ECOOP Workshop on Prototype-Based Object-Oriented Programming

James Noble kjx at
Tue Feb 25 00:25:29 UTC 1997

			Call For Participation

			ECOOP' 97 Workshop #11

			2nd ECOOP Workshop on
	     Prototype-Based Object-Oriented Programming
			    Monday 9 June
			  Jyvaskyla, Finland

In recent years an alternative to the traditional class-based
object-oriented language model has emerged. In this prototype-based
paradigm there are no classes. Rather, new kinds of objects are
formed more directly by composing concrete, fully-fledged objects,
which are often referred to as prototypes. When compared to
class-based languages, prototype-based languages are conceptually
simpler, and have many other characteristics that make them
appealing, especially for the development of evolving, exploratory
and/or distributed software systems.

The distinction between class-based and prototype-based systems
reflects a long-lasting philosophical dispute concerning the
representation of abstractions. Class-based languages such as
Smalltalk, Java, and C++ explicitly use classes to represent
similarity among collections of objects. Prototype-based systems such
as Self, NewtonScript, Omega, and Obliq do not rely so much on advance
categorisation and classification, but rather try to make the concepts
in the problem domain as tangible and intuitive as possible.  A
typical argument in favour of prototypes is that people seem to be
much better at dealing with specific examples first, then generalising
from them, than they are at absorbing general abstract principles
first and later applying them in particular cases.

The prototype-based approach is not restricted to programming
languages.  When designing a system, does one think of the classes
involved or the objects?  Some design methods use class-centric
language but are really talking about objects.  For example, with
CRC cards - is it really classes or objects which have responsibilities?
Similarly, most design methods consider that classes have association
and aggregation relationships between each other, but objects really
have these relationships. It could be argued that some design methods
are already partially prototype-based, but disguise this behind
class-based terminology.

Prototypes give rise to a broad spectrum of interesting technical,
conceptual and philosophical issues. Different variations of
prototype-based object-oriented programming exist, as discussed in
recent conference papers and panel discussions and including workshops
at ECOOP and OOPSLA.  In this workshop we will examine the
state-of-the-art in prototype-based object-oriented programming,
focusing especially on the following questions:
 * What are the specific advantages or niches of the prototype-based
     paradigm which will make or break its widespread use?
 * How is the prototype-based paradigm simpler to understand and use
     than the traditional class-based paradigm?
 * What ultimately distinguishes prototype-based programming from
     class-based programming?

Potential topics for discussion in the workshop include, but are
not limited to:

 - models of prototype-based programming,
 - experiences in implementing and using prototype-based systems,
 - guidelines, idioms and patterns for programming with prototypes,
 - analysis and design techniques for prototype-based systems,
 - prototype-based user interfaces.
 - research directions for prototype-based programming.

Potential workshop participants are requested to submit a short paper
(2-5 pages) by April 14 to the address below (e-mail in PostScript or
ASCII format is strongly preferred):

     James Noble
     MRI, School of MPCE
     Macquarie University
     Sydney NSW 2109
     Email:   kjx at
     Courier: E6A330, Herring Road, North Ryde

Participants reporting on experience are invited to indicate if they
want to provide a short (< 15 min) demonstration or videotape to
illustrate their report in the workshop.

Attendance to the workshop will be limited to approximately 20 participants
to enable fruitful discussion.

Workshop Organisers:

         James Noble
         MRI, School of MPCE
         Macquarie University
         Sydney NSW 2109
         Tel. +61 2 9850 9530
         Fax. +61 2 9850 9529
         E-mail: kjx at

         Ivan Moore
         OTI UK Ltd
         131 High Holborn
         London WC1V 6PS
         Tel. +44 171 440 9825
         Fax. +44 171 440 9826
         E-mail: Ivan_Moore at

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