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The Unofficial XaAES Page
From CP/M to TOS MiNT & MultiTOS MiNT goes FreeMiNT The XaAES story
 
XaAES -The beginning

XaAES is a free AES written with MiNT in mind, originally developed by Craig Graham (Data Uncertain Software) back in September 1995. Taken from the XaAES beta6, here is a snippet of the readme.txt in which Craig explains his motives for initiating XaAES:
Craig Graham
Craig Graham

 
"After using MultiTOS, then AES4.1, I became frustrated at the lack of a decent GUI to use the real power of the MiNT kernal - X-Windows is all very well, but I can't run GEM programs on it. MultiTOS (even AES4.1) is to slow. Geneva didn't run with MiNT (and, having tried the new MiNT compatible version, I can say it wasn't very compatible - at least AES4.1 is quite stable, if a little slow). MagiC lives in a very fast, very small world all it's own (no networking support, few programs written to exploit it)."
 
Craig worked actively on XaAES until 1997 when he stopped the development, and already at that time a plethora of applications were already useable under XaAES.
 
In 1998 the project was taken up by Swedish programmer Johan Klockars. He had been involved already during Craigs maintainership and at this point he stepped forward after a period of inactivity.
Photo of Johan Klockars
Johan Klockars
Johans work resulted in several bugfixes which eventually was released as Beta7+. Shortly after this beta Johan too made the decision to hand over the project to someone else. This time it really seemed like XaAES had hit the end of the road, with noone interested in taking up the project again. After a period of complete standstill Dutch coder Henk Robbers took over the project in November 1999. During Henks maintainership loads of progress was made and XaAES went from interesting to becoming rather useable and showing great potential. The visual appearance was made to look closer to that of N.AES, as this was the obvious reference target - the AES that at the time was *the* GUI for FreeMiNT. XaAES also become a lot more robust although the response for key and mouse input was still somewhat of a problem.
 
XaAES goes CVS
In early 2003 Henk Robbers decided it was time to let someone else carry on his work, as he wanted to move on to other computing issues.
Photo of Henk Robbers
Henk Robbers
When Henk went looking for someone who could take care of the continued development, the idea that XaAES should be part of the FreeMiNT project was suggested. After all, it was developed to be an AES for MiNT exclusively and since FreeMiNT is being administrated via CVS anyone could access the sources and contribute.
Photo of Frank Naumann
Frank Naumann

The move to CVS was made possible thanks to great efforts from FreeMiNT maintainer Frank Naumann, who made the necessary changes to allow XaAES to compile under GCC. In earlier XaAES builds, one of the major problems has been the somewhat irregular response to mouse buttons. This has since been reworked by Odd Skancke (aka Ozk), something that also resulted in a complete rewrite of the XDD. The moose.xdd is now coded in C too, just like the rest of the XaAES code.
 
XaAES - A FreeMiNT kernel module
In order to get a clean and fast XaAES, the best solution turned out to be changing XaAES into a kernel module. To achieve this goal a completely new API was constructed, and it quickly got apparant that the new kernel module offered a massively improved performance! Most noticeably, the response time was significantly improved, resulting in a much more snappy and responsive experience when trying anything to clicking a button to seeing live window redraws and stuff like that. All in all, XaAES reached a whole new level after being integrated this tightly with FreeMiNT and as of the 1.16.1 FreeMiNT release it must be considered highly useable. With the implementation of window shading the list of missing feautures was getting short.
 
Surpassing N.AES
This header may sound arrogant, but it may be relevant to state this anyway. Odd Skancke has been putting a lot of efforts into XaAES the last year, and the results are easy to spot.
Photo of Odd Skancke
Odd Skancke
At the time of writing this we have reached december 2005 and XaAES is being equipped with features not seen in N.AES, and in some cases not in any other Atari AES. Sure, there are still some occasions when some would suggest N.AES has advantages over XaAES but in real life XaAES now offers (very high) compatibility as well as speed. And N.AES never offered the background textures in AES elements! Add to this the new keyboard navigation scheme, allowing any application that makes proper use of form_button() and form_keyboard() to be controlled via the keyboard. Even the GEM menubar can be navigated via the keyboard, making the system even more user friendly. The built-in support for WDIALOG functions is nearing completion, and now even applications that uses the pdlg_xx() routines for printing support may be able to work properly at last. XaAES is without a doubt setting new standards and the Atari community now has access to a modern AES that is both fast, free and stable.
 
Back in 1993 Atari brought us MultiTOS in form of MiNT 1.0 + AES 4.0, but today you probably want to upgrade to FreeMiNT + XaAES.
 
 

The Unofficial XaAES Page © Joakim Högberg 2003-2015