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ViewMAX is a CUA-compliant file manager supplied with DR DOS versions 5.0 and 6.0. It is based on a cut-down version of Digital Research's GEM/3 graphical user interface modified to run only a single application, the ViewMAX desktop.[1][2] Support for some unneeded functions has been removed whilst some new functions were added at the same time.[2] Nevertheless, the systems remained close enough for ViewMAX to recognize GEM desktop accessories (.ACC executables) automatically[3][4] and to allow some native GEM applications (.APP executables) to be run inside the ViewMAX environment (without having to install and launch GEM first).[3][4] Many display drivers for GEM 3.0/3.1 can be used by ViewMAX as well, enabling ViewMAX to be used with non-standard display adapters and higher resolutions than possible using the default set of ViewMAX drivers.[2][3][4] Also, Digital Research's SID86, the symbolic instruction debugger that shipped with DR DOS 3.xx and provided dedicated functions to debug GEM applications (see ?Y GEM-specific help under SID86), can be used for ViewMAX as well.[5]


Originally named Navigator in beta versions, [6] ViewMAX/1 was distributed with DR DOS 5.0 in 1990 to provide an equivalent to DOSSHELL in MS-DOS/PC DOS 4.0. It had a very similar appearance to Digital Research's previous GEM desktops – two fixed-size windows. Each window would either contain icons representing directories and files, or a representation of the directory hierarchy.

Screenshot of ViewMAX/2 file manager with user-defined colors

In 1991 ViewMAX/2 was distributed with DR DOS 6.0. Various graphical improvements were made in this release, including controls with a 3D appearance and user-selectable colour schemes. The directory tree (if enabled) was now shown beside the list of icons, rather than instead of it. For more flexible character set support ViewMAX/2 loaded display fonts from a standard DOS .CPI files[7][8][9][10][11][12] depending on the current code page rather than using a GEM specific character set. The DOS/V-compatible Japanese version of ViewMAX, as distributed with DR DOS 6.0/V, supported DBCS characters loaded by $FONT.SYS from SCREENHZ.FNT.[13] Support was added for the DR DOS task switcher TaskMAX; if this was present, applications would be launched as separate tasks, and ViewMAX could switch between them.[14] As TASKMGR in later operating systems such as Novell DOS 7, OpenDOS, DR-DOS 7.02 and higher continued to emulate most of the task switcher API as well,[4][15][16] ViewMAX/2 could be used to switch and control multiple concurrently running full-screen DOS tasks under the DR-DOS preemptively multitasking kernel (EMM386 /MULTI + TASKMGR) as well.[4][15][16]

ViewMAX/3 was intended to be the graphical file manager for Novell's next version of DR DOS. ViewMAX/3 included support for colour icons, movable and resizable windows, program groups, and background images. Although ViewMAX/3 was part of the DR DOS "Panther" Beta 1 distribution in October 1992,[15] it was never completed and apparently abandoned in favour to Apple's and Novell's "Star Trek" team project in 1992/1993, which remained unreleased as well. So Novell DOS 7, as "DR DOS 7.0" was called in 1994, came without a graphical file manager at all. When Caldera bought the remaining Digital Research assets from Novell in 1996, initial plans were to revive GEM and ViewMAX technologies for a low-footprint user interface for OpenDOS in mobile applications[17] as Caldera View, but these plans were abandoned by Caldera UK in favour of DR-WebSpyder and GROW. After closing the DR-DOS development center Caldera UK in early 1999, the remaining source code of the ViewMAX/3 beta version was published in April 1999 by the US parent company Caldera Thin Clients under the GPL[17] following continued community request to release the sources, shortly before the company changed its name to Lineo and switched to Linux-based technologies three months later.[18]

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Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Elliott, John (1999-06-10). "Versions of GEM". Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  2. ^ a b c Elliott, John (1999-05-09). "A comparison between GEM and ViewMAX". Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  3. ^ a b c Paul, Matthias (1997-04-13) [1993]. DRDOS6UN.TXT — Zusammenfassung der dokumentierten und undokumentierten Fähigkeiten von DR DOS 6.0. MPDOSTIP (in German) (60 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Paul, Matthias (1997-06-07) [1994]. NWDOS7UN.TXT — Zusammenfassung der dokumentierten und undokumentierten Fähigkeiten von Novell DOS 7. MPDOSTIP (in German) (85 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  5. ^ Paul, Matthias (1997-05-24) [1991]. DRDOSTIP.TXT — Tips und Tricks für DR DOS 3.41 - 5.0. MPDOSTIP (in German) (47 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  6. ^ Microsoft. "DR DOS 5.0 Competitive Analysis" (PDF) (court document). 5114_A Comes v. Microsoft. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-01-18. 
  7. ^ Paul, Matthias (2001-06-10) [1995]. "Format description of DOS, OS/2, and Windows NT .CPI, and Linux .CP files" (CPI.LST file) (1.30 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2016-08-20. 
  8. ^ Elliott, John (2006-10-14). "CPI file format". Archived from the original on 2016-09-22. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  9. ^ Elliott, John (2006-09-03). "Codepage-related software". Archived from the original on 2016-11-08. Retrieved 2016-11-09. 
  10. ^ Brouwer, Andries Evert (2001-02-10). "CPI fonts". 0.2. Archived from the original on 2016-09-22. Retrieved 2016-09-22. 
  11. ^ Haralambous, Yannis (September 2007). Fonts & Encodings. Translated by Horne, P. Scott (1st ed.). Sebastopol, California, USA: O'Reilly Media, Inc. pp. 601–602, 611. ISBN 978-0-596-10242-5. 
  12. ^ MS-DOS Programmer's Reference. Microsoft Press. 1991. ISBN 1-55615-329-5. 
  13. ^ Tam, Roy; Elliott, John (2014-01-12). "DR DOS 6.0/V". Retrieved 2017-01-16. […] outline of the support in the video driver (SDJVG9.VGA) […] At startup, it calls INT 15h/AX=5000h to get the address of the DOS/V 'read font' function. If […] present, it sets a […] DBCS […] flag on the system font. […] it uses INT 21h/AX=6507h to get the DBCS lead byte table. When a string is passed to […] text output functions, if a DBCS font is in use and the DBCS lead byte table is loaded, the code checks for DBCS lead/trail bytes in the string passed to it, and combines each pair into a 16-bit character ID. When drawing a character, it checks to see if the character ID is above 256. If so, it calls the DOS/V 'read font' function to get that character's bitmap, and instructs the drawing code to draw 16 pixels from offset 0 of that bitmap, rather than 8 pixels from the system font bitmap at a given offset. There are similar checks in the optimised monospaced text drawing code, allowing characters to be 8 or 16 pixels wide.  (NB. Has screenshots of a DBCS-enabled version of ViewMAX running on DR DOS 6.0/V and a hex dump of the corresponding DRFONT database SCREENHZ.FNT for its $FONT.SYS.
  14. ^ Caldera, Inc. (August 1997). OpenDOS Developer's Reference Series — Multitasking API — Programmer's Guide. UK. Caldera Part No. 200-DODG-004. Retrieved 2013-03-21. 
  15. ^ a b c Paul, Matthias (1997-07-30) [1994]. NWDOS-TIPs — Tips & Tricks rund um Novell DOS 7, mit Blick auf undokumentierte Details, Bugs und Workarounds (e-book). MPDOSTIP (in German) (3, release 157 ed.). Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 2014-08-06.  NWDOSTIP.TXT is a comprehensive work on Novell DOS 7 and OpenDOS 7.01, including the description of many undocumented features and internals. It is part of the author's yet larger MPDOSTIP.ZIP collection maintained up to 2001 and distributed on many sites at the time. The provided link points to a HTML-converted older version of the NWDOSTIP.TXT file.
  16. ^ a b Paul, Matthias (2001-12-16). "No lumps of coal". fd-dev. Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. 
  17. ^ a b Jemmett, Ben A. L. (April 1999). "Caldera releases GEM under the GPL". Deltasoft - GEM News. Archived from the original on 2016-11-07. Retrieved 2016-11-07. Caldera Thin Clients, Inc. released the source code for GEM and ViewMAX under the GNU Public License in mid April, following years of speculation over GEM's future. Caldera bought the GEM sources from Novell along with the DR-DOS in 1996, at the time noting that they may develop GEM into a platform for mobile computers and thin clients. However, these plans were dropped, and GEM was instead released into the open-source community. 
  18. ^ Caldera. Embedded Linux moved to top priority at Lineo, Inc., formerly known as Caldera Thin Clients, Inc.. Caldera, Inc. press-release as of 1999-07-20 ([1]).

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