SimCity, Cellular Automata, and Happy Tool for HyperLook (nee HyperNeWS (nee GoodNeWS))

HyperLook was like HyperCard for NeWS, with PostScript graphics and scripting plus networking. Here are three unique and wacky examples that plug together to show what HyperNeWS was all about, and where we could go in the future!

SimCity had luxurious mayoral “Screw Up Windows”, multiple animated views with “zoom rockers”, Open Look “pin up” menus, and pop up “pie menus”.

[Note: this is an early draft in progress! Please come again soon.]


The Clock Editor let you edit the clock’s face, hour hand and minute hand in three different graphics editors.
The HyperLook Team: Arthur van Hoff, Dug Scouler, and Don Hopkins.
The Hands-On Demonstration stack had snapshots of other demo stacks, that opened when clicked.

Structured PostScript graphics, data and code are the axis around which everything rotates.

What’s So Good About NeWS?

The NeWS window system was developed for Poets,
by James Gosling and David S. H. Rosenthal at Sun Microsystem.

It’s Not The X-Windows Disaster!

One wonderful thing about NeWS that it isn’t X-Windows.

“The X-Windows Disaster” Totally Biased Commentary on NeWS:

The NeWS Toolkit 3.0 Widget Demos, JED and RasterRap on OpenWindows 3.0

The Three Axis of AJAX, Which NeWS Also Has To Grind!!!

NeWS Button, courtesy of Dave Hsu.

NeWS was architecturally similar to what is now called AJAX, except that NeWS coherently:

…(drum roll)…

1) Used PostScript CODE instead of JavaScript

2) Used PostScript GRAPHICS instead of DHTML and CSS

3) Used PostScript DATA instead of XML and JSON

The Axis of Eval: Code, Graphics, and Data

Alan Kay at Xerox PARC with the Alto in the mid-1970s.
From “The Father Of Mobile Computing Is Not Impressed”, Fast Company.
(Photo courtesy of Alan Kay.)

Alan Kay on NeWS:

“I thought NeWS was ‘the right way to go’ (except it missed the live system underneath). It was also very early in commercial personal computing to be able to do a UI using Postscript, so it was impressive that the implementation worked at all.” -Alan Kay

PSIBER Space: What Was Visually Programming NeWS Like?

Figure 1 shows objects on the process’s stack displayed in windows with their tabs pinned on the spike.

The PSIBER Space Deck is an interactive visual user interface to a graphical programming environment, the NeWS window system. It lets you display, manipulate, and navigate the data structures, programs, and processes living in the virtual memory space of NeWS. It is useful as a debugging tool, and as a hands on way to learn about programming in PostScript and NeWS.

A Pseudo Scientific Visualization of the NeWS rootmenu instance dictionary.

The Pseudo Scientific Visualizer is the object browser for the other half of your brain, a fish-eye lens for the macroscopic examination of data. It can display arbitrarily large, arbitrarily deep structures, in a fixed amount of space. It shows form, texture, density, depth, fan out, and complexity.

What’s the Big Deal About HyperCard?

I thought HyperCard was quite brilliant in the end-user problems it solved. (It would have been wonderfully better with a deep dynamic language underneath, but I think part of the success of the design is that they didn’t have all the degrees of freedom to worry about, and were just able to concentrate on their end-user’s direct needs.

HyperCard is an especially good example of a system that was “finished and smoothed and documented” beautifully. It deserved to be successful. And Apple blew it by not making the design framework the basis of a web browser (as old Parc hands advised in the early 90s …) -Alan Kay

The Great Big Release of GoodNeWS

Arthur van Hoff, author of GoodNeWS/HyperNeWS/HyperLook.

The scoop on GoodNeWS !!!

Danny Pearce with Hyperlook at the Turing Institute (Wikipedia)
Hugh Daniel (April 19, 1962 — June 3, 2013)

The Key to SimCity

The Key to SimCity

Open Sourcing SimCity, by Chaim Gingold

Chaim Gingold described Open Sourcing SimCity
in his PhD Dissertation “Play Design”.
Sun thought SimCity would help sell workstations to the GIS market.

The GIS and Desktop Applications Segments have a window of opportunity to get the #1 selling game “SimCity” ported to Sun. The opportunity also allows us to open up the software so that it can become a front end to GIS applications by including ToolTalk and/or import/export file capability to the standard GIS formats. This and networking will differentiate it from the PC version. The Sun SimCity version will allow Sun to offer a true “desktop” GIS solution as well as a leading entertainment package!

The game is currently being used by many government offices to train their city planners. We have already received high support from ESRI [a developer of commercial GIS products] and URISA [a GIS education and advocacy non-profit] to move the game over and now are seeking Sun field encouragement that will concur with our direction.

Please respond with any comments or customer interest that you think would support the project.

Moving to Glasgow for HyperLook and SimCity

The Turing Institute in Glasgow Scotland

Eating Our Own Dog Food, and Loving It

Developing HyperLook and SimCity together forced us to eat our own dog food.
Photo thanks to roadsidepictures on Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

Shared Memory Library

HyperLook had a message oriented network client interface, a shared memory raster animation library, and a real time sound mixer.

Audio Mixer

It’s Burgher Time!

It’s Burgher Time!

What’s So Interesting about HyperLook?

HyperCard uses Stacks and Cards instead of Windows and Layouts.

User Can Create and Edit Their Own Stacks of Cards

Like HyperCard, HyperLook used the Card/Background/Stack metaphor, but added network clients. Users could create and edit stacks at runtime.

Networking and Message Passing

How HyperLook can solve the world hunger crisis.

Object => Card => Background => Stack => Client Delegation

HyperLook Messages Delegate From
Object => Card => Background => Stack => Client

HyperLook Client Libraries

The Turing Institute held the First International Robot Olympics in September 1990.

Structured PostScript Graphics Editor Component

HyperLook had a wonderful structured PostScript graphics editor component.
Cellular Automata Lava Lamp With Melting Hippie Face (courtesy John Gilmore)

It’s the PostScript, Dammit!

Button Ideas Warehouse With Cool Custom Buttons and Switches To Clone

Ubiquitous Structured PostScript Drawings

The Hands-On Demonstration stack had snapshots of other demo stacks, that opened when clicked.
The Clipboard stack showed whatever was on the clipboard, like an object ,a drawing, an image, or text.

Object Oriented PostScript Programming

HyperLook objects could be customized with object oriented scripts written in PostScrip, and also send, respond and delegate to messages.

Customizable Property Sheets

HyperLook warehouse stacks contained pre-configured
object prototypes with scripted behaviors,
that you could clone into your own stacks.
HyperLook used its own stacks as property sheets to edit its own objects.
Sun canceled NeWS right after we released HyperLook and SimCity.

Practical Example: Customizable Clock Editor

The Clock Editor let you edit the clock’s face, hour hand and minute hand in three different graphics editors.
The NeatClocks stack contained pre-configured prototypes of several gaudy but live clocks.

Nutty Example: Customizable Window Manager

Window management components like resize corners were just customizable components like everything.

But why, you might ask, would anyone in their right mind ever want to customize the window manager at such a fine level of granularity???!!!


Disastrous Example: SimCity

SimCity had luxurious mayoral “Screw Up Windows”, multiple animated views with “zoom rockers”, Open Look “pin up” menus, and pop up “pie menus”.

HyperLook Runtime

This is what happens when hooligan users vandalize the interface in edit mode.
Honk if you love PostScript!

Positive Example: Happy Tool

The Happy stack had a slider to adjust your happiness.
The Happy object’s property sheet has advanced customization controls to fine tune your mood.

Inscrutable Example: Cellular Automata Machine

HyperLook Cellular Automata Machine with Lava Lamp

You could melt anything you wanted, like an air freshener from a car’s rear view mirror, a sad face from Happy Tool, or Alan Turing’s head from a clock face, then use it for any purpose you can imagine, like a clock face, a button, a Happy Mother’s Day card, or as a screen background.

Having way too much fun with drawings and cellular automata in HyperLook, at the Exploratorium.
The Cellular Automata Machine let you draw into the cells, paste structured PostScript drawings into the cells, and copy the cells out as images.

All Together Now: Exploratorium HyperLook Demo

The End of NeWS and Beginning of the Diaspora

SGI and Netscape weren’t the only companies in Silicon Valley with Really Bad Attitude.
X11/NeWS collides with SunSoft.

Arthur van Hoff


Distributed Objects Everywhere


Marimba Castanet and Bongo

Danny Goodman’s “Official Marimba Guide to Bongo
Jaunt makes lots and lots of cool and adorable 360 degree panoramic VR cameras.

Open Sourcing SimCity

User interface flower child. Pie menus, PizzaTool, SimCity, The Sims, Visual Programming, VR, AR, Unity3D / JavaScript bridge.

User interface flower child. Pie menus, PizzaTool, SimCity, The Sims, Visual Programming, VR, AR, Unity3D / JavaScript bridge.