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Christopher Browne

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1. GNUStep - A Route Somewhat More Likely to Succeed

1. GNUStep - A Route Somewhat More Likely to Succeed

The GNUStep system is taking a rather more cooperative "crosshosting" approach. There are numerous GNUStep applications that work and that are reasonably useful atop X.

The ultimate target was for them eventually to be displayed using the GNUStep GUI X/DPS Backend, which will be based on the "Display GhostScript" package being written by Aladdin Software. As "DGS" has not been readily available, the GNUStep system has allowed the use of native X, with Cairo as the "hopefully preferable" target.

This provides a migration path where the environment can evolve non-destructively around the applications as we might move from:

In fact, Display Postscript has been effectively obsolesced in favor of Cairo and XRender.

A similar migration could be done for Tk-based applications, Qt applications, and GTk , albeit with somewhat greater difficulty, as these graphics systems were not explicitly designed with an abstract model such as Display PostScript as ultimate target "platforms." It is more likely that applications written for them include X-specific dependencies.

1.1. A bit of "ranting" about NeXTstep


(A very little bit of ranting.)

One of the great "losses" in modern computing has been the rise and (arguably) fall of the NeXTstep system. (Although since most of it, with the exception of DPS, returned to become the Mac OS-X platform, there's a potent argument that it "rose again".) Some of its major features include:

  • The use of Objective C, a "truly" object-oriented language that joins together the strengths of Smalltalk and C,

  • The use of Display PostScript as the display "substrate," thereby providing truly "What You See Is What You Get" capabilities,

  • A graphical user interface powerful enough to be a "front end" to Unix,

  • A set of graphical development tools built to join the above components together so as to rapidly develop very powerful applications.

Probably the most famous application developed on NeXTstep was Lotus Improv.

See also Apple-NeXT - The Past History


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