Making User Friendly Software Developer Friendly

Replacing arcane commands with graphical representations, or icons, has no doubt made computers "friendlier." But the complex programs that create such "graphical user interfaces," such as Microsoft Corp.'s Windows 3.0, can be difficult for software developers to master. Worse, developers often must deal with a variety of such programs, each with its own quirks and each designed for a different computer system.

All that may change, though, with Neuron Data Inc.'s new Open Interface software. It creates graphical user interfaces that can be moved easily among different hardware systems, with no loss of function--or so the company claims. With the new package, an interface designed for any of five types of computers--Apple Macintosh, IBM PC, and clones running Microsoft's MS-DOS or OS/2, Digital Equipment's VAX, and most machines running any variant of AT&T's Unix--can be used on any other computer in the group. Thus, at the customer's whim, a Sun Microsystems Inc. workstation can instantly be given the exact look and feel of a Macintosh or a PC. Neuron, based in Palo Alto, Calif., expects its Open Interface to help software companies by making it possible to write programs for all these machines at the same time.

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