1995 X Technical Conference Review

Highlights of Papers

[The 9th Annual Conference Proceedings are available in O'Reilly & Associates' ``The X Resource'' , Issue 13 . Many of the slide sets will be available from ftp.x.org .]
D11: A High-Performance, Protocol-Optional, Transport-Optional Window System with X11 Compatibility and Semantics
Mark Kilgard (mjk@sgi.com), SGI

The presentation on D11 was probably the most interesting of possible new features suggested at the 1995 XTC. X has long needed a good local transport mechanism, but since X was OS-independent, this was difficult to achive. Now that X is the common cross-platform window system, perhaps vendors will add support for something like D11, with its well thought out, simple API.

Loadable X servers
Rob Lembree (lembree@zk3.dec.com), DEC

All the major workstation vendors seem to be cooperating even better than usual in coming up with a common approach for building servers with loadable extensions, new DDX layers, etc. This promises to provide easily upgradable, smaller X display servers for which which ISVs can easily add their own features. There is a mailing list at loadable@x.org .

Higher Bandwidth X
John M. Danskin (jmd@cs.dartmouth.edu), Dartmouth College

Needing faster PostScript access via modem, Danskin has developed an X Protocol compression scheme he calls HBX, based on predictive modeling, using arithmetic encoding to get excellent results for certain types of clients (such as those using many small pixmaps). Keith Packard expressed interest in the possibility of integrating this into the LBX (Low Bandwidth X) effort.

XVE (X Visual Extension) Hiroshi Matoba, NEC

NEC's proposed X Visual Extension would allow special effects to easily be applied to certain window operations such as open, move and close. The initial effects proposed include fade, wipe, zoom and slide. Checking with others at the conference, it seems that these would be considered either toys (at best) or annoying in many western cultures, the effects would likely be very welcome in cultures similar to the Japanese, where sudden changes (e.g., a window appearing ``ex nihilo'') are considered a nuisance.

Embedding X

This was a hot topic, with coverage in at least one BOF as well - Daniel Dardailler 's ``X Over the Web'' . Jan Newmarch described the problems inherent in getting an Xt-based client to act as a widget in anoter Xt program. Chris Nelson discussed similar the larger problem in his lecture on OpenDoc. Keith Packard discussed a possible pseudo-root extension as an alternative in some cases for Xnest, for certain cases requiring a server to act as a window inside another server window.

Mobile X

Another set of hot topics revolved around the possibilities of mobile X sessions. Tristan Richardson 's ``Teleporting'' described Olivetti's Active Badge technology which allows sessions to follow you around. The proxy-server BOF covered some similar themes.

Inter-Client Communications

Several talks delved deeply into the problems of clients communicating amongst themselves. The CDE talks discussed this to some extent. Philippe Kaplan 's k-Edit and Will Walker's & Sue Liebeskind 's RAP (no breakdancing, unfortunately) talks built both described work extending the R6 ICE (Inter-Client Exchange) protocol. Doug Tody described the X Public Access Mechanism (XPA) in light of a common, real-world set of tools used by astronomers.


While the world hasn't rushed to R6, AGE Logic has developed a nifty toolkit to take advantage of the R6 X Image Extension (XIE). They have developed both a toolkit and apps to make this complex extension much easier to program. Now if only R6 were widely available...

View the PhotoKit slides.

Last updated: 10 July 1996

Copyright 1995 Susan Liebeskind, Atlanta, GA, and Miles O'Neal, Austin, TX. All rights reserved.

Miles O'Neal <roadkills.r.us@XYZZY.gmail.com> [remove the "XYZZY." to make things work!] c/o RNN / 1705 Oak Forest Dr / Round Rock, TX / 78681-1514