Tag Archives: DPI

The SCALED event

As covered in our recent posts on scaling and High-DPI, OpenInsight now has the capability to dynamically alter the scale of a form at runtime, taking care of layout, fonts and images.  However, there may be circumstances where this is not sufficient – perhaps you need to tweak the layout yourself, or perhaps you need to display a specific image rather than rely on a DPI Image List.  In this case you will need to know when the scaling operation has taken place, and you can handle this in the new SCALED event:

SCALED event

This WINDOW event is triggered when the SCALEFACTOR property is changed or when the form is moved to another monitor with a different DPI.

bForward = SCALED( ctrlEntID, ctrlClassID, origDpiX, origDpiY, origScaleFactor, |
                                           newDpiX, newDpiY, newScaleFactor )

The event is passed the following event-specific arguments:

  1. The original X DPI value
  2. The original Y DPI value
  3. The original SCALEFACTOR value
  4. The new X DPI value
  5. The new Y DPI value
  6. The new SCALEFACTOR value

The system performs no default processing for this event.

 

Handling layout for scaled forms

Of course, this leads us to one of the main issues with handling scaling: how do you get and set layout properties like SIZE for a scaled form? What units are used?

There are basically two choices available:

  1. Use Device Independent Pixels (DIPs): With this method all coordinates are treated as though the form is scaled at 96 DPI with a scale factor of 1.  The system is then responsible for mapping them to actual pixels at runtime.
  2. Use Pixels (PX): With this method the coordinates passed are treated as actual screen pixels regardless of the DPI or scale factor.

Using DIPs may seem easiest at first, especially in terms of backwards compatibility with existing code, but it does have some drawbacks:

  • Positioning can be imprecise due to integer rounding, and you may sometimes find a case where you need complete accuracy.
  • Some properties and events cannot use DIPs at all (mainly those that relate to screen coordinates), thereby leading to the need for some type of dual coordinate system, resulting in added complexity and possible confusion.

So, to keep things simple, OpenInsight operates in Pixel mode by default, which means it keeps a single and accurate coordinate system.  Remember, scaling is an “opt-in” system, meaning that none of your existing forms will scale unless you specify otherwise (via the DPISCALING and SCALEFACTOR properties), so you can review your code before enabling it and ensure that you don’t encounter any problems.

However, even though the default coordinate system is Pixels we don’t want to remove the choice of using DIPs if you prefer, so forms now support a new SCALEUNITS property that allows properties like SIZE to operate in either DIP or Pixel mode.

SCALEUNITS property

This is a WINDOW property that defines the units used when accessing layout properties like SIZE, CLIENTSIZE, TRACKINGSIZE and so on.  Note that it also affects events like BUTTONDOWN and methods like TEXTRECT too.

It accepts the following values:

  • “0” – Scaling units are Pixels
  • “1” – Scaling units are DIPs

Example: Scale a form and examine it’s SIZE using different SCALEUNITS

* // SCALEUNITS property equates - (from PS_WINDOW_EQUATES)
 equ PS_SCU_PIXELS$ to 0
 equ PS_SCU_DIPS$   to 1

* // Assume we are currently running with Pixel units
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SIZE", 10 : @fm: 10 : @fm : 400 : @fm : 300 )

* // Now scale the window to twice its normal size ( actual XY remains constant
* // for a form when setting SCALEFACTOR - only the width and height change)
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEFACTOR", 2 )

* // SIZE returns 10x10x800x600 
pxSize = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )

* // Now set the scaling units to DIPS
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEUNITS", PS_SCU_DIPS$ )

* // SIZE returns 5x5x400x300 
dipSize = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )

* // Note that the X and Y returned in the DIPs SIZE above have also been scaled. 
* // The form hasn't moved, but the units of measurement have changed, so the 
* // location is reported relative to a _theoretical_ scaled desktop size.

At first glance it may seem that the SCALEUNITS property should be a SYSTEM property rather than a WINDOW one, but bear in mind that OpenInsight applications may inherit from one another, and executing a form designed for one set of units while running in another application with a different “global” setting would undoubtedly cause problems.  Of course there’s nothing to stop you setting the SCALEUNITS to DIPs in a promoted CREATE event for your own applications but that’s another story…

 

Scaling helper methods

There are six new WINDOW methods you can use to help with manual scaling – they convert between Pixels and DIPs based on the form’s current DPI and SCALEFACTOR (They are not affected by the SCALEUNITS property):

  • SCALEFONT
  • SCALESIZE
  • SCALEVALUE

The “SCALE” methods perform a DIPs to Pixel conversion.

  • UNSCALEFONT
  • UNSCALESIZE
  • UNSCALEVALUE

The “UNSCALE” methods perform a Pixel to DIPs conversion.

(You only really need the SCALEVALUE and UNSCALEVALUE methods, but the other four have been added to make things a little more convenient for you).

SCALEFONT method

This method takes an unscaled FONT property and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledFont = exec_Method( @window, "SCALEFONT", origFont )

SCALESIZE method

This method takes an unscaled SIZE property and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledSize = exec_Method( @window, "SCALESIZE", origSize )

SCALEVALUE method

This method takes an unscaled value and scales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

scaledVal = exec_Method( @window, "SCALEVALUE", origVal )

UNSCALEFONT method

This method takes a scaled FONT property and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledFont = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALEFONT", scaledFont )

UNSCALESIZE method

This method takes a scaled SIZE property and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledSize = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALESIZE", scaledSize )

UNSCALEVALUE method

This method takes a scaled value and unscales it relative to the current scale factor of the form.

unscaledVal = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALEVALUE", scaledVal )

Example: Moving a control using DIP coordinates on a form with Pixel SCALEUNITS

* // Example - Move a control using DIP coordinates. We get the current pixel
* //           size, unscale it so we have the value as it _would_ be at
* //           96DPI/ScaleFactor 1 (i.e. DIPs), offset it by 10 DIPs, scale
* //           it back to Pixels and and then move it.
* // Get the current scaled size (pixels) - assume we have a SCALEFACTOR of 1.5
ctrlSize = get_Property( myCtrl, "SIZE" )

* // Unscale it back to 96DPI/ScaleFactor 1.0 - i.e. to DIPs
ctrlSize = exec_Method( @window, "UNSCALESIZE", ctrlSize )

* // Adjust it to whatever we need (assume we want to offset it by 10 DIPs
* // (10 pixels at 96 DPI)
ctrlSize<1> = ctrlSize<1> + 10
ctrlSize<2> = ctrlSize<2> + 10
 
* // And ask the parent form to calculate where it _should_ be using the 
* // current scale factor
ctrlSize = exec_Method( @window, "SCALESIZE", ctrlSize )
 
* // And move it using pixels ...
call set_Property_Only( myCtrl, "SIZE", ctrlSize )

The previous example is rather contrived and is really only there to highlight how the methods can be used.  Another way of doing this would be to switch to DIPs using the SCALEUNITS property like so:

* // SCALEUNITS property equates - (from PS_WINDOW_EQUATES)
equ PS_SCU_PIXELS$ to 0
equ PS_SCU_DIPS$   to 1

* // Set the scaling units to DIPS 
scaleUnits = set_Property( @window, "SCALEUNITS", PS_SCU_DIPS$ ) 

ctrlSize = get_Property( myCtrl, "SIZE" )

* // Offset the control by 10 DIPs
ctrlSize<1> = ctrlSize<1> + 10 
ctrlSize<2> = ctrlSize<2> + 10

call set_Property_Only( myCtrl, "SIZE", ctrlSize )

* // And restore the SCALEUNITS
call set_Property_Only( @window, "SCALEUNITS", scaleUnits )

The AUTOSCALE property

By default OpenInsight maintains automatic scaling for all controls on a form, even after you’ve manually set a scaled property yourself.  However, you can opt out of this behaviour by using the boolean AUTOSCALE property:

  • When set to TRUE (the default value) it enables scaling for a control.
  • When set to FALSE no automatic scaling is performed.

This property applies to all controls (but not to WINDOW objects for obvious reasons).

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

The SCALEFACTOR property

As we mentioned in our last post on High-DPI, the work needed to accommodate per-monitor DPI scaling in Windows 8.1 has also created the ability to scale OpenInsight forms to an arbitrary value outside of any system DPI settings.  This new functionality is exposed via the SCALEFACTOR property described below.

SCALEFACTOR property

This WINDOW property is a dynamic array comprising four fields:

<1> ScaleFactor
<2> Minimum ScaleFactor
<3> Maximum ScaleFactor
<4> ScaleFactor Increment

<1> ScaleFactor

This is a number that specifies how much to scale the form by.  A value of 1 means that the form has no scaling applied, a value of 1.5 scales the form to one-and-a-half times its normal size and so on.

Note that the scale factor is applied after any scaling applied for system DPI.  So, if your form runs on a 144 DPI monitor (150%) and has a scalefactor of 2 applied the actual scalefactor used is 3.0 (1.5 x 2.0).

<2> Minimum ScaleFactor

This specifies the minimum value that the ScaleFactor can be set to. By default it is set to “0.1”.  This value can be set at design time. See the note on “Scaling Restrictions” below.

<3> Maximum ScaleFactor

This specifies the maximum value that the ScaleFactor can be set to. By default it is set to “5.0”.  This value can be set at design time. See the note on “Scaling Restrictions” below.

<4> ScaleFactor Increment

If this field is set to a value other than 0 it allows the ScaleFactor to be adjusted via the  Mouse-wheel /Ctrl-key combination, or with a “pinch-zoom” gesture if running under a touch screen.  The increment value controls the rate at which the form grows or shrinks.  This value can be set at design time.

Example 1: Set a form’s scale to twice its designed size while allowing the user to adjust the scalefactor by the mouse or touchscreen:

* // Note that we ignore the min and max scalefactors, leaving them at their
* // defaults.
scaleFactor = ""
scaleFactor<1> = 2    ; * // twice normal size
scaleFactor<4> = 0.1  ; * // allow mousewheel/gesture - each wheel notch
                      ; * // adjusts the scalefactor by 0.1

Example 2: Comparing OpenInsight forms with a SCALEFACTOR of 0.5 and 1.0 respectively (both running on a 144 DPI desktop with DPISCALING disabled)

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 0.5 vs 1.0

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 0.5 vs 1.0

Example 3: Comparing OpenInsight forms with a SCALEFACTOR of 1.0 and 1.7 respectively (both running on a 144 DPI desktop with DPISCALING disabled)

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 1.0 vs 1.7

Comparing SCALEFACTOR 1.0 vs 1.7

DPI Image Lists and Image Scaling

In Example 3 above note the quality of the magnifying glass glyph on the buttons in the scaled form: it is much clearer and sharper on the Search button than it is on the Split button. This is because the Search button was designed using a “DPI Image List”, which means that an array of images, along with a corresponding array of DPI values, was specified for this glyph rather than just a single image. OpenInsight scans this DPI Image List looking for the closest match it can find when performing a scaling operation.  By contrast the Split button is using a single image designed for 96 DPI and stretched to fit, resulting in a blurry appearance.

(Note: We first mentioned this functionality in the section “Supporting images under High-DPI” in our original High-DPI post).

Or course, you may also find yourself in the position of not wanting a particular image scaled, and in this case we’ve added a new property to the Image API called IMAGEAUTOSCALE.  This is a simple boolean property that controls if an image is scaled by the system during the scaling process.  It’s default value is TRUE.

(We’ve also added a similar property to other areas of the system that use images as well, so there is a GLYPHAUTOSCALE property, a SPLITGLYPHAUTOSCALE property and so on).

 

Scaling Restrictions

The minimum and maximum size that a form can be rescaled to can be restricted by the minimum and maximum window sizes as defined by the OS.  As a general rule this size is usually slightly larger than the size of the entire desktop across all monitors (See the GetSystemMetrics() Windows API function along with the indexes SM_CXMAXTRACK, SM_CXMINTRACK, SM_CYMAXTRACK, and SM_CYMINTRACK for more details).

You can, however, override this behaviour if you set the TRACKINGSIZE property for a form, specifying values large enough to handle your desired scaling range.

 * // Example - Ensure the form will actually scale to the min and max factors
 * //           we've set
 
 winSize     = get_Property( @window, "SIZE" )
 scaleFactor = get_Property( @window, "SCALEFACTOR" )
 
 trackingSize    = ""
 trackingSize<1> = winSize<3> * scaleFactor<2>
 trackingSize<2> = winSize<4> * scaleFactor<2>
 trackingSize<3> = winSize<3> * scaleFactor<3>
 trackingSize<4> = winSize<4> * scaleFactor<3>
 
 call set_Property( @window, "TRACKINGSIZE", trackingSize )

 

Scaling Interaction

In our next post we’ll take a look at the new SCALED event and discuss how to interact with the system during a scaling operation.

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

OpenInsight and High-DPI – Part 2

In a previous post we looked at OpenInsight’s new features for running on High-DPI systems, and we described how forms can properly scale themselves to take advantage of better resolutions,  thereby avoiding unnecessary blurring as the window manager tries to compensate when faced with a non-DPI-aware application:

High-DPI comparison between v9 and v10

High-DPI comparison between v9 and v10

In the example above both forms are running on a desktop set to 144 DPI (150%). The top form is running under OpenInsight v9 and, as you can see, has been stretched by the system resulting in blurry outlines, icons and text.  In contrast, the bottom form is running under OpenInsight v10 and has been scaled correctly – the checkbox image and icon are sharp and the font has been scaled to the correct point size. (A word of caution – if your own system is set to use High-DPI don’t bother viewing this image on a Chrome-based browser unless you’ve set _it_ to use High-DPI as well – generally Chrome doesn’t handle automatic High DPI scaling like IE and FF, so the image above will still appear blurry, as will this text!).

However, with the release of Windows 8.1 Microsoft have made some significant changes in this area that has also led to changes in OpenInsight’s High-DPI handling as well.  Until Windows 8.1 the DPI setting for the system was constant across all monitors and fixed during the login process – selecting another DPI setting required logging out and back in again, or even a full reboot in the case of Windows XP.  Now, with the steady increase in monitor resolutions across different form factors, Microsoft have added the ability to set the DPI per monitor, which means that forms created on one monitor may look too small or too big when moved to another monitor with a different DPI.

In order to deal with this at runtime, top-level forms are now notified by a new Windows message called WM_DPICHANGED, which is sent when either of the following happens:

  1. The DPI of the monitor a form is displayed on changes, or
  2. The form is moved between monitors that have different DPI settings.

This message is used by OpenInsight to adjust the scale of a form dynamically as required, so if a form’s DPISCALING property is TRUE you will see this happen as you drag it across monitors with different DPIs.  All the rules described in the original post still apply of course:

  • Fonts are scaled
  • Coordinates are scaled
  • DPI-aware images are selected and/or scaled

(We’ve also added a new property called DPI to the WINDOW object, which returns the DPI of the monitor that the window is currently displayed on).

The fact that scaling has moved from a static to a dynamic operation has also led to the implementation of a new OpenInsight WINDOW property called SCALEFACTOR, which allows you to set the scale of a form to an arbitrary value at runtime, regardless of any DPI setting.  We’ll take a look at this property in the next post.

In the meantime, you can find more information on Windows 8.1 per-monitor DPI scaling here:

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).

OpenInsight and High-DPI

With the increasing popularity of high-resolution monitors, one of the biggest usability problems today is the display size of text and UI controls, because they appear smaller as the screen resolution increases. The recommended advice to overcome this is to increase the DPI (dots-per-inch) setting of the system, thereby enlarging these elements and making them easier to see and read. If you’ve been using Windows Vista and above you’ve probably already seen this Control Panel applet that allows you to easily change your DPI settings:

DPI Control Panel Applet

Windows 7 DPI Control Panel Applet

However, unless an application is designed to be DPI-aware this can result in some unsatisfactory results, such as over-large fonts, clipped controls and blurry windows. This is because many older Windows applications assume a constant DPI (96) when setting font and size coordinates and they do not apply any scaling to these values, thereby resulting in the aforementioned problems.

(NB. The “magic number” of 96 that you’ll see throughout this post is due to the fact that at 96 DPI one logical pixel is equal to one screen pixel – this is the “100%” setting in the Control Panel applet shown above).

In an effort to accommodate these applications Microsoft have introduced a couple of OS features over the years:

  • On Windows XP the system fonts and some system UI elements are scaled up at runtime, but this leads to the common problem of text appearing larger and being clipped as the actual size of the bounding control is usually not scaled.
  • On Windows Vista and above a feature called “DPI-virtualization” automatically scales windows belonging to an application not marked as “DPI-aware” – in effect they are rendered at 96 DPI to an off-screen bitmap, resized, and then drawn to the screen, but this can result in some blurry windows due to pixel stretching.  OpenInsight 10 is marked as a DPI-aware application so will not be subjected to DPI-virtualization.

OpenInsight 10, High-DPI and automatic scaling.

OpenInsight 10 supports High-DPI by automatically scaling-up all GUI objects at runtime when created through the SYSTEM object’s CREATE method (formerly known as the “Utility CREATE service”). This affects the following two properties:

  • Size coordinates
  • Fonts

The actual scaling for coordinates is calculated by the following simple formula:

screenPixels = logicalPixels * ( currentDPI / 96 )

For example, if you create a control with a size of 200×100 and you are running at 144 DPI (i.e. 150% as per the Control Panel applet above) then the control will be created with an actual size of 300×150 pixels.

The font point size is similarly multiplied by the scaling factor (i.e. currentDPI / 96 ).

Supporting images under High-DPI

Another noticeable issue when running at high DPI settings are images, which are assumed to have been designed for 96 DPI and therefore have to be scaled up at runtime leading to a potential loss of quality due to the resize.  To help with this the tool-set has been extended to allow repository BITMAP entities to specify multiple image files when being defined. The first will be used for 96 DPI (100%), the second for up to 120 DPI (125%), the third for up to 144 DPI (150%) the fourth for up to 192 DPI (200%) and so on, with further images being defined at 48 DPI (50%) increments (for future-proofing). When a control is created at runtime the system picks the appropriate image size and scales it as needed (preferably down where possible) before applying any other transformations.

Note that this does NOT apply to images set at runtime in code via the BITMAP property.  In this case the developer is assumed to have selected the correct image file size regardless of the DPI setting.

Designing under High-DPI

If you design your forms when running under a High-DPI setting the Form Designer will save and compile all coordinate and font information as though you were developing at 96DPI, so the values will be scaled down appropriately.

Opting out of automatic scaling

Of course, we always try our best not to break existing applications so you can set an option in the RXI file to turn off the automatic DPI scaling if you wish (this option is exposed at runtime via the read-only SYSTEM DPISCALING property).

This same principle can also be applied to individual windows at design-time so you can use it selectively as needed (WINDOW objects also support the read-only DPISCALING property).

Further reading

If you want to find out more information on this topic please see the following link to Microsoft’s documentation on MSDN:

Writing High-DPI Win32 Applications

(Disclaimer: This article is based on preliminary information and may be subject to change in the final release version of OpenInsight 10).