Great news – we have decided to open source this project! It can be downloaded for free from GitHub – please follow this link.

Previous customers may continue to use the project under the embedded-code.com licence they purchased under, or apply the new MIT licence we have now released the project under.

Graphic display allow embedded devices to provide rich graphical user interfaces and at ever reducing cost. However successfully using graphic displays comes with the problem of a great deal of complexity. The solution for some engineers is to use an off the shelf GUI module from a vendor which incorporates a processor and proprietary software to provide the graphic display functionality for them, but at a much higher production cost. With colour displays starting at < $10 these days and with typical low cost embedded processors being more than capable enough of driving them paying for GUI modules can be a very false economy. This universal graphic display driver removes much of the complexity of driving graphic displays and allows you to simply display bitmaps of any size and Unicode text strings using user adjustable fonts anywhere on a screen. Once you have this capability using a graphic screen is easy and it’s a simple matter to add any special features you need for your application, such as menus, animated graphics, graphs and more.

Still, designing graphic screen layouts in code, even with a versatile driver, can be a tedious task for more complex projects and a benefit of many GUI modules is that they provide some sort of PC software to facilitate the graphic user interface design. Often this software isn't particularly friendly or universal, but it's better than designing from the source code level. This driver takes things one step better and will read HTML files, allowing you to design your screen layouts using Dreamweaver web authoring software if you wish. Not only can this drastically reduce the time and hassle to design user interfaces, it also allows you to design and demonstrate user interface designs before the hardware has been created and also allows non programmers to design screen layouts using software many designers are already familiar with.

The last remaining issue for graphical user interfaces is typically fonts and supporting languages with non ASCII character sets. This driver solves that problem by being designed with full Unicode support and to work with the fonts produced by the great Iseatech Bit Font Creator Pro software. The driver is supplied with several fonts implementing the standard extended ASCII character set which may be used as is. Purchasing Bit Font Creator Pro from Iseatech allows you to edit these included fonts, add new Unicode characters and to also create your own new fonts from any font installed on your Windows PC.

As well as displaying ASCII text strings in standard ‘monospace’ fixed pitch mode (each character takes the same horizontal space regardless of its actual width), this driver also allows you to use font's created as proportional width. This makes lines of text much more attractive and natural to read and typically allows you to fit additional characters across a screen, as each character only uses as much width as is required to display it. Left, centre or right alignment functions provides the complete toolbox of text display capabilities.

The included Display Files Convert PC application will read all of your source font, bitmap, html and css files and convert them ready for use in your application. It's output may either be as a standard C header file, allowing all of your source file data to be simply included in your microcontrollers program memory when you compile, or as a binary file for you to store in external flash memory with a generated C header file used by the driver to locate each files start address.

Once you have these capabilities using a graphic screen is easy and it’s a simple matter to add any special user interface features you require for your application, such as menus, animated graphics, graphs and more. One of the great advantages of this driver is that it provides you with very simple but very powerful control over everything you display on the screen, allowing you to implement your display, and any user interface functionality, exactly as you want it down to the individual pixel.

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Main features:

  • Designed for use with color, grayscale and monochrome displays.
  • Use your display in any of the 4 possible orientations.
  • Display .BMP bitmap files of any size anywhere on the screen.
  • Display Unicode text strings using user adjustable monospace or proportional width fonts anywhere on a screen.*
  • Display text strings with left, centre or right alignment. Display a single line of text, or multiple lines contained within a definable region.
  • Design your screen layouts in code or as HTML files using Dreamweaver web authoring software. This driver parses HTML source files.
  • Optional touchscreen support – parsed HTML file links may be passed to your application with screen coordinates so it can dynamically process screen touch events
  • Use the included PC Display Files Converter Application to convert your source font, bitmap, html and css files ready for use in your application.
  • No reliance on special display Controller IC features – generic driver suited to all types of display controllers where data is written per pixel.
  • No requirements to use your display in pre-defined ways – use your display exactly as you want with your user interface implemented exactly as you want it, down to the individual pixel!
  • Fast optimised source code.
  • No reliance on compiler specific libraries.
  • Full source code supplied for you to use and modify as required.

(* N.B. To create new fonts and edit fonts you need to purchase BitFontCreator Pro 3.0 from Iseatech Software)

This driver can’t quite remove all of the complexity for you as you will still need to configure the screen access functions to suit the particular screen / driver IC you are using. This has been made as simple as possible, and some sample screen models are included for you to copy and modify as required. See the technical manual for more details.

The driver code has been designed using ANSI compliant C compilers. Using the driver with other ANSI compliant C compilers and with other processors / microcontrollers should not present significant problems, but you should ensure that you have sufficient programming expertise to carry out any modifications that may be required to the source code. Embedded-code.com source code is written to be very easy to understand by programmers of all levels. The code is very highly commented with no lazy programming techniques. All function, variable and constant names are fully descriptive to help you modify and expand the code with ease.

The driver and associated files are provided under a licence agreement. Please see www.embedded-code.com/licence.php for full details.

The remainder of this manual provides a wealth of technical information about the driver as well as useful guides to get you going. We welcome any feedback on this manual and the driver.

Design Your Own Bitmap Fonts With Ease
Iseatech's Bit Font Creator Pro provides excellent font design and editing capabilities. Design bitmap fonts from installed Windows fonts and create your own special characters with ease. The Universal Graphic Display Driver is designed to use Unicode fonts created with Bit Font Creator Pro.

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Hardware Specifications
The driver is designed to support all types of parallel and serial screen interfaces.
For full specifications please see the project technical manual.

 

     
 
This source code product is written in C and has been designed to be used with any ANSI compliant C compiler on any platform. Direct compatibility has been tested with the compilers and processors / microcontrollers listed below. Using the driver with other ANSI compliant C compilers and devices should not present significant problems.
     
 
Tested with the Microchip C32 MPLAB C Compiler for PIC32 family of 32bit microcontrollers with sample project included. Free version of the compiler available from Microchip.

 

USEFUL?
We benefit hugely from resources on the web so we decided we should try and give back some of our knowledge and resources to the community by opening up many of our company’s internal notes and libraries through mini sites like this. We hope you find the site helpful.
Please feel free to comment if you can add help to this page or point out issues and solutions you have found, but please note that we do not provide support on this site. If you need help with a problem please use one of the many online forums.