Industry Leaders Agree on Commons Interface Specification for Unix-Based Operating Systems

OSF, UI Member Companies to Review Specification X/Open to Manage Ongoing Evolution

NEW YORK -- Sept. 1, 1993 -- More than 75 of the world's leading UNIX(R) system suppliers and software developers today announcedagreement on a comprehensive specification defining a common set of application programming interfaces (APIs) for UNIX-based operating systems. The common API specification enhances the portability of UNIX system-based applications, while maintaining the benefits of having multiple, competitive implementations of the operating system.

This specification will provide significant new benefits for software developers and end-users. Developers will be able to write a single version of each application and recompile to make it available across all compliant UNIX system platforms. In addition, the specification allows developers to continue to exploit the unique functions that will be found in different vendor's implementations. End users will benefit from increased application availability, while taking advantage of choice, innovation and performance optimization.

X/Open Company Ltd. has agreed to formalize industry consensus, to brand compliant product implementations, and to manage the evolution of the common UNIX system-based API specification. The specification development and review process has received the support of UNIX system suppliers representing approximately 90 percent of the worldwide UNIX system market, according to International Data Corp., a market research firm based in Framingham, Mass. All organizations have agreed to participate in the industry-wide review process.

"The release of this specification for a common set of UNIX system-based APIs is a watershed event for vendors and users," said Geoff Morris, president and chief executive officer of X/Open. "This initiative increases the choice of solutions for companies that have adopted open systems strategies incorporating UNIX-system based platforms. We expect that the combination of this common specification with the X/Open brand will accelerate the implementation of open systems to achieve increased business advantage."

The APIs were selected based on formal industry standards (X/Open Portability Guide (XPG)) and widely supported specifications (System V Interface Definition (SVID) and Application Environment Specification (AES)) and API usage data from leading UNIX system-based applications from vendors, including: Autodesk, Cadence Design Systems, Cadre Technologies Inc., Frame Technology Corp., Informix Software Inc., Island Graphics Corp., Lotus Development Corp., Oracle Corp., and the WordPerfect Corporation.

This process of selecting APIs based on their industry acceptance differentiates this effort from previous standardization attempts, will result in increased portability for many existing applications and will simplify the porting process for other applications. No other operating system adheres to this level of standardization, while simultaneously offering this range of portability, scalability and choice of platforms.

"Our biggest fundamental challenge in making our applications available to users on various UNIX system platforms has been adjusting to the differences in each UNIX-based operating system. This new specification will more easily enable us to continue to provide the industry's leading UNIX-based solutions," said Kurt Seibert, CA senior vice president of strategic business alliances, Computer Associates International, Inc. "The collaborative efforts of the major UNIX system suppliers gathered here today opens the door for companies to leverage business opportunities in the fast-growth UNIX system market."

"The business implications of a unified set of UNIX system-based APIs are promising," said Marc Schulman, president of Technology Strategies Group. "This specification means that the cost and complexity of the development and use of UNIX-system based applications will be reduced, and the freeing of these resources will provide the financial wherewithal to develop and implement higher functionality applications."

An industry workgroup consisting of UNIX system vendors, the Open Software Foundation (OSF) and UNIX International, Inc. (UI), adhering to principles outlined by the common open software environment process announced earlier this year, has created the initial draft specification and will work with X/Open to review and complete this specification.

The following companies and organizations are indicating their support for this specification development and will participate in the review process: Acer, Amdahl Corporation, Apple Computer, AT&T/NCR Corp., Autodesk, Banyan Systems,Inc., Bellcore, Bentley Systems, Inc., Bull Worldwide Information Systems, Cadence Design Systems, Cadre Technologies Inc., Chorus Systems, Computer Associates International, Inc., Convex Computer Corp., Cray Research, Inc., Data General Corp., DHL Worldwide Express, Digital Equipment Corp., EDS Unigraphics, Encore Computer Corp., Frame Technology Corp., Fuji Xerox, 88open Consortium, Ltd., Fujitsu, HaL Computer Systems, Hewlett-Packard Company, Hitachi, Ltd. IBM Corp., ICL, Informix Software Inc., Island Graphics Corp., Lachman Technology Inc., Locus Computing Corp., Lotus Development Corp., Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., McDonald's Corp., Mentor Graphics Corp., MIPS ABI Group, Mitsubishi Electric Corp., Motorola Computer Group, NCR Corp., NEC, Novell-UNIX System Laboratories (USL), Oki Electric Industries Co. Ltd., Olivetti, the Open Software Foundation, Oracle Corporation, Pencom, Precision Risc Organization, PowerOpen Association, Inc., Pyramid Technology Corp., the Santa Cruz Operation, Sequent Computer Systems, Inc., Sequoia Systems, Inc., SHARP Corporation, Siemens-Nixdorf, Silicon Graphics, Inc., Software AG of North America, Sony Corp., SPARC International, Stratus Computer Inc., Structural Dynamics Research Corporation, Sun Microsystems Computer Corp., SunPics, SunSelect, SunSoft, Inc., Tadpole Technology, Tandem Computers Inc., THOMPSON-CSF/CETIA, Toshiba, Unisys, UNIX International, Inc., VERITAS Software, Wal*Mart Stores, Inc., Wang Laboratories, Inc. and the WordPerfect Corporation.

"The development and ultimate adoption of a standard set of UNIX system-based APIs is very exciting for our company," said Len Hanlock, chief information officer for DHL Worldwide Express. "When commercial products that conform to the standard are available off the shelf, the potential of open systems will be greatly enhanced."

The specification to be reviewed by member companies of the OSF and UI and received by X/Open is an extension of the XPG and will add to it the System V Interface Definition Edition 3 level 1 base APIs currently incorporated in USL's SVID3, and full-use APIs from the OSF's AES Operating System Programming Interfaces (OSPI). The specification also includes other widely-used interfaces, including Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) 4.3 Reno Sockets and TCP/IP.

Industry Review Process

The draft specification will be available this month through the OSF and UI, to their members and other parties worldwide for industry review. It is expected this industry feedback will aid in facilitating approval and adoption of the specification by X/Open. Following this initial phase, the specification will be submitted to X/Open in November and put through the Fast Track process. The Fast Track process allows high quality specifications with broad industry support to be integrated quickly into X/Open's XPG. Upon successful completion of this process, test suites will be developed for verification and for X/Open branding of products in compliance with the specification.

This process will enable UNIX system vendors to deliver standardized documentation to software developers during the first half of 1994.

Today's announcement reinforces the position of UNIX-based systems as the premier 32-bit and 64-bit operating environment for open systems. The common API specifications for UNIX-based operating systems will be freely available to all organizations.

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OSF is a trademark of the Open Software Foundation, Inc. UNIX is a registered trademark of UNIX System Laboratories, Inc. in the United States and other countries. X/Open and the "X" device are registered trademarks of X/Open Company Ltd. in the U.K. and other countries.