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Series in Computer Science
Edited by Thomas M. Stricker

Vol. 6

Thomas Frey,
A Thread-safe Multimedia and GUI
Framework for Active Oberon

2005; XVI, 176 pages/Seiten, € 64,00. ISBN 3-86628-011-4

Thirty years after the first introduction of the desktop metaphor as a means of human computer interaction in general purpose computers, this thesis reconsiders and evaluates interaction methods on a technical and conceptual level in the light of the progress of hardware and software technology over the last decades. Notably the increased CPU speed and memory capacity, specialized processor instruction set extensions, and a clear recent trend to commodity multiprocessor systems and multi-threaded processors lead to new implementation requirements and decisions. Modern computer systems deliver the computational power for innovative extensions of the traditional desktop metaphor.
We describe the concepts and architecture of a new general purpose graphical user interface and multimedia framework and their thread-safe implementations in Active Oberon. The proposed user interface combines in a new way elements taken from the traditional desktop metaphor with interaction techniques known from zoomable and textual user interfaces. A concurrent display space manager with support for translucent free-form windows in a conceptually unlimited zoomable display space was developed and serves as proof of the feasibility of the proposed interaction concepts as well as for the evaluation and discussion of new implementation strategies designed for today’s systems. The multimedia framework consists of abstract APIs for different multimedia formats and a plug-in structure for concrete implementations.
While the discussed framework can take advantage of one or more general purpose CPUs with possibly specialized instruction set extensions for multimedia or vector calculations, it is designed not to rely on any special purpose hardware for graphics acceleration. The design for modern general purpose processors offers several advantages over a design for special purpose hardware. One of the main advantages is the simple system architecture that matches or outperforms commercial hardware accelerated systems in common situations through structural advantages. It also allows the system to be easily ported to different hardware platforms, especially to small devices such as wearable computers. The portability of the framework has been demonstrated with a port to the QBIC wearable computer that has been developed at ETH Zürich.
The framework has been developed on top of the multiprocessor implementation of the Active Object Runtime System for Intel SMP systems and the single processor ports for the ARM and XSCALE processors.

Keywords: Active Oberon, Bluebottle, GUI, Thread safety, Component system, Unicode, Multimedia

Series in Computer Science

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