Home > Articles > Programming > General Programming/Other Languages

Build Screensavers with a Custom Screensavers Library in Borland C++

Tired of those same stale Windows screensavers? Hesitant to create your own? Jeff Friesen has an idea: use his screensavers library. He shows you how to obtain a free copy of Borland C++ 5.5.1 and presents a short product tutorial. Then he takes you on a tour of his screensavers library and shows how to build this library with Borland C++, along with an example screensaver and code you can download.

The Internet provides lots of Websites that advertise screensavers for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Perhaps you want to join this community by creating your own screensavers. The usual way to build Windows screensavers is to work with Microsoft’s Visual C++ product and its scrnsave.lib library. However, you might prefer to use my own screensavers library, for two important reasons:

  • The library’s C source code is accessible. Along with providing educational value, this source code can be modified (if necessary) to deal with unusual kinds of screensavers (although I cannot think of a screensaver requiring a modified library, the possibility exists). In contrast, source code isn’t accessible (at least I couldn’t find any source code) for scrnsave.lib.
  • You can link your screensavers with the library. You should be able to compile library source code (after possibly making some source code changes) and place the resulting object code into a .lib file using your own C/C++ tools. You can then link your screensaver object code with the .lib file. In contrast, I couldn’t link my Borland/Inprise screensaver object code with scrnsave.lib.

This article introduces you to my screensavers library. Because I created that library using Borland C++ 5.5.1, the article first shows you how to obtain a free copy of this product and presents a short product tutorial. The article next takes you on a tour of the screensavers library; you learn how to build this library with Borland C++. A presentation of an example screensaver that you can build with the library wraps up this article.

Get Acquainted with Borland C++ 5.5.1

If you like programming in C and C++, you’ll appreciate a good compiler. A few years ago, Borland (also known as Inprise) made its latest (at that time) C/C++ compiler technology and associated command-line tools freely available for download as the Borland C++ 5.5.1 product.

Borland C++ 5.5.1’s compiler technology produces very fast compiles, optimizes code, and targets Win32 Portable Executable (PE) programs. It includes ANSI/ISO C++ language support—including the Standard Template Library (STL) framework and support for C++ templates. It also includes Borland’s entire Runtime Library (RTL).

Although Borland C++ 5.5.1 dates back to 2000, this product is still useful; I have used this product to create various Win32 projects, including the screensavers library. If you’ve never worked with Borland C++ 5.5.1, this section will get you started.

Download, Install, and Configure Borland C++ 5.5.1

Point your Web browser at Borland’s Website and select the 8.7 Mb Compiler entry in the Downloads table on the resulting Web page. You will be prompted to enter your login information (your name or email address, and a password) and click the Login button to log into Borland’s Website. Because you probably will be a new user, click the New User button to set up a free account, and then log in. After successful login, follow the Website’s instructions to download the Borland C++ 5.5.1 installer program.

Assuming a successful download, start running the installer and follow its directions. Although the installer defaults to installing Borland C++ 5.5.1 into the c:\borland\BCC55 directory, you can choose a different directory if desired.

The installation directory contains Bin, Examples, Help, Include, and Lib directories. The Bin directory contains compiler and other command-line tools; Examples contains examples that illustrate different portions of the STL; Help contains a single help file that offers help on the various command-line tools; Include contains header files for the RTL, STL, and Windows SDK; and Lib contains all static and import library files—and the startup code modules.

After the installer completes, add Bin to your PATH environment variable, so that you can run the command-line tools from anywhere on your hard drive. For example, assuming that Borland C++ 5.5.1 has been installed into its default installation directory, set path=c:\borland\bcc55\bin;%path% makes those tools widely available. Case is not significant.

Command-Line Environment

Borland C++ 5.5.1’s tools are executed at the command line. Figure 1 reveals bcc32.exe (which contains the compiler technology) being executed, along with that tool’s output.

Figure 1

Figure 1 Borland C++ 5.5.1 command-line syntax and options

The output presents a variety of command-line options that control the operation of bcc32.exe. For example, the -P option forces C++ compilation.

The presence of -P suggests two compilation choices: C or C++. By default, a source file’s extension determines the compilation. C compilation occurs if the extension is .c. But if the extension is .cpp, C++ compilation takes place. Use the -P option to guarantee that C++ compilation occurs, no matter the extension.

When it comes to creating screensavers, you probably won’t use the -P option. Rather, you’ll use -I and -L to choose the directories to include in the compilation (these are the directories that contain the header files), and to choose the directories that contain those libraries and object files necessary for linking.

A First EXE

It’s easy to create programs with bcc32.exe. For example, let’s create a simple program that outputs the current time and date, adjusted for local time zone and daylight savings time. Listing 1 presents this program’s C source code.

Listing 1 now.c

// now.c

#include <stdio.h>
#include <time.h>

void main (void)
  time_t seconds;
  struct tm *tstruct;

  // Return the number of seconds that have elapsed since 00:00:00 GMT,
  // January 1, 1970.

  seconds = time (NULL);

  // Convert from seconds to a structure. Correct for time zone and daylight
  // savings time.

  tstruct = localtime (&seconds);

  // Output the structure’s contents in human-readable format.

  printf ("Local time is: %s", asctime (tstruct));

Invoke the following command line (where the current directory will be assumed to be c:\borland\BCC55) to compile now.c and create a now.exe program:

bcc32 -Iinclude -Llib now.c

The -I option specifies include as the directory that contains the stdio.h and time.h header files. The -L option specifies lib as the directory that contains library and startup code module files.

Assuming that there are no error messages, you should find a now.exe file in the current directory. (You will also notice now.obj and now.tds files—ignore them.) Run now.exe, and you should observe the current time and date based on your time zone and daylight savings time.

From Console Mode to GUI Mode

The bcc32.exe tool created now.exe as a console-mode PE program. This format is appropriate for programs that have a main() function, obtain their input from the standard input device, and send their output to the standard output device. It is not appropriate for programs (including the screensavers library) that have a WinMain() function, create windows, and contain message loops. Instead, you must create such as program as a GUI-mode PE program. For example, let’s create a simple GUI-mode program that outputs a message in a message box. Listing 2 presents this program’s C source code.

Listing 2 hellowin.c

// hellowin.c

// Hello, from Windows.

#include <windows.h>

// ==========================================================================
// int WINAPI WinMain (HINSTANCE hinstance, HINSTANCE hinstancePrev,
//           LPSTR lpszCmdLine, int iCmdShow)
// Program entry point.
// Arguments:
// hinstance   - program’s instance handle (which uniquely identifies the
//         program when running under Windows)
// hinstancePrev - obsolete (leftover from Windows 3.1)
// lpszCmdLine  - address of \0-terminated string that contains command-line
//         parameters (not used in this program)
// iCmdShow   - number that indicates how the window is to be initially
//         displayed (not used in this program)
// Return    - WM_QUIT message’s wParam value (0, in this simple program)
// ==========================================================================

#pragma argsused
int WINAPI WinMain (HINSTANCE hinstance, HINSTANCE hinstancePrev,
          LPSTR lpszCmdLine, int iCmdShow)
  MessageBox (HWND_DESKTOP, "Welcome to Windows!", "HelloWin",

  return 0;

Invoke the following command line to compile hellowin.c and build hellowin.exe:

bcc32 -tW -Iinclude -Llib hellowin.c

The -tW option indicates that the source code contains a WinMain() function and that a GUI-mode program is to be created.

If all goes well, you should find a hellowin.exe file in the current directory. Run that program. A message box appears with a welcome message.

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020