Please consider a donation to the Higher Intellect project. See or the Donate to Higher Intellect page for more info.

OpenStep and Solaris

From Higher Intellect Vintage Wiki

*****   OpenStep and Solaris:  A White Paper   *****

c. 1994 Sun Microsystems, Inc., NeXT Computer, Inc.

Table of Contents:

Introduction						1
The OpenStep Initiative					1
The Goal: A Standard For Distributed Object Computing	2
What Is OpenStep?					3
OpenStep Features 					5
OpenStep Benefits 					9
OpenStep and Solaris 					11
Summary 						15

OpenStep and Solaris


The SunSoft / NeXT collaboration combines the distributed computing
strengths of Solaris, including the system-wide object services 
provided by Project DOE, with NeXT's OpenStep, the industry leader 
in object-oriented applications development and end-user computing.
This white paper describes OpenStep's features and benefits and 
SunSoft's plans for incorporating OpenStep into Solaris.

---->The OpenStep Initiative

The primary goal of the OpenStep initiative is the creation of an 
open, high-volume portable standard for object-oriented computing. 
The benefit of this intended standard is to enable the rapid 
development of business applications, including distributed 
applications which fully exploit the power of client/server 
computing through the use of object technology.

Providing a rich object solution for client/server computing requires an open standard. This standard should include:

	A robust, scalable and reliable operating system foundation
	based on open systems standards;
	A common services architecture for distributed computing 
	based on objects;

	Integrated and complete object-oriented development tools 
	allowing the rapid creation of client/server applications;

	An object-oriented framework accessible to all applications 
	and developers; and

	An end-user environment built to exploit the ease of use and 
	integration provided by an object-oriented foundation.

The NeXT and SunSoft Partnership

NeXT and SunSoft have formed a partnership to make NeXT's OpenStep 
Application Programming Interface (API) the industry standard for 
object-oriented computing. 

By integrating NeXT's OpenStep API, SunSoft's Project DOE 
(Distributed Objects Environment) object system, and Solaris, 
SunSoft will provide customers with a complete solution that is 
compliant with the industry's first open systems standard for 
object-oriented computing.

The Goal: A Standard For Distributed Object Computing

The rapid development of distributed applications has been an 
elusive goal of corporate computing. Earlier attempts required the 
use of low-level networking protocols (such as Remote Procedure Call 
mechanisms), leaving the developer with the burden of focusing more 
on complex, low-level networking and systems management than on 
high-level business functionality. The network programming model 
also meant that implementation decisions had to be made at the time
the application was being designed, rendering the application hard 
to modify and less able to benefit from the power of client/server 

By allowing programmers to work at a high level of abstraction and 
to reuse code with ease, object-oriented programming is being viewed 
as the software equivalent of the industrial revolution, replacing 
today's costly hand-made business applications with applications 
which can be assembled out of reusable components.

The NeXT and SunSoft partnership will accelerate the adoption of object technology in two ways. First, NeXT and SunSoft are extending 
the industry's current focus on object-oriented languages to a 
broader focus on developing a standard, system-wide object 
architecture. This architecture will provide an object framework 
which integrates languages into a complete client/server operating 
system optimized for object-oriented computing. Much richer than a 
narrow object-oriented language layer, this object architecture will 
harness the power of networked objects to build distributed, 
client/server applications easily.
Second, no standard for object-oriented computing exists today. NeXT and SunSoft are working together to make the OpenStep APIs the first 
high-volume, open and portable industry standard. This is the 
overall goal of the OpenStep initiative, to provide the industry's 
first open systems standard for object computing.

-----> What Is OpenStep?

OpenStep is an Application Programming Interface (API), an interface 
to a set of functionality. One implementation of this functionality 
is the NEXTSTEP Application Environment. In terms of today's 
NEXTSTEP product, the OpenStep API corresponds to the operating 
system independent layers of NEXTSTEP. The OpenStep interface is 
based on the NEXTSTEP 3.2 APIs. Thus, successful implementations of 
the OpenStep API will provide the functionality and user experience 
similar to the current version of NEXTSTEP.

SunSoft is adopting the OpenStep API as its sole object standard. By 
integrating Solaris and OpenStep, SunSoft is ensuring that the 
functionality found today in the NEXTSTEP Application Environment is 
part of Solaris.

The formal OpenStep interface specification will be published by 
June 30, 1994 and will be available to all interested parties, 
enabling others to develop and market alternate implementations of 
the OpenStep standard. The OpenStep interfaces will be clearly 
documented and evangelized to promote the consistency and broad 
availability of the OpenStep standard on multiple platforms.

As an open, public standard, the OpenStep API will be administered 
by an independent standards body. Any organization whose 
implementation of the OpenStep API passes the OpenStep certification 
test suite may freely license the OpenStep name and trademark.

Towards an Open Systems Market for OpenStep Objects

The integration of the OpenStep API into industry-standard operating 
systems enables vendors to bridge the gap between operating system 
and application functionality. 

By adhering to standards such as the Object Management Group's (OMG) 
CORBA (Common Object Request Broker Architecture) and extending the 
benefits of object orientation to distributed computing, the 
commercial customer will realize many benefits. Chief among them 
will be the growth of a broad market for objects, a market not 
dominated by a single supplier.

The ability to obtain a wide variety of commercially available 
software objects and incorporate them into a development environment 
dramatically improves the creation of robust enterprise-ready 
applications. This is one key promise of the OpenStep initiative. 
Achieving this goal will require not only the best technology in the 
industry, but also the volume adoption that can be created through 
open systems.

NeXT and SunSoft are committed to creating an open environment where market forces greater than any single company can accelerate the availability of technology and solutions. Support for creating OpenStep-compatible objects and assistance in obtaining them will be provided by NeXT and SunSoft.

-----> OpenStep Features

Objects: The Basis of OpenStep

Objects are the foundation of the object-oriented OpenStep API. 
Objects are self-contained, reusable software modules containing 
data and associated behavior (methods). Objects help developers 
manage complexity because developers only need to understand what an 
object does (the messages it responds to)-not how the object "works" 
internally-to use an object developed by another party.

Object-orientation simplifies application development, makes team 
programming easier and maintenance simpler, and gives programmers a
more comprehensive view of an application's architecture. Most 
importantly, object orientation encourages code reuse, greatly 
reducing the costs associated with the software maintenance 

By integrating a powerful object framework into standard operating 
system environments, the commercial customer will realize unique 
benefits. These include greater ease of use for all applications, 
reusable third-party objects, improved developer productivity, and 
greater insurance that applications are portable, scalable and 
extensible. Business applications will evolve rapidly and gracefully 
reducing development costs.

The Goals of OpenStep

The development of OpenStep was guided by these principles:

	The industry needs an open object standard for enterprise 
	computing, bringing to object-orientation the broad market
	forces of the open systems movement;

	OpenStep applications should be portable across the full 
	range of OpenStep and NEXTSTEP platforms;

	Developers in the 1990's need an application development 
	architecture, not a collection of poorly integrated tools 
	that weren't designed to work together. The OpenStep API 
	defines a complete architecture ensuring that OpenStep- 
	compliant programming languages, windowing and graphics 
	systems, user interface toolkits, class libraries, database 
	tools, and project management tools will work together in 
	a tightly-coupled, integrated way;

	A development platform must provide a high level of 
	functionality that all developers can depend on 
	functionality common across applications. This frees 
	developers from writing code common to most applications 
	and requires them to write only the code which is unique 
	to their business application. The OpenStep API is 
	implemented using rich object frameworks providing the 
	core functionality required by most business applications;

	Interface creation should be the least labor-intensive part
	of development. Experimentation with the human factors 
	required to make an application easy to use should be 
	enabled by good GUI development tools. To make this possible 
	the OpenStep API is supported by a companion product 
	providing OpenStep application development tools whose 
	Interface Builder makes interface creation a breeze;

	A development environment should employ the same windowing 
	system and imaging model for screen and hardcopy output, and 
	all applications should support key multifont text and 
	graphics standards.

	A development environment should encourage programmers to 
	provide high-quality and consistent graphical user 
	interfaces that can be easily localized for different 
	foreign languages. By its separation of user interface files 
	from business logic, the OpenStep architecture fully 
	supports easy application localization.

	Custom applications should integrate commercial productivity 
	tools. OpenStep accomplishes this by using a single, uniform 
	object messaging interface between objects within and among 
	all applications, easily accessed by end-users through 
	consistent cross-application services and information 

	At a minimum, the object API should support multiple 
	languages. The OpenStep API will support applications 
	written in ANSI-C, Objective-C and C++.

	The environment should facilitate the development of 
	distributed applications to promote client/server 
	architectures and distributed computing. The burden of 
	networked applications development should be handled 
	transparently through use of distributed objects conforming 
	to a common model.

	Finally, the system should define a model for creating 
	objects that will enable independent authorship of a large 
	number of reusable software objects by third party
	developers - in much the same way that today's NEXTSTEP 
	developers are building reusable ObjectWare.

These are the goals of the OpenStep API, together with SunSoft's 
goals in providing NEXTSTEP Application Environment functionality 
for Solaris users, and the goals of companion products for Solaris 
users, including application development tools for OpenStep 

OpenStep Functionality

The OpenStep API defines a single uniform, portable object-oriented 

The cohesiveness of the system simplifies application development,
makes cooperation among programmers and applications easier, renders
maintenance simpler, and gives the developer a more comprehensive 
view of a program's architecture. A complete environment for 
object-oriented end-user computing, the OpenStep API is implemented 
using a number of object frameworks, including the NEXTSTEP 
Application Framework, frameworks providing access to relational 
databases and frameworks providing support for distributed computing 
using objects. The OpenStep API is supported by companion products, 
including application development tools for OpenStep. Each of these 
is described below.

NEXTSTEP Application Framework

The NEXTSTEP Application Framework is a set of approximately 150 
core objects which have been developed and refined over eight years 
and which have been shipping for more than five years. These objects 
provide the framework required by any application, and a powerful 
set of interface and supporting objects that provide advanced 
functionality well beyond the windowing toolkits found in other 
environments. In addition to standard interface elements such as 
scrollers, cursors, buttons, sliders, windows, and panels, the 
Application Framework includes high-level objects for such functions

	- Managing events
	- Cross-application services
	- Information hot-linking across applications
	- Imaging
	- Displaying TIFF and EPS images
	- Manipulating, editing and spell-checking multifont text
	- Selecting colors
	- Opening and saving files
	- Creating hierarchical information browsers
	- Device-independent printing and faxing (Group III and IV 

Nearly every object in the Application Framework is extensible. 
Developers can create subclasses of OpenStep's object classes, and 
even those not designed to allow subclassing often provide hooks for 
dynamically adding new components at run-time.

Frameworks for Accessing Relational Databases

Because of integrated support for relational databases, every 
OpenStep application can access and incorporate relational 
databases. Unlike traditional fourth-generation languages, using 
OpenStep there is no distinction between database applications and 
other OpenStep applications. All applications use the same 
development tools and access the same underlying facilities. Every 
OpenStep application can be a database application and every 
database application can exploit the other rich facilities of 
OpenStep such as cross-application services.

These frameworks radically shorten the time required to design and 
implement database applications that have graphical user interfaces 
(GUIs) and simplify management and control of database transactions 
within an application. These frameworks allow developers to design 
applications independently of the databases they will be used with.
The resulting applications can be migrated to a different database 
without modification, that is, without recoding the user interface 
or applications logic. These frameworks enable a single application 
to integrate information from multiple database vendors' products.

Distributed Object Framework
The OpenStep API is designed to support distributed object 
applications. The OpenStep object model is the same within 
applications, between applications residing on the same computer, 
and between processes running across enterprise networks. OpenStep's 
reliance on a distributed object model simplifies the development of
client/server applications by enabling OpenStep objects to reside
anywhere on a network of clients or servers. NeXT and SunSoft both
endorse the OMG CORBA standard for distributed object computing and 
will use CORBA to ensure interoperability across different OpenStep 
implementations. OpenStep's object distribution capabilities ensures 
that objects can interoperate across all OpenStep clients and 

Available today for distributed computing is NeXT's Distributed 
Object Framework, a component of the OpenStep API. Distributed 
applications based on this distributed object framework, including 
applications based on NeXT's PDO (Portable Distributed Objects) 
product for servers, will easily migrate to OpenStep 

Application Development Tools for OpenStep

An integrated set of application development tools will be available 
as a companion product for building OpenStep-compliant applications. 
These tools will include language support for applications written
in Objective-C, ANSI-C and C++. In addition, they will include 
visual programming tools such as Project Builder, for managing all 
of the files and resources in a given application; and Interface 
Builder, for managing all of the objects in an application.

Interface Builder is the primary tool for graphical interface 
development and management of an application's objects. Interface 
Builder improves programmer productivity with its complete 
environment for laying out, constructing, and testing user 
interfaces. It also provides powerful software engineering tools to 
incorporate, access, edit, and manage live objects, including 
off-the-shelf as well as customer developed objects. Interface 
Builder is:

	A complete object-oriented user interface development, 
	layout, prototyping, and testing tool;

	An object editor that manages the interactions between the 
	objects in a program. Using Interface Builder, programmers 
	define the messages objects may send each other, whether
	they are user interface objects or any other kinds of 

	A tool that encourages modularity because of the ease with 
	which a program can be split into separate modules;

	A class hierarchy manager for supplied classes and classes 
	of objects added by developers, and a tool for creating 
	subclasses of existing classes; and

	An object and palette manager, allowing palettes of custom 
	objects to be displayed and manipulated in the same way as 
	OpenStep supplied objects.

-----> OpenStep Benefits

Leverage Reusable Third-Party Objects

OpenStep's standard object interfaces combined with multi-vendor 
support for the base object framework will ensure that a wide 
variety of industry-specific and general purpose objects are 
developed, of the sort described in NeXT's ObjectWare Catalog. 
Developers will be able to rely on in-house objects as well as 
commercial objects to provide much of the functionality required, 
concentrating their efforts on deploying applications constructed 
of reusable, tested objects, resulting in higher overall software 
quality and faster time to completion.

Greater Functionality For Every Application

OpenStep's object frameworks provide the common functionality needed 
by most business applications-as much as 85% of common business 
functionality according to a study by Booz, Allen & Hamilton of 
the related NEXTSTEP product. OpenStep will raise the lowest common denominator, providing all programs with a greater level of 
consistency in behavior and basic functionality such as the ability 
to message other applications or fax information from within any 
application. OpenStep's rich application framework allows developers 
to focus the majority of their development energy on the unique, 
high value aspects of the application, leveraging the core 
functionality already provided by OpenStep. 


Applications written to OpenStep will be portable across the entire 
range of platforms supporting the OpenStep API, resulting in an open 
competitive space for platform vendors. Platforms supporting 
OpenStep applications will include native NEXTSTEP for Intel, SPARC 
and PA-RISC; and OpenStep-compliant Solaris running on SPARC, Intel 
and PowerPC processors; and other OpenStep-compliant products from 
other vendors.

A Volume Standard

A key benefit of the NeXT and SunSoft collaboration will be to make 
OpenStep a standard, evangelizing the industry-proven OpenStep APIs 
to as large an installed base as possible through volume shipment, 
attractive licensing, and open publication of the specifications by 
independent standards bodies. This will create a larger market for 
third party software solutions of all kinds.

Extensibility and Graceful Evolution

Because the public interfaces of objects are separate from their 
implementation, existing applications can extend their functionality 
by replacing older objects with newer versions, greatly reducing the 
maintenance and testing requirements which prove to be so expensive 
in non-object-based systems. In this way, applications can be 
extended easily and evolve to meet new business needs.

Scalability and Transportability

Given the OpenStep distributed object framework, objects can reside 
anywhere on the network, and a network object model ensures that 
objects hide the details of client/server and network-based

Underlying OpenStep will be SunSoft's OMG-standard DOE architecture 
which supports the full range of granularity, from fine to coarse 
grained objects. This scalability, combined with the distributed 
object capability to build networked applications easily and 
transparently supports the widest set of distributed architectures.
Complex network programming is no longer required, due to the 
powerful location transparent mechanisms which manage global naming,
location, and communication among objects.

Reduced Development Costs

Assembling new applications out of an inventory of in-house or 
third-party components greatly reduces the cost of new development. 
Moreover, once an object is developed and tested, it will not need 
to be tested again, since objects are fully independent modules 
which are not affected by changes to other objects. NEXTSTEP, the 
basis of OpenStep, is recognized for its ability to reduce 
development costs through rapid prototyping and object reuse, and 
enabling developers to work with real, live dynamic objects.

-----> OpenStep and Solaris

SunSoft and NeXT are bringing the best of object-oriented and 
distributed computing technology to Solaris. SunSoft's technology 
leadership has led to the adoption of core DOE technology in the 
Object Management Group's standards including CORBA (Common Object 
Request Broker Architecture) and COSS (Common Object Services 
Specification), of which SunSoft was the primary author.

OpenStep complements these system-wide services. NeXT has led the 
industry in developing object-oriented environments and developer 
tools. Users of NEXTSTEP have achieved dramatic productivity gains 
in developing high quality applications, shortening from years to 
months the time required to create sophisticated and easily 
maintained business solutions. The incorporation of NeXT's object 
technology into Solaris will result in the best distributed object 
system in the industry.

OpenStep and CDE

When SunSoft's OpenStep integration is complete, Solaris will 
include two application environments, CDE and the NEXTSTEP 
Applications Environment implementation of the OpenStep API. The 
CDE environment will ensure compatibility across multiple UNIX 
platforms. SunSoft is committed to support CDE as one of its 
primary standards.

For users and developers desiring to gain the benefits of object-
orientation such as rapid time to market for mission-critical 
software, Solaris will support the full NEXTSTEP user environment. 
To encourage standardization of object applications, SunSoft has 
chosen the NEXTSTEP Applications Environment, accessible via the 
OpenStep API as its object standard. 

SunSoft will ensure that CDE and OpenStep applications integrate 
and interoperate on a common desktop.

Object-oriented applications will be developed by writing to the 
OpenStep API. This API will provide consistent and high-level access 
to the features of the NEXTSTEP Applications Environment, the 
NEXTSTEP user interface and object environment, including NeXT's 
core object frameworks.

OpenStep and Project DOE

To further enable client/server applications for enterprise 
computing, the OpenStep API will be supported by a powerful 
distribution infrastructure, DOE, that allows objects to 
collaborate across the network. The DOE Object System includes 
a full range of distributed computing services based on the OMG 
CORBA specification for heterogeneous computing. The distributed 
object system will provide:

	Transparent distribution, via OMG CORBA technology, allowing 
	all objects to message all other objects, regardless of 
	location. This flexible capability supports client/server 
	and peer architectures, enabling software right-sizing;

	Multilingual interoperability, via OMG standard interface 
	definition language (IDL) mappings, allowing a client object 
	written in one language to access a server object written in 

	Scalability, provided via a distributed object architecture, 
	allowing systems to be constructed of any size, utilizing 
	any number of machines, all connected with via standard 
	mechanisms supported by over 350 companies through the OMG 
	standardization process; and

	Standardization, via adherence to industry standards, as 
	well as existing agreements with other major computer 
	vendors such as IBM and HP. Standardization provides 
	the ability for system level objects to be ported across 
	multiple platforms, as well as establishing a common object
	model for third party developers.

SunSoft will support the OpenStep API as an integral part of 
Project DOE's distributed object environment, leveraging Solaris
multithreading and multiprocessing capabilities.

Using OpenStep Within Solaris

Because the OpenStep interface specification is based on NEXTSTEP 
3.2, the OpenStep API is designed to ensure maximum portability, 
compatibility and consistency with native NEXTSTEP. And OpenStep 
will serve as the API for future releases of native NEXTSTEP itself.

Users will find using an application written to the OpenStep API 
identical to the experience of using a native NEXTSTEP application. 
In a similar fashion, programmers will use the OpenStep developer 
tools based on the existing NEXTSTEP Developer family of tools to 
build OpenStep applications. Developers will notice only minor 
changes from today's NEXTSTEP 3.2 API.

The experience of using or developing for OpenStep-compliant 
environments will be very similar to the experience of using or 
developing native NEXTSTEP applications. Thus, the best way for 
developers to begin developing OpenStep-compliant applications is 
to begin using the OpenStep Developer Starter Kit.

----> Summary

Through the OpenStep initiative, NeXT and SunSoft have defined an 
open systems standard for objects. OpenStep integrated into Solaris 
provides an enterprise-ready framework for distributed object 
computing. The solution offers software that has both a low learning 
curve and high software development productivity, combining the best 
of distributed and object-oriented computing.

OpenStep's integration into Solaris addresses many of the key 
problems in developing and using application software today -
reducing the cost of development and ownership, improving software 
quality, ensuring that all functionality is easy-to-use, improving 
interoperability, and providing a truly scalable, network-
transparent architecture for enterprise computing.


2550 Garcia Avenue, Mountain View, California 94043-1100 U.S.A.

NeXT Computer, Inc.
900 Chesapeake Drive, Redwood City, California 94063 U.S.A.

NEXTSTEP Release 3 Copyright 1988-1994 NeXT Computer, Inc. All rights reserved. [6453.00]

This product and related documentation are protected by copyright 
and distributed under licenses restricting its use, copying, 
distribution, and decompilation. No part of this product or related 
documentation may be reproduced in any form by any means without 
prior written authorization of NeXT, Sun and their licensors, if 

Portions of this product may be derived from the UNIX and Berkeley 
4.3 BSD systems, licensed from UNIX System Laboratories, Inc. 
and the University of California, respectively. Third-party font 
software in this product is protected by copyright and licensed from 
NeXT's Font Suppliers.
RESTRICTED RIGHTS LEGEND: Use, duplication, or disclosure by the 
United States Government is subject to the restrictions set forth 
in DFARS 252.227-7013 (c)(1)(ii) and FAR 52.227-19.

The product described in this publication may be protected by one 
or more U.S. patents, foreign patents, or pending applications.

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, SMCC, the SMCC logo, SunSoft, 
the SunSoft logo, Solaris, SunOS, OpenWindows, DeskSet, ONC, NFS, 
NetISAM, and ToolTalk are trademarks or registered trademarks of 
Sun Microsystems, Inc. NeXT, the NeXT logo, NEXTSTEP, the NEXTSTEP 
logo, OpenStep, NEXTSTEP Developer, ObjectWare, Portable Distributed 
Objects, and PDO are trademarks or registered trademarks of NeXT 
Computer, Inc. UNIX and OPEN LOOK are registered trademarks of UNIX 
System Laboratories, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Novell, Inc. 
All other product names mentioned herein are the trademarks or 
registered trademarks of their respective owners.

All SPARC trademarks, including the SCD Compliant Logo, are 
trademarks or registered trademarks of SPARC International, Inc. 
SPARCstation, SPARCserver, SPARCengine, SPARCworks, and SPARCompiler 
are licensed exclusively to Sun Microsystems, Inc. Products bearing 
SPARC trademarks are based upon an architecture developed by Sun 
Microsystems, Inc. 

The OPEN LOOK and Sun Graphical User Interfaces were developed by 
Sun Microsystems, Inc. for its users and licensees. Sun acknowledges 
the pioneering efforts of Xerox in researching and developing the 
concept of visual or graphical user interfaces for the computer 
industry. Sun holds a non-exclusive license from Xerox to the Xerox
Graphical User Interface, which license also covers Sun's licensees 
who implement OPEN LOOK GUIs and otherwise comply with Sun's written 
license agreements.

X Window System is a trademark and product of the Massachusetts 
Institute of Technology.