Apple Copland Reference Documentation

The Copland project was Apple’s ill-fated attempt in the mid 1990s to replace the aging classic Mac OS with a more modern operating system that had a microkernel, virtual memory and preemptive multitasking. Information on Copland is scarce, therefore I have compiled 20 hard to find Copland reference documents, as well as the 359 page book “Mac OS 8 Revealed”.

Note that Copland was supposed to be the next major OS release after System 7, so the while the first two beta releases D7E1 and D9 were called “Copland”, the final beta D11E4 was called “Mac OS 8” everywhere. After the cancellation of the Copland project, Apple reused the term “Mac OS 8” for a System 7 update.

Copland D9 (Copland Developer Release – Tools Edition)

November 1995

An Introduction to Copland. The Mac OS Foundation for the Next Generation of Personal Computers

Glossary of Copland Terminology. This Acrobat file contains the document “Glossary of Copland Terminology,” which defines many of the terms used throughout Copland developer documentation. Note, however, that the terms defined in this glossary are preliminary and subject to change.

The Copland Toolbox. This Acrobat file contains the two-chapter book The Copland Toolbox. The first chapter introduces the event-handling model and human interface elements supported by the Copland Toolbox, and it describes the programming concepts necessary to use the Toolbox in applications. This will help you plan frameworks and tools that take full advantage of Copland’s Toolbox features. The second chapter compares the System 7 Toolbox with the equivalent Copland managers and capabilities, and this chapter includes information on backward compatibility with System 7 applications and requirements for Copland-savvy applications. This is especially useful for helping you adapt your existing System 7-based frameworks to work in Copland.

Software Extensibility. This Acrobat file contains the document “Software Extensibility and the System Object Model (SOM),” which describes where and why Copland uses SOM classes, dynamically linked libraries, and other mechanisms to support extension and modification of system software, and how you can use these to add extensibility to your own software.

Intro to Kernel and OS Services. This Acrobat file contains the document “Introduction to Kernel and Operating System Services,” which provides conceptual information about how and when to use services provided by the microkernel and related portions of the Copland operating system. This document will help you plan frameworks and tools that take full advantage of Copland’s operating-system features.

Microkernel White Paper. Containing the document “Microkernel White Paper,” this file gives a conceptual overview of the Copland microkernel. This document discusses tasks, hardware and software interrupts, and privileged software execution; it describes address space management, including such topics as areas and memory reservations; and it describes messaging, such as how to use message objects, how to send and receive them, and how reply or cancel them. This version of the “Microkernel White Paper” differs only slightly from that delivered at the 1995 Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

Patch Manager. The document “Patch Manager” contained in this Acrobat files describes the new Copland mechanism for patching the Mac OS. This will help you plan how to create patch-type system extensions for your development environment and to produce code that creates or uses extensions that patch Copland. The Patch Manager defines an application programming interface (API) that enables software to patch the system in a consistent, more easily supported manner. This is the only documentation provided for this release of Copland that describes an application programming interface. Note, however, that as with the rest of this release, all of the Patch Manager’s programming interfaces are subject to change.

I/O Architecture. This Acrobat file contains the document “About the Copland I/O Architecture,” which provides an overview of the architecture and features of Copland’s new I/O system. This document will help you with any driver development that you might be planning for Copland, and will help you design or adapt software that writes to or otherwise directly manipulates devices. This document is identical to the chapter supplied in the Copland Technical Overview delivered at the 1995 Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

About the Copland file System. This Acrobat file contains the document “About the Copland file System,” which introduces the features of the new file system available with Copland. It describes the various components of the file system, including the file Manager, the Navigation Services API, and the file systems API. This document also describes how to get your program ready to use the new file Manager. finally, the Documentation for MPW folder contains information describing the Macintosh Programmer’s Workshop.

Copland Desktop. The Copland Desktop Picture is a very high quality version of the CD cover art. To use this as your desktop picture, place it on your Copland Drive. While running Copland, you can open the picture from the Appearance Control Panel.

Copland D11E4 (Mac OS 8 DDK 0.4)

June 1996 (WWDC)

This Inside Macintosh for Mac OS 8 Read Me provides a road map to the chapters within this folder, provides information on viewing the Acrobat files contained within this folder, and lists the methods you can use to give us your feedback on the Inside Macintosh documentation.

For an overview of new features supported by the Toolbox, such as human interface objects, panels, window groups, imaging objects, and themes, see the chapter “Introduction to the Mac OS 8 Toolbox” in Human Interface Toolbox. For reference information on human interface objects, see the chapter “HIObject Class Reference” in Human Interface Toolbox.

For an overview of how Apple events are used pervasively throughout Mac OS 8 by system services as well as other programs, see the chapters “Introduction to the Mac OS 8 Event Model” and “Event Model Reference” in Apple Events in Mac OS 8. For information on how Apple events are processed by the Toolbox, see “Toolbox Event Routing” and “Toolbox Events Reference” in Human Interface Toolbox.

For information on the Mac OS 8 File Manager, Navigation Services, and other file services, as well as reference information on the Mac OS 8 File Manager, see File Navigation and Access.

For information on the extensive support for text handling that enables you to develop your application for a worldwide market, such as support for Unicode, locales, and the use of text objects, see “Introduction to Text Handling and Internationalization” in Text Handling and Internationalization.

For information on the use of the System Object Model (SOM) in Mac OS 8, see Software Extensibility.

For information on creating resources that are new in Mac OS 8, see ResEdit 3.0 User’s Guide.

For an overview of the Mac OS 8 microkernel, including information on tasks, processes, scheduling, preemption, multithreading, allocation of memory, and other services, see the chapter “About Mac OS 8” in Microkernel and Core System Services. See subsequent chapters in Microkernel and Core System Services for reference information on many of these topics.

For information on the Mac OS 8 I/O architecture, including information on families, plug-ins, and I/O services, see “About the I/O Architecture” in Modular I/O. For information on families for specific hardware devices, see subsequent chapters in Modular I/O.

For updated information on Open Transport, see Open Transport.

Please note that all presentations in this folder were created using Aldus Persuasion; an application we have not included on the DDK. (Displays Presentation, Keyboard Family Presentation, Mac OS 8 I/O Overview, OT General Presentation, OT Serial Presentation)

Tony Francis: Mac OS 8 Revealed

July 1996

With the next release of the Macintosh operating system, Apple will provide a state-of=the-art platform for developers to create new software products. At the core of Mac as 8 is a redesigned operating system foundation based on microkernel technology that will dramatically increase user productivity.

Author Tony Francis worked closely with the Mac as 8 engineering team to provide the inside story of the design and development of this innovative technology. The book describes the technical geography of Mac as 8 and illustrates how the system’s user benefits can be implemented in software and hardware products.

Written for developers, system administrators, and information systems professionals, Mac OS 8 Revealed explains the key technologies of Mac as 8:

  • How Mac as 8 exploits preemptive multitasking to perform many operations concurrently;
  • How the new memory protection model insulates the microkernel and other operating system services to provide system stability;
  • How to provide automatic, intelligent assistance to users;
  • How to allow the user to customize and scale the human interface.

The accompanying CD-ROM contains an electronic version of the book with animated illustrations that demonstrate the capabilities of Mac as 8. Simply click on a screen shot marked with a film strip in the book and see how a new feature in the operating system works.

Tony Francis has been with Apple for over 10 years as a lead writer on the Inside Macintosh team.

ISBN 0-201-47955-9

I publish these files for educational purposes, especially for all computer archeology enthusiasts like me. This data is copyrighted, but since the project has been canceled ~13 years ago, nobody should still care about it. If you disagree, contact me. Thanks to all the people who have worked on Copland and written these interesting documents!

15 thoughts on “Apple Copland Reference Documentation”

  1. Interesting stuff.

    So Apple started Copland to replace System 7, only to later abandon it and adopt NEXTSTEP.

    The funny thing is, it took them about 6 years to give up on Copland (1991-1996), but it took them another, say, 7 years before a decent version of OS X (10.3) was available (1997-2003)

    All in all, it took them 12 or so years to come with a suitable replacement for 1991’s System 7. I guess operating systems are hard.

  2. “# How to allow the user to customize and scale the human interface.”

    Amusing. 13 years later and they *still* don’t have that quite working.

  3. “Do you know if the “Vanguard” microkernel described by Finlayson, Hennecke, and Goldberg is actually related to Copland?”

    It is not. Vanguard was an ATG project in the Systems Technology Group under Bob Hon

    –al (who worked with them in ATG)

  4. “The funny thing is, it took them about 6 years to give up on Copland (1991-1996),”

    Actually, they started and canceled several OS programs during those years. The executives couldn’t seem to get it through their heads that you couldn’t write an OS from scratch in 18 months or so.

    I worked on the Copland project, and it was pretty clearly doomed. There were a lot of us wondering why we didn’t just use an existing kernel. Like, say, Mach.

    This brought back a lot of memories, thanks for posting these documents.

  5. I do find this rather interesting.

    I have used one of the alpha releases of Copland (for about 6 months), and I found it rather close to a finished product. If the development team at Apple had about 6 months to work out the bugs in the OS they could have released Mac OS 8 as intended by the Copland project, and had it out before they ended up releasing the modified System 7 that they named ‘Mac OS 8’ (presuming that they did not intend to add any thing to it before debugging).

  6. @David:

    Which build was this? All of the builds that are “out there” are extremely unstable and work only with a serial debug cable attached.

  7. I’d be interested in finding out what build David was using too. I found D11E4 almost unusable and haven’t had the chance to try D7E1 yet.

    From reading around the web I did get the impression that something must have gone horribly wrong with D11E4 as it seems that some builds that people spoke of were more complete and stable than it.

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  9. Sorry for the delayed response. I do not look at this site very often.

    I was using Copland D11E4 on an 8500. No doubt it still had some significant bugs, though it is stable enough to run well if you do not mind a crash from time to time. It is a beautiful OS, well designed (in my view).

    It is a shame that apple never finished the project. I have done some work towards eventually cloning Copland and creating the Mac OS that should have been, though that is slow going.

    I have gotten as far as writing the low level interfaces for video, audio, and ADB, and ported , a preemptive multitasking system, and porting much of the toolset from ARDI Exectutor, in order to have a good starting point. Currently it will only run a couple of simple PowerPC only applications written for Macintosh System Software 7.1.

    Maybe I will eventualy get enough done to have something that is actually as usable as Copeland with out so many bugs. I am strict on myself when coding in that i do not allow any bug that I can find to persist, to the point that I overdo module testing to an extreme, no leak, forgotten sanity check, buffer overrun, etc is acceptable for me to call something Alpha quality, it is early-early-development quality until that point. I do hope that it becomes something useful soon (within 5 to 7 years time).


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