Is it not silly to recall technologies that have not succeeded? Maybe they did not deserve a different fate? Is it worth rummaging in the past, brushing the dust of centuries from decaying shards with a tassel? The NeXT legacy is found today at every turn. Persons of different sexes, age and style, buried in iPhones and clinging to their feet on the subway and on narrow sidewalks, and even those of “zombies” who use all sorts of Android’s. Macs that are no longer a rarity. All kinds of Apple Watch, smart speakers, incomprehensible to me Apple TV …
The number of people working in NeXT never exceeded five hundred, and public opinion has never considered them to be losers. And such a success. There is something to think about.
The technology of WebObjects is somehow unnoticeable, without tragedies and without anyone trying to save it, it just went away. In September 2008 (a year and a half after the birth of the iPhone), its latest version came out (5.4.3, does it look like a countdown?), In 2016 it was officially deleted from the list of living (but not their list of Apple-owned brands).
Meanwhile, in its meaning and power offered to the world, this technology is almost an order of magnitude more important and more important than the rest of the legacy of NeXT, a small, great company.
There is such a vulgar phrase, “millstones of history”, sorry … Precisely by them this important and significant technology was rolled into a pancake. The place she was supposed to occupy was occupied by others. Many of these others are very famous, they are respected by experts, they are studied in universities and courses. Web applications, and all sorts of SaaS, IaaS, MBaaS, and others like them like mosquitoes in the swamp.
Maybe I’m wrong, and WebObjects technology just crossed my life a long time ago when sugar was sweeter, water was wet, and the world was perceived keenly and brightly … But I still think that with WebObjects we lost something This is very important.
And one more thing: I call WebObjects a technology, but I’m not sure about this definition. WebObjects is a complex of several frameworks (frameworks, I really liked such a translation of this term proposed by one of the readers), concepts and tools. In my text, WebObjects refers to the female gender.
I hope that even if it will hurt the eyes, injuries and deaths will not happen because of this.
WO did not originate from scratch, it was a natural development of NeXTSTEP / OPENSTEP, and their development tools. The idea to turn the World Wide Web into another application development platform was first voiced by Steve Jobs. Did he himself come to her, or someone from the smart guys from a tiny company, in which everyone knew each other in person, does it matter?
Without going into details: Bad Tribble, one of the creators of the first Mac, co-founder of NeXT and one of the top managers of Sun Microsystems, developed object-oriented libraries for NeXT in the late 80s. He called them NeXTSTEP, at the same time mentioning the company and putting deep meaning into the name. “Next step”. It all started with this.
Then there was DBKit, a framework (framework !!!) radically simplifying work with databases of different nature and with various program interfaces. Isolation of business logic from cogs, Gadget specific DBMS is another important step. Next NeXT STEP.
In real life, everything is much more complicated than it actually is. Using DBKit to solve real-world problems, users (its users were programmers and analysts, highly qualified specialists) faced problems and limitations that could not be eliminated without destroying the principles on which DBKit was built.
The voice of the peoples was heard and taken into account. DBOit has been replaced by EOF, aka the Enterprise Object Framework, aka “industrial object framework”. To create an EOF, I had to look at the problem area differently: unbiased and wider than was thought necessary at the time.
There is a computer interface with a user, with whom in the 90s not everything was perfect, but compared to other interfaces, everything was fine with him. They were engaged. But they did not even think about the interface of development tools with programmers. NeXTSTEP and EOF were a “friendly interface” for programmers. This is their “secret”.
EOF 1, over time, changed its continuation, EOF 2. Meanwhile, the World Wide Web was taking in our deadly embrace our good old world, and life was becoming more and more interesting and interesting. Is it possible to pull a single country out of this web? We will find out soon. There were precedents … But back to our topic: the idea of turning the Internet into a platform for the most real applications did not come from scratch. The ingredients for making this idea a reality, and damn good ingredients, NeXT already had.
Nowadays, EOF lives and thrives, under the name of Core Data. This is the same EOF, but without its best features, less intuitive and understandable, but even in this form, Core Data is quite good, good or good (data is from Latin, plural from datum).
Eight months of triumph  WebObjects were presented to the public at the end of 1995, and since Steve Jobs performed the show, you can be sure that as a result. Convinced, lit, forced to dream about the arrival of technology development applications for the World Wide Web …
WebObjects became a real product in the catalogs of NeXT Software in March 1996. The WebObjects development environment could be purchased in the basic version, for only $ 0, in the version for professionals (for $ 2,999) and in the variant for Enterprise (for $ 24,999). Licenses to publish the developed services and applications were also neither free nor cheap: depending on some criteria, the license cost from 2,999 to the same $ 24,999.
If AppleInsider.ru used WebObjects in 1996, one license for the development environment for $ 2,999, and one license for publication, also for $ 2,999, would be enough for all-pro-everything. Total, 6 thousand dollars.
Of course, this is “cool”, but still it is not “50 thousand dollars”, which are written in Wikipedia. Imagine: NeXT developed something there (even, it seems, it was something useful), put it on the counter with a price tag of “50,000”, and stupidly waited for someone to buy it … I exaggerate, but many are sure what exactly it was.
NeXT did not sit and did not wait. The situation for the company was incredibly successful: it had cooperation agreements with Sun Microsystems, Hewlett Packard and other companies that were leaders in the segment of professional workstations. With her participation, NeXT partners developed PDOs in their operating systems, in fact, NeXTSTEP enclaves that made them mutually compatible. PDO stands for Portable Distributed Objects.
Some of the partners went even further, developing the complete implementations of the operating system on the NeXT templates. Objective-C, in fact, came to the most common workstations, and was in demand for them – and workstations in a world in which the Internet is becoming one of the most important elements of reality – candidates for the role of servers, and a platform for installing web applications.  Internet pages in 1996 were, overwhelmingly, static. HTML plus links to other pages. The time has come for web applications, the need for them was very real, the demand for high-quality professional tools for creating them was high and promised huge profits. WebObjects was the best answer to this demand.
In WebObjects, with the participation of NeXT engineers, web applications for BBC News, Dell Computer, Disney Studios, DreamWorks SKG, Fannie Mae and other companies were developed. Success led to the emergence of dozens of independent “ateliers” who used WebObjects as one of the sources of income …
WebObjects was on the verge of something insanely great, and suddenly …
And suddenly everything ended. Stopped. Apple announced the acquisition of NeXT Software with all intellectual property and personnel. WebObjects became a product from Apple, which was not treated very well in the industry, but that wasn’t the case …
The booming and promising take-off of NeXT Software as the developer of the most successful toolkit for developing web applications … was interrupted.
Why – read in the sequel. You can discuss the history of Apple in our Telegram-chat.