[Oberon] Portability - language vs libraries vs environments

chris at cfbsoftware.com chris at cfbsoftware.com
Thu Mar 16 01:00:12 CET 2006

> -----Original Message-----
> From: oberon-bounces at lists.inf.ethz.ch 
> [mailto:oberon-bounces at lists.inf.ethz.ch] On Behalf Of August 
> Karlstrom
> Sent: Thursday, 16 March 2006 7:54 AM
> To: ETH Oberon and related systems
> Subject: Re: [Oberon] Trivialising formality considered harmful
> Anyway, Oberon-2 is an excellent design as it is. Let's use it! 
> Personally I don't need additional experimental features. I 
> would like 
> Oberon to be (as least) as portable as C.

Be careful to distinguish between language, libraries and platforms when
referring to portability. In my experience (i.e. maintaining a major
C-based application in the 80's and 90's on DOS, Unix, Xenix, VMS,
Solaris, HP-UX and AIX), the language Oberon is infinitely more portable
than the language C.

Any claims of portability of C are directly-related to the portability
of the Unix library itself. However, this also diminished rapidly when
Unix eventually diverged into its various incompatible forms. 

It was also far easier to achieve portability when dealing with
command-line applications and dumb terminals rather than today's complex

Wirth obviously saw that it was a fruitless exercise trying to make
extensive libraries portable across widely differing platforms with
complex GUIs, so instead he made the whole platform, including the UI
(i.e. the Oberon Operating System) portable. A similar approach has now
been adopted in the mainstream, albeit in a less revolutionary way, with
the Java environment and Microsoft's .NET platform. If you target your
application to one of those environments, then it is portable to all of
the hardware / OS platforms that support that environment.

Chris Burrows
CFB Software


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