Many small-footprint devices have no need for complex displays. They can present perfectly usable interfaces by means of individual light-emitting diodes (LEDs) or simple single-digit outputs. However, an increasing number of devices now have a need for more complex user interactions that can be met only by more detailed text and graphical displays. In this chapter, we will explore how you would use the .NET Micro Framework Libraries to create such displays. If you are a programmer with experience developing for Windows Forms, you may find some of the constructions familiar.
The .NET Micro Framework supports colored bitmap displays, supplying a set of classes that allow such displays to be managed as a simple bitmap, or using a more complex approach based on the WPF. The techniques that you use depend on the configuration of the hardware that you are targeting and the complexity of the display that you are trying to create.
The libraries described in this chapter are provided as part of the .NET Micro Framework. There is nothing to stop you from designing hardware configurations that work in an alternate manner, for example, by connecting your own liquid crystal display (LCD) panel to the .NET Micro Framework hardware. However, if you do this, you will have to create your own library of display-driver routines.