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Volume Number:10
Issue Number:1
Column Tag:Editor's Page

The Editor's Page

The year of the PowerPC

By Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief

You already know that PowerPC is coming sometime in the first half of 1994. You already know that you will only see the speed enhancements if you port your applications to native PowerPC code. You know that there are tools to come. But, what you really want to know is more than these ambiguities - you want some hard core information. This issue is the first in a series that will work towards that goal.

This month we’ve brought you an article from Apple about how to port your code - the first in a series of articles called Powering Up. And, there will be more information coming from Apple as time goes on. Word has it that porting ranges from difficult to extremely easy. The bottom line is that if your code hasn’t broken the rules, if you haven’t made assumptions about the machine you are running on, and if you haven’t “taken advantage” of certain characteristics of the Macintosh to date, then your code will port very easily. But if you have done the above, then porting will be somewhat painful. Apple has done as good a job as can be expected of easing the port the rest is up to us.

In addition to the Powering Up article, we’ve brought you an early look at the first real development system for PowerPC - CodeWarrior™ CD from Metrowerks. This environment will be available to you the first week in January. If you are going to be at Macworld, Metrowerks will be a guest in our booth at the show (Booth 1222). They will be showing the new environment - come and check it out!

The remainder of this editorial will cover a number of tools that are coming. By no means is this an exhaustive list, but it does cover those companies that are producing tools specific to PowerPC development work.

SDK from Apple

Apple recently announced that it will offer a software developer’s kit (SDK) as a transitional development environment that will enable early adopters to bring applications to market sooner. The official name of this product is Macintosh on RISC SDK. Using the SDK, you’ll be able to develop native PowerPC applications using a 680x0-based Macintosh. MPW will be the foundation of the environment. The SDK will include: C and C++ cross compiler for PowerPC, PowerPC cross assembler, PowerPC cross linker, MacApp for the Macintosh on PowerPC, a remote source-level and machine-level debugger for Macintosh on PowerPC, interface files and libraries for Macintosh on PowerPC, tools and documentation to ease the transition to MPW for users of Symantec’s THINK C, additional tools and electronic documentation.

In addition to the SDK, Apple will be distributing Metrowerks CodeWarrior at Macworld. Finally, Apple will be providing more information on PowerPC at Macworld Expo’s “Developer Central”. If you will be at Macworld Expo, stop by.

The Symantec Environments

As you might expect from the market leader in Macintosh development, Symantec will be providing native solutions for PowerPC. As you may remember, Apple and Symantec made an announcement about this last May. They are working together to take THINK Technology and MPW features, put them together and create the “Next Generation” environments. Symantec’s plans include maintaining a strong 680x0 environment while providing solutions for PowerPC. You should expect to see PowerPC hosted and cross development environments sometime in 1994.

Symantec will also be working to make the transition easier. They will be providing class libraries that run on both platforms and migration will be assisted. Their compilers will be based on the same front end on both platforms. As time goes on, look for more details from Symantec.

CodeWarrior CD from Metrowerks

Word has it that this new entry to the market is quite impressive. If you have frustrations with your current environment or need PowerPC tools now, check this product out. See the product review in this issue for more details. [Metrowerks will not be selling the product directly. Through a special agreement we’ve arranged it so that you can get the new environment very easily. See the MacTech Magazine Mail Order Store section at the end of this issue for more information.]

FlashPort from Echo Logic

Early on in announcements for PowerPC, Apple presented Echo Logic’s FlashPort as a porting option. FlashPort can translate object code of any application written in assembly, any procedural language, or a combination. FlashPort’s user interface debugger shows strong resemblance to a interactive debugger. Code originally written in a high-level language can usually be translated in a matter of days. Code written in assembly generally requires more human intervention, but can still be done in a few weeks.

FlashPort can optionally generate PowerPC Macintosh assembly source or executable files. Translated code retains symbolic debugging information. FlashPort is particularly useful for those companies that need to translate quickly or have assembly sources that need to be moved to PowerPC. The product pays for itself by saving time for developer’s needing to port to PowerPC.

Jasik’s Debugger from Jasik Designs

What would Macintosh programming be without Steve Jasik’s debugger? That’s the question many of you have asked. Don’t worry, as Steve celebrates his 9th anniversary on the Macintosh (almost as long as this magazine), he’s already working on the PowerPC version of The Debugger. Initially, Jasik will ship products that run in emulation mode allowing you to see information for 68K and PowerPC. The Debugger runs at a reasonable speed in emulation.

Steve will be showing some parts of the product at January’s Macworld Expo. By PowerPC introduction (the first half of 1994), The Debugger will be shipping. PowerPC aware updates to the rest of the debugger suite will be sent to registered users when available. Jasik’s disassembler has “training wheels” where it will help users with descriptions of the PowerPC mnemonics for disassembled code. Since Apple introduced the .SYM file format 5 years ago, Jasik has taken advantage it. There will be an equivalent on PowerPC supported by Metrowerks and MPW. Unfortunately, Symantec still has not announced support of this long-running standard.

SmalltalkAgents from QKS

For those of you Smalltalk fans, you haven’t been left out! QKS is planning to release a PowerPC version of SmalltalkAgents. This version will be identical to version 1.1 of SmalltalkAgents for Macintosh with the additional support for the Code Fragment Manager. The Macintosh version was designed with various RISC architectures in mind. SmalltalkAgents is a dynamic cross-platform development system and application delivery tool based on a superset of the Smalltalk language. It continues to include: a compiler, a debugger, source code browsers, class libraries, the complete application framework, a GUI Builder, and an Application Delivery Toolkit.

SmalltalkAgents for PowerPC will also support pre-emptive interrupt driven threads and events, fully styled source code with color and fonts, inline foreign function callbacks to C, Pascal, Fortran, and Assembly, 8/16/24-bit international character set, Unicode standard and WorldScript. One of the unique feature of SmalltalkAgents for PowerPC as well as for Macintosh is Platform Independent Portable Objects (PIPO), and Catch/Throw/Proceed Exception Handling. QKS is targeted to ship SmalltalkAgents PowerPC version 1.0 in 2nd Quarter of 1994.

What’s coming from Absoft

Absoft will be providing two software development tool kits: C/C++ and FORTRAN 77. To simplify portability between 68K and PowerPC Macintosh, and while awaiting the public acceptance on PowerPC development environments (Metrowerks, Symantec, et al), Absoft will be using MPW. Under emulation it works well, and since they are using it primarily as an editor, does not restrict performance.

Absoft’s Macintosh PowerPC compilers are based on their new third generation RISC code generator. Their first was in 1987 for Motorola's M88000, the second was for SPARC, new M88000 and RS/6000. This latest version of their code generator is designed for superscalar type architectures which yields good performance and the ability to take full advantage of future PowerPC revisions. This new PowerPC back-end is capable of supporting C, C++, F77 and our forthcoming (Cray/Absoft) F90 front ends.

The C/C++ compiler is completely native. It includes options for K&R and ANSI C as well as C++. The C++ compiler supports v3.0 features including multiple inheritances and templates as well as a full class browser and toolbox support. The FORTRAN77 compiler is also completely native. It is 100% source compatible with v3.3 MacFortran II (release date Jan. 94) and Absoft’s F77 for DOS, WinNT, Unixware, SCO, RS/6000 and SPARC. Functionality is effectively the same as the current 68K version. Absoft also plans to include Macintosh Runtime Window Environment (MRWE). There will be an improved version of Absoft’s Fx multi-language debugger currently available for a variety of platforms and OEM'd by companies like Motorola and NCR. Capable of debugging intermixed C, C++, F77 and assembler it provides full support for C++ including overloaded functions and name demangling. A complete Macintosh interface will be included as well as a graphical browser for navigating, viewing and editing C++ classes. Finally, Absoft has developed a new native PowerPC linker for the Macintosh PowerPC platform.

These products will be combined and offered as a F77 or C/C++ Developer Toolkit including MPW, native F77 or C/C++ compiler, linker and Fx debugger. Absoft’s PowerPC products will be available concurrent with Apple's initial shipments of Macintosh PowerPC.

What’s coming from Language Systems

Language Systems has recently reorganized and is moving to a larger facility. During the latter half of 1993, Language Systems has embarked on an aggressive engineering effort to broaden their development tool presence in the Macintosh market (as well as on other platforms). In addition to new Fortran products, development has focused on a new integrated programming environment and additional object-oriented languages. Look for Language Systems to make announcements with greater detail as to their efforts by the end of 1Q94.

As you would expect, Language Systems will be providing Fortran support for PowerPC. Their current plans include releasing a PowerPC version of Language Systems FORTRAN 3.3 which supports the FORTRAN77 with VAX extensions definition. This product will be available concurrently with Apple’s release of PowerPC. In addition, Language Systems will be releasing a Fortran 90 compliant version of their compiler for PowerPC Macintosh by mid-1994. With both setups, Language Systems’ customers will be able to run their Fortran programs at native PowerPC speeds.

CPX from Prograph Systems

As many of you know, Prograph Systems has come out with a new version of Prograph called Prograph CPX. From the beginning, CPX was intended as a new base to build on - it was designed to be a cross-platform development tool.

CPX is being ported to Windows and Unix. The first cross-platform product from Prograph will allow developers to develop on the Macintosh, generate C++ code from their efforts, and then compile that code with libraries on the target platform. Prograph is already demonstrating early versions of ported applications using this methodology.

The “full ports” of CPX will be available in Spring, 1994. Prograph’s porting to other platforms has been eased because they built the development environment on top of CPX. Look for PowerPC Macintosh Prograph products to be available at the introduction of Macintosh on PowerPC from Apple.

Object Master from ACI

Object Master Universal 2.1, which will be released in December, 1993, includes support for Apple's Cross Development Environment. Users will be able to use Object Master when compiling code for 68K-based machines as well as code for PowerPC. Moreover, Apple's Cross Development Environment is MPW-based - not something that THINK users are looking forward to. But, by using Object Master, THINK users will be able to take advantage of their favorite environment without having to get deeply involved with MPW.

Concurrent with the introduction of PowerPC Macintosh, ACI will have Object Master for PowerPC (running native). According to ACI, this product will support all compilers for the PowerPC. There will be one Object Master product for all platforms. During installation, the installer will detect which machine it is installing on and will install the appropriate code. Furthermore, users will be able to move Object Master from one architecture to another with no added costs.

But Neil I want to know more

Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough room here to give you contact information for all of these companies. Instead, if you’d like to find out more, contact our customer service department and they’ll be happy to give you contact information for each publisher.

Late breaking news - Heads Up on Bedrock!

As of this writing, Apple was re-examining their position with Bedrock. Word from Symantec is that they are still firmly behind Bedrock and that the relationship between Apple and Symantec remains strong. Symantec has said that both companies are “now investigating future directions for Bedrock, including basing the upper two layers of Bedrock on a compound document architecture, such as OpenDoc or OLE. Should there be any changes, Symantec and Apple will publically announce them at the appropriate time.”

An Apple spokesperson confirmed that “Apple is evaluating Bedrock in the light of OpenDoc.” They want to make sure that the framework they support will be one that developers use. Since Apple is strongly committed to OpenDoc, they want their framework to give developers a migration path to that technology. Stay tuned

We’re recycled!

For some time now, many of you have asked us to print the magazine on recycled paper. As you may already know, using recycled paper has been a difficult goal to reach because, to date, it has been cost and production problems. We are proud to announce that starting with this issue of MacTech Magazine, we are using recycled stock for the body of the magazine - at no additional cost to you. This paper has 50% recycled content including both pre- and post-consumer waste. This move, in conjunction with the Soy-based inks that we have used for some time, make this publication as environmentally sound as is possible in today’s world. We hope that you join us in our continuing efforts to reduce man’s impact on the environment. And remember, if you are going to write me on this [or any] subject, write me an e-mail instead of a letter - it’ll save paper.

Have a very happy New Year from all of us at MacTech Magazine.

Neil Ticktin, Editor-in-Chief


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