Next April, users will be able to buy the results of Japan’s five-year Sigma project – a range of workstations running a standard set of integrated software development tools, Geoff Conrad writes from Singapore. According to Noboru Akima, the project planning manager, the 193 co-operating companies in the project not only agreed on all the […]
Next April, users will be able to buy the results of Japan’s five-year Sigma project – a range of workstations running a standard set of integrated software development tools, Geoff Conrad writes from Singapore. According to Noboru Akima, the project planning manager, the 193 co-operating companies in the project not only agreed on all the aims and specifications, but produced the hardware and software (now in the final stages of testing) on budget and on time. (After five years of close co-operation, 193 Western computer companies would be knee-deep in blood and the survivors would not agree on anything). Speaking at the Singapore Unix Association’s recent Unix Asia ’89 Conference, Akima said that a new company would be formed before next April to support, modify and enhance the system, while the project will continue to work to extend the coverage of the system interface and efforts will be considered towards the common system interface of wider applications. Recently the Japanese Information Technology Promotion Agency, which runs the project for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, announced that it will standardise on AT&T’s Unix System V.4 rather than the still-nebulous rival OSF/1 Unix from the Open Software Foundation (CI No 1,318). Akima confirmed that the System V Interface Definition was chosen because it is very important and inevitable… to establish the common interface that will be observed by the industry… for the virtue of users and vendors, both domestic and overseas, and to promote the international mutual use of software-hardware products. The Sigma project has developed its own Japan-specific and Japanese language interfaces and requirements. But, according to Akima, the international conventions for multibyte code and character handling tend to cover the wider specification. If the Japanese language options are made available internationally, it should make it easier for foreign software developers to move into the Japanese market, but in the past MITI has never done anything to make the penetration of the Japanese market easier for foreigners! The project drew up hardware specifications for the workstations and developed handling and windowing interfaces. The hardware manufacturers produced all this, with Sigma producing a test suit to check that they complied with the specifications. This is why Sigma workstations have been available from some of the manufacturers for some time, although the Sigma software will not be available until next April. The project has developed a core of about 50 software tools which will be available on every workstation, while various software developers have developed a number of hardware specific tools to run on the different workstations that will be sold by the 10 manufacturers. Also, about 30 software vendors will market their own Sigma software to run on Sigma stations.