Reprinted from PC Magazine, October 17, 1989, pp. 33-35.
Even if Hewlett-Packard were never to sell a single copy of its HP
NewWave Environment, the product is still destined to have a profound influence
on the evolution of the graphical user interface. What NewWave does is difficult
to understand at first because it is very different from the way in which
we currently use our PCs. NewWave requires a paradigm shift, a change in
our perceptions of the relationship between applications and documents.
|When a graph that has been moved into a NewWave Write document is selected, the application that created the graph appears. You can then change the graph with the graph program, and the graph in the NewWave Write document will change accordingly.
NewWave runs under Microsoft Windows. The $195 program doesn’t
subtract from anything you can do under Windows, but instead extends the
environment in various ways for both the user and the program developer.
After installing NewWave and running the batch file that starts it up,
you are greeted by the NewWave Office, which displays a collection of icons.
Most of these icons will be document files. The icon itself represents the application
that created the document; the text underneath the icon is the name of
the document. By clicking one of these icons with a mouse, you invoke the
application. The application, in turn, loads the document, which is then ready for use.
The program comes with a sample NewWave application – a WYSIWYG word
processor called NewWave Write. This is a more sophisticated word
processor than Windows Write, which is included with
Microsoft Windows. It offers, for example, a spelling checker and a
page preview mode.
Just as Windows is best suited to running applications written to the
Windows API (application program interface), NewWave is best suited
to running applications written to the NewWave API. Programs written
for NewWave are basically Windows applications that have been modified
to take advantage of special NewWave features. Over the next 3 to 9 months,
several NewWave applications are expected to be released, including versions
of Microsoft Excel, Micrografx’s Graph Plus, and Samna’s Ami.
What can you do in NewWave that’s so special? The following examples,
based on NewWave programs created for demonstration purposes, will give you
an idea of what you’ll be able to expect from NewWave-aware applications.
|The primary user interface of the HP NewWave Environment is NewWave Office, shown here with one of its dialog boxes.
Suppose that you begin by creating a word processing document in Ami and then
decide to include a small spreadsheet from Excel. Using the clipboard, you
copy the spreadsheet from Excel into the Ami document. You then decide
to include a bar graph from Graph Plus, so again you use the clipboard to
transfer it into the document. This is basic stuff that you can do in Windows today.
But here’s the NewWave difference: While still in Ami, you can
select the spreadsheet that you’ve moved into the document and Excel
will spring into life, containing the spreadsheet. You can then make changes to
numbers or formulas or formatting, and the spreadsheet that you’ve moved into
the Ami document will change also. You then select the bar graph and the
Graph Plus window appears. You can change the bar graph to a line graph and
the graph in the Ami document changes also.
Of course, this seems a very natural way to work with documents, yet it is very
unlike anything we can do with PC applications today. Normally, after a spreadsheet
or graph is moved into a word processing document, it loses all connection with the
application that created it. In NewWave, the spreadsheet and graph that
are moved into the document are still linked to the original applications. This
is how NewWave can invoke the application when you select the spreadsheet or
graph in the document.
You can print a document simply by using the mouse to drag the document icon to
the printer icon in the NewWave Office. As NewWave prints the document, all
three applications are transparently invoked to carry out their specialized tasks;
Ami is responsible for printing the text part, Excel for the
spreadsheet part, and Graph Plus for the graph part.
In short, NewWave extends object-oriented concepts into the relationship
between applications and their documents. The document becomes an object;
the applications (using object-oriented terminology) are the “methods”
that allow you to manipulate various parts of this object. The benefits to
the user are obvious: You can focus your attention on the documents rather
than on the applications that create them. Each NewWave application that
contributes to a document is seamlessly invoked to handle what it does best.
|Because NewWave runs under Windows, you can use all of Windows’ facilities with NewWave, as shown by the MS-DOS Executive and the NewWave Office.
It is also possible to configure NewWave so that existing DOS or Windows
applications will show up as icons in the NewWave Office. Hewlett-Packard calls this
process “encapsulation.” This allows users to take advantage of
some NewWave facilities in using these programs. Encapsulation requires
the NewWave Support Pack, available for $145. Corporations that choose to
use NewWave only need one Support Pack for the local PC coordinator, who
would assist NewWave users in configuring their systems.
NewWave also includes some other goodies that applications can use, such
as a built-in on-line help system, a computer-based training system, and (although
limited in the initial release) a task-automation facility. Full-blown NewWave
application programming requires the $895 NewWave Developer Kit, in addition
to the Microsoft Windows Software Development Kit and a C compiler.
It is difficult to predict how commercially successful NewWave will be.
A corporation that makes a commitment to using NewWave must also make a
commitment to Microsoft Windows; software developers who write NewWave
applications will be those who also write Windows applications. It could
very well be that the next couple of years will see more attention focused on
converting Windows users and programs to the OS/2 Presentation Manager rather than
to NewWave. Hewlett-Packard expects to adapt NewWave for the Presentation
Manager, but it's not yet certain when this will be ready.
Still, HP NewWave Environment offers such an obvious enhancement to the
graphical user interface that it simply cannot be ignored. NewWave is going
to be a highly influential product in guiding the future course of software.