“The message is the medium: Multiprocess structuring of an interactive paint program” by Beach, Beatty, Booth, Plebon and Fiume

  • ©Richard J. Beach, John C. Beatty, Kellogg S. Booth, Darlene A. Plebon, and Eugene Fiume




    The message is the medium: Multiprocess structuring of an interactive paint program



    An innovative design for an interactive paint program has been developed based on multiple processes and message passing. Traditional paint programs combine interrupt-driven support of a graphical input device, such as a mouse or tablet, with the coloring of pixels in a raster display. We advocate a different design methodology which is illustrated in our implementation. The multiple processes and message passing primitives provided by some real-time operating systems encourage the design of parallel-program architectures and anthropomorphic programming structures, analogous to artist procedures and the metaphors of Smalltalk. The Thoth operating system was used to experiment with such an anthropomorphic design. Thoth provides a hospitable environment in which to investigate the distribution of algorithms between software and microprogrammed hardware processes, the performance and responsiveness of a multiple-process interactive program, and experimental user interfaces using an Ikonas 3000 frame buffer. The paint program consists of processes which handle the graphics tablet, track an iconic cursor, paint a selection of brushes, fill regions of the image, draw lines, and implement the user interface. Some processes have been implemented both in software and microcode.


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