Raymond has a fun story about “The evolution of mascara in Windows UI“. Reminded me of my early days of Windows programming. Before I was at Microsoft (and for a bit after) I developed a few (mildly successful) shareware applications for Windows. I think I was one of the very first people to apply 3D effects to controls in Windows applications!
In 1989 I developed at DLL that I used in all of my applications called TDUTIL.DLL that add drop-shadows and other effects to Windows dialog controls. I remember working with Morrie Wilson tons during this time (fun looking up Morrie on Google and finding this link…after all these years).
One of the first programs that I released into the wild, as a freeware app, was Mark30. Here’s a picture of it taken running as a Win16 WOW app on XP. It looked a bit different on Windows 3.0, but you get the idea. The “Drop Shadow” effect was my idea.
Mark30 changed a bit in Windows 2.1 applications letting them run in Windows 3.0 without the warning that popped up about potential compatibility problems. You can still download Mark30 from various old sites on the web such as http://garbo.uwasa.fi/windows/util.html.
Later, as this trend continued, I enhanced TDUTIL.DLL. WinPrint, my most successful shareware app looked like this:
You can see that the look evolved so that most controls were “embossed” and group boxes had the “drop shadow”. TDUTIL.DLL was completely automatic. All you had to do was call a single initialization API and it automatically added the effects. Just like CTL3D.DLL did. But I did it first (as I recall).
I still use WinPrint to print my source code files even though I never ported it to Win32 and there are probably better solutions out there today.
Funny story about WinPrint: When I sat down to write it I actually had two programs I wanted to write. The first I called WinZip and the other was WinPrint. I decided to write WinPrint first. Niko Mak beat me to WinZip.
My other shareware app, which lots of people liked, but was nowhere as successful as WinPrint was INIedit. Check it out here.