Re: COMP: Software and Operating Systems

Chris Behrens (
Fri, 1 Aug 1997 13:20:28 -0500

Breaking the bonds of lurkdom...

Subject: COMP: Software and Operating Systems
Date: Friday, August 01, 1997 12:19 PM

<Question: Why don't more operating systems come with built in programming
<languages and compilers?


<Here's my idea: Build an object oriented visual operating system (not a
<operating system with a GUI strapped on but a visual software
< Create a simple object system that allows all objects to inherit simple
<properties with zero programming (If it's not attached you can move it).
< Include tools for editing text and objects (all tools can edit all
<and objects, no more applications). Users can build (rather than program)
<there own tools or they can buy third party-tools. When they buy
<tools they're allowed unrestricted access to modify them how they like (by
<sub-classing, so they don't have to see the precious code).
I can't help but feel that what you're describing is Visual Basic. When
MS's VB was
trotted out, it was proposed as the "programmer free" programming
environment. Simply
click here, drag there, and you've got a fully functioning enterprise
application! Fire
that expensive programming staff and have your marketing people pull double
as programmers!

Well, anyone whose spent any time with a marketing staff knows how this
turns out. The
bottom line with programming is that no matter how you may abstract the
of the system, there are logical constructs that must be learned to enable
program flow for any program. Once someone has learned these, they can
program a
4GL (that is, a language that is very close to English) poorly. To create
optimized programs,
they must learn the particulars of the system. The cry that may be arising
now is: "Well what
about Java? It totally abstracts the system? How about that?" The truth is
that Java provides
another system, the Java virtual machine, whose particulars you must learn
to program well
in Java.

<Now, you could say this is the way operating systems are going, or even
<way they are (if you buy the right applications). But I think the ability
<create should be built into operating systems at the lowest possible
< We need software environments where we can manipulate and create objects
<directly rather than using bulky applications.

What you're describing is an interlocking API, which most modern operating
have on some level or another.

<This has a deeper meaning than just allowing anyone to create software
<thus insuring a healthy supply of programmers). It is also important for
<future of computing and the _death of the software industry_ (cue Jaws

<As computers progress, they will reach a point where we <gasp> no longer
<to buy software (or download it from the net). Instead, you the user will
<program your own computer via voice recognition/understanding and, through
<Artificial Intelligence your computer will program itself. No software
<applications, just a pool of reusable components and agents that are
<together as you speak. To get to this wonderful utopian freeware future
<need to point ourselves in the right direction…

Voice recognition is pretty well here already; nondiscrete (not stopping
for every word)
VR is present in the latest version of Dragon Dictate, the bellwhether
product for
consumer VR. Reusable components is a good idea whose time has come, and is
pretty well integrated into the Wintel (that is, Microsoft) world. Now
about programmers...
If by 'you', you mean me in particular, or most of the people in this
group, you might
be right. But the reason that there are programmers, technicians, and
journalists out there is because people don't want to think.


<P.S. Okay I'll admit it I'm using Windows, yeah I'm a hypocrite, could
<someone point me in the direction of freeware land... I seem to be lost!

Chris Behrens

"Politics is the art of the possible. That is why only
mediocre minds are attracted to it; great minds seek
the impossible."
- Arthur C. Clarke