BlackBox Component Builder

BlackBox Component Builder
Developer(s) Oberon microsystems AG
Stable release
1.6 / 11 October 2013
Written in Component Pascal
Operating system Windows
Type Integrated development environment (IDE)
License BSD 2-clause license

BlackBox Component Builder is an integrated development environment (IDE) optimized for component-based software development[1] developed by a small spin-off ETH-Zürich company (Oberon microsystems AG) in Switzerland. The IDE consists of development tools, a library of reusable components, a framework that simplifies the development of robust custom components and applications, and a run-time environment for components.

In BlackBox, the development of applications and their components is done in Component Pascal. This language is a descendant of Pascal, Modula-2, and Oberon. Component Pascal is a strongly typed, compiled language that supports both modular and object-oriented programming as well as Eiffel-like pre- and post-condition testing using ASSERT statements. It provides full type safety, components (in the form of modules), dynamic linking of components, and automatic garbage collection to preserve memory integrity. The entire BlackBox Component Builder is written in Component Pascal: all library components, all development tools including the Component Pascal compiler, and even the low-level run-time system with its garbage collector.

As its name implies, BlackBox Component Builder supports blackbox abstractions and reuse as opposed to whitebox as defined in Szyperskis book.[2][3] In 1993 it was marketed primarily as Oberon/F[4][5][6] and was renamed to BlackBox Component Builder with Release 1.3 end of the 1990s. BlackBox Component Builder went open source with the Release of beta version 1.5 in December 2004. According to a posting[7] of Clemens Szyperski on Usenet news Oberon/F and in turn BlackBox Component Builder is a reimplementation of ETHOS a fully object oriented version of the Oberon System implemented for his PhD thesis.[8] BlackBox Component Builder uses a document centered approach (as all versions of the Oberon System), which is very similar to OpenDoc. In the beginning BlackBox Component Builder was dual-platform (Apple Mac and Microsoft Windows) with other platforms planned. After Steve Jobs' return to Apple and the death of OpenDoc, Oberon microsystems dropped the support for Apple with Release 1.3.3 around 2001. The Linux version never made it to a public release, although OpenBUGS a software package for the Bayesian analysis of complex statistical models using Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods based its Linux version on it.

In 2002 Professor Stanley Warford[9] published a great book about learning computing fundamentals via the BlackBox Component Builder framework. In 2014 he has placed the complete text under a Creative Commons license.[10] It is a clear and indispensable text to aid learning of the BlackBox framework step-by-step .

External links


  1. Pountain, Dick & Szyperski, Clemens: Extensible Software Systems. BYTE 19(5), May 1994, pp. 57-62.
  2. Szyperski, Clemens. Component Software. Addison Wesley, 1999, p. 33f and Chap.7 (p. 96ff) ISBN 0-201-17888-5
  3. Szyperski, Clemens, Gruntz, Dominik & Murer, Stephan. Component Software. Beyond Object Oriented Programming.. Addison Wesley, 2nd Ed., 2002, p. 40f and Chap.7 (p. 109ff) ISBN 0-201-74572-0
  4. Floyd, Paul: A Discussion of Oberon. EDM/2
  5. Pountain, Dick: Oberon: A Glimpse at the Future, BYTE 18(5), 111ff, May 1993.
  6. Pountain, Dick: The Oberon/F System, BYTE 20(1), Jan. 1995.
  7. Szyperski, Clemens.!topic/comp.lang.oberon/M-y1bJwEYE8
  8. Szyperski, Clemens. Insight ETHOS: On Object-Orientation in Operating Systems. vdf Hochschulverlag AG an der ETH Zürich, Zurich, Switzerland, ISBN 3-7281-1948-2, 1992, ETHZ ecollection.
  9. Warford, Stanley, home page:
  10. 1 2 Warford, Stanley. Computing Fundamentals. The Theory and Practice of Software Design with BlackBox Component Builder, 2002: (Chapters) and (complete book)
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