Almost everyone believes AppleEvents will be cool when applications start seriously using them. I think that's the appropriate belief; I just wish that AppleEvent-savvy applications would start saturating the market. Part of the problem might be that the whole point of AppleEvents is that applications can use them to communicate with other applications. If no other applications are supporting AppleEvents, these companies think, why should we push to do so with our programs? Yet another application of the chicken and egg conundrum.
Codex Software, an independent company from Australia, may help to break up this dilemma with its new product, XEvents. Originally called CodexEvents, XEvents consists of a set of libraries that allow AppleEvent-style events (XEvents are intentionally very similar to AppleEvents) to be passed between programs running on Macs, Suns, and NeXTs linked via a TCP/IP network. This may sound a tad technical for many of you, but that's OK, it's supposed to. Codex is shipping the XEvents Software Development Kit (SDK) for the Mac, Sun, and NeXT platforms for about $345 US, so only developers can really get in on the fun for the moment.
Codex has initially released XEvents for the Mac, Sun, and NeXT, but they are working on a version of XEvents that runs under Windows as well. Codex is also considering porting XEvents to the RS/6000 workstations from IBM, Apple's A/UX, and in the future, Windows NT, but supporting the Mac, Sun, NeXT, and Windows will cover most people.
Nevertheless, the long range results of XEvent support in different applications running on different platforms should be obvious. It was a big deal when some companies came out with versions of their software that could share files between different platforms. I think it's an even bigger deal that you can pick and choose what software you want to use on whatever platform, and merely have the applications on the different platforms communicate. For instance, I could envision a situation where someone might want to use Nisus on the Mac to create text for a publication that had to be laid out in FrameMaker on the NeXT along with data from a Windows spreadsheet. If everyone supported XEvents, that should be a piece of cake, or at least less of a pain that it would be now.
Codex has a couple of demos of XEvents, including a simple command line tool for Unix that allows a Unix host to send core suite events to the Finder on networked Macs. There is also a NeXTstep-based version of this tool that allows a NeXT to query and control (at a basic level of Open, Print, Quit, etc.) applications running on a Mac over the network. For applications that support AppleEvents but not XEvents, Codex has a background application that receives XEvents from non-Macintosh machines and converts them to AppleEvents before sending them off to the original recipient.
One interesting little feature of XEvents on the Macintosh is that because it does not use the Event Manager under System 7, applications can be written with inter-application messaging facilities even under System 6.0.5. That might be useful for companies who want to keep a feature set stable but want to support both System 6 and System 7. If you're interested in learning more about XEvents, contact Brett Adam via one of the ways below.
Codex Software Development Pty. Ltd.
15A Merton Street
Albert Park, 3206 AUSTRALIA
Phone: + 61 3 696 2490
Fax: + 61 3 696 6757
Email: AUST0335@applelink.apple.com -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Brett Adam -- email@example.com