Linked by the_randymon on Tue 29th Jan 2013 00:20 UTC
X11, Window Managers Any modern operating system consists of layers upon layers of systems, services, and libraries. Increasingly, no one can possibly have full understanding of all the layers of the cake. Here's RedHat developer Peter Hutterer's description of what it takes to move the cursor on your screen. Interesting to get back to the basics, and a good reminder of how complicated this stuff really is.
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I used to write mouse cursor APIs back in the pre-Windows95 days. I was developing a homebrew GUI for DOS in Pascal (with a sprinkling for assembly for core drivers - but other people contributed the assembly).

Things were a lot simpler back than.

Back then, it was safe to assume everyone just had one monitor (in fact, as I wrote the GUI, I could dictate how many screens people could use hehe). Back then, absolute pointing devices didn't really exist - or at least it was a long way off being general consumer tech. Back then, the only thing I needed to be concerned about was the resolution of the screen, and that added a simple modifier to the pointer acceleration.

As much as I don't begrudge the fantastic choice of toolkits we have available, things sure were a lot more fun back then. It felt more an art, these days software development feels more a matter of reconstructing existing blocks of code like Lego bricks.

But of course, things were a lot easier back then as well. These days -and with our world full of complicated and fragmented hardware combinations- it is completely impractical to expect any developer to build any project completely from scratch. However I do still think that there something quite romantic about the notion of having created something entirely by yourself (maybe that's half the reason we have so many competing APIs?)

That all said, my sentiment could also be down to the fact that back then I coded for fun, where as these days I code for a living.

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