If you've been around PCs for a while, you probably remember what graphics programming was like before Microsoft Windows came along. If you were lucky, you had a decent graphics library with routines like DrawLine and DrawCircle to draw graphics primitives for you. If you weren't so lucky, you probably spent a lot of time writing your own output routines and tweaking them to shave off a few microseconds here and there. And whether it was your code or someone else's doing the drawing, you knew that when a new graphics standard emerged—in those days, that meant whenever IBM introduced a new graphics adapter like the EGA or the VGA—you'd be scrambling to support the latest hardware. That invariably meant buying an updated version of the graphics library, adding new code to your own routines, or writing a driver for the new video card. For the graphics programmer, the platform was a moving target that never seemed to stand still for very long. And even if you did manage to draw a bead on the video hardware, you still had plenty of work to do to adapt your code to work with printers and other output devices.
Windows changed all that by bringing to the PC platform something it sorely needed: a device-independent graphics output model. In Windows, the graphics code you write will work on any video adapter for which a Windows driver is available. These days, that's just about every adapter on the planet. And to a large extent, the same code that sends output to the screen will also work with printers and other hardcopy devices. This one-size-fits-all approach to graphics programming has a number of advantages, chief among them the fact that programmers can now spend their time developing code for their applications rather than code for the hardware their applications will run on. Moreover, you no longer need third-party graphics libraries in order to do your work because Windows provides a wide assortment of graphics API functions that do everything from draw lines to create complex clipping regions that serve as stencils for other output routines.
The part of Windows responsible for graphics output is the Graphics Device Interface, or GDI. The GDI provides a number of services that an application can call. Together, these services constitute a powerful and robust graphics programming language whose richness rivals that of some third-party graphics libraries. MFC works on top of the graphics API and codifies the interface with C++ classes that represent the various components of the Windows GDI.
Now that you know how to create a window, it's time to do something with that window. The Hello application in Chapter 1 used CDC::DrawText to output text to a window. DrawText is just one of many member functions that the CDC class provides for text and graphics output. This chapter looks at the CDC class and its derivative classes in more detail and introduces three of the most commonly used GDI primitives: pens, brushes, and fonts. It also demonstrates how to add scroll bars to a window.
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