Backdrop GC Documentation
Software Version 2.05
Released August 13, 2002

Written by Josh Freeman
©2001-2002, Twilight Edge Software
All Rights Reserved


About Backdrop GC
System Requirements
Archive Distribution
Disclaimer
BackdropGC.zip Archive Contents
Download
Quickstart
Installing And Selecting Background Images
Adjusting The Foreground Color
Adjusting The Background Brightness
Backdrop GC Settings
Choosing Applications
Where To Find Background Images
Creating Your Own Backgrounds
Deleting Images
Registering Backdrop GC
Known Incompatibilities/Bugs
Version History
Twilight Edge Software Contact Info



About Backdrop GC
    Backdrop GC is an application for color Palm OS devices that allows you to install an image as a background screen, similar to wallpaper on desktop PCs. The background image stays in place while other applications run, and you have full control over which programs will display it.
    Backdrop GC reads images in the FireViewer format, which has several utilities for converting from popular formats such as BMP, GIF & JPEG.



System Requirements
    Backdrop GC requires a color Palm OS device with a 160x160 screen or a Sony Clie with a 320x320 screen. (320x320 Sony Clie support is limited to low-resolution mode). The Sony NR series and the Samsung I-300 are currently not supported. If you have a greyscale device, you can use Backdrop EZ (current models) or Backdrop (Palm III or earlier).
     TrapWeaver is also required to install Backdrop GC; TrapWeaver is a utility which prevents conflicts between applications that patch the OS. For more information on TrapWeaver, see the TrapWeaver documentation.
    Backdrop GC uses 315K of memory. (This includes the Backdrop GC and TrapWeaver applications, as well as the memory Backdrop GC uses when it installs its system patches). Running Backdrop GC with less free memory may cause instability.



Archive Distribution
    Backdrop GC and TrapWeaver are shareware. The 'backdropgc.zip' archive may be freely distributed, provided its contents are not changed in any way. If you distribute the archive on a website or with a software collection, please notify the author. Any form of distribution that charges the user a fee, such as a commercial software collection, must clearly state that the user is purchasing unregistered copies which will require additional payments to register.



Disclaimer
    All Twilight Edge software titles are provided as is, and are not guaranteed to be free of bugs. The author assumes no liability for any problems resulting from the use of these products.

If you find a bug, please report it, along with the following info:

- Device type
- Palm OS system version
- Amount of free memory
- List of apps installed (if possible)
- Special options (Springboard module, memory upgrade, etc.)



BackdropGC.zip Archive Contents
BackdropGC.prc  - Backdrop GC application
TWeaver.prc     - TrapWeaver application (required to run Backdrop GC)
earth-color.pdb - sample color image
bdgc_docs.html  - Backdrop GC Documentation



Download
Backdrop GC, Version 2.05



Quickstart
If you have previous versions of Backdrop GC or TrapWeaver on your Palm device, please uninstall & delete them before installing the new versions.

To Install Backdrop GC:

    1. Download 'BackdropGC.prc' and 'TWeaver.prc' to your Palm device.
    2. Run TrapWeaver
    3. Press the 'Install' button

The following step will reset your Palm device:

    4. Press the 'OK' button on the 'Engage TrapWeaving' dialog
    5. After reset, run Backdrop GC
    6. Press the 'Install' button

To Uninstall Backdrop GC:

    1. Run Backdrop GC
    2. Press the 'Uninstall' button

If you wish to delete Backdrop GC or TrapWeaver from your device, please uninstall them first. Deleting the apps without uninstalling them will leave their system patches and functionality in place until the device is reset.



Installing And Selecting Background Images
    Backdrop GC reads image files saved in the FireViewer format. You can find images in this format online, or you can convert them from your own images.
    FireViewer images can be installed onto your device using your Palm Desktop's Install tool. Once an image has been loaded on your device, it will appear in the list of available images displayed in Backdrop GC's 'Background' tab. To use an image as the background, select its name from this list.
    The preferred image size is 160x160; Backdrop GC won't read images smaller than this, and if they are much larger, they may take up too much memory to load.
    If the selected background image is bigger than 160x160, an 'Align' button will appear on the right side of the form. Pressing this button will bring you to the alignment screen, where you may drag the image with your stylus to center it. Once you are done aligning, tap the graffiti area or press any of the hardware buttons to return to the main form.



Adjusting The Foreground Color
    The foreground color can be changed by pressing the 'Foreground...' button; This will bring up a Palette or RGB Color Picker, depending on the Default Color Picker setting.
    Backdrop GC will remember the foreground color setting for each image; If an image's foreground color has not yet been set, it will use the same foreground color as the default background.



Adjusting The Background Brightness
    The background brightness can be adjusted to make the foreground more legible: Press the 'Brightness...' button to bring up the 'Adjust Background Brightness' slider.
    Backdrop GC will remember the brightness setting for each image; If an image's brightness has not yet been set, it will use the same brightness setting as the default background.



Backdrop GC Settings
    Tap the 'Settings' tab if it's not already in the foreground. When the 'Settings' tab is selected, a list of customizable settings will be displayed:

- Reinstall On Reset
    When this box is checked, Backdrop GC will automatically reinstall itself when the device is reset; Otherwise you will have to reinstall Backdrop GC manually.

- Display As Startup Screen
    This option will delay drawing the foreground when the device gets turned on, displaying the background image as a startup screen. The startup screen will only be shown when the device has been turned on from the power button, not from any of the other buttons. If the Use Original Colors box is checked, Backdrop GC will display the image without the brightness adjustment that is used when the foreground is shown. The user can choose how long to display the startup screen by selecting from the Delay: drop-down menu. To instantly bring up the foreground while the startup screen is being displayed, tap the screen or press a button.

- Default Color Picker
    This menu allows you to select between 'RGB' and 'Palette' as the initial color picker mode when you press the 'Foreground...' button to adjust the foreground color.

- Trim Menu Borders
    Checking this box removes the white border that is drawn around the menu bar and menus. (This option only applies to 256-color foreground mode.)

- Trim Dialog Corners
    Checking this box removes the square white corners that stick out behind a dialog's rounded blue corners. (This option only applies to 256-color foreground mode.)



Choosing Applications
    Backdrop GC lets you choose the applications for which a background will be displayed and also control their foreground color mode. Hiding the background may improve legibility for some apps, and using a foreground color mode with fewer colors may allow the background to display behind otherwise incompatible applications.
    Tap the 'Apps' tab if it's not already in the foreground. When the 'Apps' tab is selected, a list of all the applications installed on your device will be displayed, along with each app's current foreground color mode setting. (Color mode settings are explained below.)
    The first application name on the list will always be '(Default)'. This entry will be the default setting which is used for all apps that have their color mode set to '(Default)', as well as any apps which have been installed on your device since the last time you updated Backdrop GC's app settings.
    To hide the background when a certain app runs, simply uncheck the box next to its name in the list. You can find an app in the list either by using the form's scrollbar or by entering a character with graffiti - this will immediately scroll the list to the first name that begins with that letter.
    You may notice that some app names have no checkboxes next to them - this is because Backdrop GC has a default list of incompatible apps, and it won't allow you to display the background when one of them runs.

Foreground Color Modes
    To change an app's foreground color mode setting, select an item from the popup list next to its name:

    256 Colors: This mode will display the foreground in full color. (Only available on devices that support 16-bit color.)

    1 Color: This mode will make the application think it's running on a greyscale device, which in most cases will cause it to remain in Black & White mode. In B&W mode, the entire foreground will display in the one color you have chosen as the foreground color. Some applications may still switch to a deeper grey mode, which will disable the background - for these apps, you can try 'Force 1 Color' mode.

    Force 1 Color: This is similar to '1 Color' mode, except that it also prevents applications from switching out of B&W mode. This mode should be used as a last resort, as it may cause some applications to crash.

    OFF: This mode hides the background while the application runs. (This is the same as unchecking the app's checkbox.)

    (Default): This mode makes the app run in the mode that has been selected for the default setting.


    At the bottom of the form, there is a 'Set All To:' button. Pressing this button will set all of the application mode settings to the color mode that is currently selected from the popup list immediately to the right of the button.
    Pressing the 'Revert' button will undo any changes you have made since entering the 'Apps' tab.



Where To Find Background Images
    You can find sample images for backgrounds at the Sample Color Images Page or the Sample Greyscale Images Page. If you have custom images or a link you would like to see displayed on the images page, please send in a file or URL.



Creating Your Own Backgrounds
    Backdrop GC reads images in the FireViewer format. There are several utilities listed below which will allow you to convert images from other popular graphics formats such as BMP, GIF, and JPEG.

Limitations
There are some limitations on the types of FireViewer images that Backdrop GC can use for backgrounds:

    Size: The preferred size for a background image is 160x160; Backdrop GC won't read anything smaller or too much larger than this.

    Depth: The image must be converted to 8-bit color or less. 16-bit color images are not supported.

    Compression: Backdrop GC cannot read images converted with FireViewer's high compression. Please convert your images with standard or no compression.


Image Conversion Utilities
There are several utilities for converting images to FireViewer format:

    On the Web: You can use FirePad's online image converter. Please make sure that the compression option is unchecked and you choose a color depth of 8-bits or less.

    On your Mac: You can use Lemke Software's Graphic Converter. To convert, select 'FireViewer PDB (*.PDB)' as the format from the 'Save As...' dialog. Verify that you're saving to the correct depth and compression type by pressing the 'Save As...' dialog's 'Options' button.

    On your PC: You can use FirePad's FireConverter.


If you've created a custom background you'd like to share, please send in the image or its URL for posting on the sample images page.



Deleting Images
    If there are images you want to delete, select 'Delete Images...' from the 'Options' menu to go to the 'Delete Images' form. Click on an image's name in the list to delete it. (You will be given a chance to confirm this).



Registering Backdrop GC
    Backdrop GC is shareware. If you decide to keep it, please register it. Registration will remove the 'UNREGISTERED' watermark from the background and also entitles you to all future versions for no additional charge.
    Backdrop GC may be registered for $15.99 through our Web Store or by using PayPal. When purchasing, please make sure you include your correct, case-sensitive HotSync username, as this will be used to generate your registration code.
    Once your registration has been processed, you will receive your code by email. (Most codes are sent out the same day, however, please allow up to 2 business days).
    When you have your code, select 'Register...' from Backdrop GC's 'Options' menu to bring up a registration dialog where you can enter the code to unlock your copy of Backdrop GC.
    Please save your code, as you will need it for future versions, or if you have to reinstall Backdrop GC after a hard reset.



Known Incompatibilities/Bugs
    Backdrop GC is compatible with most standard UI applications, however some programs may not display properly or will completely obscure the background. There are several reasons an app might not work with Backdrop GC:

The app switches to 16-bit color mode. Backdrop GC does not support a 16-bit system foreground - if an app switches the system to 16-bit color mode, Backdrop GC will automatically hide the background.

The app draws directly to the screen. If an app draws directly to screen memory (most likely a game or imaging app will do this for speed) instead of using the Palm OS drawing APIs, Backdrop GC will not know when to update the foreground. This will result in part or all of the screen being left blank. You should set Backdrop GC to disable the background when this app runs.

The app changes the system color palette. Backdrop GC prevents enabled applications from changing the screen's color palette. You can tell if an app has attempted to do this, because some or all of its colors will appear incorrect. You should disable the background for this app.

The app doesn't use the Palm OS's UI color preferences. If an app doesn't obey the Palm OS's UI color preferences, the background image won't be able to show through. There is a workaround, however, if the app allows the user to customize its color scheme:
When installed, Backdrop GC modifies the Palm OS color picker to allow the user to designate colors which will be recognized by Backdrop GC as its selected foreground color and as a transparent color, through which the background will show; Any UI elements that are selected to use these colors will be drawn in the foreground color or become transparent, respectively. When using the standard Palm OS color picker while the background is enabled, the color that will be recognized as Backdrop's foreground color will always be the first box on the bottom row (this is the row with only four boxes), and the color which will be recognized as transparent will always be the second box on the same row. See the workarounds for BigClock & Launcher III below for examples of how to use these colors.

The app covers the screen with graphics or interface elements. Some apps such as games or image viewers simply use the entire screen, completely hiding the background. If an app doesn't allow the background to show through, you can disable the background when it runs to allow the app to draw faster.

The app performs a masking draw operation while making assumptions about the window's current foreground & background colors. Some Palm OS drawing operations require that a window's foreground color be set to black and background color set to white in order for the operation to draw properly. Backdrop GC can change a window's foreground/background colors, so apps which use these drawing operations but assume the foreground/background colors are black/white instead of manually checking will show mixed results: Some elements may be drawn correctly, others will be drawn invisibly, or with the wrong colors (most likely black, white, or pink). The background should be disabled for this app, but it can be made compatible if the app's developer modifies it to check a window's foreground/background colors before performing these masking draw operations.

Workarounds

App: BigClock
Problem: Background is hidden behind the clock display
Solution: BigClock's colors are customizable, so select the transparent color as the clock's background color and Backdrop's foreground color as the clock's foreground color
Steps:
    1. While running BigClock, press the menu button to bring up the menu bar.
    2. Select 'Theme & Color' from the 'Options' menu.
    3. Select '256 Color' from the 'Screen:' popup.
    4. Tap on the top left color rectangle. (The rectangle in the 'Normal' column and 'Back' row.)
    5. In the 'Back' color picker dialog, select the second box in the bottom row. (This is the row with only four boxes.)
    6. Tap on the bottom left color rectangle. (The rectangle in the 'Normal' column and 'Text' row.)
    7. In the 'Text' color picker dialog, select the first box in the bottom row.

App: Launcher III
Problem: Background is hidden behind Launcher III's tabs
Solution: Launcher III's tab background colors are customizable, so select the transparent color as the tabs' background color
Steps:
    1. While running Launcher III, press the menu button to bring up the menu bar.
    2. Select 'Properties' from the 'Tab' menu.
    3. Tap on the background color square on the 'Tab Properties' dialog.
    4. In the 'Pick Color' dialog, select the second box in the bottom row. (This is the row with only four boxes.)
    5. Repeat for each tab.

App: WordSmith
Problem: While in list view, the selection color is black; While in document view, the text disappears
Solution: (Partial) Choose Backdrop GC to have a lighter foreground color that will show up over black, and disable WordSmith's FineType fonts. (They are drawn directly to the screen). This is only a partial solution, because the document text will only draw in black, not color.
Steps:
    1. While running Backdrop GC, change the foreground color to a lighter color that will show up on black. (This may also require darkening the background brightness or using a darker background).
    2. While running WordSmith, press the menu button to bring up the menu bar.
    3. Select 'Display Options...' from the 'Option' menu.
    4. Under the 'Fonts' tab, uncheck the 'Use FineType fonts' checkbox.


If you find any other incompatibilities or bugs that crash your device, please report them, along with the following info:

- Device type
- Palm OS system version
- Amount of free memory
- List of apps installed (if possible)
- Special options (Springboard module, memory upgrade, etc.)



Version History

2.05 (08/13/02)
    - Improved image quality on the Palm m130
    - Fixed a cosmetic bug that was causing some selections to disappear
    - Now compatible with ScreenShot hack (version 1.8)
    - Startup screen option now works on the Handspring Treo 90

2.01 (04/03/02)
    - Now supports the Palm m130
    - Added limited compatibility for 320x320 Sony Clies (Low-resolution mode only)

2.0 (02/19/02)
    - Now displays foregrounds in 256 colors on 16-bit devices (Handspring Prisms & Palm m505s)
    - Improved app settings controls
    - Compatible with OS 4.1
    - Fixed image alignment bug on OS 4.0

1.1 (09/05/01)
    - Added option to lock foreground to B&W mode for compatibility with some greyscale & color apps
    - Compatible with OS 4.0

1.0  (03/07/01)
    - Initial release



Twilight Edge Software Contact Info

Twilight Edge Software Home Page
Software Support