There are two sides to every computer story. One
involves the people who use it, the other involves the people who program
Macintosh made computer history by revolutionizing the
user interface. But while users reaped tremendous benefits, the
programmers paid the price. From their point of view, that interface
symbolized not only progress, but hundreds of complex routines and serious
delays in software development.
The NeXT Computer System is unique in its planning, in
that it addresses the needs of both users and programmers. In fact, in
many instances, it actually begins to blue the distinction between the
We've created a radically different environment in which
software can be developed: NextStep. This new environment cuts development
time to a fraction of what it's been in the past, largely because it
allows much of a programmer's work to be done graphically.
In designing a program, for example, you would use an
extraordinary tool called Interface Builder. It provides you with a
palette of interface elements (windows, menus, buttons, etc.) that can
easily be arranged to make your program look just the way you want it to.
NextStep is a world of such "objects." Each is
pre-programmed for its own look and function, and ready to plug into new
applications. A programmer can use the objects that come with NextStep or
create brand-new objects. Existing objects can also be customized to fit
precisely into a programmer's vision.
Then, simply by connecting objects, new programs can be
created or existing ones customized - often with little new programming.
And often at the hand of someone who has never before been considered a
Objects exist conveniently in kits. The Application Kit
contains approximately forty objects that represent the core of any
application, including the user interface. But new kits, devoted to
specific areas of interest, will provide users with tools they never had
A physics professor could construct a myriad of
experiments using a Physics Lab Kit. It would contain all the familiar
objects in the laboratory, from test tubes to analysis equipment.
Interface Builder would make it possible to construct different
experiments simply by selecting the appropriate objects and establishing
the connections between them.
The same concept would apply to every discipline. Only
now, instead of taking months to develop customized software for classroom
use, it would be a matter of days, perhaps hours. So professors and their
assistants could realistically create software within the confines of
their busy schedules.
In business, NextStep has equally far-reaching
potential. For the first time, applications will not only be much easier
to develop, they'll be far easier to maintain and upgrade. Because objects
can be modified in appearance or function with minimal new programming.
And one other important thing to know about NextStep:
It's such a remarkable technology, IBM has licensed it for use in their
UNIX-based computers. And the fact is, any program developed on one
computer using NextStep can easily be ported to another. That adds up to
even more good news for the people who will ultimately benefit from this
new programming environment: the users.
NextStep ensures that we will see more programs, and
more powerful programs, in a shorter period of time than has ever been
possible on a revolutionary platform.