TRON News Items for October 2000

Squeak Programming Environment Test Ported to BTRON

The popular object-oriented "Squeak" programming environment has been test ported to the BTRON3-specification B-right/V R2.5 operating system, which is known as Cho Kanji 2 in the Japanese market. The resulting test version of Squeak, which operates as an application inside a single real object on top of the BTRON3-specification operating system, was distributed on a special CD-ROM to the members of the BTRON Club for evaluation and feedback at a club meeting that took place on July 15 in Shinagawa, Tokyo. However, since the BTRON-based version of Squeak is still unstable and has yet to be completely debugged, there are no plans to release it in the immediate future to the general public. The main goal at this point is to conduct research to see what benefits there are to using it in conjunction in the B-right/V R2.5 operating system environment, a researcher involved in the BTRON subproject told TRON Web.

Squeak is a compact, object-oriented programming environment with a 1-Megabyte footprint that is comparable in functionality to commercially available Smalltalk object-oriented programming environments. Work on its development began around the end of 1995 at Apple Computer Inc. by a team of researchers who wanted to create educational software that could be used and/or programmed by non-specialists, including children. The team began their work on the basis of a Smalltalk-80 implementation that had previously been developed to run on Apple's Macintosh hardware. However, since they wanted to run Squeak on different types of hardware, they had to create a portable interpreter, or "virtual machine." They did this by writing the Squeak interpreter in a subset of Smalltalk-80, which is compiled on the target hardware into a subset of C language using a special translator. An added benefit is that programs running on this virtual machine are executed at high speed.

The Squeak programming environment is designed to run independently of an operating system; and, in fact, it runs on a bare microcontroller--the Mitsubishi M32R/D, which Mitsubishi Electric Corp. claims is the world's first DRAM embedded microcontroller unit. Since it was originally planned for educational projects, Squeak can input/output 16-bit sound and music in real time, and it can handle indexed colors to 8 bits, and RGB colors to 16 and 32 bits. In addition, there is support for image rotation and scaling. Other interesting features are: a compact object format, efficient garbage collection, and support for sockets and network access. Moreover, because everything is written in Smalltalk, advanced users and students of computer science can take it apart, analyze it, and expand on its core functions. The only obligation such people have, according to the licensing agreement, is to make the fruits of their labor available to the Squeak community at large by posting them free of charge on the Internet.

One of the reasons Squeak is such a well thought out and powerful object-oriented programming environment is that the core development team--Dan Ingalls, Ted Kaehler, Alan Kay, John Maloney, and Scott Wallace--included people who worked on the original Smalltalk language back in the 1970s. Thus there is a quarter of a century of object-oriented programming experience behind it. Moreover, these luminaries of object-oriented programming, who now work at Disney, in turn attracted large numbers of other talented programmers to the Squeak, which is why there is a large, diversified, and highly active Squeak community in existence. It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Squeak is employed in many areas, such as education, commercial projects, and research and development.

Those who are interested in testing a stable, debugged version of Squeak can download it from the Internet by clicking the above link. The Squeak programming environment is available for the following operating systems: Acorn RiscOS, Apple Macintosh and MacOS X, BeOS, DEC Itsy, MS-DOS, MS Windows 95/98, MS Windows CE (Cassiopeia and the HP320LX), MS Windows NT, NeXTSTEP, OS2, many versions of UNIX, and Sharp's Zaurus.

BTRON Basic Browser Becomes Compatible with True Multilingual Function

The BTRON Basic Browser, like the other major elements of the BTRON3-specification operating system, is continually under development. The latest development for the BTRON Basic Browser is full compatibility with the multiplane, true multilingual system of B-right/V R2.5, which can handle a total of 1.5 million characters. This is a long awaited improvement, since various organizations in Japan, in particular local government offices and academic institutions, want to create databases using the unabridged kanji character sets loaded onto B-right/V R2.5. Some of the projects envisioned by these organizations are the rewriting of family registers currently based on "user defined kanji," plus the creation of databases with historical materials that heretofore could not have been written with conventional personal computers.

In related news, TRON Web has noticed that there has been considerable discussion and/or criticism of the BTRON Basic Browser on TRON-related Web sites with BBSs. Some people have asked who's developing it (answer: researchers at the Sakamura Laboratory in cooperation with programmers at Personal Media Corp.), while others have asked why doesn't it have all the features that commercial browsers have (answer: not enough development staff available to do the work, and design decisions that could affect the real-time responsiveness of the BTRON3-specification operating system). One of the most important things young people have to realize is that Personal Media is a company, and hence it has to target markets to make profits to stay in business. At present, the main selling point of B-right/V R2.5 is its superb character processing capabilities, and, as a result, that's where development priority has been placed.

Be patient, be positive, and be faithful. By doing those three things, BTRON users will inherit one of the greatest software platforms for personal computing ever devised anywhere in the world. And, yes, it will be worth the wait--in fact, it will be a great source of pride!

ITRON-Related Seminars to Be Held at MST2000

The ITRON Committee of the TRON Association announced it will present three ITRON-related seminars at the Microcomputer System & Tool Fair 2000 (MST2000), which the Japanese System House Association will hold at Tokyo International Exhibition Center (Tokyo Big Sight) from Wednesday, November 15 through Friday, November 17. The TRON Association will also be exhibiting at this event. The ITRON-related seminars at MST2000 are as follows:

November 15 "Embedded Systems of the 21st Century and Their Technologies"
Prof. Ken Sakamura, University of Tokyo
November 17 "The Latest Circumstances of Standardization Activities in the ITRON Project"
November 17 "The Revision of the JTRON Specification"
(Explanation of the JTRON 2.1 Specification)

At the TRON Association booth at MST2000, the TRON Association will be conducting a "Questionnaire Survey on Trends in Embedded Systems OS Utilization." Embedded systems makers are asked to cooperate in this survey.

JTRON2.1 Specification Made Public

The ITRON Committee of the TRON Association has made available to the public the JTRON2.1 Specification. This new specification a revision of the the JTRON2.0 Specification to make it compatible with the µITRON4.0 Specification. For example, in the JTRON2.1 Specification, the "attach classes" have been made compatible with the µITRON4.0 Specification, and the shared object function has been made compatible with the Java Native Interface (JNI) of the Java programming language. The JTRON2.1 Specification can be downloaded via the Internet from the ITRON Project Home Page. At present, only the Japanese version of the specification is available.

Final Dates for TRONSHOW 2001 and TEPS 2001 Released

TRONSHOW 2001 will be held at the Tokyo Design Center (see map) from Tuesday, December 5, through Thursday, December 7. The show will be open to the public on each of these days from 10:00 a.m. to 17:00 p.m. TRON Electronic Prosthetics Symposium 2001 (TEPS 2001), also known as the "TRON Enableware Symposium," will be held on Saturday, December 9, at Gate City Ohsaki next to JR Osaki Station in Tokyo (the next station to the east of Gotanda station; see map). The Enableware symposium will take up the theme of making the best use of next generation cell-phones to make society barrier free for the handicapped.

The theater schedule for TRONSHOW 2001 is as follows:

Tuesday, December 5

 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Keynote Lecture: "TRON Project 2001"
Ken Sakamura, University of Tokyo
 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Invited Lecture: "The Current State of IT in Korea"
Park Yong Jung, Chairman, Korea TRON Association
 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Tutorial Sessions: ITRON, JTRON, BTRON, TRON-GUI
 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
"A µITRON Specification-Compatible System Development Platform"
Hitachi, Ltd.
 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Elmic Systems, Inc.
 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
"Embedded Java Technology 'JBlend SDK' " (Provisional Title)
Aplix Corporation

Wednesday, December 6

 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
"IA on a Chip: The Latest Technological Trend for the Geode (TM) Processor"
National Semiconductor Japan Ltd.
 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
"The Implementation and Development of ITRON in Document Equipment"
Matsushita Graphic Communication Systems, Inc.
 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Panel Discussion: "Internet Appliance"
Scheduled participants: Ken Sakamura (University of Tokyo), Kiichiro Tamaru (Toshiba Corp.), Masahiro Yakazu (Elmic Systems, Inc.), Shoichi Hachiya (Aplix Corp.), Takuro Sone (Yamaha Corp.)
 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Elmic Systems, Inc.
 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"An Introduction to Cho Kanji 2"
Personal Media Corporation
 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
"The Cho Kanji 2 Development Environment"
Personal Media Corporation

Thursday, December 7

 10:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
"Embedded Software Development in the Networked Age"
MiSPO Co., Ltd.
 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
"The Embedded WWW Browser Development Kit 'BSI-SDK' for ITS/GIS" (Provisional Title)
Aplix Corporation
 11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Personal Media Corporation
 1:30 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Elmic Systems, Inc.
 2:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
"An Introduction to the µITRON Specification RTOS Total Solution: TronForce!"
A.I. Corporation
 2:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
"The iTRON-Compatible Integrated Development Environment CodeWarrior for Embedded Systems and Embedded GUI Framework PowerParts"
Metrowerks Corporation
 3:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
"An Outline of the µITRON Specification-Compatible Version of Nucleus µiPLUS"
Grape Systems Inc.
 3:30 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
"The Latest Functions of the Cho Kanji Series"
Personal Media Corporation
 4:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
"New Applications of the Cho Kanji Series"
Personal Media Corporation

Please note that the above schedule could change as a result of unavoidable circumstances.