EurOS/2 Magazine - Volume 1 Number 1

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EurOS/2 Magazine, Volume 1 Number 1, 5th February 1996
Editor: Martin Brampton

What's New From EurOS/2...

Why the EurOS/2 Magazine?
Our aim is to create an interactive medium that gives you both filtered information and a voice of your own.
How do you talk to others through EurOS/2?
If you want to speak to EurOS/2 participants, simply submit your message in computer readable form. Send to or for other alternatives see contact details towards the end. You are free to make offers of help or information where you are willing to share your competence. If you'd like to start a collaborative effort, then begin with an announcement here. Ask other EurOS/2 participants if they have already tackled a problem that is facing you. Once you've started a joint activity, and want to proceed faster than the issues of EurOS/2 electronic magazine can support, set up your own communications scheme to suit your joint needs.
What about meetings?
We presently plan to hold a meeting once a month. The next is scheduled for 7th March 1996, to be held at the Moore Stephens Training Centre, 1 Snow Hill, London EC1A 2EN commencing at 4 pm. Please let us have your fax number if you'd like a map. All EurOS/2 participants are very welcome.
And if you'd like to speak at a meeting?
Offers to speak on a subject of interest to organisations implementing OS/2 are very welcome. Please let Martin Brampton have details of the subject(s) on which you'd be willing to speak. It may not be possible to accept every offer, but we'll be trying to construct a varied programme with as many different points of view as possible.
Is there useful OS/2 material on the Web?
Yes, lots - and we can't cover it all! But where it seems helpful, we'll mention Web pages. Given that this is an electronic magazine, the Web references will be included as links, so that if you store this message (you'll probably have to give it a name with .HTM extension) you will be able to view it with your Web browser and simply click on the Web references. At the top of this magazine are a few words using HTML to give you a link to the Web references section.
What's the future for EurOS/2 Magazine?
This is a start for the EurOS/2 magazine, and we hope it will grow. The early editions are going to be experimental, and there may be some repetition. But the more you use it, and the more participants we enrol, the more valuable information we will be able to carry.
Apart from information exchange between EurOS/2 participants, we will provide reports on EurOS/2 meetings and selected news items relating to OS/2. We will also be happy to publish genuine information about products and services that are likely to be of interest to OS/2 users, but will not carry simple advertising or product promotion.
A significant part of the value of the EurOS/2 electronic magazine is that it is a controlled and edited medium. It avoids the distractions of open forums, where the high quality contributions can easily be drowned out by the volume of trivia.
Any comments?
We'd welcome comments on the EurOS/2 Magazine or on EurOS/2 meetings, and will try to take account of the views expressed. Please use the contact information given below.

The first EurOS/2 Seminar

The EurOS/2 meetings programme was launched on 1st February with a seminar on topics concerned with the OS/2 Workplace Shell. Martin Brampton gave an outline of the way in which the Workplace Shell is implemented as a set of cooperating "objects" using IBM's programming language independent SOM (System Object Model). The way desktop objects are stored either in OS2.INI or in Extended Attributes was described, along with the implications this has for what can be done with different objects. The object model allows the development of new desktop objects, based on the standard ones provided with OS/2.

Alan Chambers of IBM explained how the Restricted Workplace Shell had been developed to meet the concerns of some IBM clients over the management and support of user "desktops". The Restricted Shell provides a user interface that has fewer options for reconfiguration, thereby becoming more robust. It also supports the dynamic creation of the desktop, typically from information held on a network, thus permitting centralised support and easier movement of users from machine to machine. The RWPS is built around new classes, based on the standard WPS SOM classes, using the concept of inheritance. Alan demonstrated elements of the pre-release version 3 of Restricted WPS, including a WYSIWYG editor for creating desktops. The version demonstrated had been compiled during the train journey to the meeting!

Martin continued with a very brief overview of the REXX programming language, explaining how flexible it was for purposes such as building network login facilities to further simplify the user interaction. REXX is quick and easy to develop, with excellent functions for analysing configuration files, and dynamic execution facilities that can be used to customise the desktop. Finally, the Moore Stephens login system was explained. It is based on VisPro/REXX, the Hockware tool that provides GUI functions through an easy to use screen painter, with the logic built by coding in REXX. The login system holds all user configuration information in a single file, and simplifies the user interaction down to the entry of a password. The configuration on each PC is completely standardised.

Following the seminar, over refreshments, there was vigorous discussion between participants, continuing for almost another two hours. Companies with delegates were Southern Electric, Creek Audio, Inland Revenue, fPrint UK, International Software Solutions, as well as hosts Moore Stephens. A number of other major OS/2 users had expressed interest, but been unable to attend. The International OS/2 User Group was represented by Geoff Drake, its organiser. The OS/2 product manager for the UK and now several other countries, Nick Davis, was present and gave participants samples of the latest beta of Warp Server, and also the "Just Add OS/2 Warp" pack designed to encourage migration from Windows to OS/2. Alan Chambers, IBM's architect of the Restricted WPS was, of course, present and the third IBMer was Steve Walker, IBM's leading publicist for OS/2.

Offer of collaboration

Moore Stephens would like to collaborate with anyone else working with the implementation of commercial applications under the Restricted Workplace Shell. We have found there is a good deal of work to "deconstruct" software installation routines so that we can dynamically create the necessary objects on the desktop at login time. We'd be happy to share this work with others. We're also happy to consider sharing our experience of developing login procedures (presently linked with Netware and including a REXX callable DLL for Netware utilities). If you're interested, please contact Martin Brampton - see EurOS/2 contact details below.

OS/2 Installation Techniques

Although Cristie tape and CD drives are well known, it is less well known that they have worked with IBM to produce a way of installing OS/2 from a portable tape drive. Unlike the standard issue CD, the tape can include customisation information, making the installation completely automated. For details, contact Robin Burton of Cristie.

Object Developments - VisualAge (Smalltalk)

After much time spent determining a new software development standard, Moore Stephens will shortly be embarking on new projects using Visual Age (Smalltalk) for the first time. We'd be interested in talking to anyone with experience of this development platform, or with products or services that might be relevant to us.

EurOS/2 Contact Information

We would like to encourage anyone working to achieve successful OS/2 implementations to participate in EurOS/2. All communications are despatched electronically, via Internet, Compuserve or fax. To receive regular information from EurOS/2, please let us know your first name, last name, company, job title, address, telephone, fax, Internet e-mail address, Compuserve e-mail address, and indicate which form of communication you prefer.

EurOS/2 can be contacted in the following ways:

  • Internet at
  • Compuserve to Martin Brampton 100303,2007
  • Fax to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, 0171-246-6055
  • BBS Moore Stephens Infoline, 0171-334-0337
  • Mail to Martin Brampton, Moore Stephens, St Paul's House, Warwick Lane, London EC4P 4BN.

Web Stuff

If you're just reading this as an e-mail, please try to ignore all this HTML stuff in angle brackets. To use this information directly to access Web sites, save this e-mail to disk (with a .htm extension), then start up your Web browser and point it to the saved e-mail. If you're using the IBM Web Explorer, then click on the "File" drop down, then select "Open File" - or to do it all in one press Ctrl-O. Provided you are connected to the Internet, you will be able to click on the Web references, and go directly to the Web sites mentioned.

  • Is OpenDoc going to change our lives? It's difficult to say at present, as it has a long way to catch up on OLE. But if it can gain momentum, it offers some high quality technology and genuine cross platform capabilities. To keep in touch with progress, you could visit the new "OpenDoc Club" created by IBM. Start at Club OpenDoc.
  • Are you involved with OS/2 based software development? If so, try to get to Colorado in October. Wayne Kovsky and his wife Peggy run an unrivalled software development conference coming up to its fifth year in October 1996. It's called ColoradOS/2 and will be set in spectacular scenery high up in the Rocky Mountains. The conference lasts a week, from Sunday evening to Friday lunch time, and there are presentations from 8 am to 9 pm if you can stand the pace. Speakers at ColoradOS/2 include top developers from IBM and other OS/2 software companies, providing accurate and detailed information about all aspects of OS/2 software. If you plan ahead and travel economy, the cost is no more than a European conference, and the quality is incomparable. Have a look at the ColoradOS/2 Conference Web Site
  • A potentially explosive development for the Web is fractal image encoding. This is claimed to reduce an image contained in a 1.5 megabyte file to a mere 80 kilobytes without serious loss of quality. The fractal file can also be zoomed without the appearance of square "pixellation". To find out what is going on visit the Web site of Iterated Systems.
  • EurOS/2 collaborates with the International OS/2 User Group, that offers subscribers a high quality magazine, "OS/2 Pointers". You can also visit the Web Site of the [International OS/2 User Group].
  • You may be wanting to find OS/2 native applications software. One way to find out what is on offer is the OS/2 Solutions Directory. This includes many links and also a search facility so that you can enter the words that are key to your application need and have a list of products returned. Sponsored by several organisations, including IBM, try visiting the [OS/2 Solutions Directory].
  • Are you among the many people thinking of setting up your own Web Server? Before you spend money on it, consider looking at Mike Cowlishaw's GoServe. This was built as part of the IBM employee written software scheme - which makes it free! Although also largely unsupported! But it works very well, and it is possible to customise it easily by writing REXX scripts. For a pilot scheme, find out more about Mike Cowlishaw's GoServe Web and Gopher Server.