The fourteenth chapter of the book “The complete book of Lisa,”
In the preceding chapters, I’ve described the Lisa Office System in its
form as of mid-1984. Since its original announcement in January 1983, there
have been several versions of this software, each with significant enhancements
and improvements. The original software, for example, was much slower, had
no color printer output, no spelling checker in LisaWrite, allowed only
twenty holidays in LisaProject, and permitted no rotation in LisaDraw
and only partial integration among the various programs. Given these and other
improvements in less than 2 years, it is reasonable to ask where Lisa
will be in the coming months and years.
Predicting the future is a risky business in any field, but it is especially risky
in the fast-paced, high-tech world of personal computers, where a single
month can see the introduction of several new systems and the demise of several others.
With that disclaimer, here are several predictions for Lisa’s future in
many areas, including the Lisa Office System, other Lisa software, Macintosh
compatibility, and new and expanded hardware. These predictions are based on
my discussions with Lisa’s software developers as well as an examination
of the marketplace’s ability to fill some of Lisa’s deficiencies.
Lisa’s Office System
One of the most recent and most important changes to the Lisa Office System
is one you will never see directly: the ability of many new pieces of
software – both system software (allowing Lisa to communicate with
new output devices) and applications software (providing you with new desktop
functions) – to be added to Lisa incrementally. This is vital to
Lisa’s future because it separates the release of new hardware and
software from the release of the entire Lisa operating system. This means that
Apple can make small but important software
additions and modifications without reissuing the entire Desktop Manager.
Moreover, that new hardware can be packaged with the appropriate pieces of
software, allowing Lisa to communicate with that hardware. In addition,
this change also provides the basis by which new functions can be added
to Lisa’s desktop, giving independent software developers the environment upon
which to add new applications software – which, in turn, increases
the usefulness of Lisa.
This change also means that there is less need to modify the basic
Lisa software, making this software relatively stable. The extendability and
flexibility built into this release make another major release unlikely.
Moreover, once large numbers of independent software vendors are using
an operating system, both users and developers find it very tramautic to make changes.
To a large extent, the same probably is true for many Lisa programs. They,
too, are very close to their final form, for two reasons. First,
Apple appears to be adopting the philosophy that it has provided the
most basic Lisa software and that most additional Lisa software will come from
independent software developers. Second, Apple is concentrating its software
staff on the Macintosh, even to the extent of reducing its efforts with
Lisa. So, it woulld be surprising if a future version of LisaWrite provided
grammar checking and an analysis of comprehensibility, for example. It would
be less surprising if an independent software company created a “writer’s
workbench” set of programs as a separate iconic function on the
Lisa desktop – completely separate from LisaWrite.
The single exception to these two predictions for the Office System
may be the release of a set of programs that will run on a Lisa
with only 512K bytes of memory. This would benefit every Lisa user. For
those with existing 1,024K-byte systems, such a release would mean a
faster operating system and probably faster programs of greater
capacity – for example, larger spreadsheets in LisaCalc. For
potential Lisa purchasers, the cost of the additional 512K bytes would be
an option, rather than the mandatory component it currently is.
The future for new Lisa software looks extremely promising. Before we take
a look at those programs, however, it’s important to differentiate
between the two ways in which software can run on Lisa. Software can be written
to take over Lisa, in a manner similar to the MacWorks operation. Such
software cannot be used in conjunction with the Lisa Office System and
probably cannot exchange data with programs such as LisaWrite and
LisaList. To use this type of software, you must, in effect, “turn
off” the Office System. Such software uses Lisa as an extremely
powerful personal computer with a high-resolution graphics screen and a
mouse. It does not, however, make use of the revolutionary software base
upon which Lisa technology is centered.
The other way software can be run on Lisa is as a new type of icon
on Lisa’s desktop. This type of software runs in conjunction with
the Office System and usually can exchange data with the “standard”
Lisa programs as well as with other new icons from independent software
developers. This software also possess the uniformity of the Lisa user
interface. It makes extensive use of menus, the mouse, Dialog Boxes,
the clipboard, and stationery pads.
Software can be added to Lisa via three programming environments, two of which
can lead to programs that you see as new icons on the Lisa desktop. These
three environments are the Lisa Workshop, Quickport, and the Lisa Toolkit.
The Lisa Workshop is a program-development environment that enables a software
developer to prepare Pascal, C, COBOL, or BASIC programs for Lisa. This development
system provides an environment that is as powerful as those provided on any
mainframe computer. Pascal is the language of choice for these programs because
it provides a programmer with the most powerful set of utilities, including
graphics and mouse control.
|Figure 14-1: Typical MacPaint output. One future Lisa software package is LisaPaint, which allows you to prepare such images. This type of graphics tool is distinctly different from LisaDraw; many users will have a need for both programs.|
Quickport is another path for the independent Lisa software developer.
Quickport enables a developer to integrate any existing Pascal, C,
COBOL, or BASIC program into the Lisa desktop with a limited set of menu
choices and very basic data integration with standard Lisa programs. With
this development path, a software developer can provide you with a window
on the Lisa screen that has a text portion and even a graphics portion.
Moreover, the standard cutting and pasting operation will work as it does in
the full Lisa programs. This probably is the best path for moving an
existing program to the Lisa desktop quickly.
The Lisa Toolkit is the premier development path for new Lisa software.
It provides an independent software developer with the
ability to custom-fit an application into the “standard” Lisa user
interface, custom menus and Dialog Boxes can be defined, as can window
components, such as the LisaDraw Palette and the LisaCalc status-panel
area. When Apple designed Lisa’s line of seven standard programs, it
did more than simply prepare these applications. It also designed a Toolkit
that represents the combined wisdom and experience gained along the way. The Toolkit
brings to a developer the full power and integration of the Lisa system
and user interface.
|Figure 14-2: The output of a table-generating utility, another software package that may become available for lisa in the near future. When using this, you need not draw any of the lines, or even determine the proper height of the rows; it is all done automatically based on the text you enter. After construction, the table may be pasted into a LisaWrite or LisaDraw document. (This figure was prepared using similar software on the Xerox Star.)|
There is a price to pay for this power, however. As might be expected from
the revolutionary nature of Lisa’s application programs, the design
of programs that use the Toolkit must be done in a revolutionary
manner. Just as Apple used much of the knowledge gained from research efforts
at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center in the design of Lisa’s user
interface, it also used much of the knowledge gained at Xerox PARC in the
design of the programming languages and programming style used to create Lisa
itself. The language Apple designed for this task is called “Clascal.”
Although it is derived from Pascal, it is quite unlike the standard
language with which most programmers are familar.
Clascal and the Toolkit are powerful programs that can provide a developer
with the abililty to design and implement highly complex programs quickly and
easily – if a developer is willing to take the time to learn to
use these programming aids. Most innovative developers are willing to take such a step.
Many software developers have released products for Lisa, and many more are
now developing such products. These products span a wide range of applications.
Some products on the way will probably have wide appeal among Lisa users. For example:
|LisaPaint, a raster-oriented graphics editor that will enable you to
prepare drawings like the MacPaint output (Figure 14-1).
|A personal calendar system that will permit you to plan your schedule and will
remind you of appointments and meetings,
|A table utility that will let you construct complex tables of information,
like the one shown in Figure 14-2.
|An equation editor that will allow you to prepare properly arranged equations, like
the one shown in Figure 14-3.
Forthcoming specialized products include:
|Several accounting and billing systems designed for doctors, real estate firms,
architects, and other professionals.
|Data base systems fine-tuned for certain narrow applications.
|A typesetting system that will enable you to prepare Lisa documents for
output on a high-quality phototypesetter.
|A risk-analysis utility that will assist professionals who must evaluate the
risks associated with certain business ventures or technical decisions.
Greater compatibility between between Lisa and Macintosh definitely
will be achieved in coming months. At a minimum, this will take the form of
a Quickport program that will convert Macintosh documents on diskettes
to programs on Lisa’s desktop: MacWrite documents to LisaWrite,
MapDraw documents to LisaDraw, and, assuming the existence of
LisaPaint, MacPaint documents to LisaPaint. Conversions in the other
direction also may be possible, subject to Macintosh’s size and diskette
constraints. (A MacPaint document is limited to a single
8-½”×11” document, whereas LisaPaint probably will
have the same 48”×96” limitation permitted in LisaDraw
and LisaProject. MacWrite documents are limited to fewer than twenty
pages, whereas LisaWrite documents can be several hundred pages. Also, without
a hard disk, such a Lisa-to-Macintosh conversion will probably require many
disk switches.) To make such conversions easy, the set of fonts on both
Lisa and Macintosh (or at least on Lisa) probably will become the union of
fonts available on each. (The two systems use several different typefaces.)
|Figure 14-3: The output of an equation editor. When using this editor, you need not be overly concerned about the correct placement of symbols, because this is done automatically. When completed, such an equation may be pasted into a LisaWrite or LisaDraw document. (This figure was prepared using a similar feature on the Xerox Star.)|
Most desirable would be complete compatibility without requiring any type of file
format conversion. This may be too much to hope for.
After having undergone a hardware change in early 1984, Lisa’s hardware
is probably now stable. (Before January 1984, Lisa had two high-capacity diskette
drives and a different face plate. The hardware upgrade converted to
the single diskette for future Macintosh compatibility and to make room for
the 10-megabyte internal hard disk. This upgrade was provided free to all owners
of the earlier Lisa models.) An upgrade of the diskette drive is expected from
a single-sided, 400K-per-diskette drive to a double-sided, 800K-per-diskette
drive. This micro diskette drive upgrade probably won’t be provided for free.
Additional hardware that probably will become available includes a separately
mounted diskette drive, and several networking options, including a connection
to the Ethernet local area network system and to AppleBus, Apple’s
local area network.
AppleBus is Apple’s peripheral bus that can be used to connect a
maximum thirty-two devices in an area about 1,000 feet in diameter. Logically,
AppleBus is a single wire to which Lisas, Macintoshes, and several other devices
can connect. Any device on this wire can transmit material to any other device
at a speed of approximately 230,000 bits per second. (Compare this to the
maximum speed of both LisaTerminal and MacTerminal, about 19,000
bits per second; AppleBus is about ten times faster.)
Most other devices that will connect to AppleBus are considered to be
“servers,” userless computers that exist strictly to perform
functions for network users. Servers come in a variety of forms, including file
servers, print servers, and communication servers.
|File servers. These are large-capacity hard disks (50 megabytes to
300 megabytes) plus a small processor to control them. They provide an
economical storage mechanism for communities of users.
|Print servers. Typically, these are high-resolution laser printers. They
provide almost-typeset-quality output of both text and graphics at a relatively
high speed – ten to twenty pages per minute.
|Communication servers. “Comm servers,” for short, come
in two varieties: bridges and gateways. A bridge connects one AppleBus to
another. Bridges don’t modify the data transmitted; they provide a
method of overcoming the 1,000-foot AppleBus distance limitation, albeit at
a lower speed. Bridges can use telephone lines to connect to distant networks,
for example, even transcontinentally. Gateways connect AppleBus to other
types of networks. They often must translate data formats (called “protocols”)
to those used on the other networks. This translation can be very easy
if the networks are similar, or very difficult if they are not.
AppleBus is a cable constructed of two wires twisted together plus the connection
hardware to connect the network components to that cable, enabling higher data
speeds with greater reliability. The interconnection hardware consists of a
plug that connects to one of Lisa’s external ports, a “tap”
into the network cable, and a “drop cable” between these two
connection devices. This type of network architecture both isolates the
network from any problems on a single network node (a “Mac” run
amok!) and gives you maximum flexibility for moving network components easily
and quickly from place to place.