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Reprinted from PC Magazine, May 12, 1992, pp. 44.

The center of NewWave is a large window with Objects that you can easily launch, move, and copy. Traditional file management is a nonissue.
This image can be zoomedThe center of NewWave is a large window with Objects that you can easily launch, move, and copy. Traditional file management is a nonissue.
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then the designers of Hewlett-Packard’s NewWave must feel proud. Many key features in earlier versions of this Windows-extending environment now appear in Windows itself. NewWave’s compound document ability predates Windows’ object linking and embedding (OLE), drag-and-drop is now mainstream, and the system-wide macro language announced by Microsoft was foretold by NewWave’s Agent. (See Trends, January 28, 1992, page 29.)

While a technical success, previous versions of NewWave have not been as well received by the marketplace as competitor Norton Desktop for Windows. For example, NewWave’s large disk space and RAM requirements shut out many potential users, and it ran only special NewWave-aware programs or required users to build laborious links to applications.

With its $195 NewWave, Version 4.0, Hewlett-Packard is attempting to overcome these barriers with a product that is easier to use, has less-taxing hardware requirements (only about 6MB of disk space), and offers better linking to non-NewWave-aware programs. In many ways it succeeds, but the program still requires a profound change in the way you interact with your computer.

OOP for end users

NewWave attempts to bring object-oriented programming to the end-user level. When you install Microsoft Word for Windows as a NewWave program, you do not wind up with a WinWord icon on the NewWave desktop. Rather, a WinWord Object Master – a template for making new objects – is created, and any files you create appear as Objects on the desktop.

For example, to make a new WinWord document, you choose Create Object from the NewWave menu, choose WinWord Object from the list of Masters that pops up, then hit Enter to launch WinWord. The WinWord letter or memo you then create and save will appear on the NewWave desktop.

Another object type is a Folder, which can contain Objects or Subfolders that can be easily moved or copied. Since file maintenance is accomplished by moving or copying objects between folders, traditional file management becomes a nonissue.

This is an attractive model for computing and a possible foretaste of the object-oriented file systems of the future. But your PC still has to live in the present, so NewWave includes a new command that lets you copy the file behind an object to a floppy disk for use on a non-NewWave system, and you still need Windows’ Program Manager or File Manager to install new software from a floppy disk.

In addition to the basic desktop for creating and manipulating objects, NewWave includes some impressive automation tools. The core of these is the Agent, a combined batch language and macro program. You can record simple tasks and then edit them to add branching, dialog boxes, and event processing. The language is powerful but opaque.

NewWave offers a scheduler so you can run tasks at a given time or on a regular basis. If you’re running NewWave on a network, you can arrange to be notified if a file changes. A control panel to set colors, the ability to minimize objects, and a workgroup library to transfer files across a network are also new.

While this version has eliminated some of NewWave’s almost religious adherence to object concepts at the user’s expense, there are still some instances where purity gets in the way of practicality. For example, there is no way to use a program’s multiple document interface (MDI) capabilities without coping with the underlying obscure file and directory names that NewWave assigns. And you can’t schedule a task directly from the Agent Scheduler.

NewWave remains a program with a steep conceptualization curve to overcome. If its philosophy appeals to you, then you will find the environment well implemented and flexible.

by Barry Simon

“NewWave’s Agent: Advanced macro language for advanced users”

Fact file

NewWave, Version 4.0
Hewlett-Packard Co., 974 E. Arques Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94086; 408-720-3000.
List Price: $195.
Requires: 2.5MB RAM (4MB recommended), 6.8MB hard disk space, Windows 3.0 or later.
In Short: NewWave takes object-oriented Windows to its logical extreme by replacing files and programs with objects and tools. Its automation tools are especially complete.

Page added on 17th December 2004.

Copyright © 2002-2006 Marcin Wichary, unless stated otherwise.