How to Create Your Own Bitmap Files
You can use any graphics software you like to create new bitmap files. We used a combination of Adobe Photoshop™ and Microsoft Paint™ to construct the standard files installed with QDS. The only absolute requirement is that you provide four files (Up, Down, Focused, Disabled) for each button and that you follow the proper naming conventions. The four bitmap files for a single button must have the same filenames except for the final letter, which must be U, D, F or X.
Creating Standard Bitmap Files
- For 32-bit use, a 150 x 150 pixel size works well.
- Sixteen colors are sufficient and produce reasonably sized bitmap files.
- The addition of white and dark gray at the border around the buttons helps to create a three-dimensional look. This gives a similar look and feel to your QDS data collection application as other Windows-based software packages. For the Up and Focused buttons, the white should be on the top and left edges, while dark gray should be on the bottom and right edges. For the depressed (Down) button, the border should be all dark gray.
- If you decide to use colored buttons, make sure that the colors you choose are noticeably different from each other so they can easily be distinguished by the user.
- Keep in mind that most people have preconceived color associations. Try to avoid a conflict with those associations. For example, don’t use green for a Quit, Stop, or No button.
- All bitmaps cover a rectangular area. To create a button with a different shape, you need to clip the parts you don’t want by painting them in a transparent color.
- You can decrease a bitmap file size by reducing the number of colors used or reducing the size in pixels. Consult your graphics program’s manual on how to change the attributes of a bitmap.
- Custom button packages containing hundreds of pre-made buttons can be purchased from a computer software store or catalog. These button collections are often found under the heading “Web Tools” in software catalogs. They come in a variety of file formats, but you can use your graphics program to convert them to the bitmap (*.BMP) file format.
- There are free button collections on the internet. You can find them by searching with the term buttons. If you find one you like, save it to your hard disk using your browser software. These files are usually in the *.GIF or *.JPG file format that the Web uses and must be converted to *.BMP by your graphics software.