Universal graphics terminal.

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Universal graphics terminal.

Postby Pixel_Outlaw » Mon Aug 26, 2013 9:44 pm

Hello, first post here (Some may know me as Ryan_Burnside from the #Lisp channel)

I've had an idea rolling around in my head for some time.
In the late 70's and 80's there were graphics terminals.
They worked like our current text terminals but allowed ANY language to draw shapes to the screen and have a basic GUI.

If you're not familiar with how terminals work, they usually accept plain ASCII control codes which move the cursor around and color text (vt100/vt102 is the defacto standard)
Now I know this is slow but it still works very well today.

I'm wondering why the notion of graphics terminals was never really revived?
I mean it would essentially allow the programmer to produce a GUI in ANY programming language that can write the the standard output.

Standards exist like ReGIS but it seems that nobody has written a working emulator for some time.
It would be a grand unification for all programming languages, especially those that lack current GUI support.
In any programming language you'd only need to write a small library to print the control codes...

Esentially you could write two versions, one for X11 and one for the screenbuffer (without needing an X11 server running)

Take a look at the video below, this should wet your whistle a bit.

Image

Here is a video of a VT330 terminal rendering some lines...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=p ... mrmj5y72kg
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Re: Universal graphics terminal.

Postby Goheeca » Tue Aug 27, 2013 2:34 pm

I've searched for an emulator and it seems there is only one: dxterm which is available only for Tru64. It really wants to write some open source emulator (you can start with that), but it will be painful and more easier is to try ubiquitous SDL bindings. By the way, writing of such an emulator in SDL would not be a bad idea.
cl-2dsyntax is my attempt to create a Python-like reader. My mirror of CLHS (and the dark themed version).
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Re: Universal graphics terminal.

Postby nuntius » Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:52 pm

DId the graphical terminal die out, or just that one branch of the technology tree?

Tcl/Tk, HTML, and X11 all strike me as descendents of the graphical terminal concept.

VNC and Remote Desktop also seem related.
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Re: Universal graphics terminal.

Postby Pixel_Outlaw » Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:45 pm

I think it mostly died out. Or was replaced by X11 servers (depending on your definition of a graphics "terminal")
DEC to my knowledge is the company that had them.
Who knows what crazy patents might have been in effect during the 80's...

However, there is another standard called Tektronix (in theory can be run with xterm with the '-t' flag segfaults on my copy in Linux Mint)
I believe this standard is for oscilloscopes but I'm not 100% sure.

I think X server kind of killed vector graphics terminals.
It would be really cool to just render graphics without needing a library or worrying about "here today gone tomorrow" libraries. (Anyone attempt to get old Motif programs working? :) )
Once you have a hardware graphics specification for a terminal the rules are sort of set in stone. Which is why we still have the vt100/102 standard for terminals today.
I think a good solution now is a software layer that can take output , parse it to screen displays, and return input from the terminal.

In this way, we can write timeless GUI software while only worrying about writing a software layer to handle the program output.
Programs from the 70's still run OK today in most cases with our modern terminals. Pair that with graphics and you have timeless graphical programs.
Granted these graphics are primitive, but pixels themselves are the building blocks for our most advanced games and simulations.

Take a look there, that must have been mind blowing for the time. This program could probably run today if compiled and hooked to a terminal emulator.
http://modularsynthesis.com/tek/

Just a thought.
We could even define a new standard.
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Re: Universal graphics terminal.

Postby Goheeca » Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:39 am

I've just tested xterm with vttest and the Tektronix mode works, it opens new window for graphics though. The switch -t isn't needed for me it works in both cases. Moreover with that switch ansi escape sequences don't work (I have reversed colors in my prompt).
cl-2dsyntax is my attempt to create a Python-like reader. My mirror of CLHS (and the dark themed version).
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