X/Open Co Ltd is now well into its campaign to attract independent software vendors for a project it hopes will lead to the development of a range of application programming interface testing tools using techniques derived from the UK Defence Research Agency’s TenDRA system, also the basis of the ANDF Architecture Neutral Distribution Format. The […]
X/Open Co Ltd is now well into its campaign to attract independent software vendors for a project it hopes will lead to the development of a range of application programming interface testing tools using techniques derived from the UK Defence Research Agency’s TenDRA system, also the basis of the ANDF Architecture Neutral Distribution Format. The tools that X/Open has in mind would rigorously scrutinise a program’s conformance to a given range of application programming interfaces, and thereby enable developers to assess the suitability of the software for other hardware and software environments. The results would enable independent software vendors to make appropriate modifications to programs to ensure they conform to those application programming interfaces. X/Open says that most of the independent software vendors it has canvassed are obviously keen to find new ways of supporting different systems in more economic and profitable ways, but adds that it has had difficulty convincing them that an X/Open project is the way to do it, or to stump up the small financial contribution required to cover the planned project’s expenses. With one unnamed independent software vendor already signed on and 25 others (all Unix companies) considering terms – it needs a dozen sponsors – plus the required agreement from X/Open’s own user council – the project has in the standards body’s view an estimated 75% chance of happening. It has set a time limit of a month from now for these things to fall into place before it goes off and begins work on one of the countless other projects that also require its attention.
If it doesn’t happen, it will prove that the plan is too early for the industry to bear, says X/Open. The project envisaged will be a shared development – like the Common Desktop or 1170 specification work – using the expertise of the project member companies, which will use the stuff in their existing projects and define what it takes to develop real-world portable code. X/Open hopes the resulting testing tools could eventually be integrated into the various software testing tool packages on the market. The project will, if it goes ahead, use TenDRA technology – including the front-end of ANDF – to provide application programming interface awareness to the compiler, and ADL, the Sun Labs and Japanese MITI-developed application programming interface description language that will drive the application programming interfaces into the testing tools themselves. ADL specifications will be royalty-free, some kind of licence to TenDRA will be required, but X/Open will put all resulting testing tools specifications into the public domain. The British Defence Research Agency is promising to offer complete compiler implementations as well as the basic application programming interface-checking mechanism. Ultimately the testing tools could help application binary interface camps standardise their efforts, would certainly help independent software vendors to bring their applications to Unix and could even help the efforts of groups like the Public Windows Initiative (although there are many issues that require attention first in this case). The Defence Research Agency says it will be showing versions of its compiler and application programming interface-checking utilities at UniForum this week.