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Apple and CLIM

Following the note from Randy Fennel of Boeing Huntsville AI Center concerning
the buying of CLIM by Apple (or at least a much greater support by Apple), I would
like to express here how much I do agree with his point of vue.

NRB (Network Research Belgium) is a 49 people company that manages a WAN of 1 IBM 9000,
a dozen Vax systems, some 20 Cisco routers and about 2400 "workstations" (PCs, Macs
and 3270 terminals).  The WAN extends to half of Belgium's territory.  It is a mixed
internet with ethernet, token ring and appletalk networks.  We use PCSA and MSA for
the client/server achitecture.

The internet is getting so big that a development project has been started 3 years ago
to build a network management system.  Here is a short abstract of a talk recently
given to introduce the system.

"Nanesse is a Network management system based on artificial intelligence techniques.
-	A network interface lets the system receive net alarms and send commands to nodes.
-	It uses an object oriented database to store node and line information about the Wide Area 
Network NRB manages.
-	Graphics and hypertext techniques let the manager easily access all information about his 
networks and their nodes in different windows.
-	An expert system shell applies "forward rules" to diagnose alarms received, then "backward 
rules" to repair some of the detected problems.

It is currently in an advanced development stage and is moving towards production at NRB (Network 
Research Belgium).  It supports DECnet and TCP/IP protocols.  NRB's WAN consists of an IBM 9000, a 
dozen Vax systems, about 20 Cisco routers and some 2400 "workstations" (PCs, Macs or 3270 terminals).

The presentation will highlight some of Nanesse's characteristics and functionalities.  The user 
interface will be briefly described and the need for such a system will be explained."

Sorry for this long introduction, but I thought it would be a good way to stress how
important it is for us that Apple supports CLIM.

The first part of the project has been developed on a good ol' Symbolics 3650 machine.
Recently, we needed to expand our development resources and had to decide on new
machines to buy.  Here are our arguments and our choice:

- Symbolics machines (especially Ivory ones) are for us the best development tools
available.  Unfortunately, they are not very cheap.  This is not too much of a problem
for a few development machines, but it is out of question for a production machine
(the system will be deployed internally first, but we don't exclude commercializing it

- Unix machines have pretty strong lisp environments, but they are not very cheap
either (maybe this is only true in Europe ?) and it's not fun spending one's time
configuring stuff days after days.  A more important point is that, except for the
R&D team, there is *no* unix expertise out there, and there won't be before some time.
In Belgium at the minimum, and in some european countries, Unix makes it way in the
universities and in some engineering companies *only*.  The large part of "Business"
oriented companies (insurance, banks, production companies) are not Unix aware at all
(it's all IBM's mainframes, AS/400 or Vax systems plus micros like PCs or Macs).

- PCs (not Unix PCs) don't seem to have good enough lisp environments (and they are
PCs...).  There is CLOE for production, but we are looking for development machines

- Macs have a pretty good lisp and this was a tempting solution.  It had CLOS, CLIM, a good 
development environment, access to Mac toolbox (important for us because we
thought of going thru the Communication Toolbox for our multinetwork access), promised to have good 
GC, etc...  Unfortunately it is still be a bit too young in some areas.  First, MCL 2 is not final 
yet (it means inc GC is not yet supported), there is no
process manager - which we heavily rely on (and this is the justification of my
recent question on that point to this list), and the CTB access has yet to be written,
as to my understanding.

Finally, we choose to buy 2 MacIvories (Macintosh + Symbolics' Ivory processor on a
nubus card) for the development machines.  (We will heavily use Statice, an object
oriented database developed by Symbolics - that was the final element that made us
choose Symbolics).

We will also continue to use heavily CLOS and CLIM and that's the reason why we need
Apple to support CLIM on MCL.  When we will have to choose the production machines
(we will need to distribute the control machines on the network to insure redundancy
and multiple accesses), we hope to be able to choose simple macintoshes with MCL,
CLOS and CLIM (and the to-be process manager).

Moreover, we also strongly believe that CLIM is the de-facto standard (because it's
too good a product not to be a standard).

The Macintosh could be the door to the real world for advanced products.  Making sure that
the lisp environment is at the top of the lisp technology will help the Macintosh stay at the
top of the computing technology.

Sorry for being so long, and thanks again to the MCL and CLIM developers.  You do a great job!

Vincent Keunen
Network Research Belgium