840-8649) (voice)
(809) 722-6242 (fax)
73710,3031; GO MAGMA
WM_MOTIF is a portable implementation of the MS Windows API for
Unix Motif and character-based environments. It is a C library,
but also supports popular C++ frameworks like Microsoft's MFC
or Borland's OWL. A resource compiler is included to port
MS-Windows resources to the Unix platforms. WM_MOTIF supports
bitmaps, icons, and cursors; UIL is not required.
Source code is available.
Demo executables are available via anonymous FTP at
ftp://ftp.uu.net/vendor/uno/. Software UNO also offers an
evaluation library to allow developers to compile their own
code with the library.
Suite 418, 1167 Kensington Crescent N.W.
Calgary, Alberta Canada T2N 1X7
(403) 283-5590 (voice)
(403) 283-6250 (fax)
(403) 283-6395 (bbs)
This is a C library which comes bundled with a resource builder
(OPUS) capable of creating portable resource files.
WNDX provides system-independent graphic drawing routines,
window manipulation primitives, and user interaction management
routines as well as dialogs, menus, editable and static text
items, scrollbars, checkboxes, radio buttons, list items,
selection items, icons, color selection items, icon and bitmap
Programs generated with WNDX can be configured to use the
native environment of the platform, or to be identical in
appearance and behavior across all platforms. This is
accomplished by the use of different `style guides' (source
included) which define the look and feel of the particular
`style'. For example, a simple menu option can change the look
and feel of the OPUS application running in Windows from the
Windows style guide to the Motif style guide.
According to one article, they've altered concepts that most
GUI developers consider conventional. All widgets have all the
attributes defined for them (it's just that some of the
attributes are meaningless and, therefore, ignored). WNDX
describes it differently: The basis of the WNDX paradigm is the
Window `object'. Each object has an attribute list. Other
`objects' are derived from the basic window object and each
kind of object adds different customized attributes to the
There are some problems, like colors are not fully editable and
there's no way to put a picture on a button (without fudging).
Other complaints include features (like icons) that require
special non-portable effort to use in a native look-and-feel.
In addition to the platforms supported, a source code license
is available for programmers who need to port applications to
other UNIX/Motif platforms. Contact WNDX for pricing.
Dr Julian Smart
Artificial Intelligence Applications Institute
University of Edinburgh
80 South Bridge
0131 650 2746 (voice)
This is a (free-of-charge) C++ library with source (there's
also a version for the Python language). For a GUI builder, you
can use wxBuilder (which is available under MS-Windows or
Motif), another program they have to translate the output of
DevGuide (Sun's XView GUI builder) into wxWindows format, or
yet another one to allow one to use Liant's class browser with
A dialog editor is available under Windows, which is simpler to
use and more robust than wxBuilder.
This package includes hypertext help (including a new
HTML-based help system), printer support (this is better than
some packages you have to pay for), and some nifty graphics
capabilities including splines, polylines, and rounded
rectangles. It includes the standard menu bars, toolbars, pens,
brushes, etc. In addition to all of that, it includes IPC
features that includes DDE support under MS-Windows _AND_ Unix.
A CURSES version is in alpha.
In addition, wxWindows includes timers, filesystem portability
features, as well as PROLOGIO which allows the user to create
(apparently, with some limitations) object-oriented, Prolog-
compatible data files, document/view classes, a charting
library, an HTML canvas, and ODBC support under Windows.
wxWindows now supports Windows 3.1, WIN32, Windows 95 (not all
controls and features), Windows NT, XView, and Motif. A
contributed Xt port provides a large subset of the features
available in the 'official' wxWindows distribution. A Mac port
is also now available, but seems to be trailing the main gang
in features. A partial OS/2 port is available as a start for
potential OS/2 contributors.
To get this software, anonymous ftp it from ftp.aiai.ed.ac.uk;
it's under /pub/packages/wxwin. Checkout the manual online
This is free software, so one should expect that it has a
couple of warts relative to the packages for which one would
pay. It (according to the author) doesn't stick too closely to
the style guides of the individual platforms, but "most people
won't know the difference [... the software has] a long way to
go before I've used all the features [of the various GUIs]".
Still, the price is right, and to my mind it at least rivals
(and in some cases, bests) the commercial offerings.
+ A wxWindows CD-ROM in the summer of 1996
+ further Win95 support
+ socket programming support
+ an OLE-2 class library
XVT Portability Toolkit
_XVT Development Solution for C++ (DSC++) 4.5_
_XVT Development Solution for C (DSC) 4.5_
XVT Software Incorporated
4900 Pearl East Circle
Boulder, CO 80308
(800) 678-7988 (inquiries)
(303) 443-4223 (voice)
(303) 443-0969 (fax)
XVT comes as either a C-language or C++ (called Power++)
library. The C solution has bundled with it an interactive
design tool and code generator. XVT provides printing support,
drag-and-drop, portable help, portable bitmap support (palette
control provides up to 24 bits of color), powerful portable
typeface handling capability, and all the standard widgets
(including toolbar, status bar, and tables). Version 4.5 adds
tables, tree, dockable windows, and data-aware objects.
The C++ solution includes a user interface layout tool
(XVT-Architect) which includes a browser, a graphical layout
tool and an object attributes manager.
In addition, Power++ comes with the Rogue Wave product
Tools.h++ (Tools.h++ provides 135 extra general-purpose
XVT Graphical Extensions
Free (with updates) for one year. After that, call for pricing.
XVT is the original PIGUI software. They seem to provide pretty
solid support for all the platforms (and, there's a lot) that
they support. In addition, the current incarnation of their C++
toolset is generally agreed to be substantially better than
their original entry.
XVT is receiving major applause for changing their PIGUI
approach to be more consistent with the rest of the
marketplace. They are getting away from a least-common
denominator approach (check out their portable help for an
example of strides in this area) and they are providing more
complete packages with fewer optional extras (e.g., XVT now
bundles their layout tool with their products).
XVT was founded in 1987.
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
The user's have said that the manuals are good and extremely
well organized and that the Designer's test mode actually tests
the logic (a really helpful feature). Their tech support is
also reportedly pretty good ("wonderous", says one user).
In the arena of software development, one user says "...at the
end of 2 weeks we had a fully-functional [medium-sized]
application on Mac and MOTIF", he goes on to say that the the
user-interface was redesigned half way through.
Power++ is said to be a fantastic improvement over their old
C++ product (Design++).
One user has a list server running, on firstname.lastname@example.org, To
subscribe, just send some mail to Majordomo@adc.com
Yet Another Class Library, v1.5
M. A. Sridhar
Department of Computer Science
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-2427 (voice)
(803) 777-3767 (fax)
YACL is a freely available C++ class library that includes:
+ a suite of container and data storage classes for
+ high-level GUI classes based on Model-View-Controller
The GUI class protocols are designed in a platform independent
manner, and are implemented under Motif 1.2 as well as under
Microsoft Windows, Windows NT and OS/2. The YACL distribution
includes numerous demo programs.
YACL supports a multitude of compilers, and its distribution
includes makefiles for all supported platforms and compilers.
YACL is available via anonymous ftp from ftp.cs.scarolina.edu
Rogue Wave Software
260 SW Madison
P.O. Box 2328
Corvallis OR 97339
(800) 487-3217 or (541) 754-3010
A set of four software packages: zApp Factory, a WYSIWYG visual
screen designer/ code generator; the zApp Application
Framework, a set of over 200 classes for everything from
geometry management to frames and panes; the zApp Interface
Pack a set of high level custom controls; and zHelp, which
provides portable context sensitive help to zApp Applications.
The zApp Developer's Suite ships with the following
documentation: Programmer's Guide, Programmer's Reference
manual, a platform guide, zApp Factory manual and zApp
Interface Pack manual.
Version 3.0 adds progress bars, tabbed dialogs, tree,
multi-selection lists, and better zHelp. zApp now also requires
RogueWave's Tools.h++ class toolkit.
Rogue Wave Software offers a full range of consulting and
training to help your development group attain productivity.
Technical support is provided through the phone, fax, email,
compuserve and Rogue Wave's BBS. Purchase of a technical
support contract provides priority support for one year as well
as all upgrades (even major upgrades) at no additional charge.
Prices for support for each zApp Developer's Suite are as
Windows 95/NT, OS/2
Full Platform Solution
Future versions will offer integration with Rogue Wave
libraries such as DBTools.h++ and Net.h++
zApp for the Macintosh is _still_ scheduled ...
Inmark, the originators of zApp, recently merged with
RogueWave. I see this as only good news for zApp users, as
RogueWave has quite a good reputation for quality
cross-platform component software. The prices seem to have gone
up with this, but then support more than likely has also.
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
zApp receives many plaudits. Many users really like their class
structure. One user says "zApp contains without a doubt the
absolute best C++ code I have ever seen. It is an amazingly
simple, intuitive interpretation of GUI and OOP interfaces".
Another user says, "zApp is an EXCELLENT platform-independent
API. If you truly must write your code `once' for multiple
platforms, zApp is the C++ solution to get." Also revered is
the zApp Factory tool.
A big complaint seems to be that zApp is quite apparently
MS-Windows-oriented. Many of their classes and idioms don't
translate well (or at all) to other platforms. For example, one
user says "my disappointment [with zApp] stems from my Mac
expectations." Another user agrees, "The [MS] Windows version
works rather better than the OS/2 version".
A, possibly anachronistic, comment I've heard is "it has A LOT
of memory leaks". On the other hand, [Inmark] has been
listening to the complaints of it's customers, "We have been
very diligent in tracking memory leaks and memory issues with
zApp. The latest versions of zApp have been verified with [an
in-house product, SmartHeap, BoundsChecker, and Purify]."
ZINC Software Incorporated
405 South 100 East 2nd Floor
Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
(800) 638 8665 (inquiries)
(801) 785-8900 (voice)
(801) 785-8996 (fax)
(801) 785-8997 (bbs)
This is a full C++ class library that comes with the Zinc
Designer (a WYSIWYG GUI builder). Their classes include a
rather nice error system, geometry management, print support,
VROOM support (for Borland heads), index tabs, status bars,
sliders, spinners, some graphic capabilities, and a portable,
if rudimentary, help system. Also included is the source for
the library (and for the Designer).
In addition to the usual GUI stuff, Zinc also provides
international character support (they have a Unicode version
for extra bux) and some container classes.
The software comes with 4 manuals. These include 2 reference
manuals, a getting started manual, and a document covering
A set of database classes is now available, providing a
database independance layer for C++ utilising several major
data access methods, including ODBC.
A Unicode version (key) is available for bux, allowing you to
write truly internationalised code which includes Asian
Zinc also provides a video training series (this gives lots of
Zinc internals detail, but not a lot of relief for the novice
programmer) for $499.
Zinc's direction seems to be the international market along
with support for the
marketeers-do-the-GUI-while-programmers-do-the-code crowd. That
said, they promise that they'll not forget about the
applications and scientific programmers as they grow.
To use their product to its fullest, you have to use their GUI
builder (the only way you can get icons on all platforms, for
example, is through the Designer).
Zinc has made big changes to their Designer (their GUI builder)
targeted, it seems, to provide a comfortable GUI design
environment for non-programmers. The updates include easing the
addition of user-defined widgets to the designer, parallelizing
the main-design-screen/image-editor/help-editor, and replacing
flag names with more user-friendly english descriptions.
They have completely rewritten their manuals (and the crowd
goes wild...) to reduce the learning curve associated with this
Zinc was founded in 1990.
The utilization of the native help system and improved graphics
_WHAT THE USERS SAY:_
Users praise the look and feel under DOS. Native look-and-feel
on target platforms also seems to be well met, in most cases.
Many complain about the lack of intuitive feel of the API.
Personally, I think that the API is pretty good but the
documentation does a really poor job of explaining it. Zinc is
based on message passing, similar in nature to how MS-Windows,
OS/2 and Macintosh do it, but generalised to be portable across
multiple platforms. Those of you who are more used to using
callbacks may need to adjust.
Some users say that the class hierarchy is not very Object
Oriented. Others disagree, saying that subclassing is
reasonably well supported, even to a limited extent within the
Designer (GUI builder).
There are some serious bugs associated with the table /
spreadsheet object, UIW_TABLE. It seems they got it out the
door too quickly. For lists with no in-place editing, you can
get away with using a vertical list and owner-drawn elements
but when you need a spreadsheet object, you're stuck with
Zinc provides free email support for all customers, as well as
limited phone and fax support. Zinc also offers a Customer
Assurance Plan (CAP) which includes free phone, fax, email, BBS
and Compuserve support, free upgrades and maintenance releases,
and Beta test releases.
Zinc's email support is quite responsive, especially for simple
How-To questions. Several users have commented that Zinc is
slow to fix bugs, but they are also open to negotiation for
Once you get used to the paradigm, it _is_ pretty
straight-forward to program. Their improved documentation is a
big help and shows off some of Zinc's more powerful features.
In addition, the software is becoming more robust with each
$RCSfile: pigui3.txt,v $; $Revision: 3.1 $; $Date: 1997/03/02