Interpreting the Rhapsody Buzzword Blitz
(c)1998 Andrew C. Stone

As an early adopter of NeXT technology (1989), I have had the advantage of a decade of working closely with the core software technologies of Apple's new Rhapsody Operating system and Yellow Box Application Developer's Interface (API). So, theoretically, I should have immediately understood what exactly it was that Apple Marketing was renaming so quickly last year, right? Nope, it had me totally confused for awhile! This week I'll begin to unravel the mystery behind the boxes blue and yellow.

Let's start with this
quote from Apple:

"What is Rhapsody?

Rhapsody is the code name for Apple's next generation operating system and development platform. Rhapsody is composed of an operating system that will be hosted on PowerPC and Intel (Rhapsody for Power Macintosh and Rhapsody for PC Compatibles), as well as a development platform - the Yellow Box - that is hosted on Rhapsody, Windows (both Windows 95/98 and Windows NT), and eventually Mac OS."

Yellow Box is more or less what "OpenStep" used to mean: Yellow Box is neither architecture specific, (ie Intel, Motorola, SPARC) nor operating system specific (ie Windows 95, Rhapsody, OpenStep). It is just identical header files and libraries that allow developers to write one code base that compiles and runs on many platforms. All of the system-dependent code has been hidden away by providing one system-independent layer of glue. Apple did the hard work, making it trivial for the rest of us to be crossplatform developers. Major applications like Create(tm) and OmniWeb(tm) were simply recompiled on Apple Yellow Box for Windows, and instantly 200 million more users can run our apps.

To a developer, the Yellow Box is the holy grail because it allows us to create software in Rhapsody using the plethora of cool objects provided by Apple, and then compile the exact same code for use on Windows machines. And it won't be too long before Apple has the Yellow Box running on the MAC OS, which means Rhapsody developers can write apps for Rhapsody that also run on MAC OS as well as Windows. This is a beautiful strategy to encourage Mac developers to jump on board the Rhapsody freight train.

And, Yellow Box is language independent as well - use your choice of: Objective C, Java, C or C++, or mix and match as the mood suits you.

I contend that Yellow Box is no less than a beautiful, gift-wrapped present to the WINTEL world which will invite the majority of computer users in the known galaxy to try out the power of Rhapsody from the convenience of their previously installed Windows 95 or Windows NT operating system. When they install Yellow Box for Windows, they will feel the power of Display PostScript and the many other Rhapsodic advantages. But this taste will leave them hungering for more, and then they'll install Rhapsody for INTEL on their PC's. Eventually, they'll want the fastest and most robust implementation, and they'll pop over to the Apple Store and pick up the latest G3 to run Rhapsody on the most "native" and supported box. Sly as a fox, Apple engages Bill's Bountiful Behemoth in its own territory.

Apple's attention to the wide world of WINTEL has not supplanted its number one concern of meeting the needs of the "money cannot buy this kind of loyalty" Macintosh user community. The removal of all obstacles to Mac User adoption of Rhapsody is best exemplified by Apple's Blue Box project.

The Blue Box is extreme technology which allows Macintosh PPC applications to run directly on Rhapsody without recompiling, or stated more bluntly, allows you to continue to invest in MAC OS apps, and guarantees that you can continue to run these if you upgrade to the Rhapsody OS on your PPC. Apple's concept is that you double click the Blue Box (aka, and for all intents and purposes, you ARE running the MAC OS, right along side of Rhapsody.

Bountiful Although as Thomas Wolfe once wrote, "You can never go home." You may never need to! Blue Box makes sliced bread seem like a ho-hum invention.

I hope this has shed some light on why Rhapsody developers are so psyched up, and why Windows and Macintosh developers should seriously consider using the Yellow Box API's. Feedback to