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November 93 - OOPSLA '93 Report

OOPSLA '93 Report

Adam Wildavsky

At the end of September both MADA and I attended our first OOPSLA, the Conference on Object-Oriented Programming Systems, Languages, and Applications. ACM's SIGPLAN (Special Interest Group on Programming Languages) has presented OOPSLA annually since 1985.

I could call this year's conference uneventful, but that would betray the fact that I missed a lot; undoubtedly I did!

I visited only the MADA booth, the rest of the exhibit hall, and the MADA evening meeting; I did not participate in what I'm told is a generally excellent technical program, though one of varying quality. For several years I've found it worthwhile to join SIGPLAN solely for the purpose of receiving the OOPSLA proceedings.

The Show

It would be misleading to call OOPSLA a "MacWorld for Objects." Many of the exhibitors were offering consulting or training services, rather than products. The conference retains some of its traditional academic focus. One sign of this was the large number of Smalltalk-related products, though Smalltalk is, as ever, trying to capture a larger share of the business market.

C++ was the most prevalent language; no surprise there. There were plenty of alternatives though. I was treated to a personal demonstration of Mjolner's Beta, especially useful since I had been too lazy to read the FrameWorks articles about it. Beta had three features that impressed me:

  • An orthogonal abstraction mechanism
  • An unusual inheritance path: when a method is overridden, the parent method calls the child method; this is the opposite of what most of us are used to
  • A great code editor feature: one can collapse and expand sections of code. I'd like to see this become a standard feature of code editors; I hadn't seen it before.

Few products offered were available on the Mac. Beta, Booch Components, and Smalltalk Agents are familiar to FrameWorks readers. One product new to me was AR C++; it's a multi-platform (including MPW) preprocessor which produces C++ and aims to make a programmer's life easier.

The development environments and libraries (I don't recall seeing any frameworks) on other platforms seem to be improving, but they still have trouble matching the ease of use we've come to expect from Mac products. I didn't see anything to compare to the facile nature of Component Workshop, Object Master, Smalltalk Agents, or Think.

ArtinAppleS from Slovakia had a booth. They were selling consulting and development services. I don't recall whether they had a software product as well, but I was glad to see a company from Eastern Europe exhibiting!

The Booth

Steve Mann had resigned the Friday before the show and Tom Chavez volunteered to step in for him at the MADA booth. Thank you, Tom!

Our booth was well placed and seemed popular. I put in a stint on Wednesday. Once Tom showed me by example how to "work the crowd," I had little trouble finding people whose ears I could bend regarding MADA. Our task was perhaps easier than most because we were not trying to extract business cards from the showgoers. Many, though, had trouble figuring out what we were selling. We did a good business giving away an attractive "Best of FrameWorks" collection; the articles seemed carefully chosen so as not to betray our Macintosh roots.

Many members stopped by to say hello; some ended up helping at the booth as well. Especially helpful was Bo Klintberg who demonstrated an ability to become quite animated on a variety of topics.

The Meeting

MADA and WAMADA held a joint meeting Wednesday night. I've no doubt John MacVeigh will do his usual fine job reporting what transpired.

Next Time

I solicited several E-Mail addresses for the TriMADA and WAMADA e-mail mailing lists. I'd suggest that MADA set up a list of its own, if only to promote MADACON and meetings at various shows throughout the year. We are no longer restricting ourselves to MacApp, so MacApp3Tech$ will not suffice as a mailing list.

OOPSLA will be held in Portland, Oregon, next year. I certainly can't consider the conference indispensable, but I learned enough this year that I'm planning on going again. When I do, look for a report on the technical program!

Product and Organization Notes

AR C++ is available from AR Software at (800) 257-0073 or (301) 459–3773 ext. 412. The ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) membership line is (800) 342-6626 or (212) 626-0500. ArtinAppleS - Augustin Mrazik President - (+42 7) 362 889 - augustin@artinapples.sk
 
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