Stop the Presses, LJ Index and more.
Penguins on the Concept of Teamwork

In The Penguin Post (yes, it exists, www.penguin-place.com) we recently found two reports of great interest and no importance suggesting that penguins are unusually sporting birds.

Item #1: Bird Bowling: The British Air Force in the Falkland Islands discovered a way to “bowl” for penguins by flying over large groups of the groundbound birds. See, penguins are observant creatures that are unusually interested in airplanes (flight envy perhaps?). Herds of up to ten thousand penguins will, in unison, all point their beaks at a plane flying overhead, tracking it accurately as it passes by. Sooo...if the pilots fly over the penguins at just the right angle, the little animals all fall over backwards—again in unison—just as the plane passes overhead.

Item #2: Birdball: The penguins hanging around the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Antarctica have been observed to take interest in games of football played by humans on flat fields of snow and ice.

One day the scientists came out to discover that the penguins had taken the field. They would line up in two rough groups, and then start squawking and running around bumping into each other. After a bit of this, they would pick themselves up and start the process all over again. They hadn't quite got the idea that a ball was important to the process, but they kept at it for some time. The sight was so ridiculous that everyone was rolling on the ice laughing.

Stop the Presses: Kylix Clix with CLX

Borland, the development tools company that recently returned to its original name (shedding the confusing “Inprise”), has finally come out with Kylix, its long-awaited rapid application development (RAD) Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Linux—and for cross-platform development as well.

Developed entirely for Linux as a native Linux development toolset, Kylix is also very familiar to users of Delphi, Borland's popular Windows RAD toolset. Kylix not only allows developers to use nearly identical tools and skills but to move Delphi-developed Windows applications over to Linux. Borland claims there are over two million Delphi and C++ Builder users, millions of applications, thousands of vertical and horizontal components, and over five hundred registered third-party tool and component vendors that will easily leverage from the Windows world to Linux using Kylix.

At the core of Kylix is the Component Library for Cross Platform Development, or CLX, pronounced “clicks”. This is an open-source application infrastructure that supports both the commercial version of Kylix and the core component architecture, which Borland is releasing under the General Public License (GPL). These are expressed in three product editions: Open Edition, Desktop Developer and Server Developer. All three are available as shrink-wrapped products with the Open Edition available for free download as well. All CLX class libraries, however, are open source and GPL'd.

Like other commercial Linux vendors, Borland is attempting to support both commercial application development and ubiquitous Linux-based infrastructure. There is plenty of demand for both. This was manifest before the Kylix project began, when Borland conducted an extensive survey (partly through Linux Journal) in 1999. The survey had more than 24,000 responses that included both Linux and Windows developers. RAD development tools were at the top of the wish list for both groups. The top types of planned applications were application/utility development and client/server database development.

Ted Shelton characterizes Kylix's potential impact this way:

Imagine what would happen if Microsoft open sourced .Net, the crown jewels of their new strategy to dominate the emerging market for “web services”. Imagine how thousands of developers would be able to take .Net and not just build applications with it, but truly extend it—move it to new operating systems, add functionality, specialize key interfaces for new devices, environments and vertical applications. Imagine how fast the world would change. We're ready to provide the drills, hammers and circular saws for developers to build an entirely new application infrastructure, one that will be industrial strength, open source and Linux-ready.

After the press conference announcing Kylix, it appeared to me that the deepest significance of Kylix may be in its cross-platform class libraries—in CLX. During the conference, Borland CEO and President Dale Fuller compared CLX to .Net, calling CLX “.Now”. I asked Ted Shelton if this positioned CLX as a cross-platform framework that competed not only with .Net (which is not really cross-platform but cross-language within the Windows platform), but with Java as well. He replied, “When you develop, you essentially choose a set of class libraries. Java offers one. Microsoft offers another with .Net. CLX is now the third. But it's the only one that is both open source and cross platform. I expect that after the Open Source community gets into it, the CLX libraries will outnumber Java's.”