NeWS - Network extensible Window System
NeWS is the Network extensible Window System, written by James Gosling and
David Rosenthal, at Sun. It's a multithreaded PostScript interpreter with
extensions to draw on the screen, handle input events, with an object oriented
- The Shape of PSIBER Space, a paper
by Don Hopkins about a visual
interactive debugger and data inspector for NeWS.
- HyperLook info, about Arthur
van Hoff's user interface environment for NeWS.
- HyperLook SimCity demo,
featuring SimCity running on HyperLook, user interface bulding, cellular
automata, and more!
- Window Manager Flames,
ramblings on how to manage windows. One of my hobbies.
- Rapid Prototyping in
Interactive Programming Environments describes and contrasts NeWS, Emacs,
- tnt.gif : The NeWS Toolkit screen snapshot.
A bunch of the TNT demos, RasterRap, and Jed, all shipped with OpenWindows
3.0. The NeWS Toolkit is an Open Look user interface toolkit written in
object oriented PostScript.
- pizzatool.gif : Order pizza via
fax! You can spin the pizza to cook it, too! PizzaTool is written in
object oriented PostScript for The NeWS Toolkit (TNT), and shipped with
- smegmas.gif : FrameMaker offers to
correct the spelling. Does the "Correct" button mean "yes
that word is Correct" or "please Correct that misspelled word"?
Adjective or verb, you decide! Poor old Tim sure got burned by this once.
This is the TNT version of FrameMaker, by the way!
- Pie Menu info, which I implemented
in NeWS many times. (Round windows, you know!)
- HyperTIES info. Todo... A NeWS based hypermedia browser/authoring
tool developed at Ben Shneiderman's Human Computer Interaction Lab, University
of Maryland. This is partially described on the Forth
- TNT info. Todo...
- Describe cool NeWS demos, and get screen snapshots if possible. Todo...
- Lessons learned from NeWS... Todo. [In a nutshell: Never Trust Sun.]
According to a *completely* unsubstantiated rumor, the Sun Product Naming
Division performed a great deal of research to come up with a name for Sun's
Network extensible Window System, good enough to replace its original name,
"SunDew." (Supposedly, the problem with the name "SunDew"
was that the word was not in common enough usage.) It was found that the
phrase most often uttered by test subjects shown SunDew was, "Wow!
Neat Window System!" This was thought to be a very catchy slogan; however
it turned out that the word "Wow" was a trademark of Dolby Labs.
So in a reactive flurry of trendy acronymization, the slogan was condensed
into the stylishly Californian name, "NeatWS", from which it was
eventually transmogrified to "Ne@WS", in order to emphasize its
internetworkability. They bounced the idea off the network gurus, who in
exclamation pointed out that SunDew was not limited to the SMTP protocol
alone, and that the name "Ne@WS" probably wouldn't go over very
well with more sophisticated users who use @ as their line kill character.
Thus it was decided to make the @ silent, as well as invisible, resulting
in the name that was finally settled on: "NeWS". However, once
the marketing people made the realization that the name "NeWS"
by some strange accident so splendidly paralleled the name "NFS",
(except for the "e", but it's small enough that nobody would ever
notice ...) they were so excited that they completely forgot about their
original slogan. But those "in the know" pronounce "NeWS"
just as its capitalization suggests: "Nee-Wus", of course!
Date: Sat 12 Dec 1987 17:01:36 EST
From: David Rosenthal <dshr@Sun.COM>
Subject: Extensions for "documetnation graphics"
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
There has been some discussion recently of the need to extend X11 to support
``documentation graphics''. I believe that what people need is, in effect,
access to both the X11 and the PostScript (TM Adobe Systems) language imaging
The implications of the recent deal between Sun and AT&T are relevant
to this debate. As part of the deal, Sun will be supplying to AT&T,
and AT&T including in their Unix source licensing program, a merged
server supporting both X11 and NeWS protocols. If you are a Unix licensee,
you will be getting this code as part of the normal AT&T source distributions,
and it will, therefore, be a part of "standard Unix". No license
with Sun will be required.
Robin Schaufler will discuss the details of the implementation of the merged
server at the X conference at MIT in January. Briefly, it will support:
The C source code will include:
- Vanilla X11 clients
- Vanilla NeWS clients
- A single window tree accessible to both
- A single event distribution mechanism accessible to both
- The use of PostScript programs and operators to image onto X11 windows.
The intention behind this arrangement is to ensure that those who need the
PostScript language imaging model will have it available. There will be
no reason not to support this capability for those who are Unix licensees,
since they will be getting it, already integrated with X11, as part of their
Unix source distribution. Almost all significant companies in the computer
industry are Unix licensees.
- X11 protocol interpreter
- PostScript language interpreter, with NeWS extensions
- Window tree and event management core shared by both
- A complete implementation of the high-performance imaging library
that supports them both, for memory framebuffers. (This is an improved version
of the imaging library that currently supports the NeWS product)
I hope that this will reassure those who need ``documentation graphics''
that the X11 servers they talk to are likely to support the capabilities
they need, and that there is no need to design new extensions to address
Date: Fri, 5 Feb 88 01:52:55 EST
Subject: X and the future
From: maximo!mo@uunet.UU.NET (Mike O'Dell)
The astonishing baroqueness of X is the greatest threat to the general sucess
of UNIX to have come along since System V hit the streets. If you try to
give an X system to a real human being, not a computer hacker masquerading
as a normal person, they will croak. If X doesn't instantly burn out their
eyes and brain, causing them to throw their UNIX box out the nearest high
window, it will drive them straight into the arms of the Macintosh II. With
the toolbox under AUX, all the windowy programs on the MacII will have a
clear, understable, and universal user interface. With other alternatives,
we face the very real prospect of each window (program) having a different
user interface. That, friends, will be the death of UNIX.
The Ol' Curmudgeon
"Nature neither seeks nor abides opinions."
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 88 05:22:33 EST
Subject: Re: X and the future
From: email@example.com (Barry Shein)
Although Mike is not that old I tend to otherwise agree with him.
The problem I see right now is that the "truisms" run something
Somewhere in here I sense a wheel of reincarnation. If it's only a protocol
and we should ignore (well, only if we don't like it) the current implementations
of those protocols then I suppose we better not program anything as our
code is doomed to obsolescence right after the next major semester break
- 1. X is a protocol definition, the code people are looking at right
now is a particular implementation of that protocol, the two thoughts should
not be confused.
- 2. The ToolKits will fix the programmer's interface complexity.
- 3. No, well, actually, the Toolkits will not fix that problem, some
sort of as yet unspecified 12th generation point and click programming interface
will fix the problem (this was after it seemed to be generally agreed that
less than 5 people in America can understand the Toolkit supplied, and they're
arguing amongst themselves about whether or not it can ever work, and besides,
it only handles a small subset of X anyhow and is too complicated. And worse,
although it's implemented in C for C programmers it was never intended to
be, they were forced to by someone, it should have been implemented in some
as yet unspecified language which would solve *everything* according to
If we shouldn't be coding at the level of XLIB and be using Toolkits instead
as they provide the abstract interface we all desire then how come people
privy seem to agree that the supplied toolkit is basically incomprehensible
and should be, we should be waiting for something else? It's all starting
to sound like Nixon's Secret Plan to end the Vietnam War (I suppose that
metaphor reveals me to be as old as Mike.)
The wheel of reincarnation reference is that if someone comes along with
a toolkit which is useful then the first thing we should do is declare that
to be X and throw away anything "below" it other than the protocol.
If it can't do that then it's a pretty poor toolkit (not powerful enough
or something.) Of course, then we will ask, why wasn't that approach taken
in the first place? Well, I suppose one can say, because hindsight is 20/20.
The road to hell is paved with myopia.
Disclaimer: I sort of like X11, I use it as my primary window manager on
my Sun, have ported the client interface to an Encore Multimax. Clients
I have written are "out there" (mostly X10.) I recently wrote
an X11 plot interface to DOE MacSyma which should appear on their next release
tape and am involved with various groups' alpha and beta-testing new clients
and I am working on some of my own.
What I like about X is that it is available in a form which basically works
(I'm not sure I can say the same for the competition yet) and is available
under a very agreeable source release. Unfortunately there may be fundamental
flaws in the model (eg. moving to different res or other variation devices
seems to be very painful, again, that may not be the protocol but the implementation,
as the NewSpeak goes.)
I suppose one might say that right now there is nothing approaching a standard
window system for Unix. NeWS might be a competitor some day although it
may have fundamental flaws also (not so much in the windowing model which
is very good but in the implementation approach.)
Basically, X and NeWS seem to form the right and left brain halves of windowing
systems. X is basic, fast (or should be) and analytical, NeWS seems to be
what you should be using if you want something more creative than boxes
with chars and/or line drawings in them of a fairly fixed nature. Right
now people seem to be responding to each on that atavistic level.
X is a jeep wagoneer with all options including a tow ball if you can't
fit it inside the cab, NeWS is a DeLorean turning magnificently on a stand
in the main lobby of the Museum of Modern Art, the engine comes in kit form,
diesel, gasoline, ethanol, any number of cylinders all available, actually
the kit is just a big cube of steel, very high grade, and a textbook on
modern engine design.
The X11/NeWS merge might very well end up to be the "long-awaited"
station wagon version of the DeLorean, with the jeep hanging off the back
on a newly attached brushed stainless steel tow ball, just in case.
-Barry Shein, Boston University