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GUI development platform supports embedded Linux targets

Jul 9, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 2 views

Blue Water Embedded announced a royalty-free graphical user interface (GUI) development framework for embedded devices, including those running Linux. The Prism Runtime Framework is a cross-platform GUI toolkit that incorporates Prism Micro, a GUI toolkit for constrained color-depth targets, and Prism Insight, a Linux-compatible desktop GUI design and resource editing tool, says the company.

Fort Gratiot, Michigan-based Blue Water Embedded, not to be confused with New Zealand's Bluewater Systems, aims its Prism Runtime Framework at embedded targets running a wide variety of processor architectures, including x86, ARM, Blackfin, and Renesas SH.

According to Blue Water Embedded, a typical full-featured GUI requires a Prism footprint of roughly 180K bytes of code (dependent on processor, compiler, and enabled feature set), 4K Bytes stack, and 16K bytes dynamic memory. Prism is fully integrated with RTOS messaging, memory management, and synchronization services, providing a true real-time multitasking environment, the company adds.

Target operating system support includes Linux, Windows CE, and a wide variety of real-time operating systems (RTOSes), says Blue Water. The Prism and Prism Micro libraries can be compiled with any compiler supporting C++ or EC++, says the company.

Prism main screen
Source: Blue Water Embedded via
(Click to enlarge)

Built around a set of graphical drawing libraries, the Prism tools automate the design and deployment of advanced graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for embedded systems, including automotive, consumer electronics, infotainment, and medical devices, says Blue Water. The tools are said to support the development of embedded UIs with rich animations, screens transitions, alpha blending, anti-aliasing, and canvas transformations.

The Prism Runtime Framework is equipped with a widget set, drawing engine, event manager, and screen manager, and supports color depths up to 32 bits-per-pixel (bpp), says the company. Key features are said to include unlimited canvases, per-pixel and per-canvas alpha blending, bitmap rotation and scaling, and screen transitions. Text rotation, dynamic screen rotation, and complete anti-aliasing of drawing primitives are also said to be supported.

Prism Resource Mode screen
Source: Blue Water Embedded via
(Click to enlarge)

Control types include buttons, text gadgets, animations, menus, sliders, and bitmap display objects, says Blue Water. Advanced classes are said to include treeview, spreadsheet. and tag control panels. Finally, Prism offers run-time selection of themes, enabling end-users to tailor their experience, says the company.

Prism Micro and Prism Insight

A variation of the Prism framework called Prism Micro is tailored to meet the special requirements of cost-constrained, lower color depth targets up to 256 colors, says Blue Water. The "very small" Prism Micro also supports monochrome displays, and is easily ported to virtually any hardware configuration capable of supporting graphical output, says the company.

The framework also include the Prism Insight development platform, which runs on Linux/X11 and Windows desktops. Offering a drag-and-drop WYSIWYG environment, Prism Insight incorporates TrueType font technology, says the company.

Insight's Resource Editor defines buttons, menus, and other widgets that can then be customized by developers, says Blue Water. The Prism Insight Animation Designer, meanwhile, is said to let developers specify screen flows, and select from a wide range of screen transition effects and animations.

Prism Insight supports data output formats such as ANSI C/C++ source code, XML screen description files, and binary resource files, says Blue Water.

In conjunction with Prism's roll-out this week, published a how-to article on using Prism, written by company president Ken Maxwell. Screen examples from the article are shown in the two images shown above.

Blue Water Embedded also offers customer support, including training sessions, says the company.

Maxwell stated, "Designing and developing customer-oriented GUIs that take into account not only the critical workflow of the user functionality, but also transparently adjust to the variety of graphic capabilities on output devices becomes more like a mad science without tools designed to meet these challenges. Prism's libraries, development tools and professional technical support combine to speed product development."


Prism is available now, delivered with full source code and royalty free. Pricing starts at $2,000 for a Prism development-only license, says Blue Water Embedded. Free evaluation kits are also said to be available, and a document package will soon be offered for devices requiring safety certification, says the company.

More information on Prism may be found here. The Prism UI how-to article may be found here.

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