TweetFollow Us on Twitter

January 92 - Postcard from Windows Land - Is Windows object-oriented?

Postcard from Windows Land - Is Windows object-oriented?

James Plamondon

When the Microsoft gang started writing Windows back in the mid-eighties, they were all excited about object programming. They, like Apple, toured Xerox PARC and saw what Xerox was doing with bit-mapped displays, windows, mice, and so on. Microsoft, like Apple, thought this stuff was going to be the wave of the future-so they went home and started working on a cool object-oriented operating system.

Then reality hit. Their target platform, the standard IBM PC of their day, was totally unable to handle the strain of a truly object-oriented system. So, like Apple, Microsoft compromised, and wrote a procedural operating system with an object-oriented flavor.

For whatever reason, however, Windows was unsuccessful throughout its development-until around the time Microsoft's OS/2 deal with IBM fell through-whereas the Mac OS was the star at Apple from soon after its inception. So the Windows operating system is only now beginning to flower, as the Mac OS did about four years ago.

What's amazing to me is how fast Windows is moving. Whereas Apple took ages to bring out System 7, Microsoft is bringing out Windows 3.1 just 18 months (roughly) after 3.0 hit the shelves. And Windows 3.1 should really be called Windows 4; it is a really big improvement over Windows 3.0 (which has sold over five million copies in the last year, so it's no slouch, either).

But is Windows object-oriented? Absolutely not-if, by "object-oriented," you mean written in an object programming language. Given Windows' origins and history, it couldn't be. Smalltalk and Simula were the only decent object programming languages available at the product's inception, and neither would give adequate performance on their target system. So Microsoft did the best it could under the restraints it was under at the time. And in at least one way, Microsoft did a better job than Apple.

Windows, true to its name, has a real windowing system; the Mac does not. This should come as no surprise to MacApp programmers; one of the most important benefits MacApp provides to Mac programmers is-you guessed it-a windowing system, in the form of MacApp views. [A Windows "window" is equivalent to a MacApp "view;" a MacApp "window" is equivalent to a Windows "frame window."] It is considerably easier to write an application framework for Windows than for the Mac, because a Windows framework could use the native windowing system. Zillions of lines of code could be saved.

On the Mac, when you create a window, you get a pointer to a data structure. This data structure is completely dumb. There's no way to call its methods or send it messages. In Windows, on the other hand, one can define a window class, and associate with this class a number of attributes and-importantly-a window procedure (WinProc). When you create a window, you must specify the class of the window. The window reference you get back is a unique window identifier, but it's completely "blind." You can't use it as a pointer to get at its data directly. Instead, you have to "send the window a message" to act on it.

"Sending the window a message" works just like "sending a message" to a Mac CDEF, WDEF, or other code resource. You call a procedure with an integer argument that indicates which message you're sending, and a couple of other arguments that can hold additional data. (Before you snort in disdain at the notion of using integral message discriminators, think about MacApp's use of command numbers in TEvtHandler.DoMenuCommand().)

So, Windows does a better job of data abstraction and encapsulation, at least with regard to window data structures. But is this abstraction and encapsulation enough to make it object-oriented?

Well, maybe not-but there's more. Having defined a window class, one can "subclass" the window class. Now, before you get all excited, let me admit that it's not "real" subclassing, using the definition used by object programming languages. But it's not a bad simulation.

Let's say you want to write a variation of the standard Windows "edit" control-to validate its entries as dates, perhaps. You would need to get a copy of the "edit" class' class info (by calling GetClassInfo()), and modify the resulting copy to use your new class name ("edit_date"). Also, you would save off the class info's pointer to the "edit" class' WinProc, and store the "edit_date" class' WinProc pointer in its place (in the copy). Then, you would call RegisterClass() to tell Windows that the window class existed.

Having done this, you can then create a window of class "edit_date" by telling Windows to do so. It will respond by handing you back a unique window identifier. From then on, both Windows and your application will interact with the window by sending it messages. Messages are sent to the window by calling the Windows function SendMessage() with the window ID as the first argument, or by calling other Windows functions that eventually call SendMessage().

SendMessage()'s prototype is roughly as follows:

long SendMessage(HWND hWnd, short wMsg, short wParam, long lParam);

[This prototype has been simplified for ease of understanding by the MacApp audience. The correct prototype is "LONG FAR PASCAL MyWinProc(HWND hWnd, WORD wMsg, WORD wParam, LONG lParam)."]

"hWnd" is the unique window ID. When SendMessage() is called on a given window, the window's WinProc is called. The WinProc's prototype is almost the same as that of SendMessage(); calling SendMessage() can be viewed as a polymorphic call to a window's message procedure.

The WinProc typically contains a huge switch statement (in Pascal, case statement) that forwards the message to the appropriate message handler (much like TApplication.DispatchEvent()). And, since you carefully saved off the standard Windows "edit" window class' WinProc pointer before calling RegisterClass(), you can call it from within your "edit_date" window class' WinProc-much like calling the inherited implementation of a method in an OOP language. It ain't pretty, but it works.

So, maybe Windows is object-oriented, and maybe it's not. Maybe, as a friend of mine said recently, object-orientation is not a binary, yes-or-no quality, but rather a continuum. If so, then Windows is certainly "more object-oriented" than the Mac OS, while being "less object-oriented" than MacApp.

The answer to the question may be irrelevant. It is relevant, though, that your MacApp experience will put you way ahead of the game in Windows programming. MacApp software development tools are on the cutting edge, while those for Windows are still blunt instruments, suitable only for beating code into submission.

But the bottom line remains the same: Windows is selling at an incredible rate, and will be a significant force in the microcomputer industry for years to come. By learning to program in Windows, you will be assuring your financial security for at least the next decade.

As the old saying goes, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King; and with Windows selling at an incredible rate, the Land of the Blind is expanding rapidly. We MacAppers know how to wring the most out of an even vaguely-object-oriented system; you can see the opportunity this presents to us, even with one eye shut.

 
AAPL
$101.06
Apple Inc.
+0.10
MSFT
$47.06
Microsoft Corpora
-0.46
GOOG
$587.37
Google Inc.
-8.71

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Monosnap 2.2.2 - Versatile screenshot ut...
Monosnap allows you to save screenshots easily, conveniently, and quickly, sharing them with friends and colleagues at once. It's the ideal choice for anyone who is looking for a smart and fast... Read more
Tunnelblick 3.4beta36 - GUI for OpenVPN...
Tunnelblick is a free, open source graphic user interface for OpenVPN on OS X. It provides easy control of OpenVPN client and/or server connections. It comes as a ready-to-use application with all... Read more
SoftRAID 5.0.4 - High-quality RAID manag...
SoftRAID allows you to create and manage disk arrays to increase performance and reliability. SoftRAID's intuitive interface and powerful feature set makes this utility a must have for any Mac OS X... Read more
Audio Hijack Pro 2.11.3 - Record and enh...
Audio Hijack Pro drastically changes the way you use audio on your computer, giving you the freedom to listen to audio when you want and how you want. Record and enhance any audio with Audio Hijack... Read more
Airfoil 4.8.9 - Send audio from any app...
Airfoil allows you to send any audio to AirPort Express units, Apple TVs, and even other Macs and PCs, all in sync! It's your audio - everywhere. With Airfoil you can take audio from any... Read more
WhatRoute 1.13.0 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the... Read more
Chromium 37.0.2062.122 - Fast and stable...
Chromium is an open-source browser project that aims to build a safer, faster, and more stable way for all Internet users to experience the web. FreeSMUG-Free OpenSource Mac User Group build is... Read more
Attachment Tamer 3.1.14b9 - Take control...
Attachment Tamer gives you control over attachment handling in Apple Mail. It fixes the most annoying Apple Mail flaws, ensures compatibility with other email software, and allows you to set up how... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.0 - Find and del...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

This Week at 148Apps: September 15-19, 2...
Expert App Reviewers   So little time and so very many apps. What’s a poor iPhone/iPad lover to do? Fortunately, 148Apps is here to give you the rundown on the latest and greatest releases. And we even have a tremendous back catalog of reviews; just... | Read more »
Kitty Powers’ Matchmaker – Tips, Tricks,...
Hey There, Kittens: | Read more »
Goblin Sword Review
Goblin Sword Review By Andrew Fisher on September 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: RETRO GOODNESSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fun visuals, good music, engaging level design, and lots of content make Goblin Sword an... | Read more »
Major New Update for CSR Racing Adds Fer...
Major New Update for CSR Racing Adds Ferrari and Multiplaye​r Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Veditor Review
Veditor Review By Jennifer Allen on September 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: :: PIMP YOUR VIDEOUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Want to add stickers and music to your videos? Veditor can do that easily.   | Read more »
1849′s Nevada Silver DLC is Still Search...
A few months ago, I took a look at 1849 from SomaSim. This Gold Rush-themed city builder for iPad had a fair bit going for it, but lacked in a few crucial areas to make it a true stand-out on the App Store. SomaSim has since added in a sandbox mode... | Read more »
Fruit Ninja Will be Reborn With a Massiv...
Fruit Ninja Will be Reborn With a Massive Update and Origins Animation Series Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 22nd, 2014 [ permalink ] Halfbrick Studios is rebuilding | Read more »
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings Review
Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings Review By Amy Solomon on September 22nd, 2014 Our Rating: iPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings includes activities that allow young children explore different... | Read more »
CloudMagic Updated for iOS 8 – Adds Inte...
CloudMagic Updated for iOS 8 – Adds Interactive Notifications, Share Extension, and More Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 22nd, 2014 [ | Read more »
Starbase Annex (Games)
Starbase Annex 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: "it’s really very clever... a little bit of Hearthstone and a dash of Eclipse" - PocketTactics.com From the creator of Starbase... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple restocks some refurbished 2014 MacBook...
The Apple Store has restocked some Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 MacBook Airs, with prices starting at $769. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free. These... Read more
13-inch 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $949, s...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $949.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $50 off MSRP. B&H will also include free copies of... Read more
Apple offering free $25 iTunes Gift Card with...
The Apple Store is offering a free $25 iTunes Gift Card with the purchase of a $99 Apple TV for a limited time. Shipping is free. Read more
Apple refurbished iPod touch available for up...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 5th generation iPod touches available starting at $149. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Most colors are... Read more
iFixIt Tears Down iPhone 6; Awards Respectabl...
iFixit notes that even the smaller 4.7″ iPhone 6 is a giant among iPhones; so big that Apple couldn’t fit it into the familiar iPhone form factor. In a welcome reversal of a recent trend to more or... Read more
Phone 6 Guide – Tips Book For Both iPhone 6...
iOS Guides has announced its latest eBook: iPhone 6 Guide. Brought to you by the expert team at iOS Guides, and written by best-selling technology author Tom Rudderham, iPhone 6 Guide is packed with... Read more
How to Upgrade iPhone iPad to iOS 8 without D...
PhoneClean, a iPhone cleaner utility offered by iMobie Inc., reveals a solution for upgrading iPhone and iPad to iOS 8 without deleting photos, apps, the new U2 album or anything. Thanks to more than... Read more
Inpaint 6 – Photo Retouching Tool Gets Faster...
TeoreX has announced Inpaint 6, a simple retouching tool for end users that helps remove scratches, watermarks, and timestamps as well as more complex objects like strangers, unwanted elements and... Read more
Worldwide PC Monitor Market Sees Growth in To...
Worldwide PC monitor shipments totaled 32.5 million units in the second quarter of 2014 (2Q14), a year-over-year decline of -2.9%, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide... Read more
Updated Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
…customers purchase our products, you're the one who helps them get more out of their new Apple technology. Your day in the Apple Store is filled with a range of Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** At the Apple Store, you connect business professionals and entrepreneurs with the tools they need in order to put Apple solutions to work in their Read more
Position Opening at *Apple* - Apple (United...
**Job Summary** The Apple Store is a retail environment like no other - uniquely focused on delivering amazing customer experiences. As an Expert, you introduce people Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.