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       Prima::X11 - usage guide for X11 environment


       This document describes subtle topics one must be aware when programming or using Prima
       programs under X11.

       The document covers various aspects of the toolkit and their implementation details with
       guidelines of the expected use. Also, standard X11 user-level and programming techniques
       are visited.

Basic command-line switches

           Prints the command-line arguments available and exits.

           Sets X display address in Xlib notation. If not set, standard Xlib (
           "XOpenDisplay(null)" ) behavior applies.



           Sets X visual, to be used by default. Example:


           Turn off X synchronization

       "--bg", "--fg"
           Set default background and foreground colors. Example:


           Sets default font. Example:


           Runs Prima without X11 display initialized. This switch can be used for programs that
           use only OS-independent parts of Prima, such as image subsystem or PostScript
           generator, in environments where X is not present, for example, a CGI script.
           Obviously, any attempt to create instance of "Prima::Application" or otherwise access
           X-depended code under such conditions causes the program to abort.

           There are alternatives to use the command switch. First, there is module
           "Prima::noX11" for the same purpose but more convenient to use as

              perl -MPrima::noX11

           construct. Second, there is a technique to continue execution even if connection to a
           X server failed:

              use Prima::noX11;
              use Prima;

              my $error = Prima::XOpenDisplay();
              if ( defined $error) {
                   print "not connected to display: $error\n";
              } else {
                   print "connected to display\n";

           The Prima::noX11 module exports a single function "XOpenDisplay" into "Prima"
           namespace, to connect to the X display explicitly. The display to be connected to is
           $ENV{DISPLAY}, unless started otherwise on command line ( with --display option) or
           with parameter to the "XOpenDisplay" function.

           This technique may be useful to programs that use Prima imaging functionality and may
           or may not use windowing capabilites.

X resources database

       X11 provides XRDB, the X resource database, a keyed list of arbitrary string values stored
       on the X server. Each key is a combination of names and classes of widgets, each in string
       form. The key is constructed so the leftmost substring ( name or class ) corresponds to
       the top-level item in the hierarchy, usually the application name or class. Although the
       XRDB can be changed via native X API, it is rarely done by applications. Instead, the user
       creates a file, usually named .Xdefaults, which contains the database in the string form.

       The format of .Xdefaults directly reflects XRDB capabilities, one of the most important of
       which is globbing, manifested via * ( star ) character. Using globbing, the user can set
       up a property value that corresponds to multiple targets:

          *.ListBox.backColor: yellow

       The string above means that all widgets of ListBox class must have yellow background.

       The application itself is responsible for parsing the strings and querying the XRDB.
       Also, both class names and widget names, as well as database values are fully defined in
       terms of the application. There are some guidelines though, for example, colors and fonts
       best described in terms, native to the X server.  Also, classes and names are
       distinguished by the case: classes must begin with the upper register letter. Also, not
       every character can be stored in the XRDB database ( space, for example, cannot) , and
       therefore XRDB API automatically converts these to _ ( underscore ) characters.

       Prima defines its all set of resources, divided in two parts: general toolkit settings and
       per-widget settings. The general settings functionality is partially overloaded by
       command-line arguments. Per-widget settings are fonts and colors, definable for each Prima

       All of the general settings are applicable to the top-level item of widget hierarchy,
       named after the application, and "Prima" class. Some of these, though, are needed to be
       initialized before the application instance itself is created, so these can be accessed
       via "Prima" class only, for example, "Prima.Visual".  Some, on the contrary, may
       occasionally overlap with per-widget syntax.  In particular, one must vary not to mix

          Prima.font: some-font


          Prima*font: some-font

       The former syntax is a general setting, and sets the default Prima font.  The latter is a
       per-widget assignment, and explicitly sets font to all Prima widgets, effectively ruining
       the toolkit font inheritance scheme. The same is valid for an even more oppressive

          *font: some-font


       The allowed per-widget settings are colors and font settings only ( see corresponding
       sections ). It is an arguably useful feature to map all widget properties onto XRDB, but
       Prima does not implement this, primarily because no one asked for it, and also because
       this creates unnecessary latency when enumeration of all properties for each widget takes

       All global settings have identical class and name, varied in the case of the first letter.
       For example, to set "Submenudelay" value, one can do it either by

          Prima.Submenudelay: 10


          Prima.submenudelay: 10

       syntax. Despite that these calls are different, in a way that one reaches for the whole
       class and another for the name, for the majority of these properties it does not matter.
       To avoid confusion, for all properties their names and class are given as
       "PropetyClass.propertyname" index.


   Default fonts
       Prima::Application defines set of "get_default_XXX_font" functions, where each returns
       some user-selected font, to be displayed correspondingly in menu, message, window
       captions, all other widgets, and finally a default font. While in other OS'es these are
       indeed standard configurable user options, raw X11 doesn't define any. Nevertheless, as
       the high-level code relies on these, corresponding resources are defined. These are:

       ·   font - Application::get_default_font

       ·   caption_font - Application::get_caption_font. Used in "Prima::MDI".

       ·   menu_font - Widget::get_default_menu_font. Default font for pull-down and pop-up

       ·   msg_font - Application::get_message_font. Used in "Prima::MsgBox".

       ·   widget_font - Widget::get_default_font.

       All of the global font properties can only be set via "Prima" class, no application name
       is recognized. Also, these properties are identical to "--font", "--menu-font",
       "--caption-font", "--msg-font", and "--widget-font" command-line arguments.  The per-
       widget properties are "font" and "popupFont", of class "Font", settable via XRDB only:

          Prima*Dialog.font: my-fancy-dialog-font
          Prima.FontDialog.font: some-conservative-font

       By default, Prima font is 12.Helvetica .

   X core fonts
       The values of the font entries are standard XLFD strings, the default
       "*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*" pattern, where each star character can be replaced by a
       particular font property, as name, size, charset, and so on. To interactively select an
       appropriate font, use standard "xfontsel" program from X11 distribution.

       Note, that encoding part of the font is recommended to left unspecified, otherwise it may
       clash with LANG environment variable, which is used by Prima font subsystem to determine
       which font to select when no encoding is given.  This advice, though, is correct only when
       both LANG and encoding part of a desired font match. In order to force a particular font
       encoding, the property "Prima.font" must contain one.

       Alternatively, and/or to reduce X font traffic, one may set
       "IgnoreEncodings.ignoreEncodings" property, which is a semicolon- separated list of
       encodings Prima must not account. This feature has limited usability when for example
       fonts in Asian encodings result in large font requests.  Another drastic measure to
       decrease font traffic is a boolean property "Noscaledfonts.noscaledfonts", which, if set
       to 1, restricts the choice of fonts to the non-scalable fonts only.

   Xft fonts
       Recently, Prima was made to compile with Xft library, which contrary to core X font API,
       can make use of client-side fonts. Plus, Xft offers appealing features as font
       antialiasing, unicode, and arguably a better font syntax. The Xft font syntax is inherited
       from "fontconfig" library and to be consulted from "man fonts-conf", but currently (
       November 2003 ) basic font descriptions can be composed as follows:


       A font with name "Palatino" and size 12.


       A font with name "Arial", size 10, bold, italic. The "fontconfig" syntax allows more than
       that, for example, arbitrary matrix transformations, but Prima can make use only of font
       name, size, and style flags.

           "--no-xft" command-line argument, and boolean "UseXFT.usexft" XRDB property can be
           used to disable use of the Xft library.

           Disables all X11 core fonts, except "fixed" fonts. The "fixed" font is selected for
           the same reasons that X server is designed to provide at least one font, which usually
           is "fixed".

           It is valid to combine "--no-core-fonts" and "--no-xft". Moreover, adding "--noscaled"
           to these gives Prima programs a 'classic' X look.

           Can be set to either "xft" or "core", to select a font provider mechanism to match
           unknown or incompletely specified fonts against.

           Default value: "xft" ( if compiled in ), "core" otherwise.

           If set, turns off Xft antialiasing.


   XRDB conventions
       X traditionally contains a color names database, usually a text file named rgb.txt.  Check
       your X manual where exactly this file resides and what is its format.  The idea behind it
       is that users can benefit from portable literal color names, with color values
       transparently adjustable to displays capabilities.  Thus, it is customary to write

          color: green

       for many applications, and these in turn call "XParseColor" to convert strings into RGB

       Prima is no exception to the scheme. Each widget can be assigned eight color properties:
       "color", "hiliteBackColor", "disabledColor", "dark3DColor" "backColor", "hiliteColor",
       "disabledBackColor", "light3DColor" by their name:

          Prima.backColor: #cccccc

       Additionally, set of command-line arguments allows overriding default values for these:

       ·   "--fg" - color

       ·   "--bg" - backColor

       ·   "--hilite-fg" - hiliteColor

       ·   "--hilite-bg" - hiliteBackColor

       ·   "--disabled-fg" - disabledColor

       ·   "--disabled-bg" - disabledBackColor

       ·   "--light" - light3DColor

       ·   "--dark" - dark3DColor

       X protocol works with explicitly defined pixel values only.  A pixel value, maximum 32-bit
       value, represents a color in a display. There are two different color coding schemes -
       direct color and indexed color. The direct color-coded pixel value can unambiguously be
       converted into a RGB-value, without any external information.  The indexed-color scheme
       represents pixel value as an index in a palette, which resided on X server. Depending on
       the color cell value of the palette, RGB color representation can be computed. A X display
       can contain more than one palette, and allow ( or disallow ) modification of palette color
       cells depending on a visual, the palette is attributed to.

       A visual is a X server resource, containing representation of color coding scheme, color
       bit depth, and modificability of the palette. X server can ( and usually does ) provide
       more than one visual, as well as different bit depths.  There are six classes of visuals
       in X paradigm. In each, Prima behaves differently, also depending on display bit depth
       available.  In particular, color dithering can be used on displays with less than 12-bit
       color depth. On displays with modifiable color palette, Prima can install its own values
       in palettes, which may result in an effect known as display flashing. To switch to a non-
       default visual, use "Prima.Visual" XRDB property or "--visual" command-line argument.
       List of visuals can be produced interactively by standard "xdpyinfo" command from X
       distribution, where each class of visual corresponds to one of six visual classes:

           All color cells are read-only, and contain monochrome values only.  A typical example
           is a two-color, black-and-white monochrome display.  This visual is extremely rarely

           Contains modifiable color palette, and capable of displaying monochrome values only.
           Theoretically, any paletted display on a monochrome monitor can be treated as a
           GrayScale visual. For both GrayScale and StaticGray visuals Prima resorts to dithering
           if it cannot get at least 32 evenly spaced gray values from black to white.

           All color cells are read-only.  A typical example is a PC display in a 16-color EGA
           mode.  This visual is rarely met.

           All color cells are modifiable. Typically, 8-bit displays define this class for a
           default visual. For both StaticColor and PseudoColor visuals dithering is always used,
           although for "PseudoColor" Prima resorts to that only if X server cannot allocate
           another color.

           On "PseudoColor" and "GrayScale" Prima allocates a small set of colors, not used in
           palette modifications. When a bitmap is to be exported via clipboard, or displayed in
           menu, or sent to a window manager as an icon to be displayed, it is downgraded to
           using these colors only, which are though guaranteedly to stay permanent through life
           of the application.

           Each pixel value is explicitly coded as RGB. Typical example are 16, 24, or 32-bit
           display modes. This visual class is the best in terms of visual quality.

           Same as TrueColor, but additionally each pixel value can be reprogrammed.  Not all
           hardware support this visual, and usually by default it is not set.  Prima supports
           this mode in exactly same way as TrueColor without additional features. During
           testing, it appeared that non-default DirectColor visuals require explicit assignment
           of each pixel used, which is inappropriate for color-rich images, and therefore Prima
           refuses to work on a non-default DirectColor visual.


       As described in the previous section, X does not standardize pixel memory format for
       TrueColor and "DirectColor" visuals, so there is a chance that Prima wouldn't work on some
       bizarre hardware. Currently, Prima knows how to compose pixels of 15, 16, 24, and 32 bit
       depth, of contiguous ( not interspersed ) red-green-blue memory layout. Any other pixel
       memory layout causes Prima to fail.

       Prima supports shared memory image X extension, which speeds up image display for X
       servers and clients running on same machine. The price for this is that if Prima program
       aborts, the shared memory will never be returned to the OS.  To remove the leftover
       segments, use your OS facilities, for example, "ipcrm" on *BSD.

       The clipboard exchange of images is incompletely implemented, since Prima does not
       accompany ( and neither reads ) COLORMAP, FOREGROUND, and BACKGROUND clipboard data, which
       contains pixel RGB values for a paletted image. As a palliative, the clipboard-bound
       images are downgraded to a safe set of colors, locked immutable either by X server or
       Prima core.

       On images in the clipboard: contrary to the text in the clipboard, which can be used
       several times, images seemingly cannot. The Bitmap or Pixmap descriptor, stored in the
       clipboard, is rendered invalid after it has been read once.

Window managers

       The original design of X protocol did not include the notion of a window manager, and
       latter is was implemented as an ad-hoc patch, which results in race conditions when
       configuring widgets. The extreme situation may well happen when even a non-top level
       widget may be influenced by a window manager, when for example a top-level widget was
       reparented into another widget, but the window manager is not aware or this yet.

       The consequences of this, as well as programming guidances are described in
       "Prima::Window". Here, we describe other aspects of interactions with WMs, as WM
       protocols, hints, and properties.

       Prima was tested with alternating success under the following window managers: mwm, kwin,
       wmaker, fvwm, fvwm2, enlightment, sawfish, blackbox, 9wm, olvm, twm, and in no-WM

       Prima makes use of "WM_DELETE_WINDOW" and "WM_TAKE_FOCUS" protocols.  While
       "WM_DELETE_WINDOW" use is straightforward and needs no further attention, "WM_TAKE_FOCUS"
       can be tricky, since X defines several of input modes for a widget, which behave
       differently for each WM.  In particular, 'focus follows pointer' gives pains under twm and
       mwm, where navigation of drop-down combo boxes is greatly hindered by window manager. The
       drop-down list is programmed so it is dismissed as soon its focus is gone; these window
       managers withdraw focus even if the pointer is over the focused widget's border.

       Size, position, icons, and other standard X hints are passed to WM in a standard way, and,
       as inter-client communication manual ( ICCCM ) allows, repeatedly misinterpreted by window
       managers. Many ( wmaker, for example ) apply the coordinates given from the program not to
       the top-level widget itself, but to its decoration.  mwm defines list of accepted icon
       sizes so these can be absurdly high, which adds confusion to a client who can create icon
       of any size, but unable to determine the best one.

   Non-standard properties
       Prima tries to use WM-specific hints, known for two window managers: mwm and kwin.  For
       mwm ( Motif window manager ) Prima sets hints of decoration border width and icons only.
       For kwin ( and probably to others, who wish to conform to specifications of ) Prima uses "NET_WM_STATE" property, in particular its
       maximization and task-bar visibility hints.

       Use of these explicitly contradicts ICCCM, and definitely may lead to bugs in future ( at
       least with "NET_WM_STATE", since Motif interface can hardly expected to be changed ).  To
       disable the use of non-standard WM properties, "--icccm" command-line argument can be set.


       X does not support unicode, and number of patches were applied to X servers and clients to
       make the situation change. Currently ( 2003 ) standard unicode practices are not emerged
       yet, so Prima copes up with what ( in author's opinion ) is most promising: Xft and iconv

       X11 supports 8-bit and 16-bit text string display, and neither can be used effectively to
       display unicode strings. A "XCreateFontSet" technique, which combines several fonts under
       one descriptor, or a similarly implemented technique is the only way to provide correct
       unicode display.

       Also, core font transfer protocol suffers from ineffective memory representation, which
       creates latency when fonts with large span of glyphs is loaded. Such fonts, in still
       uncommon though standard iso10646 encoding, are the only media to display multi-encoding
       text without falling back to hacks similar to "XCreateFontSet".

       These, and some other problems are efficiently solved by Xft library, a superset of X core
       font functionality. Xft features Level 1 ( November 2003 ) unicode display and supports
       32-bit text strings as well as UTF8-coded strings.  Xft does not operate with charset
       encodings, and these are implemented in Prima using iconv charset convertor library.

       Prima does not support extended input methods ( XIM etc ), primarily because the authors
       are not acquainted with CIJK problem domain. Volunteers are welcome.

       Prima supports UTF8 text in clipboard via "UTF8_STRING" transparently, although not by

          Prima::Application-> wantUnicodeInput(1)

       is the easiest ( see Prima::Application ) way to initiate UTF8 clipboard text exchange.

       Due to the fact that any application can take ownership over the clipboard at any time,
       "open"/"close" brackets are not strictly respected in X11 implementation. Practically,
       this means that when modern X11 clipboard daemons ( KDE klipper, for example ) interfere
       with Prima clipboard, the results may not be consistent from the programmer's view, for
       example, clipboard contains data after "clear" call, and the like. It must be noted though
       that this behavior is expected by the users.

Other XRDB resources

       Raw X11 provides no such GUI helpers as double-click event, cursor, or menu.  Neither does
       it provide the related time how often, for example, a cursor would blink. Therefore Prima
       emulates these, but allows the user to reprogram the corresponding timeouts. Prima
       recognizes the following properties, accessible either via application name or Prima class
       key. All timeouts are integer values, representing number of milliseconds for the
       corresponding timeout property.

       Blinkinvisibletime.blinkinvisibletime: MSEC
           Cursor stays invisible MSEC milliseconds.

           Default value: 500

       Blinkvisibletime.blinkvisibletime: MSEC
           Cursor stays visible MSEC milliseconds.

           Default value: 500

       Clicktimeframe.clicktimeframe MSEC
           If 'mouse down' and 'mouse up' events are follow in MSEC, 'mouse click' event is

           Default value: 200

       Doubleclicktimeframe.doubleclicktimeframe MSEC
           If 'mouse click' and 'mouse down' events are follow in MSEC, 'mouse double click'
           event is synthesized.

           Default value: 200

       Submenudelay.submenudelay MSEC
           When the used clicks on a menu item, which points to a lower-level menu window, the
           latter is displayed after MSEC milliseconds.

           Default value: 200

       Scrollfirst.scrollfirst MSEC
           When an auto-repetitive action, similar to keystroke events resulting from a long key
           press on the keyboard, is to be simulated, two timeout values are used - 'first' and
           'next' delay. These actions are not simulated within Prima core, and the corresponding
           timeouts are merely advisable to the programmer. Prima widgets use it for automatic
           scrolling, either by a scrollbar or by any other means.  Also, "Prima::Button" in
           "autoRepeat" mode uses these timeouts for emulation of a key press.

           "Scrollfirst" is a 'first' timeout.

           Default value: 200

       Scrollnext.scrollnext MSEC
           A timeout used for same reasons as "Scrollfirst", but after it is expired.

           Default value: 50

       Visual.visual: VISUAL_ID
           Selects display visual by VISUAL_ID, which is usually has a form of "0x??".  Various
           visuals provide different color depth and access scheme. Some X stations have badly
           chosen default visuals (for example, default IRIX workstation setup has 8-bit default
           visual selected), so this property can be used to fix things. List of visuals,
           supported by a X display can be produced interactively by standard "xdpyinfo" command
           from X distribution.

           Identical to "--visual" command-line argument.

           See Color for more information.

       Wheeldown.wheeldown BUTTON
           BUTTON is a number of X mouse button event, treated as 'mouse wheel down' event.

           Default value: 5 ( default values for wheeldown and wheelup are current de-facto most
           popular settings ).

       Wheelup.wheelup BUTTON
           BUTTON is a number of X mouse button event, treated as 'mouse wheel up' event.

           Default value: 4


       The famous 'use the source' call is highly actual with Prima. However, some debug
       information comes compiled in, and can be activated by "--debug" command-line key.
       Combination of letters to the key activates debug printouts of different subsystems:

       ·   C - clipboard

       ·   E - events subsystem

       ·   F - fonts

       ·   M - miscellaneous debug info

       ·   P - palettes and colors

       ·   X - XRDB

       ·   A - all of the above



       Also, the built-in X API "XSynchronize" call, which enables X protocol synchronization (
       at expense of operation slowdown though ) is activated with "--sync" command-line
       argument, and can be used to ease the debugging.


       Dmitry Karasik, <>.


       Prima, Prima::gp-problems, Prima::Widget, Nye A, Xlib programming manual. O'Reilly &
       Associates, 1995.