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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Microsoft Remote Desktop 8.0.19 - Connec...
With Microsoft Remote Desktop, you can connect to a remote PC and your work resources from almost anywhere. Experience the power of Windows with RemoteFX in a Remote Desktop client designed to help... Read more
OmniGraffle 6.3 - Create diagrams, flow...
OmniGraffle helps you draw beautiful diagrams, family trees, flow charts, org charts, layouts, and (mathematically speaking) any other directed or non-directed graphs. We've had people use Graffle to... Read more
PDFKey Pro 4.3.2 - Edit and print passwo...
PDFKey Pro can unlock PDF documents protected for printing and copying when you've forgotten your password. It can now also protect your PDF files with a password to prevent unauthorized access and/... Read more
Ableton Live 9.2.2 - Record music using...
Ableton Live lets you create and record music on your Mac. Use digital instruments, pre-recorded sounds, and sampled loops to arrange, produce, and perform your music like never before. Ableton Live... Read more
Macs Fan Control 1.3.1.0 - Monitor and c...
Macs Fan Control allows you to monitor and control almost any aspect of your computer's fans, with support for controlling fan speed, temperature sensors pane, menu-bar icon, and autostart with... Read more
NetShade 6.3.1 - Browse privately using...
NetShade is an anonymous proxy and VPN app+service for Mac. Unblock your Internet through NetShade's high-speed proxy and VPN servers spanning seven countries. NetShade masks your IP address as you... Read more
Dragon Dictate 4.0.7 - Premium voice-rec...
With Dragon Dictate speech recognition software, you can use your voice to create and edit text or interact with your favorite Mac applications. Far more than just speech-to-text, Dragon Dictate lets... Read more
Persecond 1.0.2 - Timelapse video made e...
Persecond is the easy, fun way to create a beautiful timelapse video. Import an image sequence from any camera, trim the length of your video, adjust the speed and playback direction, and you’re done... Read more
GIMP 2.8.14p2 - Powerful, free image edi...
GIMP is a multi-platform photo manipulation tool. GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is suitable for a variety of image manipulation tasks, including photo retouching,... Read more
Sandvox 2.10.2 - Easily build eye-catchi...
Sandvox is for Mac users who want to create a professional looking website quickly and easily. With Sandvox, you don't need to be a Web genius to build a stylish, feature-rich, standards-compliant... Read more

ReBoard: Revolutionary Keyboard (Utilit...
ReBoard: Revolutionary Keyboard 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Do everything within the keyboard without switching apps! If you are in WhatsApp, how do you schedule a... | Read more »
Tiny Empire (Games)
Tiny Empire 1.1.3 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.1.3 (iTunes) Description: Launch cannonballs and blow tiny orcs into thousands of pieces in this intuitive fantasy-themed puzzle shooter! Embark on an... | Read more »
Astropad Mini (Productivity)
Astropad Mini 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: *** 50% off introductory price! ​*** Get the high-end experience of a Wacom tablet at a fraction of the price with Astropad... | Read more »
Emo Chorus (Music)
Emo Chorus 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Realistic Choir simulator ranging from simple Chorus emulation to full ensemble Choir with 128 members. ### introductory offer... | Read more »
Forest Spirit (Games)
Forest Spirit 1.0.5 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.5 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Ski Safari 2 (Games)
Ski Safari 2 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The world's most fantastical, fun, family-friendly skiing game is back and better than ever! Play as Sven's sister Evana, share... | Read more »
Lara Croft GO (Games)
Lara Croft GO 1.0.47768 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.47768 (iTunes) Description: Lara Croft GO is a turn based puzzle-adventure set in a long-forgotten world. Explore the ruins of an ancient... | Read more »
Whispering Willows (Games)
Whispering Willows 1.23 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.23 (iTunes) Description: **LAUNCH SALE 50% OFF** - Whispering Willows is on sale for 50% off ($4.99) until September 9th. | Read more »
Calvino Noir (Games)
Calvino Noir 1.1 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: The film noir stealth game. Calvino Noir is the exploratory, sneaking adventure through the 1930s European criminal underworld.... | Read more »
Angel Sword (Games)
Angel Sword 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $6.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Prepare to adventure in the most epic full scale multiplayer 3D RPG for mobile! Experience amazing detailed graphics in full HD.... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple and Cisco Partner to Deliver Fast-Lane...
Apple and Cisco have announced a partnership to create a “fast lane” for iOS business users by optimizing Cisco networks for iOS devices and apps. The alliance integrates iPhone with Cisco enterprise... Read more
Apple offering refurbished 2015 13-inch Retin...
The Apple Store is offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pros for up to $270 (15%) off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and... Read more
Apple refurbished 2015 MacBook Airs available...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 11″ and 13″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 1.4GHz iMac: $999.99 $100 off - 21″ 2.7GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off - 21″ 2.9GHz iMac... Read more
5K iMacs on sale for up to $150 off MSRP, fre...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1899.99 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. They have the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149.99 $2199.99, $... Read more
1.4GHz Mac mini, refurbished, available for $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 1.4GHz Mac minis available for $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Their price is $80 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest... Read more
iPad Air 2 on sale for up to $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has iPad Air 2s on sale for up to $100 off MSRP on their online store for a limited time. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices available for online... Read more
MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP
Best Buy has MacBook Airs on sale for $100 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store prices may vary... Read more
Big Grips Lift Handle For iPad Air and iPad A...
KEM Ventures, Inc. which pioneered the extra-large, super-protective iPad case market with the introduction of Big Grips Frame and Stand in 2011, is launching Big Grips Lift featuring a new super-... Read more
Samsung Launches Galaxy Tab S2, Its Most Powe...
Samsung Electronics America, Inc. has announced the U.S. release of the Galaxy Tab S2, its thinnest, lightest, ultra-fast tablet. Blending form and function, elegant design and multitasking power,... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Evangelist - JAMF Software (United S...
The Apple Evangelist is responsible for building and cultivating strategic relationships with Apple 's small and mid-market business development field teams. This 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
*Apple* Desktop Analyst - KDS Staffing (Unit...
…field and consistent professional recruiting achievement. Job Description: Title: Apple Desktop AnalystPosition Type: Full-time PermanentLocation: White Plains, NYHot Read more
*Apple* Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC...
Title: Apple Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC) Location: United States-New York-New York-200 Park Ave (22005) Other Locations: United States-Virginia-Vienna-Towers Read more
*Apple* Systems Engineer (Mclean, VA and NYC...
…Assist in providing strategic direction and technical leadership within the Apple portfolio, including desktops, laptops, and printing environment. This person will Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.