NeWS and DPS, who wins? 
Author Message
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?

This is another perfect example of the inherent contradiction that
exists when a "standard" is created and maintained by a commercial
organisation.

The "standard" postscript is missing a few key features to make it
useful to drive a display.  Sun has put time and effort into the
product that first made screen PostScript possible: NeWS.  After Sun
was through with the "feasibility study," Adobe decided that screen
PostScript was interesting and solved these problems again, in a new
and incompatible manner.

Adobe feels that it is in its' best interest to create an incompatible
system, and this may unfortunately seem to be true, with possible
license fees coming in for systems running under both X and NeWS.
(This can never happen: I'm sure some NeWS hacker will put something
together)

If Sun creates a Display PostScript compatibility mode, Adobe will
continually create new incompatible undocumented features, with Sun
development continually in Catch-Up mode.  This is the old dilemma
between open and proprietary systems, and this is the way it was in
the bad old days. "Doesn't your emulator support extended REV 2
gobbledy-gook? Oh well, I guess you made a mistake" I can here those
doors slamming now "the right choice."

Who will win "the fight"?  I don't know, but I know that with things
the way they are, we all lose.  I'm afraid there just aren't enough
PostScript programmers on this planet to support two standards, and
two window systems (NeWS and NeXTstep) whose useage and availability
pales in comparison with X.

We don't get fooled again! or do we?--

Computing and Network Services (CNS)
Syracuse University
250 Machinery Hall, Syracuse,  N.Y. 13244



Wed, 19 May 1993 03:48:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?

Quote:
> This is another perfect example of the inherent contradiction that
> exists when a "standard" is created and maintained by a commercial
> organisation.

Why is there an inherent contradiction?  Is it really worse to have
standards administered by an organization which really cares about the
standard (as the basis for its raison d'etre) than to hand them off
to some organization whose primary purpose is simply the cranking out of
standards?  Standards organizations often draw the membership of a group
for technical development of a particular standard from organizations
which want to control an evolving standard to capture market--whatever the
cost to the standard itself.  Some members of standards committees are sent
because it gets them out of the office and out of the way!  I've sat in on
fortunately few real standards meetings, but enough to disgust me with the
bureaucratic non-commercial standards process.  A commercially-maintained
standard may have different problems, but I hardly think it will turn out
any worse.

Quote:
> The "standard" PostScript is missing a few key features to make it
> useful to drive a display...

I'm sure Adobe was aware of this...but at the point they released
PostScript, they weren't aiming at displays, and the hardware horsepower
for PostScript on displays wasn't widely enough available back then.

Quote:
>...Sun has put time and effort into the
> product that first made screen PostScript possible: NeWS.  After Sun
> was through with the "feasibility study," Adobe decided that screen
> PostScript was interesting and solved these problems again, in a new
> and incompatible manner...

Is there any reason to think that Adobe wasn't working on PostScript for
displays?  Remember that SunDEW (the precursor to NeWS) first really popped
to the surface in early '86, and it was nowhere near to being a product at
that point (at least by its author's claims).  NeWS really happened in '87,
and Display PostScript in '88.

The results (NeWS and DPS) are different at a very fundamental, conceptual
level.  If you try to look at Sun's work as any sort of precursor to
Adobe's, you have to wonder why they're so different!  They sure look like
two independent developments.

Quote:
> Adobe feels that it is in its' best interest to create an incompatible
> system,...

Did you get this from talking to Adobe?  I'd be surprised.  I'm not naive;
I know that companies DO introduce incompatibilities for the sake of profit
and market share, but I see no evidence that it's going on here.  I think
it's reckless to attribute that sort of motive without good reason.

Quote:
>...and this may unfortunately seem to be true, with possible
> license fees coming in for systems running under both X and NeWS.

But now you're getting closer to the point that makes all your carping
about Adobe seem questionable:  Sun apparently wanted something with
PostScript-like capabilities wired in to a particular window system, and
they built it.  Adobe has decided (wisely for them, from a marketing
standpoint) that they don't want to choose sides in the window-system war,
so they're building something intended to work with more than one window
system.

Why don't you criticize Sun for building their own window system instead of
working with X?  After all, isn't NeWS a way for Sun to create gratuitous
incompatibilities to try to lock people into their products?  In fact, in a
sense it is, although it's nothing so malicious, and I think that Sun has
good, sound reasons for pushing NeWS instead of giving in to X.  (I'm just
trying to point out that you could be criticizing Sun as well as Adobe.)

An even better question is why Sun and Adobe didn't try to get together
and work things out...

Quote:
> If Sun creates a Display PostScript compatibility mode, Adobe will
> continually create new incompatible undocumented features, with Sun
> development continually in Catch-Up mode...

Adobe has been pretty good about documenting just what PostScript is and
sticking to it (with the obvious exception of the internal mechanisms which
they use to protect their software and fonts).  But of course they're going
to keep developing it...Are you saying that Adobe should stop doing
development on PostScript?  Are they the "bad guys" for **enhancing their
own product**??  Come on now.

Quote:
>...This is the old dilemma
> between open and proprietary systems, and this is the way it was in
> the bad old days...

Open systems are a myth.  Regarding your reference to AT&T (the "right
choice" reference), just because AT&T has fumbled repeatedly doesn't
mean that OSF will do it all right.  Your enemy's enemy is *not*
necessarily your friend (in the healthy-paranoia view of the world:-).

Just because you (obviously) favor NeWS doesn't mean that Adobe is evil.

There are problems with proprietary standards.  There are also problems
with "open" standards.

Quote:
> Who will win "the fight"?...

What fight?  Are you saying that an evolving product in a new market should
simply spring, full-grown and uncontested, from one organization?  It's not
a fight so much as it is a development.  There must be conflicting views!
If it were obvious how it should be done, it would have been done long
ago.

Quote:
>...I don't know, but I know that with things
> the way they are, we all lose...

Wrong-o.  Welcome to the world of development.  We get to choose.  With Sun
and Adobe both being formidable companies, and both having put out credible
products, we get to try them.  If either NeWS *or* DPS had taken hold
completely right away, we'd be a lot more likely to be stuck with mistakes.
Competitive pressures can get things fixed.  Yes, there will be problems
and more work than may seem necessary, until the dust settles.
--
{*filter*} Dunn      UUCP: {ncar,nbires}!ico!rcd           (303)449-2870
   ...Worst-case analysis must never begin with "No one would ever want..."


Wed, 19 May 1993 00:19:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?

The only computer software standards are de-facto standards, it
doesn't matter where the original software comes from. Standardization
is an ex post facto activity, not something you make up one night in a
smoke-filled room out of whole cloth.

The fallacy we are all having shoved at us is that someone can sit
down and write a piece of software and declare it a standard before it
has significant following and practice. This does happen on rare
occasion when the proferred solution fills a huge vacuum, NFS came
close to this, but it's rare.

Customers are now rushing about willy-nilly looking for the
"standard", and vendors are of course selling it to them at every
turn.

A standard is something which happens after accepted usage develops.

fortran can be standardized because there is a great deal of overlap
between the many versions. Unix has a chance of becoming standardized
(remember, you'll rarely achieve a platonic standardization with no
variation, just some large set of features generally considered
essential) again as a result of broad use and practice to base a
standard on.

As a particularly bad example, ADA and ISO protocols are both
"standards" which depend on bureaucratic muscle from government
agencies for acceptance. As such they sort of mock the notion of a
standard although they are at least defined.  There is a slight
difference between, for example, ISO protocols claiming to be standard
ISO protocols (all fine and dandy, I agree) and ISO protocols claiming
to be the standard networking protocol (but, as with ADA, it's amazing
how a few billion dollars in DOD contracts focuses the mind!) After a
decade I'm still awaiting my ISO protocol suite written in ADA...

I remember finding out years ago that a DEC-20 used a "standard" power
plug (there it was, right in the standards!) which unfortunately
required a "standard" receptacle only manufactured by one company in
the world, and they wouldn't have any for months. Not much call for
that "standard", tho it certainly was standard. I think the analogy
with current standards fever should be evident.

Let's face it, "standards" have become the buzzword of the industry
and, like most buzzwords, means whatever they want it to mean (which
isn't much.)

In most cases replacing the word "standard" with "popular" separates
the wheat from the chaff:

        NFS is a popular remote file system protocol.
        Fortran is a popular programming language.
        DOD will require ADA to be popular.
        Adobe announces popular windowing system.
        Sun declares NeWS is already popular.
        Mumble denies X-windows popularity!
        ISO to be required as the popular networking protocol.
        TCP/IP to cease to be popular.
        OSF and Unix Int'l fight over which Unix will be mandated as popular.

It's really gotten very silly.

        -Barry Shein, ||Encore||



Wed, 19 May 1993 17:06:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?

Quote:

>An even better question is why Sun and Adobe didn't try to get together
>and work things out...

As I recall, when NeWS was announced, Sun announced that it was
"taking over" PostScript Development.  (After all, Sun is THE standards
setter for the world, right?)   Adobe, of course, said "no, you won't be
doing that, either..."

--



Wed, 19 May 1993 00:22:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?


 > >...Sun has put time and effort into the
 > > product that first made screen PostScript possible: NeWS.  After Sun
 > > was through with the "feasibility study," Adobe decided that screen
 > > PostScript was interesting and solved these problems again, in a new
 > > and incompatible manner...
 >
 > Is there any reason to think that Adobe wasn't working on PostScript for
 > displays?  Remember that SunDEW (the precursor to NeWS) first really popped
 > to the surface in early '86, and it was nowhere near to being a product at
 > that point (at least by its author's claims).  NeWS really happened in '87,
 > and Display PostScript in '88.

At the "Screen PostScript" panel at SIGGRAPH '88 this issue was discussed by
Charles Geschke from Adobe.  To quote him:

"The technology of Display PostScript is something that we have actively been
working on as a graphics technology ever since the inception of our company
back in December of 1982.  ...  It is a misconception that we did not want to
do Display PostScript, even though I'm certain that's the impression James had
[referring to an earlier comment about Adobe attempting to hire James Gosling
before he went to Sun].  Actually, from the very beginning, and our very first
licensees, many of them actively pursued the feasibility of PostScript for
displays."

For more details check out the SIGGRAPH '88 Panel Proceedings.

 > An even better question is why Sun and Adobe didn't try to get together
 > and work things out...

I have never heard a definitive answer about this from anyone from Sun or
Adobe but I have my own personal opinion.  Adobe's main source of revenue is
(or at lease used to be) from per copy royalties for PostScript.  Because of
this they don't license all of their source.  Also Adobe is generally a
conservative, slow moving company.  Sun had some thoughts on how a window
system should be wrapped around PostScript, some of which were in conflict
with Adobe's own ideas in this area.  They are also a quick acting company.  I
believe the lack of influence over the implementation, the lack of source
availability, the Adobe royalty fees, and the slowness of Adobe in getting to
the market caused Sun to decide to go do their own version.

        Dan Stenger
        Texas Instruments
        Computer Science Center

The opinions expressed are my own and not representative of Texas Instruments.



Wed, 19 May 1993 19:15:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?
Dan Stenger quoted Charles Geschke of Adobe from a SIGGRAPH panel in an
earlier message.  I think Geschke's comments bear some careful analysis.
I'm not saying that he intended to mislead, but he certainly said things
in a way that leaves that possibility open:

Quote:
> "The technology of Display PostScript is something that we have actively been
> working on as a graphics technology ever since the inception of our company
> back in December of 1982.

The technology of DPS is the PostScript interpreter, which they have indeed
been working on since '82.  It says nothing about when they started working
on DPS itself.

Quote:
>                            ...  It is a misconception that we did not want to
> do Display PostScript, even though I'm certain that's the impression James had
> [referring to an earlier comment about Adobe attempting to hire James Gosling
> before he went to Sun].

This doesn't say that they DID want to do it.  It says that if you
think they DIDN'T want to do it, you are incorrect.  They were not
opposed to PostScript on screens; my recollection is that they were
delighted by SunDEW; at that point PostScript was not a guaranteed
success in the printer market, so a serious endor{*filter*}t by Sun helped
them.  Later they realized that Sun's effort would make them no money
because Sun wanted a product that would be licensable on terms like
NFS, while Adobe's only terms are Draconian (NOBODY, BUT NOBODY gets
source code).  Kinda hard to do enough ports to make a 'standard',
widely available window system, without source code.

Quote:
>                         Actually, from the very beginning, and our very first
> licensees, many of them actively pursued the feasibility of PostScript for
> displays."

They may have "pursued the feasibility", but I guess they all decided it
wasn't feasible -- until Sun went ahead and did it.
--

Love your country but never trust its government.
                     -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania


Fri, 19 Jun 1992 01:12:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?
After reading much of the DPS preliminary manual, my evaluation of the
situation is that Adobe has largely reimplemented NeWS, but changed all
the names of everything so that applications will not port between them.

Clearly there are design differences in spots, and Adobe has made some
performance hacks at the language level, where Sun didn't feel the
need; but there is a strong fundamental similarity of design.

Why Adobe chose to change all the names is less clear.  Possibly a
straight case of NIH (not invented here) combined with pretensions of
control of the language.  Possibly they, or their major customers DEC
and NeXT, deliberately wanted to fragment the market to reduce its
openness (ability of customers to move to competitors' equipment
without breaking their software).  I doubt DEC would shed a tear if
PostScript on screens never quite took off, since that would leave
their inferior X window system winner by default.

What to do about it has me torn.  In some ways I think Sun and other
NeWS vendors (like me) should move to the DPS names, providing a
compatability package for old NeWS applications.  In other ways I think
the NeWS community should thumb its nose at Adobe, let them remain
incompatible, and beat them fair and square in the market instead.  If
they get away with making us play catch-up this time, they'll repeat it
forever -- the standard IBM-style Fear/Uncertainty/Doubt game.
--

Love your country but never trust its government.
                     -- from a hand-painted road sign in central Pennsylvania



Fri, 19 Jun 1992 01:55:00 GMT  
 NeWS and DPS, who wins?
If DPS reimplements NeWS with all the names changed, then
Adobe's pre-release stuff was a lie from start to finish.

The essential difference between DPS and NeWS is that DPS has
*NO INPUT MODEL*. DPS is purely another graphics output
language and so can be "totally compatible with Printer
PostSCript" just like the Adobe blurb says. It also uses the
underlying window system to provide fragments of drawing
surface, so it doesn't include the window system aspects of
NeWS: no silly-shaped windows.
--



LONDON, UK              Tel:  01-975 5250



Fri, 19 Jun 1992 16:22:00 GMT  
 
 [ 10 post ] 

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