Get The Picture - RLE
by Rich Lefko

This will be a discussion of RLE (Run Length Encoded) graphics and how ADAM owners can utilize them. This will NOT be technical in nature! (I never discuss DCB's in mixed company.

RLE is a method of transmitting encoded graphics information to your computer. It was designed as a standard, so many different types of computers can utilize them, similar to the concept of CP/M. RLE is composed of a header sequence that tells the program whether a medium resolution or a high resolution file follows, then a series of ASCII character pairs, each representing the number of pixels to be background (turned off) and foreground (turned on). The number of Pixels to be turned on or off are the "run length". The end of the file is concluded by another sequence. Now I'm sure you are wondering what that means to ADAM owners? Well, since ADAM, like most computers, utilizes and understands ASCII characters, with the proper software you can view or print pictures created by other computer system and stored in RLE format.

Now, don't confuse RLE with either Hi-Res or Low-Res BASIC graphics; they are not the same. For example, you could create a Hi-Res graphics picture then you would store it in RLE format for any other computer that could utilize it. Got the idea? Obviously, the advantage of RLE is its compatability with a wide range of computer systems. Besides pictures created using Apple or IBM ystems, RLE pictures can also be digitized images. Simply explained, a video digitizer "reads" horizontal and vertical sync pulses, and using special software, converts what it sees" into something the computer can understand and display (RLE) on a monitor.

One of the best things about RLE pictures is you don't need CP/M, DMP (Dot Matrix Printer), or any high-priced software to view them. There is a PD program, written in BASIC, offered in Data library 9 on Compuserve called "rleviewer" and can be downloaded at a minimal cost. Now you'll need an RLE picture to view. Again, on Compuserve, type GO PICS and you'll be in the picture support forum which is the home of RLE graphics. They also have GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) pictures, which ADAM owners can NOT use at this time. Go to the data libraries, of which there are 14, pick one and browse. You'll see at the top left hand side of each file its name and whether it's in RLE or GIF format. Once you've found an RLE picture you'd like to download prepare to "capture" it in the usual fashion and do so. You'll see ASCII characters scrolling up the screen. When they stop scrolling it means the end of the file so press the "Undo" key to close it, then press return to continue.

After loqging off CIS, boot SBASIC and run rleviewer, follow the instructions and that's all there is to itl I've found that I can even download surface weather maps (Go WEA) from CIS (see examples).

Please note: Sometimes you will see a message which will state that your 'terminal' does not support graphics and it will ask you if you still want to continue? Obviously, the answer is YES, cause we know better, don't we? There are a couple of commercial programs that will allow you to print RLE

graphics on a DMP. GRAPHIXPAINTER ($23.95 M.W Ruth and others)is one that will convert RLE to "graphicpaint" format and allow various printing options such as landscape, inverse, or portions.

SHOWOFF I from Digital Express($24.95 members) allows viewing and printing of RLE formatted pictures, even using the ADAM printer. (I have NEVER tried using the ADAM printer. If anyone would like to know if this does indeed work, let me know and I'll try it!) Another Interesting feature of Showoff I is once you've loaded an RLE picture and have it up on the screen you can draw on it or alter it in any way yould likel

Certainly, there are MANY options open to ADAM owners concerning RLE graphics. The Only way to find out in to explore and try itl


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