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Dictionary Definition

news

Noun

1 new information about specific and timely events; "they awaited news of the outcome" [syn: intelligence, tidings, word]
2 new information of any kind; "it was news to me"
3 a program devoted to news; "we watch the 7 o'clock news every night" [syn: news program, news show]
4 information reported in a newspaper or news magazine; "the news of my death was greatly exaggerated"
5 the quality of being sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins; "the judge conceded the newsworthiness of the trial"; "he is no longer news in the fashion world" [syn: newsworthiness]

Extensive Definition

NeWS (for Network extensible Window System) was a windowing system developed by Sun Microsystems in the mid 1980s. Originally known as "SunDew", its primary architect was James Gosling, who later designed Java. The NeWS interpreter was based on PostScript (as was the later Display PostScript, although the two projects were otherwise unrelated).
NeWS started by modifying the PostScript interpreter to run in a cooperative multitasking fashion, since unlike PostScript in a printer, NeWS would be displaying a number of PostScript programs at the same time on one screen. It also added a complete view hierarchy system, based on viewports known as canvases. Like the view system in most GUIs, it included the concept of a tree of embedded views along which events were passed. NeWS included a complete model for these events, including timers and other automatic events, input queues for devices such as mice and keyboards, and other functionality required for full interaction.
By far the most interesting addition was a complete object oriented (OO) programming style with inheritance. This eliminated the need for an external OO language to build a complete application.
Since all of these additions were implemented as extensions to PostScript, it was possible to write simple PostScript code that would result in a running, onscreen, interactive program. Two popular demonstration programs were an onscreen clock, which required about two pages of code, and a program which drew a pair of eyes that followed the cursor as it moved around the screen. The eyeball program was shown at SIGGRAPH in 1988, and was the inspiration for the later well-known X application xeyes.
NeWS included several libraries of user interface elements (widgets), themselves written in NeWS. These widgets ran all of their behaviour in the NeWS interpreter, and only required communications to an outside program (or more NeWS code) when the widget demanded it. For example, a toggle button's display routine can query the button's state (pressed or not) and change its display accordingly. The button's PostScript code can also react to mouse clicks by changing its state from "pressed" to "not pressed" and vice versa. All this can happen in the windowing server without interaction with the client program, and only when the mouse is released on the button will an event be sent off for handling.
This was more sophisticated than the X Window System server model, which can only report "mouse was pushed down here", "mouse is now here", "mouse was released here" events to a client, which then has to figure out if the event is in the button, switch the state, and finally instruct the server to display the new state. If client and server are not on the same machine, these interactions must travel over the network, slowing the feedback loop down unnecessarily.
The best example of such a library is TNT (The NeWS Toolkit) which was released by Sun in 1989. Sun also shipped a smaller toolkit intended for example purposes and making small programs.
Although adoption was never widespread, several companies licensed NeWS and adapted it for various uses. SGI used it to replace their proprietary IRIS GL windowing system. The OPEN LOOK version of the FrameMaker desktop publishing program, developed by Frame Technology Corp. with funding mainly from Sun Microsystems and NSA, was one of the few commercial products that ran on NeWS. HyperLook, developed by Arthur van Hoff, was an interactive application design system.
The freely available X11 was already quite popular, so the first versions of NeWS emulated X11 by translating the calls into NeWS PostScript. Speed problems plus the existence of programs that relied on the exact pixel results of X11 calls forced Sun to release an X11/NeWS hybrid called Xnews which ran an X server in parallel with the interpreter. This seriously degraded the NeWS interpreter performance and was not considered a very good X server either. Sun also implemented the OPEN LOOK look and feel for X programs in two toolkits: OLIT was built on the same Xt (X Intrinsics) base as Motif, and XView used the same APIs as Sun's earlier SunView window system.
After it was clear that OPEN LOOK had lost out to Motif in popularity, and after Adobe acquired FrameMaker, products on NeWS simply vanished. Most Unix workstations (including Sun's own) now run the X Window System.

Why did NeWS fail?

In many ways NeWS had an excellent design for thin-networked clients, by moving much of the processing to the display and separating graphical user interface semantics from client program semantics. NeWS also offered a PostScript drawing model, which is far easier to use and more powerful than other graphical API's, even compared to ones being used 20 years later. Many expected it to be a huge success.
Possible reasons for its failure in the market include:
  • NeWS needed to be licensed from Sun, while the source code for the X Window System was freely distributed under the MIT License. Any commercial code shipped using the NeWS libraries required licensing fees to be paid to Sun, Adobe Systems, and Xerox PARC.
  • NeWS lacked a robust library of reusable code until well after the X Window System had become the dominant paradigm. This mistake was obviously not repeated in Java. Making matters worse, the variety of widget sets offered by Sun was confusing to developers.
  • PostScript is a poor language to write math expressions in, due to its postfix and stack nature. That was not a detriment to printing, but math is needed extensively for user interface routines such as the calculation of how far down a slider a mouse was clicked. Several compilers from C-like syntax were available, such as pdb (PostScript Done Better) and c2ps, but were cumbersome to use and not supported by Sun.
  • Writing NeWS applications required coding the client- and server-side parts of the application in two very different programming languages and communicated asynchronously. Coordinating the communication between the two sides was difficult and Sun provided little support for it.
  • The implementation of the NeWS window server never achieved the level of robustness of competing window systems. The situation was made worse with the NeWS/X11 merge, and was compounded by the timing of its release as part of the first Solaris 2 release, which itself had performance issues.
  • Management was confused as to what market NeWS applied to and how to best leverage its strengths when comparing to X11
It is interesting to contrast NeWS with Display PostScript (DPS), which used the same underlying imaging model and language, but did so in a very different way. In DPS the PostScript commands were limited to what was needed to draw things; all other operations (such as creating a window to draw into) had to be implemented using other system interfaces. In comparison with NeWS, DPS lacked interesting features such as the ability to use a PostScript path to describe the shape of a window, which also meant DPS required use of the low-level Xlib library and very unwieldy glue code to make sure both DPS and X were agreeing about what to do. However, it also meant that the majority of the system and application code was compiled rather than interpreted, making it many times faster and considerably easier to write and debug. The result was a much smaller engine that like NeWS offered a PostScript-based display, but had higher performance and a somewhat more "natural" programming environment.

References

External links

news in German: NeWS
news in French: NeWS
news in Dutch: NeWS

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

account, advice, announcement, bulletin, communication, communique, daily, daily newspaper, dirt, dispatch, dope, expose, extra, extra edition, gazette, gossip, hearsay, info, information, intelligence, low-down, lowdown, message, national newspaper, neighborhood newspaper, newscast, newspaper, newspaper of record, paper, poop, press release, rag, report, rumor, scandal, scoop, scuttlebutt, sheet, special, special edition, statement, story, tabloid, talk, tattle, tidings, weekly, weekly newspaper, word
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