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March 14, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

While much of the market is still waiting to see what emerges from the Great Unix User Interface Debate (CI No 885) a few manufacturers have already staked out their strategy. One, of course, is DEC, whose commitment to X for Ultrix is only part of the broader DECwindows programme. Another is Hewlett-Packard, which recently said it would be porting its NewWave environment to Unix and already has a plan in place to integrate it with X Window. Hewlett already has a history of involvement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology product, having developed an X toolkit that has been put in the public domain. Despite the fact that it is therefore free for all, Hewlett has nevertheless been approached by several vendors about licensing the software, according to its X Window Programme Coordinator Ed Lee; the advantage of licensing is that vendors would get a supported product. In its current form, NewWave exists on top of MS Windows on MS-DOS machines and is seen by Hewlett as the basis for an office software environment. It adds features such as an iconic representation of files and agents – that be used to capture frequently used sequences of commands or actions such as merging data into reports, and perform those sequences at predetermined times. Hewlett’s plans include implementing NewWave on X, moving the resulting combination to Unix – and the intention is also to provide OS/2 Presentation Manager compatibility for the Unix product. Among the advantages will be both that a common look-and-feel will be provided across all Hewlett-Packard systems (the company is also examining the possibility of moving the technology to the HP3000), and that the networking inherent in X will be added to NewWave applications. We would like to add the networking transparency of X, said Lee. One of the biggest problems, providing compatibility with Presentation Manager, is also something that the rest of the industry has to deal with. Since the look of NewWave is itself based on Windows/Presentation Manager, the company will likely use X to implement the appearance of Presentation Manager under Unix. But because NewWave exists basically as a Presentation Manager application, the company’s porting job would be eased considerably if the Presentation programming interface could also be implemented on top of X. The company hopes to do this with the co-operation of Microsoft, according to Lee. In the near term, the company is hoping to implement X under MS-DOS this summer, to be followed by an implementation of the NewWave Object Management Facility. Subsequently, X Window will appear under OS/2. After that, the look and feel of Presentation Manager is planned for Unix, and that will be followed by the hoped-for Applications Programming Interface.

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