Terminology: OPEN LOOK, OpenWindows, X11, XView, OLIT, MOOLIT, Motif
@ What is OPEN LOOK?
OPEN LOOK is a specification of a Graphical User Interface (GUI).
A GUI determines the `look and feel' of a system -- the shape of
windows, buttons and scroll-bars, how you resize things, how you
edit files, etc.
The OPEN LOOK GUI is specified, developed and maintained jointly by
Sun Microsystems and AT&T (or USL?).
@ What is OpenWindows?
OpenWindows is Sun's name for its windowing environment; the current
version conforms to the OPEN LOOK Graphical User Interface Specifications
(a later version will use OSF/Motif and CDE).
It's compatible with the X11 window system from MIT;
the SunOS 4.x versions of OpenWindows are compatible with Sun's NeWS and
SunView. SunOS 5.x (Solaris 2) versions of OpenWindows after Solaris 2.2
use MIT X11R5 and include Adobe's DPS/X Display PostScript, which is
(in brief) a small subset of NeWS for displaying PostScript files.
OpenWindows is sometimes also called openwin or xnews, after the
program used to start it and the main executable itself, respectively.
It should not be called `Windows' or 'OPEN LOOK' or `OpenLook', as
these terms are either wrong or apply to something else.
The current versions of OpenWindows for various platforms are:
SunOS 4.1.1 on Sun 3: 2.0
Solaris 1.x (SunOS 4.1.x) on SPARC: 3.0
Solaris 2.4 (SunOS 5) on SPARC: 3.4
Mixing X11 and OpenWindows
Where can I get it?
@ What are OLIT, XView and TNT?
These are all toolkits for programmers to use in developing programs
that conform to the OPEN LOOK specifications. See the Bibliography
for documentation on the individual toolkits. Here's a brief summary:
OLIT was AT&T's OPEN LOOK Intrinsics Toolkit for the X Window system;
it used a widget set, and was probably the easiest for people who were
already X11/Xt programmers to learn. You could buy the source from AT&T,
although you didn't get the same version tht Sun ship. Sun includes the
OLIT library in OpenWindows (q.v.); it is also often included in
System V Release 4. It was written in C. OLIT support passed to USL
(then a division of AT&T, now owned by Novell), who replaced it with
Note that because of the nature of Xt subclassing, you will probably
want or need OLIT source in order to develop a large application or
anything else that uses subclasses.
[see the proceedings of the 1991 X Technical Conference]
OLIT was until recently Sun's recommended toolkit, although until
Solaris 2 was released OLIT lacked a long way behind XView (q.v.) in
many important areas.
XView is Sun's toolkit for X11, written in C. XView is similar in
programmer interface to SunView. There's even a shell script to help
migrate source code from SunView to XView. XView is often said to be
the easiest toolkit to learn if you are not familiar with X Windows.
The XView toolkit is included in OpenWindows, and full source is
available by anonymous ftp from export.lcs.mit.edu (and elsewhere).
The current version of XView from Sun is 3.2. The XView toolkit is
still supported by Sun, although few if any enhancements beyond version
3.2 should be expected.
The NeWS Toolkit (TNT) was an object-oriented programming system based
on the PostScript language and NeWS. TNT implements many of the
OPEN LOOK interface components required to build the user interface of
an application. It's included in OpenWindows up to release 3.2, but is
not supported (and will not run) under OpenWindows 3.3 (based on X11R5).
The current version of TNT from Sun is 3.1; Release 3 contains some
incompatibilities with `tNt' 1.0 and TNT 2.0, but Sun were committed to
supporting the API, at least until they released Solaris 2.3 and `replaced'
it with Display PostScript. Wail.
Sun currently asserts that it is committed to OLIT, however.
Correction: Sun is now committed to COSE, which is committed to a new
Motif toolkit, and OLIT support will presumably be dropped until the
wind changes again.
Solaris 2.3 does not include Motif: SMCC is shipping Motif separately
as part of the Solaris Software Developer's Kit. In addition, SMCC
is shipping an unbundled version of the Motif toolkit.
The C++ User Interface Toolkit (UIT) consists of an object-oriented C++
class library layered on top of XView and a tool to generate code from
DevGuide 3 GIL files. The UIT also includes features that simplify
event management and the use of PostScript and color. It is said to be
compatible with OpenWindows V2 and V3, and presumably beyond, since the
release mentions that it works on Solaris 2.
UIT is not an official Sun-supported product but an ongoing project of
various people within Sun. It can be found on export.lcs.mit.edu in
the MIT contrib directory as UITV2.tar.Z
@ Where does Motif fit in?
Motif is an alternative Graphical User Interface that was developed by OSF.
It has a `look and feel' reminiscent of Microsoft Windows and the OS/2
Presentation Manager. There are no non-commercial Motif toolkits
available, and the Motif source by OSF is fairly expensive.
Fresco (in X11R6) will have a Motif-like user interface; TK, based on
the tcl language, looks a little like Motif.
There are commercial XView to Motif translation tools, such as Accent's.
OSF/Motif will be included in COSE (q.v.) in a somewhat changed form.
@ What is MoOLIT?
MoOLIT is a version of OLIT from AT&T/USL that lets users choose between
a Motif and an OPEN LOOK UI feel at run-time. It will be part of System V
Release 4.2. Contact: Joanne Newbauer, email@example.com, (908) 522-6677
@ What about that Display PostScript thing?
Sun and Adobe agreed that Sun include the DPS extension to X in
OpenWindows, and this is in Solaris 2.3 and later.
Unfortunately, this has also meant dropping the NeWS server, and hence
the NeWS toolkit (TNT), with what many consider to be a significant loss
of functionality and ease of programmability as a result. On the other
hand, a number of commercial applications such as Adobe Illustrator and
Adobe PhotoShop have being ported to the Sun.
See the Solaris Porting guide [see Bibliography below] for a few more
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