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Lesson: Full-Screen Exclusive Mode API
Full-Screen Exclusive Mode
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Full-Screen Exclusive Mode

Programmers who use Microsoft's DirectX API may already be familiar with full-screen exclusive mode. Other programmers may be somewhat new to the concept. In either case, full-screen exclusive mode is a powerful feature of J2SE™ version 1.4 that allows the programmer to suspend the windowing system so that drawing can be done directly to the screen.

This is a slight paradigm shift from the usual kind of GUI program in many ways. In traditional Java GUI programs, the AWT is responsible for propagating paint events from the operating system, through the event dispatch thread, and by calling AWT's Component.paint method when appropriate. In full-screen exclusive applications, painting is usually done actively by the program itself. Additionally, a traditional GUI application is limited to the bit depth and size of the screen chosen by the user. In a full-screen exclusive application, the program can control the bit depth and size (display mode) of the screen. Finally, many more advanced techniques, such as page flipping (discussed below) and stereo buffering (utilizing systems which use a separate set of frames for each eye) require, on some platforms, that an application first be in full-screen exclusive mode.

Hardware-Accelerated Image Basics

To understand the full-screen exclusive mode API, you need to understand some basic principles of hardware-accelerated images. The VolatileImage interface encapsulates a surface which may or may not take advantage of hardware acceleration. Such surfaces may lose their hardware acceleration or their memory at the behest of the operating system (hence, the name 'volatile'). See the VolatileImage Tutorial (coming soon) for more information on volatile images.

Full-screen exclusive mode is handled through a java.awt.GraphicsDevice object. For a list of all available screen graphics devices (in single or multi-monitor systems), you can call the method getScreenDevices on the local java.awt.GraphicsEnvironment; for the default (primary) screen (the only screen on a single-monitor system), you can call the method getDefaultScreenDevice.

Once you have the graphics device, you can call one of the following methods:

Programming Tips

Here are some tips about programming using full-screen exclusive mode:

Problems with the examples? Try Compiling and Running the Examples: FAQs.
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