An efficient, integrated development environment for a dot matrix display system can permit software and hardware to be developed independently and simultaneously. Such a system can directly spawn a host of development tools that expedite the configuration of dot matrix display systems for many varied applications. A Dot Matrix Display Simulator provides a means for software debug as well as an end-product that can be used in lieu of physical display hardware. By developing systems that satisfy the criteria for application-independence (1)*, a development link can be established between the simulation tools and the physical hardware target. This results in a shorter display development cycle by enabling new features to be tested and added to the physical target with a minimum of difficulty.