What are GEM Resource Files?

If you have never really dug into Atari's and aren't a programmer or technically minded (there aren't many of you ;) ) then you probably wonder what those .rsc resource files are and why they are needed. Maybe you are technically minded but never really found an explanation. This help guide explains what those pesky .RSC files are.

The .rsc files are GEM resource files. They contain graphics, window and menu definitions that a program uses. They define what a progam looks like, what dialogs or windows it contains and importantly enough, what language the program is in. The resource tells your AES environment how to display the program and the program calls on this resource to display things at certain times.

These resource files are created with a resource editor like Interface or RCS and they can also be edited. This is the easiest way to effectively change the language of a GEM application. MagiC's icons are held in magicicn.rsc as well as several other RSC files. You can use a resource editor to change icon names or to add new icons to the file.

The fact that Atari uses resource files is pretty important. Resource files provide a very unique way to upgrade the appearance of a progam with our AES without needing the author to change the program themselves. They represent just one of the many features of GEM that make it unique compared to other windowsish operating systems. We can add 3d features, color icons, enhanced buttons and rewrite all of the writing in the program to be English, Swedish, German or whatever we might like, without a single ounce of help from the original author.

Resource editors feature a Visual editing environment, likening themselves to applications like Microsoft Visual products. Everything can be edited in a Visual mode providing explicit control over the appearance of your application or whatever application is written.

Some might think that separate resource files could be a disadvantage or weak-point of GEM, but it is obvious to see that the value of resource files is endless, especially in an environment where getting support from the author of programs is next to impossible. It also helps anyone from any country have a GEM environment with programs in their language, with an appearance how THEY want it. It is most certainly the ultimate provision in total customizeability.

This article is to be continued and enhanced.

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