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FreeGEM (1999-2004)

Since GEM was released under the GPL, some programmers (including myself) have been eagerly hacking on the source code. The available source was for GEM/3 and a beta of ViewMAX/3.

Of course, since this is a volunteer project, not only do we all have our own ideas about how things should look, but there are multiple versions of various components. For example, there are several versions of the Desktop, two of which are Ben Jemmett's 3.15 build 20000422 and my 3.2.1-pacc6 (since superseded).

[FreeGEM about box] [FreeGEM about box]

The "about" boxes from the two different incarnations of the FreeGEM desktop. The colour schemes are (as in ViewMAX) user-definable; most of these screenshots were taken using the default ViewMAX settings.

At this stage we hadn't got round to redesigning the system font, so the GEM/3 one is still in use.

[FreeGEM desktop]
Desktop v3.15 is based on the GEM/3 desktop, but with coloured icons, multiple movable windows, and the option to have a trashcan in every window along with the "New Folder" icon. Scrollbars are now full-width, as they are in GEM/1.

[FreeGEM desktop]
Desktop v3.2.1-pacc6 is based on the GEM/1 Desktop, with the GEM 3.x features added back in. FreeGEM allows many of the GEM/1 features to be turned on and off selectively; so in this picture, there is a "Desk" menu on the left, rather than a "DESKTOP" menu on the right.

[DRI desktop under FreeGEM]
There's a compile-time option in the latest builds to have 3D window frames like GEM/5. The illustration above shows the result, with a GEM/5ish colour scheme. It's using the standard VGA palette rather than a special one, so we don't have all those nice shades of grey.

It is now possible to give the titlebar text a transparent background so that there isn't a little white "block" around it. This wasn't particularly noticeable until ViewMAX; particularly since in GEM/2 and GEM/3 the titlebars had to be white anyway.

[FreeGEM settings program]
FreeGEM not only incorporates the ViewMAX "colour scheme" abilities - it includes a utility to edit them. Here's a screenshot from the settings program, showing an utterly nauseating scheme being designed.

This picture also shows the "checkbox" and "radio button" controls, which are similar to those in GEM/5. These come in 2D and 3D versions, though you can only see the 2D ones here.

The grey colour scheme in this picture is the default one, used if the user had not selected any other scheme.

[FreeGEM settings program]
All the window gadgets can be changed by Settings.App as well. With these two screens, it is possible to make FreeGEM mimic the look of most previous GEM versions.

[FreeGEM Item Selector]
The FreeGEM item selector gains the "?:" button from GEM/5, and a 3D look.

[FreeGEM desktop preferences] [FreeGEM desktop preferences]

Here are the settings screens from the two example desktops. The left-hand one (for Desktop 20000421) only shows one of the three pages. The option "Use DESK.ICN colours?" determines whether icon colours are controlled by the desktop or by the icon file (the latter is compatible with older Desktops).

[FreeGEM desktop image]
The icon colouring options in Desktop 20000421.

[FreeGEM desktop image]
FreeGEM includes support for background images and colour icons; both of these features were part of the planned ViewMAX/3 desktop. The display above is of the programming example UITEST, with a Windows 3.11 background loaded.

[FreeGEM aping Atari GEM]
This took a little effort to set up; it's FreeGEM pretending very hard to be Atari GEM. The Atari system font was done with SYSFONT; the drive and file icons with EDICON; and the window decorations and styles (and the cursors and message box bitmaps, though you can't see them) with SETTINGS.

John Elliott