A brief history of the SSP graphics engine
As I mentioned in a recent blog, we are in the process of converting our old
image processing effects to the new RipFX technology. This process actually
represents one of the biggest changes to SSP since the introduction of version
5.5. Because of this, I thought that I might just give a bit of history. Before
version 5.5, the big technology change in SSP occurred between versions 3 and 4.
SSP version 4, introduced in 2000, was the first version of SSP to implement the
use of plug-in modules (later known as ProModules). With this new architecture,
almost every aspect of SSP technology was provided through a plug-in. Most
plug-ins were provided with the standard installation. Others were provided as
enhancements for those with a ProModules subscription. I think its accurate to
say that SSP version 4 involved re-writing almost 3/4 of the code base from SSP
version 3. This new architecture included a new graphics engine and was used in SSP up through version 5.3.
After version 5.3, we decided that is was time to get on the ball and
implement motion backgrounds, a feature we'd been discussing for years. When
implementing motion backgrounds, it was important to us to do it right. This
meant 1) support for genuine font smoothing using alpha channel and, 2) support
for motion backgrounds through transitions. Additionally, we wanted to provide,
3) user adjustable visualizations, 4) 3D transitions and animations, and 5) soft
shadows. We wanted all of these features to be available with our initial support for motion backgrounds.
None of these were being provided by our competitors at the
time. But that wasn't the main point -- we just wanted to do it right.
Unfortunately, the graphics engine of SSP version 4 was not up to the task.
We also didn't have time to completely rewrite the entire graphics engine -- we expected that our
competitors were soon to release motion background support (some already had) -- so time was of the
essence. Because of this, we figured out that we could replace the version 4
technologies used for transitions, animations, and shadow to the new (what was
then considered version 6 technology) while leaving in place the version 4
technologies that could still be used, such as effects, fills, objects, and
Long story short, what was intended to be SSP version 6 was released as SSP
version 5.5 in 2003 with the hybrid technology. This hybrid technology has
bugged me ever since that time, so I'm quite happy to see the version 4 technology
gradually disappear into the ether -- well, actually into the archives of our
version control system.