New QNX Multi-Layering API Enhances Graphical Interface Capabilities

1/22/2003 - QNX Software Systems announced that the QNX® Photon microGUI®, the native windowing system for the QNX Neutrino® RTOS, will incorporate a new API to streamline the development of sophisticated, multi-layered graphical interfaces. Using this API, developers can quickly build multi-layered displays for in-vehicle navigation systems, medical instruments, industrial control systems, and other applications that display a mix of static and dynamic content on a single screen.

In a multi-layered display, various graphical elements are transparently overlaid to create an integrated user interface. For instance, an in-car navigation application might show a map in the background and place several inset maps in the foreground of the display. Likewise, a multimedia kiosk may display streaming video while simultaneously displaying a number of touchscreen buttons.

The new multi-layering API reduces the demands on the CPU by offloading the work of combining the multiple layers to the graphics controller. With other embedded OSs, developers have to code this functionality "by hand" at a very low level and in a very hardware-specific way. This high-level API abstracts the details of the graphics hardware so that developers can create complex applications in a hardware-independent fashion. Developers can even write their applications in a user-friendly development environment, such as a desktop PC, before migrating to the embedded hardware.

The multi-layering API is very flexible. For instance, individual applications can manage different display layers, or all layers can be controlled by the same application. The API also lets applications migrate easily to graphics controllers with different levels of multi-layer support. "Traditionally, embedded designers spent a great deal of time and CPU cycles to generate this kind of multi-layered graphical interface," said Darrin Fry, manager, GUI products group, QNX Software Systems. "But with this latest addition to the QNX Photon microGUI, developers can quickly build rich, visual applications using an API that is compatible with a variety of graphics chipsets."

The QNX Photon microGUI is used in a variety of mission-critical embedded systems, including anesthesia monitors, in-car telematics systems, and process control applications. The new multi-layering API will be available in February 2003 as part of the newest rollout of the QNX Neutrino RTOS.

About QNX Software Systems
Founded in 1980, QNX Software Systems is the industry leader in realtime, microkernel OS technology. The inherent reliability, scalable architecture, and small memory footprint of the QNX Neutrino RTOS make it the most trusted foundation for future-ready applications. Companies worldwide like Cisco, Delphi, Siemens, Alcatel, Texaco, and Ford depend on the QNX technology for network routers, medical devices, intelligent transportation systems, safety and security systems, next-generation robotics, and other mission-critical applications. Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, QNX Software Systems maintains offices in North America, Europe, and Asia, and distributes its products in more than 100 countries worldwide. Visit

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