Display List Editor Finished

The Display List Editor is now complete. Users can visually design a display list and then at the click of a button, save it for later use, insert it directly into the source, preview it or copy the generated code to the clipboard.
This should help Atari developers, particularly those who are starting out with coding custom Display Lists.
I still have to add some extra functions in the main program itself regarding this editor, but the will also impact on other areas. One of the functions I want to add is a drag and drop functionality that will allow resources to be dragged from the Project Manager directly into the source. If that item being dragged is a binary file (character set or player missile set), then a binary include function will be inserted into the source. However, because it is not as straightforward to include the display list as a binary source, if you drag the Display List file into the source, then the program will decode the display list and embed the actual source code of the display list into the program source file. Dragging a normal source file into the source will generate a source include function to be inserted.
Hopefully, this will make things that little bit easier for people.

I have also managed to reduce most of the flicker issues I was getting in the Windows version of the IDE. This means that as I am coding this in Real Studio from RealSoftware, I should be able to release the Windows version at the same time as the OSX version.

I have been receiving a lot of positive feedback from the AtariAge community regarding this project, and it is great to see people taking an interest. I am also getting a number of suggestions to help improve the IDE, some of which I have included into the Display List Editor. Some these include an editor to allow the user to edit BASIC files and the facility to export the resources for other languages (such as C, Action!, Quick, etc.). I am excited about putting these functions in, however, I would like to get this to at least beta release by the end of next month, so some of the suggestions may have to wait until version 2, and if the reception the program gets is as good as I think, then there will definitely be a version 2.

Bug Fixes and Progression

Well, the IDE has been progressing nicely. Did a bit of testing recently, which should me a number of bugs that had managed to creep in. They have now been thoroughly squished. Most of the pertained to the source navigator, but a couple reared their heads in the actual source editor itself. Nothing major to fix, but they would have been show stoppers in the finished project.

I have been also getting on with the display list editor. This has proven a bit of a challenge, not with the programming itself, but with the design of it. I want to try and create something that is relatively easy to use, whilst at the same time, allowing all possible permutations for the display list. What I have come up with is:


What you can see here is the actual editor. I will explain each section:
Firstly, the table in the top left of the window displays the line types, with various properties. This means that when you are creating your display list, you do not need to worry about adding values to the code to make a DLI or a LMS entry. Even the smooth scrolling flags are taken care of. As you can see by the pop-up window, the antic codes are selected from a list, again meaning that you do not need to remember which code it is you need. (Looking at this right now, I thing I will add additional information in the list, such as pixels/characters per line, etc).
To the right of this, you enter your address for the display list. This can be either an actual address, or a label.
Directly below the address entry, there is a little box to set the display list to one of the predefined BASIC graphics modes. This can be useful if you are going to base your new display list on an existing mode.
At the bottom of the window, we have the preview section. The large rectangle (partially obscured by the pop-up menu) gives a graphical representation of the screen. Each antic mode on the preview is represented by the colours indicated to the right of it. This will allow you to get a quick feel for how the screen is laid out.

Finally, we have the buttons in the bottom right corner. These do the following:
Copy: Copies the completed display list to the clipboard.
Insert: Directly inserts the display list into the current insertion point in the source editor.
Preview: Displays a textual preview of the complete display list.
Close: Closes the window (obviously).
Save: Saves the display list to disk.

One thing I haven’t mentioned, the table also allows you to enter addresses for LMS functions. When copying or inserting the list and an address is found on a particular line, then the Antic Code is automatically converted to an LMS instruction. The software will also append the Jump At Vertical Blank instruction to save you worrying about it. As it stands right now, there is no Jump To Address instruction, however, I will be adding this in for completeness.

Source Navigator in place

Just to keep everyone up to date with the project.
I have now put in the source navigator. I have copied the graphics and style from the navigator in WUDSN so that it is familiar to people who have used WUDSN before.
At present, it doesn’t display equates, but if there is a call for that, I will put it in.
Anyway, here’s a new screen shot:


No to get the find and replace dialogs and functions in. Then the editor itself is done.
After that, I will put in the code to call the assemblers and report back to the user with either success or failure options.
I will then create the links to the emulators (Atari800MacX on OSX, Atari800Win and Altirra for Windows), so that the IDE can be used as is.
The sprite editor will come after that. I plan to create an editor that will allow the user to create and preview animated sprites. They will, by default, be saved as a binary file, however, like I plan to create for the character set editor, I will introduce some code export options as well.
Although the screen shot here is still showing the New Screen button on the toolbar, this will be removed. The Atari allows us to create an almost infinite amount of different screen configurations, and with DLI’s, we can even expand on that. So, creating an effective editor would require a great deal of work, more than I want to do before I can release version 1 of this IDE. Therefore, I will be removing any functionality for that area for now.