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Newton FAQ

Part VII: Development

  1. Environments
    1. What are Apple’s tools to develop software on the Newton?
      1. Newton Toolkit (NTK)
      2. Newton C++ Toolbox (NCT)
    2. What are the solutions to develop directly on my Newton?
      1. Newton Dev Environment (NDE)
      2. nsScribe
      3. ViewFrame
    3. Are there other programming languages for the Newton?
      1. NS Basic
      2. NewtCard
      3. Lisp
      4. Assembler
      5. Is Java available on the Newton?
      6. C/C++ on other platforms
    4. Are there any other tools to develop Newton Packages?
  2. Documentation
    1. Where can I find documentation?
      1. Apple standard manuals
      2. Apple additional docs
      3. Articles and additional documentation
      4. The Newton Bowels Project
    2. Wow, that’s a huge list! Where do I start?
  3. Sample Code
    1. Where can I find sample code?
    2. Where can I find a complete listing of all the sample code?

A) Environments

1) What are Apple’s tools to develop software on the Newton?

a) Newton Toolkit (NTK)

Newton Toolkit allows you to develop programs in NewtonScript on Mac OS or Windows and to install them onto a Newton device. There is also a cross-platform debugger for NewtonScript programs.

You can find it on Apple’s FTP site: [Dead Link] ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Newton_Development/tools/ntk/

It was also on Planet Newton, now on UNNA’s mirror: http://mirrors.unna.org/download.planetnewton.com/download/programming/appledesktoptools.htm

NTK is also included as part of NewtonDev, the archive of essential development tools and documentation for Mac OS (and Basilisk II): http://www.unna.org/unna/development/NewtonDev/.

Note: NTK might not work on Mac OS X under classic if it cannot find a serial port. To fix this problem or to use NTK over EtherTalk under Mac OS X (this is the only way), you might need to create/define a serial port.

To do this, you can use PortShare Demo http://www.stalker.com/pub/PortShareDemo.sit.hqx

Or you can use TCPSerial (which is freeware) and can be found here: http://tucows.sympatico.ca/mac/preview/205826.shtml

b) Newton C++ Toolbox (NCT)

The Newton C++ Toolbox is divided into several parts available at various places on the internet:

The core archive was available at Planet Newton, it’s now at the mirror on UNNA: http://mirrors.unna.org/download.planetnewton.com/download/programming/applec++tools.htm

You can find additional SDK to design drivers (DDK) on UNNA site: http://www.unna.org/unna/apple/development/DDKs/

There is the Lantern DDK. It is the DDK for ethernet cards drivers. It includes Hammer and Newtsbug, the low level debuggers. It can be found on UNNA: http://www.unna.org/unna/apple/development/DDKs/FullLanternDDK.sit

NCT requires MPW which only runs on Mac OS:

ftp://ftp.apple.com/developer/Tool_Chest/Core_Mac_OS_Tools/MPW_etc./MPW-PR_Images/MPW-PR.img.bin

You can find all that without MPW and a Basilisk II image with MPW into NewtonDev which is on UNNA: http://www.unna.org/unna/development/NewtonDev/. NewtonDev includes additions and bug fixes of the NCT. It also includes NTK, other tools and the most important documentation.

2) What are the solutions to develop directly on my Newton?

a) Newton Dev Environment (NDE)

Steve Weyer’s Newton Dev Environment allows you to build packages directly on the Newton.

Here is a comparison between NTK and NDE I made. It only involves my [PG] responsibility.

b) nsScribe

Prism Research’s nsScribe allows you to execute NewtonScript code from the Notepad, the Assistant or Newton Works.

c) ViewFrame

Jason Harper’s ViewFrame is a very powerful tool for debugging directly on the Newton, inspect the Newton environment. However, it does not allow you to set breakpoints or to step.

3) Are there other programming languages for the Newton?

a) NS Basic

NS Basic is a complete implementation of the BASIC programming language, with extensions to take advantage of Newton OS.

Once a commercial application, George Henne has released NS Basic and its source code on GitHub.

b) NewtCard

NewtCard is a HyperCard-like environment for the Newton. It allows you to manage text and pictures as a collection of cards. Easily add text fields, check boxes, buttons, and other elements to the cards. Buttons can be scripted using NS Basic. [cf. VIIA3a]

Once a commercial application, George Henne has released NewtCard and its source code on GitHub.

Archived NewtCard Demo files are also available.

c) Lisp
d) Assembler
e) Is Java available on the Newton?

Sean Luke, Steve Weyer, and several other contributors implemented a subset of Java called Waba on the Newton platform. The software is currently in beta release, with binaries and source code available on Sean’s Waba for the Newton page.

f) C/C++ on other platforms

C++ and other compiled languages can basically be used in two ways: as native functions and for P-Classes which are used in drivers. The Newton C++ Toolbox is more than a compiler and a linker. It also includes tools to use this C++ code, either to convert a link output to a Native Module, a file used by NTK or to generate and pack a P-Class.

All the documentation required to make a tool to convert from link output to NTK is available, but no such tool exists. Therefore, with a C/C++ suite, you will have to use NCT anyway. The other solution is to use Roger Milne’s tool. http://roger.trideja.com/newton/newtonasm.html.

The format of the P-Class encapsulated programs is unknown.

Finally, the low level debuggers (Newtsbug and Hammer) only run on Mac OS. Apparently, they are based on RDI, but nobody succeeded to write a compatible low level debugger.

There are several C/C++ compilers for ARM, here are just the most common ones:

BTW, you can use NCT on Basilisk II which you’ll find at http://www.uni-mainz.de/~bauec002/B2Main.html It’s a Mac 68K emulator for Windows NT, BeOS, UNIX with X11 and AmigaOS.

4) Are there any other tools to develop Newton Packages?

Yes, there is Pinehill AppGen that can be found on UNNA: http://www.unna.org/unna/development/AppGeneratorV3/.

It lets you create simple data collection applications on your Newton and export the data to a PC (using PineHill Mover).


B) Documentation

1) Where can I find documentation?

a) Apple standard manuals

Apple published Find Info, a PDF listing information about where to locate Newton development documentation.

Although the Newton Programmers Guide (NPG) is the first source, it is not necessarily the most complete or up to date. There are a number of additional places you can search for information on the Newton Platform APIs.

Below is a simplified version of that document with links added.

b) Additional Apple docs

Apple published additional books. These can be found on Newton Gurus’ sites.

c) Articles and additional documentation

There were a lot of articles written by Apple and third-party developers. They were published in the Newton Technology Journal, in the PIE Developers and other journals.

You can also consult the documentation concerning the processor (ARMs). Please note that this is useless to the NewtonScript developer. It is only useful for assembly development and sometimes C++ development.

d) The Newton Bowels Project

The Newton Internals are not documented. But several developers made discoveries when digging the system to interface with it. There is a repository for these documents and thrill seekers tools, called The Newton Bowels Project. It can be found on Kallisys website: http://www.kallisys.com/newton/bowels/.

2) Wow, that’s a huge list! Where do I start?

My advice is to start with the examples. Try the examples that comes with NDE or those on Apple’s FTP site.

You can also try the interactive tutorial book NewtATut to create a simple app: https://communicrossings.com/html/newton/newtpkgs.htm#NewtATut


C) Sample Code

1) Where can I find sample code?

Most of Apple’s sample code and other developer examples are available from UNNA.

2) Where can I find a complete listing of all the sample code?

A complete list of Newton 2.x OS Sample Code with descriptions was published on the Newton Inc. website in 1997. Unfortunately, this copy of the information from the Internet Archive does not have valid links to the source code itself. [cf. VIIC1]


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