After several years experience in the platform independent UI/graphics market, we came to realise that the Windows platform, and hence true Windows look+feel, had become the number one priority for a large proportion of our customer base. Hence, we developed Winteracter with the specific intent of producing a totally Windows oriented solution. Winteracter operates entirely through the dialog, menu and window handling facilities provided by the Win32 API. Given the massive dominance of Windows in the modern computing industry, we can afford to dedicate the product to this platform and avoid the uncomfortable compromises which portable solutions inevitably impose.
Total Fortran Solution
Our business has always been about servicing the needs of Fortran programmers writing Fortran programs. Winteracter delivers just that : A total Fortran based solution for Windows. No mixed language programming is necessary, avoiding all the horrors of interfacing to C++, Delphi or Visual Basic. One language, one solution.
From day one of Winteracter's development we were committed to providing visual tools to simplify the design and development process. With tools such as MenuEd and DialogEd you can design and edit all of your main user interface components without writing a single line of code. You also get total control over the layout of your dialogs, instead of having to out-guess complex auto-layout algorithms. Other products rely on an old fashioned concept of interface design, based entirely on subroutine calls. This cumbersome model has been superceded in most non-Fortran products by the use of visual design aids. Winteracter delivers the same capability to the Fortran community !
Our commitment to a visual style of programming is on-going. At v1.10 we introduced a beta version of WiDE, a simple-to-use visual development environment for Winteracter programmers. We plan to steadily expand this, but we have released a beta version at this early stage to elicit feedback from Winteracter users. We've also added IconEd (an icon/cursor editor) at v1.10 and have more visual design aids in the pipeline.
Powerful Resource-based Programming Model
Winteracter makes use of standard Windows resource files. These define dialog and menu layout. In addition they can contain other UI resources such as bitmaps, icons and cursors. This resource gets incorporated into your executable just like any other object file, using the resource compiler which is supplied with every supported Fortran 90 compiler.
Our resource based programming model is the key to our powerful visual design methodology. It clearly separates dialog/menu design from input handling. Good UI design is a development task, not something to be performed at run-time. A resource based programming model makes this possible. What's more, changes to menu and dialog layout can be made and viewed in our visual tools and saved as updated resource files with no need for Fortran source recompilation. Menu and dialog resources are maintained automatically, within a resource script, by the visual editors. Developers need no knowledge of the menu/dialog resource script format, though we document this thoroughly for the more advanced user. Unlike our competitors we don't assume that all our customers are incapable of understanding a resource script. If you're not interested in delving into the resource script to amend your menus and dialogs, you don't have to. MenuEd and DialogEd will do the work for you.
"But I've read that resources run out very quickly. Won't Winteracter programs use up all my Windows resources ?" Certainly not ! This particular piece of misinformation is based on a lack of understanding of how Windows resources work. The resources built into an executable don't use any of the memory reserved by Windows for resource usage until explictly requested. Winteracter allows you to load and unload dialogs, etc as needed. It's up to you how many dialogs you load simultaneously. In reality, a Winteracter program uses no more system resources than development systems which use 'on-the-fly' resource creation. However, we dispense with the inefficient overhead of defining such resources at run-time. Why define the same dialog literally thousands of times in the lifetime of a program when you can define it just once ? Ignore meaningless claims about "responsive" development methods from those who don't yet support a resource based solution.
Meaningful Names and Readable Code
If you care about the readability and maintainability of your code, Winteracter must be high on your list. Unlike some others, we are not tied to a cryptic 6 character name interface (which has been redundant even in the Fortran 77 context for several years). Instead, Winteracter uses meaningful names for all of its subroutines. In addition, hundreds of meaningful parameter names are declared for subroutine argument values and function result codes. You can actually read a typical Winteracter program and get a pretty good idea of what's going on, without having used the product or written the program. The average Winteracter program is the complete antithesis of the barely comprehensible format code model adopted by one of our competitors.
Fortran 90 Based
When we started developing Winteracter we had to make a choice. Would we be bold and move to Fortran 90, or would we be conservative and stick with Fortran 77 ? It wasn't a hard choice. Almost twenty years after the 77 standard was finalised, a 95 standard is already virtually in place and many in the Fortran world are busy discussing F2000. How could we deliver anything less than a Fortran 90 product ? By supporting Fortran 90 we are able to take advantage of features such as modules, free format source code, optional arguments, CASE constructs and much more. The WINTERACTER module in particular is a fundamental part of Winteracter programming, providing a full set of interface definitions (eliminating most argument passing errors) and the parameter names referred to above. An extensive set of Fortran 90 Winteracter example programs are provided too.
Of course, simply because Winteracter requires a Fortran 90 compiler, this doesn't mean you can't reuse your old Fortran 77 code. The 90 standard includes the whole of 77 as a subset, so there's never been a better time to move forward.
Mature Device-independent Graphics
Winteracter's graphics routines are derived from our long established INTERACTER product. This means that Winteracter's graphics are extensively tried and tested. It also means that they have been developed to a level of maturity way beyond just a few line and fill primitives offered elsewhere. In addition to comprehensive device independent primitives, we also provide extensive higher level graph plotting functions at no extra charge.
Wide Range of Hardcopy/Export Formats Supported
Fortran graphics programmers invariably need to get their results onto paper or into third party products like word-processors. As an industry we've managed to invent more ways of doing this than bears thinking about. Thankfully, I.S.S. has been addressing this problem for nearly a decade so Winteracter not only includes API output to Print Manager and WMF, we also provide our own drivers for HP-GL, HP-GL/2, HP PCL, Epson ESC P and ESC P/2, PostScript, DXF, CGM, BMP, PCX, Lotus PIC and others. This way, whatever device you need to print on or whatever package you need to export to, chances are we provide a solution which genuinely works. Also, remember that you get all these drivers as standard with Winteracter. Don't settle for anything less.
Free Technical Support
We've always had a policy of providing free technical support here at I.S.S. This is available by all the usual means of communication, namely email, FAX, telephone and conventional mail. We try to encourage the use of email for technical support since this allows rapid and efficient exchange of supporting material and solutions. We aim to respond to all technical support enquiries within one working day (usually it's even quicker, but time differences can often intervene).
No Hidden Extras
Winteracter includes all visual tools and hardcopy export drivers as standard. Some other products require you to buy Visual Basic to obtain any sort of 'visual' capability. (Why buy VB if you want a Fortran solution ?) Similarly, beware of products which require expensive add-ons which grossly inflate the true cost of a complete Fortran UI and graphics solution. Plus, there are no run-time fees or royalty payments. With Winteracter, one price gets you everything ! All you need is a Fortran 90 compiler.
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Updated 2 December 2016