Overall summary on Apple Rhapsody:
A User Overview

By Larry Peng


After 4 reports of my initial tests with the various components of the first developer release for Apple Rhapsody, I would like to summarize how things come together overall. I hope to unify the 4 reports to present the bottom line. My aim is to strike a balance between ordinary users and programmers, so the discussion is simplistic. Please pass this along as appropriate.

Much of this (including figures) is taken from slides from an 8700 Center Seminar I gave on December 17, 1997, and includes new results over the last few weeks. In that seminar, the slides showed mostly Wintel screen shots, and I used a Power Mac for live demo purposes.



ADDENDUM: Larry also wrote articles on the Rhapsody Blue Box, and Yellow Box for Windows. You can view them as html in your web browser, or download them as MS Word documents.




CONTENTS:

I. WHAT IS RHAPSODY?


II. WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT RHAPSODY?


III. WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF RHAPSODY?


IV. THE OVERALL PICTURE



I. WHAT IS RHAPSODY?


WHAT RHAPSODY IS NOT:


WHAT RHAPSODY IS:


OVERALL STRUCTURE :

The general schematic of Rhapsody is given in the following 2 figures. There are several critical points to note:




II. WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT RHAPSODY?

So far this sounds like another flavor of UNIX with development tools which is incompatible with most everything else. This is true if one associates a particular operating system with particular hardware. But this is not true in the case of Rhapsody. The primary reasons for this are the Blue Box and the Yellow Box. The Yellow Box is the strategic component since its original design is nearly totally hardware and operating system independent.

THE BLUE BOX--THE MAC OS COMPATIBILITY ENVIRONMENT


The Blue Box is a complete process image (can be modified like any Mac OS System folder) of the Mac OS, starting with Mac OS 8. It operates with the rest of the Rhapsody system, and provides a seamless upgrade path for current Mac OS users. Blue Box is part of Rhapsody for PowerPC, since Mac OS has dependencies on PowerPC/680X0. This is like DOS, Windows 3.1/95/98, and (to a lesser extent) Windows NT being dependent on Intel 80X86.

When running Blue Box, it is basically impossible to tell the difference between running Blue box and standalone Mac OS--and that is the point! From a user standpoint, you are working on a Macintosh. Thus current Mac OS users can leverage the vast majority of their existing equipment and software to do critical work today. Mac OS users are not automatically forced to upgrade existing hardware and software.

Since the Blue box is a direct image of the current Mac OS, as Apple improves Mac OS, the Blue box will simultaneously improve as well. Right now we are looking at Mac OS 8.1 (minor update) around January, and a major update (code-named Allegro) at the end of summer 1998--tentatively called Mac OS 9.

Mac OS About Box; after Blue Box beta install, and double-click various applications.


YELLOW BOX--THE DEVELOPMENT PLATFORM


The components of the Yellow Box are shown in the following 2 figures. The first shows the capabilities of the Yellow Box, while the second shows some (but not all) of the various technologies which make up the Yellow Box.






The POWER of the Yellow Box is that the design does NOT explicitly require a specific hardware design, operating system, or user interface. As OpenStep, it already runs today on Intel (Mach, Windows NT), SPARC (Solaris) and PA-RISC (HP-UX). As Rhapsody, it runs on PowerPC (Mach, Mac OS), Intel (Mach, Windows 95/NT), and SPARC (Solaris) and PA-RISC (HP-UX)--with help from Sun and HP. OpenStep on Windows shipped commercially in 1994.

As an example, the following figure shows the program called Interface Builder running on Windows 95/NT using the Yellow Box for Windows 95/NT component of the Rhapsody Developer Release for PC Compatibles. Interface Builder is a programming tool used to build Rhapsody applications, and was originally written for the Rhapsody environment (running on Mach). The figure shows some very simple program building in progress. Note that in the figure Interface Builder looks-and-feels like a Windows program, but the construction of menus (lower right) is Mac-like! So I am developing within Windows 95/NT, but creating programs that run on Windows 95/NT, Rhapsody, Mac OS, and Mach! I am not tied to writing explicitly for Windows 95/NT!

Interface Builder running on Windows 95/NT


YELLOW BOX APPLICATION DEPLOYMENT--MAC OS, WINDOWS, UNIX:

The Yellow Box is a key differentiator of Rhapsody compared to other environments. The independence from hardware, operating systems, and user interfaces allows the Yellow Box to be deployed on various platforms. Two targeted platforms are shown in the next 2 figures.

Yellow box deployment prefers a 32-bit or greater memory model. For Wintel, one must use at least Windows 95. Windows 3.1, 3.11 do not qualify, and the vast majority of Windows programs are still 16-bit. Windows 95 is not a 32-bit operating system, but does understand the same 32-bit memory model as Windows NT. Mac OS has been 32-bit for almost 10 years now. UNIX has been 32-bit for some time, and now moving to 64-bit.

The above type of arrangements have several advantages:




In the following figure, the Rhapsody Draw program is shown on Windows 95/NT. This program was first constructed to run on Rhapsody DR1 for Power Mac. Except for the look-and-feel, the program is the same as the Mac version (feature and code-wise)!


Rhapsody Draw program running on Windows 95/NT


JAVA:

The previous figures imply that the Yellow Box and Java are linked. Java has been touted as a solution for write-once, deploy anywhere software. The Yellow Box has been made completely accessible to Java-based programs. This gives Java programmers access to the maturity and power of the Yellow Box, along with automatic cross-platform deployment capability. One of Javaís current limitations is that it is still rather inmature as a development and deployment platform. By opening up the Yellow Box to Java, Java developers get full access to all the advanced development and deployment capabilities of the Yellow Box.

III. WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF RHAPSODY?


DEVELOPER BENEFITS


USER BENEFITS


SOFTWARE AVAILABILITY

There is definitely quite a bit of software that will run on Rhapsody today:

IV. THE OVERALL PICTURE


THE RHAPSODY PACKAGE


POWER MAC VERSUS PC COMPATIBLES

Why continue to buy PowerPC hardware?


RHAPSODY VERSUS OTHER CROSS-PLATFORM ALTERNATIVES


CONCLUSIONS

I hope this has helped in understanding the potential that Apple Rhapsody provides, both as an architecture and as an operating environment. Judging from the media, there is still a lot of confusion over what Rhapsody is.

I will be available to keep people updated on any major new developments and releases, and whatever results I come up with as I am beta-testing the software.

Sincerely,

Larry Peng
Org 8713
510-294-2402


Updated: 12-Feb-1998
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