OpenDoc

Subject: OpenDoc
From: Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- COM
Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 11:23:00 -0600

What is CyberDog?

It's Apple's OpenDoc-based Browser. Currently in 1.0 and currently
available from Apple's CyberDog web site (http://www.cyberdog.apple.com).

Tell us more about your OpenDoc experiences, please.

Well, for the moment most of my OpenDoc-related fun comes from CyberDog and
the fact that anything in OpenDoc fully supports Drag & Drop.

Some CyberDog examples:

To save a copy of the HTML source for a page I can simply drag it from
CyberDog to any folder on my disc, and store it there with the default name
the same as the name it has on the server.

I can save any page as a CyberDog reference, meaning if I double-click it,
it launches CyberDog and connects to that page. In addition CyberDog
supports multiple "notebooks" (the equivalent of bookmark files) each of
which can be organized hierarchically (but only to one level -- there are
"categories" and "items"). There's also a log of every site you've ever
visited, whether you thought to save it or not, which can be used as a
bookmark file as well. This log can be viewed in three different ways:
Alphabetically by page title, Chronologically, or Hierarchically by server
name and file structure (foo.com/fred/floyd is subordinate to foo.com/
fred).

Want to mail someone the URL of one or more of your favorite sites? Drag
the reference(s) from your notebook into your text and you're done. (This
operation requires a mailer that supports Drag and Drop as well -- or you
could use the CyberDog mailer and send it as a notebook entry, ready to be
double-clicked.)

OpenDoc itself is based on the idea that we should be focused on the
document, not on the application. By breaking monolithic applications (how
much space does MS Office take up?) into smaller chunks, programming
becomes simpler. In addition, a user can remove part editors that won't be
used. You can strip out functions that you never use in order to save disc
space.

Basic info about it is at http://www.opendoc.apple.com and you'll find an
E-zine at http://www.partmerchant.com/odz/default.html devoted to it. (Part
Merchant is aiming to be a big distributor of OD parts.)

At its most primitive level, it's like OLE. A document is made up of
several parts, each of which can be edited with it's own editor. At that
level, the major difference is in the parts themselves. They are not
complete applications. Under OpenDoc the editors share a common user
interface, with the specific part editor handling interactions with the
part, and the container still handling all other user interface tasks.So
the part editor doesn't need to have a complete user interface.

You can add an MPEG viewer to your OpenDoc "parts bin" and then add MPEG
movies to *any* OpenDoc document on your system, regardless of whether the
application which created it supports MPEG. I can create a document with
text,pictures, movies, sounds, even URLs to click on for further reference
with the limited set of tools at my disposal.

Which brings me to the down side of it -- the availability of specific
parts, such as one to handle page layout. A number of interesting parts
have been announced, some even are distributing betas (such as one to
produce tables, one to produce graphs and charts, even one to run Java).
The first large selling commercial app to go OpenDoc will probably be
Claris Works (they're quite a long way already, though perhaps with some
effort NetScape will beat them out). I counted nearly thirty parts at
various Apple sites, so the number is growing.

NetScape's recent announcement of complete support for OpenDoc will
probably add some momentum to the bandwagon. The arrival of the Windows
version (I hear IBM's going to ship the public beta in June) will also
help. Java will be supporting it, Adobe's announced a PDF part. Lots of big
names seem to be in the "announcing" phase; we'll see what comes of it.

Currently the part editors available are of the very basic kind (the parts
I have are basic drawing, picture viewing, graphing, making tables, editing
text, editing sound, running Java -- though this one is *very* beta -- and
the like). As in all markets, the simple stuff comes first. So far we're
just now beginning to hear about word processors which will be shipping as
OpenDoc Parts. It'll be a while before a page layout container is
available.

It's not a technology that is ready to adopt Today. But I've installed it
on my system and am keeping an eye on it. It's the first technology I've
seen coming down the pike that might actually be able to make my job
easier, instead of just different. I'm looking forward to the day I can
upgrade a component of what I use everyday, without having everything else
change when I do. Or when I can find a new part which I can add to my
existing parts, and thus add a useful new capability to the way I work with
*every* document, without giving up anything I currently depend upon.

Will it happen? I don't know. But it looks promising.

Have fun,
Arlen
Chief Managing Director In Charge, Department of Redundancy Department
DNRC 124

Arlen -dot- P -dot- Walker -at- JCI -dot- Com
----------------------------------------------
In God we trust; all others must provide data.
----------------------------------------------
Opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.
If JCI had an opinion on this, they'd hire someone else to deliver it.

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