May 97 URLs
Volume Number: 13 (1997)
Issue Number: 5
Column Tag: Uniform Resource Locators
The NeXT Big Thing
by Nicholas C. "nick.c" DeMello
The NeXT Big Thing
Questions about the NeXT/Apple merger, and where to find the answers - Online.
Why? - The Technologies NeXT is Bringing to the Mac
So, why did Apple choose NeXT? It's no secret that Apple was shopping for new OS technologies. At a minimum, Apple wanted to incorporate preemptive multitasking, protected memory, and symmetric multiprocessing into their new operating system - Rhapsody. All of these features exist in the Mach microkernel (developed at Carnegie Mellon University and then refined by NeXT) and the NeXT OPENSTEP API built on it. Apple's plans for Rhapsody involve a complete implementation of the current MacOS runtime environment (called the Blue Box), as well as a parallel implementation of an OPENSTEP based API (the Yellow Box), both built upon the Mach microkernel. This architecture is outlined on Apple's Rhapsody web site and will allow for compatibility with current software, without relying on emulation. It will also allow the Yellow Box to develop to it's fullest, without being held back by having to maintain compatibility with old system technologies.
However, NeXT brought more than the minimum to the table. Beyond the Mach kernel, and the OPENSTEP based API for interacting with it, NeXT also brought along WebObjects. WebObjects are prebuilt application modules with development tools for combining those objects into custom applications to manage dynamic web based applications. Beyond simple HTML forms, WebObjects allows programmers to develop powerful database frontends and applications. The overview of WebObjects on NeXT's website reminds us that the first world wide web client and server was created using the NeXT technology which evolved into WebObjects - the technology is not only powerful, it's proven with over 10 years of development.
Rhapsody, a Breakdown of the Components of the New OS
Rhapsody, PDF White Paper
How? - Tools for the NeXT Generation
Rhapsody's native language will be Objective-C. In the online MacOS and NeXT technologies FAQ, Apple assures us that they intend to allow developers to create applications for Rhapsody in Java, C, C++, and Pascal - but also mentions that there will be advantages to developing in Objective-C.
Those of us not familiar with Objective-C will want to check out the Objective-C world wide web pages, maintained by Steve Dekorte. These pages provide an overview of Objective-C, comments on it's history, listings of reference information, language comparisons, and links to other Objective-C pages. Also, NeXT hosts a series of web pages discussing OOP programming with Objective-C which cover the Objective-C language, extensions, run-time, and an overview of OOP principles. This site also supplies a reference manual and an Objective-C summary.
However, knowing Objective-C won't do us much good without compilers. Metrowerks has accepted that challenge, announcing that they expect to develop an Objective-C compiler for CodeWarrior and develop Objective-C runtime support in their C++ compilers by the 1997 Apple World Wide Developers Conference. According to the Metrowerks web site, they also expect to be able to port CodeWarrior compilers and linkers to Rhapsody's Yellow Box simultaneous with the release of the new OS, getting a developers release of the new tools to developers at MacWorld San Francisco 1998.
MacOS and NeXT Technologies FAQ
The Objective C World Wide Web Pages
Object Oriented Programming and the Objective C Language
C Net Article, Metrowerks to Build Rhapsody Tools
Metrowerks to Include Rhapsody Tools in Regular CW Subscriptions