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The OS used on the stylish NeXT cubes and slabs. Mach/BSD UNIX with an excellent GUI, done using an Objective C OO framework. Lovely development environment. Display Postscript. And it all runs on a 68030. What more could you want?

Wonderous OS that grew out of NeXT computers (Steve Jobs brainchild). It had the ease of use UNIX has always needed and an incredible GUI for development. NeXTSTEP failed to gain mass market appeal because early versions were tied directly to the sexy black hardware. Later versions supported x86, supersparc and hppa machines. NeXTSTEP was eventually sold to Apple who used it as the basis for RhapsodyOS.

The appearance of NeXTStep desktops on a Madonna music video (titled "Rain"?) gave millions of geeks inspiration to drive to their friend's house to see a tv for the first and last time.

NeXTStep is arguably the most famous We're-Not-Worthy-Ware of the 1990s.

More recent products that tries to live up to NeXTStep's ideals: Macromedia Authorware, Borland Delphi, GNOME's Glade/KDE's KDevelop, IDE's for Java's Swing API, and the most universally praised yet humblest replacement--HTML based forms and the thousands of IDEs and editors that compose (you call this compose?) them.

How important is a good prototyping tool? NeXTStep development tools gave potential backers a revealing glimpse of the first prototype of the World Wide Web (made with the help of NeXTStep). Doom the shoot-em-up game was also developed with the help of NeXTStep.

Few computer users today disregard the awesome possibilities of coming up with a rapidly developed and usable prototype of their final product.

(See Perl, Tcl/Tk, Python, KDevelop/Glade or Linux if you want all of the previously mentioned tools to add a few quality prototyping devices to your workflow...)

If you must see one to believe it for yourself, visit the nearest University's computer science labs, they might keep a NeXTStep or OpenStep-based development workstation around for ol' time sake.

To keep your prototyping endeavors really simple and productive--if you don't program a lot--you can use a dirt simple prototyping and website-making tool call AOLserver (formerly known as NaviServer). It's a powerful, free and GPLed tool. (See ACS or www.photo.net/wtr to try something really ambitious with AOLserver) Another tool ready to surpass AOLserver in many ways is the Apache Web Server.

The ubersexy black hardware may be slow and outdated now, but the interface that made NeXTstep so cool still lives. OPENSTEP and GNUstep implement the funtionality of NeXTSTEP. MacOS X borrows heavily from the NeXT interface. OSX implements a dock, a file manager that looks a lot like the NeXT file viewer, and Display PDF, the successor to Display PostScript. (this is hardly surprsing, considering Steve Jobs developed NeXTSTEP, and returned to Apple in time to lead OSX development) People still try to NeXTify their system to emulate the user interface of NeXTSTEP.

Even now, the NeXTSTEP desktop is not dead. Of course, there are efforts like GNU Window Maker, which replicate the look and feel, and GNUstep, which duplicates the API. But what's not generally known is that the original desktop environment, if not quite the OS, still lives.

Most people have forgotten that in addition to NeXTSTEP and its immediate successor OPENSTEP for Mach, there were also OpenStep for Windows and OpenStep for Solaris. OpenStep for Windows, sometimes known as the Enterprise Object Framework, more or less died on the vine. It can still be persuaded to run under Windows 2000 and even Windows XP, but it is just as poor a fit there as it was on Windows NT, and has a few notable bogosities. OpenStep for Solaris, however, is a much better fit. It has been revamped and repackaged as LuBu OpenMagic, a desktop environment for modern versions of Solaris. Although it runs only on the SPARC platform, it is a modern and capable DE. It includes all of the standard NeXTSTEP tools, such as Mail.app, the Terminal, the text editor and Workspace Manager. It even includes Interface Builder. On top of all this, it uses much less RAM than JDS, and is easier on the eyes than CDE.

Have an old Sun workstation? Give it a shot!

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