image model (was: remote windows)

Jecel Assumpcao Jr jecel at
Mon Jul 31 19:08:26 UTC 2000

On Fri, 28 Jul 2000, Brook Conner wrote:
> [okay - I'm only just getting to this - I'm a single dad working at an
> internet startup - I'm busy :-]

At the speed these projects get finished, you could wait a few years to
comment and it would still be relevant :-(

> > [MPEG-4 as the imaging model for Self?]
> How about a Quartz-like canvas? I.e., PDF. The MacOSX UI of Self would
> be very pretty :-)

I have always been a big fan of Postscript based interfaces (NeWS,
NeXT). But having two languages (Objective-C and Postcript in the
NeXTStep case) complicates things.

> It supports links (i.e., callbacks), is completely
> resolution-independent, enables a lot of kewl FX, and screenshots would
> be cake :-)

Doesn't it have to be licensed from Adobe? In that case it isn't an
option for free software.

> Or perhaps SWF would be better. SWF is the format used for Flash files,
> and maybe 80-90% of web browsers have the Flash plug-in - so the Self
> World could show up anywhere! Though, come to think of it, most people
> have Adobe Acrobat, too.

Squeak Smalltalk has an implementation of an older version of Flash, so
adapting it for Self would be very easy. But they have layered this on
top of a lower level imaging model called Balloon 2D and Balloon 3D.
Those were created to build a more flexible Morphic interface and so I
have studied them as an option for Self as well.

> While MPEG-4, SWF, and PDF all have some attributes in common
> (animation, vector drawing, simple interaction), there are of course
> some trade-offs. SWF and PDF are at least originated by single
> corporations (Macromedia and Adobe, respectively), though they do claim
> some amount of openness. MPEG4 is more neutral in that sense, but it is
> also dramatically less widespread.

SWF has some limited streaming and mpeg-4 an even better update model.
I am familiar with static PDF, but have no idea how it works in a
dynamic context. Most of mpeg-4 is implemented in the latest releases
of Microsoft's MediaPlayer and I expect it to be very popular within
the next two years. It is more interesting to be compatible with the
future than the past :-)

Actually, PDF and mpeg-4 are somewhat complementary. Mpeg-4 is good at
scene composition and transporting natural images while PDF can handle
text and basic graphics much better. Almost anything would be an
improvement on X Windows.

-- Jecel

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