5.0117 On NeXT (1/44)

Elaine Brennan & Allen Renear (EDITORS@BROWNVM.BITNET)
Tue, 4 Jun 91 17:01:53 EDT

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 5, No. 0117. Tuesday, 4 Jun 1991.

Date: Fri, 24 May 1991 09:03:45 cdt
From: "John Baima" <john@utafll.uta.edu>
Subject: Last NeXT

I'd like to try to make my statements about the NeXT at little more
clear since Richard Goerwitz and I are grappling with a different parts
of the elephant. When Richard was attempting to defend the NeXT, one
point is whether or not the programming environment is idiosyncratic.
Yes, of course, it has GNU GCC and G++. Yes, of course, you can compile
and run character based programs. So? That is not what I was talking
about when I was comparing the NeXT Step environment to Motif. Most all
new commercial development is now done for a GUI (X is not a really a
GUI, btw). As I tried to communicate, the defacto standard in the UNIX
world is Motif. Second place would be Open Look. Way down the line is
NeXT Step. I'm not saying it *should* be, just that it *is*. When a
commercial developer looks at the current UNIX situation, a Motif
program will be able to run on over 90% of the UNIX boxes. NeXT Step?
Maybe 2%.

The lifeblood of a computer is general purpose application software. Yes
there are lots of financial programs in COBOL. Yes there are lots of
scientific programs in FORTRAN. However, for new, general purpose UNIX
application programs, C is far and away the most common language
and people are moving to C++ at great speed. The race between C++ and
Objective C is not even close. It is over. Will people use C++ on the
NeXT to develop commercial NeXT Step applications? (I really don't know
the answer to this.)

For new applications, the portion of the code devoted to the GUI is
very substantial. Some, like Frame and WordPerfect, will port to just
about anything. However, many will not. Most do not have the extra
money. Changing a program from Motif to NeXT Step is nontrivial. And if
you develop a NeXT Step program, how easy will it be to share it with
the rest of the UNIX world?

The point of all this, and the reason I am bothering to reply, is that
I see the NeXT as a prime candidate to be an orphan. I have used and
programmed for more than one system that was truly superior, but for
some reason or another failed to attract new software developers. They
are all orphans. Maybe that won't happen with the NeXT, who knows? But
don't be surprised if does. NeXT looks like a good deal, but I would
not risk my money on it.

John Baima                        Telephone: 1-214-709-6364
Silver Mountain Software
email: silver@utafll.uta.edu  or  D024JKB@UTARLG.BITNET