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A Guide to BeOS System Objects


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The FontDemo Icon
Location in the BeOS:

FontDemo epitomizes real-time manipulation and feedback.


The other day I was walking down the street wearing my Be tshirt, and someone stopped me and asked, "Hey, the BeOS sounds pretty cool, but when you say it has 'real-time manipulation and feedback' what exactly does that mean?"

As fate would have it, we were walking by one of the two million computer shops here in Silicon Valley, so we stepped inside. I slipped a shiny new BeOS Demo CD into one of the machines, and seconds later we were booted into the BeOS.

Without hesitation, I headed straight for the /demos/ folder and launched FontDemo. FontDemo is not one of those sexy, multimedia spinning-cube type demos, but for demonstrating real-time manipulation and feedback it gets the job done admirably.

FontDemo launched its two windows, Controls and Display. In the Controls window there are sliders for Size, Shear (aka Slant), Rotation and Spacing (space between the letters). There's also a place to type some text, select a font and a button to automatically cycle through the fonts.

Most people are familiar with font manipulation through word processing. You want some text, say a headline, to be bigger. You select the text, go to a fonts menu, select "Size", select some number, click "Ok" and see how it looks. If it's too big or too small, you try again and pick another number. And so on.

This is where real-time manipulation and feedback comes in handy. Sliding the size bar causes the text in the Display window to grow or shrink according. I keep my eyes on the text and when I get it to the size I want, I stop, look over and notice the perfect size is 134. It might have taken me some time to guess that.

You can do the same with the other sliders, causing your text to rotate, slant, etc. Start the fonts cycling, and manipulate the text as the fonts change for extra fun.

I'm at this point in the demo when an irate computer store manager chases us out of the store.

"Well that demo certainly illustrated the real-time manipulation and feedback capabilities built into the BeOS," said the curious stranger. "But that's just a demo, right?"

"Actually, there are shipping BeOS products that take advantage of real-time manipulation and feedback, and in particular, word processors that allow you to manipulate text in much the same way as FontDemo," I replied.

I let him keep the Demo CD.

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